Beyond the hype: 5 early adopter creators reflect on the future of generative AI

Image created with Adobe Firefly. Image source: Daniel Argintaru.

Image created with Adobe Firefly. Image source: Daniel Argintaru.

Generative AI is the most disruptive technology to hit content creators since social media. Much of what’s changed is positive. For instance, Adobe Firefly, Adobe’s family of creative generative AI models, has cut hours of labor-intensive work from the ideation, design and editing process. More importantly, creators are empowered to experiment without limits and bring even their wildest flashes of imagination to life.

But as with all disruptive technologies, generative AI also raises new concerns for the community. Artists, designers, illustrators, and creative entrepreneurs must grapple with existential questions like:

This past October, we invited five early adopters of generative AI to take the stage at Adobe MAX and share their first impressions of the technology. Here are some highlights from their sessions, including their predictions on how innovations that draw on generative AI, like Adobe Firefly, will impact the creative world.

Albert Manero, executive director, Limbitless Solutions UCF

As the founder of a non-profit that builds bionics and prosthetics for children with limb difference, Albert Manero has a lot of love for robots. On stage at Adobe MAX, he explained how Limbitless Solutions uses the generative AI features in Adobe Creative Cloud to stylize its promotional content and adapt it to different marketing channels.

For example, using Adobe Photoshop generative AI features, Limbitless' team of staff, university faculty, and 50 undergraduate interns can now come up with as many flat lay designs as they need for a new asset with a simple prompt. Before using Firefly, the team used to buy piles of physical props from arts supply stores to create its flat lays, a process that took hours and delivered mixed results.

What’s more, the time and cost-savings delivered by Adobe Firefly have given the team more bandwidth to focus on Limbitless’s core mission, which is to create life-changing technologies that empower wearers and help them live a life without stigma. From partnerships with supermodel Shaholly Ayers, the first amputee to walk the runway without a prosthesis, to promotional videos with Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr, the organization is certainly delivering on that promise.

Tej Patel, photographer, filmmaker, and Adobe Express ambassador

Speaking of technology’s impact on children, New York-based Tej Patel brought the MAX audience back to his own childhood and the moment he fell in love with design. Like many kids of his generation, the experience that changed everything occurred in a galaxy far, far away…

After watching Star Wars for the first time, Patel became obsessed with the idea of creating his own lightsaber. So obsessed that he immediately Googled “How to make a Star Wars lightsaber After Effects” and got to work. Reflecting on his experience, Patel recalls the joy of indulging his curiosity with Adobe’s design software and puts himself in the shoes of a child being exposed to generative AI today, imagining all the ways they can use the incredibly powerful technology to flex their creative muscle.

As for questions around AI taking over creative jobs, Patel cautioned the MAX audience to distinguish between the ability to create quickly and the ability to create something of value. Generative AI will generate limitless possibilities to your creative problems, and that’s extremely powerful, he argues. But people will increasingly turn to creators for their ability to pick out a unique story with a unique perspective from all of those outputs.

Jaime Derringer, founder, Design Milk.

As an artist, Jaime Derringer is just as optimistic about the power of generative AI to democratize creativity. As an independent consultant, she is also positive about the technology’s potential impact on business owners, especially when it comes to content creation, marketing, advertising, and social media.

Derringer started exploring the possibilities of AI in 2021 but understands that most people’s introduction to the technology has been more recent. She also empathizes with their trepidation. Generative AI promises to revolutionize many facets of our lives, she concedes, and it’s OK to be scared when we don’t know what’s going to happen.

But Derringer’s view is shaped by the countless times humanity has evolved to master transformative technologies in the past. “When photography came around, people said painting was dead. When Adobe Photoshop came out, people freaked out about the future of photography. Jobs will change and evolve in response to generative AI, but that won’t happen overnight. And as always, we will evolve with them,” she said.

Jesús Ramirez, graphic artist, educator, and Adobe community expert

Jesús Ramirez knows a thing or two about evolution. A lifelong comic book fan, his design journey started in 1996 when he began creating hand-drawn Spiderman comics every chance he got.

His approach evolved in 2000 when he discovered Adobe Photoshop and began experimenting with digital drawings based on his early work. Inspired by the master of Photoshop layering, Bert Monroy, who also wrote the first book on Photoshop, Ramirez then took yet another creative leap by coopting some of Monroy’s techniques to bring new levels of photorealism to his designs.

Reflecting on his story, Ramirez aruged that a designer’s value isn’t dictated by their skills with Adobe InDesign or Photoshop. Instead, it comes down to their ability to solve creative problems, and generative AI will be an increasingly powerful ally as they continue on that mission.

Phil Pallen, brand strategist, Phil Pallen Collective

Rounding out the session was Phil Pallen, a proud Adobe Express ambassador who is full of optimism about the future of generative AI. Pallen is particularly excited by how the technology encourages creators to focus on what sets them apart — their capacity for ideation, brainstorming, and originality.

How? By automating the painstaking workflows that take time away from the development and exploration of new ideas. Pallen recalls Adobe Firefly rocking his world the first time he used the beta version of the technology to help a client fix the banner image on the homepage of her website. Instead of organizing an entirely new photo shoot to change the colour of her background, Pallen simply used Generative Fill to make the change in seconds.

Of course, Pallen also understands the creative community’s stress around AI, That’s why companies like Adobe are so important, he argues. They balance the conversation by hosting events like MAX that welcome both sides of the debate and help creators appreciate how Adobe Firefly, which is powered by generative AI technology, can change their lives for the better.

Craving more insights from Adobe MAX? Click here to view more than 175 sessions from this year’s edition on-demand.