Being an artist means thinking on your feet; generating an idea and simply running with it in your own style and flare. It can become a lifelong project or happen in a matter of hours. To that note, Adobe put New Orleans artists to the test last night with their “Creative Jam” series hosted at Propeller.

photo cred: Charles Ravaglia

photo cred: Charles Ravaglia

With twenty artists collaborating in teams of two, six teams in Visual/Graphic Design and four teams in Motion Graphics, the competition was steep but exhilarating. Armed with only a quote for inspiration, each team had slightly less than three hours to complete a concept that embodied their interpretation of the quote. Simultaneously, just a shared workspace away from the talented twenty feverishly designing away, four chosen speakers were captivating an audience with tales of their life’s work and creative mission. I was crazy enough to participate as both a designer and a speaker. So here’s what I learned from my “Creative Jam” experience.  


1. Have Fun. You’re in a room with the best of the best in your city. Let loose and have fun! Take a deep breath and relish in the experience of sharing a workspace with these talented artists.

2. Make connections. You have the movers and shakers, the who’s who of creatives in your city in one space, go out and make some connections! You’re there to learn, connect and depending on your level of involvement, showcase your work. At these Creative Jam’s you’re able to capitalize on that with a stack of business cards in one hand and a beer in the other.

3. Get exposure. If you have the opportunity to participate as a designer and/or a speaker, take it!!! It’s a great way to get exposure in your city. You have the chance to build your audience, and grow your business. People will know your name and subsequently follow your work. Fight through the nerves, you’ll be glad you did.

4. Find amazing talent! Just when you think you live in a small city, you go to an event like this and find amazing new talent! I was most impressed with the illustrators that came out. Equipped with sketch pens, watercolors, Wacom tablets and scanners, they cranked out some highly conceptual, well-executed work. Bravo team “Blazing Tablets,” you know who you are ;)


1. Prepare for the unexpected. I don’t think anyone particularly likes public speaking, especially when it doesn’t go “as planned.”
What to do when your heavily visual presentation goes awry:

  • Practice without your presentation. This will no doubt prepare you for this unfortunate event and it will help you get away from the scripted feel of a click-to-click presentation.
  • Smile and poke fun at the situation. Everyone can relate and it will instantly break the ice.
  • Just start talking. Don’t linger around and keep your audience waiting. Just start talking and it’ll work itself out.  When the issue is fixed make another joke and catch your audience up. It’ll be like it never happened.

2. Maybe don’t try to do everything. Sometimes it’s best to pick a role and go with it. While I was in the room designing away, the social aspect of the event was happening without me. Several opportunities to make intros and shake hands were missed. I was thrilled to be involved as a designer, but in hindsight probably would have preferred to network and listen to the speakers instead. With only ten minutes left to the competition, I was called to speak so I didn’t really have anytime in between to interact with the attendees. My suggestion is to think about what you want to get out of the event rather than the individual experience.

Needless to say, I was thrilled to celebrate local New Orleans talent and be a part of the Adobe Creative Jam family for this exciting night. I look forward to strengthening the connections I made at the event and following up on the work of those amazing artists. Thanks again Adobe for educating, connecting and collaborating with the incredible talent in my city!

Happy Creating!!