Designing custom pins for Adobe MAX 2023: Behind the scenes with illustrator Jessica Miller

Collage of images of Ilustrator Jessica Miller.
Image credit: Jessica Miller, courtesy of the artist.

At last year’s Adobe MAX conference attendees received a custom enamel pin to celebrate the number of years they’ve been creating with Adobe products. It was amazing to hear from our global community of creators who told us their personal stories and fond memories of when and where they began their journey with Adobe.

The pins, designed by Carra Sykes, went down so well that we decided to do it again. This time we commissioned illustrator Jessica Miller to design a fresh set of limited-edition enamel pins as a small token of appreciation for our loyal customers.

If you attend Adobe MAX in person on October 10-12 in Los Angeles, make sure you swing by Community Booth to pick up your pin. And if you attend online, you can still join in, as Jess also designed an Adobe Express template that you can remix and share to show your tenure as an Adobe creator.

For this article, we caught up with Jess to showcase the designs she came up with and find out more about the project. For a deeper dive into her process, watch her Adobe Live session:

Making Adobe MAX custom pins in Illustrator

The anniversary pins are a playful expression of nostalgia and pay tribute to our ever-growing vibrant Adobe community. Jess added her own retro-inspired whimsical style to the design, and each pin carries a touch of magic as Jess hid icons in each design that represent some of your favorite Adobe tools.

“The pins are a celebration of the creative community and honor each member, whether you've been using Adobe products for two or an astonishing 40 years!” Jess explains. “Personally, the very first Adobe software I used was Creative Suite 2, so I've been an Adobe user for almost 20 years! My favorite design is the 40-year pin. I love all the hidden details and elements in the ‘exploding head of knowledge’.”

Illustrations created by illustrator Jessica Miller.

Jess’s design process started with numerous thumbnail sketches as she ideated themes and ideas for each pin. She then used simple geometric shapes in Adobe Illustrator to construct each design.

“I hid the pen tool inside the number 30 design and realized it would be great to hide an Adobe tool within every number,” Jess says. “Can you find the hidden tool in each of the designs? Some are more obvious than others!”

Images of pins created by illustrator Jessica Miller.

Experimenting with new Illustrator features

Jess also made use of a couple of innovative new beta features in Illustrator. She used the Retype tool to identify a font in a still image. Retype detects and then matches the closest fonts from Adobe Fonts, which is how Jess came across Blenny Black.

Jess then used Illustrator’s generative AI feature Generative Recolor to brainstorm color palettes. Powered by Adobe Firefly, Generative Recolor enabled Jess to quickly experiment with color by typing in simple text prompts (such as “retro inspired candy colored forest") which returned customized color schemes in seconds.

“I’m really enjoying these new features in Illustrator,” Jess explains. “Both Retype and Generative Recolor are super helpful tools in generating ideas and speeding up my creative workflow. Generative Recolor specifically makes me explore colors I'd never think of using!”

Creating a template in Adobe Express

Jess also designed an exclusive remixable Adobe Express template and made use of linked assets to easily bring in her files from Illustrator via Creative Cloud Libraries.

“I love using Adobe Express, particularly the animation features,” Jess says. “I’m not a motion designer, and I’ve always struggled with making even a simple GIF. But with Adobe Express I can just bring in native Photoshop or Illustrator files and add animation, which makes my illustrations much more dynamic.”

Adobe Express is part of the Creative Cloud membership, and the interoperability between the Creative Cloud apps also means that Jess can create consistent brand libraries that she can easily share with her clients or her friends.

How long have you been using Adobe apps?

Pick up your own pin at the Adobe MAX Community Booth inside the Creative Park from October 10-12, or share your remixed Adobe Express template on social media. Thanks for taking this creative journey with us!

Also, don’t miss Jess’s session on Expressive Hand Lettering in Adobe Fresco at MAX!

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