Sara Sun proves true creativity is a lifelong passion

Image of Sara Sun.

Sara Sun was born to create. From ceramics, to collage art, to drawing and painting, it’s difficult to name an artform she hasn’t explored. That spirit of exploration has defined Sun’s path at every turn, shaping her education, career, and personal passion projects.

Bit by the graphic design bug in high school, Sun flew from her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona to the other side of the world to pursue a degree in communication design from the esteemed Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. While there, a new passion struck when designing the box for a fictitious vegan chocolate brand as part of a school project: packaging design.

“I loved how packaging combines digital design with tangible products that exist in the real world,” she says.

Design packaging for a fictitious vegan chocolate brand.

Sun drew from an earlier college project to design packaging for a fictitious vegan chocolate brand as part of a collaboration with Adobe. Image source: Sara Sun.

Digital design has always factored into Sun’s workflows, leading her to experiment with a broad range of creative software. She was first introduced to Adobe Photoshop by her father, a photographer himself, shifting her attention to Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign in college. Today, Sun is an early adopter of Adobe Firefly, using Adobe’s family of creative generative AI models to break new ground in her photography and video production.

Tools used by Sara

Adobe Photoshop

Desktop + Mobile

With Photoshop and generative AI, you can create gorgeous photos, rich graphics, and incredible art.

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Creative Cloud All Apps

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Get 20+ Creative Cloud apps including Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Express, Premiere Pro, and Acrobat Pro. (Substance 3D apps are not included.)

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Adobe Illustrator

Desktop + Mobile

Gorgeous graphics, designed by you

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Same creative fire, new package

Sun grew so fond of packaging design during University that she stayed in New Zealand for two more years to work in a design studio. But her need for creative freedom soon took over. Seeking a better balance between “work” and her passion projects, Sun moved to Dallas, Texas and began her career as a freelance designer and illustrator.

“I loved creating design for clients, but I got burned out working in a studio. It was too easy to fall into patterns and worry about meeting guidelines instead of being original. With passion projects, there are no rules, and by becoming a freelancer I could enjoy the best of both worlds,” says Sun.

Sun’s instinct was spot on. After posting a walk-through of her vegan chocolate box project on Instagram, she woke up the next morning to find 300,000 people had watched the video, compared to the usual few hundred. She had an epiphany in that moment — when you put your passion out in the world, people take notice.

Expanding artistic boundaries with Adobe Firefly

Ever on the lookout for new design tools and technologies, Sun was quick to embrace generative AI across her creative workflows. For instance, she uses the Generative Expand feature in Photoshop to correct and edit photographs, and to transform them so they fit together seamlessly in her collage art.

“Firefly is such a helpful tool in editing imagery, whether that’s fixing things that look wonky or playing around with boundaries and scale,” says Sun. “It’s easy to use and the results look seamless.”

Generative Recolor factors heavily in Sun’s client work, allowing her to create multiple color palettes and graphical styles within minutes. “Recoloring is especially helpful because it saves me so much time. Instead of spending hours on Pinterest looking through color palettes, I can do that as part of my workflow directly in Adobe Illustrator,” she says.

Adobe Firefly also makes it easier for Sun to workshop new designs in Illustrator. Using Text to Vector prompts, she can quickly create and add placeholder graphics to her illustrations for inspiration. With those in place, she can flesh out other elements of her designs and eventually fine-tune or replace the placeholders with fully formed designs.

To celebrate Firefly’s first anniversary and its positive impact on her work over the past year, Sun recorded the Happy Birthday message below:

Play, learn, and finesse

When asked about how generative AI will transform her field, Sun is unambiguously positive. On top of helping designers save hours on mundane tasks like expanding images, she believes the technology gives them more time and bandwidth to push their creative boundaries.

To illustrate her point, Sun shares her experience using Generative Fill to create realistic illustrations of New Zealand as part Adobe’s “Dream World” campaign. “I had a clear vision for my submission, but I didn’t have the skills to draw the realistic images I needed to bring it to life,” she recalls. “Generative Fill came to the rescue, not just making my dream a reality but also broadening my creative toolkit.”

Sun’s advice for designers still on the fence about generative AI? Start by playing around with the Adobe Firefly features in Creative Cloud and follow other creators on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to see what’s possible. And with the new Community tab in Firefly, users can now share their work, get inspired by fellow designers, stay up to date on the latest features, and raise their profiles.

“Skeptics assume generative AI creates art for you, but when you look at the people who actually use these solutions successfully, that’s not the case,” says Sun.

Sun is also adamant that creators should never stop exploring. In her case, that means taking on projects that force her out of her comfort zone. Whether it’s developing her first stop-motion animation feature with Adobe Premiere Pro or developing the brand strategy and tagline for a new skincare start-up called Karma Care, one thing is for sure: Sun’s creative fire has never roared more fiercely.

Learn more about Sara and her work on Instagram.

And click here to discover how Adobe Firefly can ignite your creative fire.