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Left to Right: Jessica Bellamy (2017 Adobe Creative Residency program), Julia Tian (creative residency senior manager at Adobe), Cyn Lagos (2019 Adobe Creative Residency program). 
Left to Right: Jessica Bellamy (2017 Adobe Creative Residency program alumna), Julia Tian (creative residency senior manager at Adobe), Cyn Lagos (2019 Adobe Creative Resident). 

Adobe Creative Residency program helps diverse artists enhance their creative passions

The program was started as a way to help address the lack of representation and access to arts education for many aspiring artists of color.

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For many, art is an avenue that can open up a world of opportunity for themselves and their surrounding community. 

However, accessing art education and the critical resources to fully showcase one’s artistic expression can be scarce for some. 

According to a report by National Endowment for the Arts, artists of color are 20 percent less likely to receive art instruction outside of school, or even visit an art museum or gallery. 

Given the severity of that statistic, Adobe is doing its part in helping dismantle the barriers that exist for many diverse artists of color with its Adobe Residency program.

Julia Tian, creative residency senior manager at Adobe, said that while Adobe offers many well-known products — Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and more — that are very helpful, they are also a bit expensive. The creative residency program helps to address this. 

Started in 2015 with the aspiration of creating opportunities to influence the creative community, the Adobe Creative Residency program provides diverse residents with Adobe-exclusive resources designed to help accelerate diverse emerging artists’ careers. The year-long program empowers diverse residents to focus on a personal creative project while sharing their experience and process with others in the field and their community. 

“We really wanted to communicate to our communities that everything that we were doing as a company was to help them grow, and support them,” said Tian. “There really needed to be a voice in the community for how [to] grow as a creative outside of just your craft.”

So far, there are 19 alumni residents of the program and nine current residents. 

Cyn Lagos, a graphic designer, photographer and videographer based in Miami, Florida, is a current Adobe Creative Resident. 

During her residency, she has focused on a project called ‘Visual Language,’ which she described as “the mindset and practice of being a visual storyteller.”

Pulling from her own experience of immigrating to the United States from Honduras, visual language has been a critical outlet for her in helping address the barrier she faced when it came to language—a barrier quite common for many.

“I’ve been able to develop an entire branding and an entire methodology to be able to teach aspiring artists to practice visual language in their own artistry,” said Lagos, referring to how the residency program has helped her in her mission. 

Throughout the duration of the program, residents are able to take a world of information, tools and resources along with them to both aid their personal creative careers, as well as help others who aspire to pursue a career in the creative world. 

Jessica Bellamy, a 2017 alumna of the Adobe Creative Residency program, is one such individual. A designer based in Louisville, Kentucky, her artistic approach was to use data and infographics to tell personalized visual stories with the goal of driving social change.

During her residency, she created a series titled, "Designing from the Margins," which looks at the intersection between people of color and the design community. Using her information design skills, she analyzed design culture, spotlighted designers of color, and discussed power dynamics within design. 

She also created a motion graphic that doubled as a presentation tool on how to replicate successful social change projects. 

“Because of the residency, because of the workshops [I was able to lead], it allowed me to really refine a lot of the language that I have around why I do what I do and to come up with better strategies to create what I always call ‘brave spaces,’ so people can challenge their aspirations as far as being purpose-driven,” said Bellamy.  

Since her residency ended, Bellamy has continued traveling both nationally and internationally to share with people how to use infographics to break down complex information, as well as philanthropic work in finding creative ways to impact social change.

Overall, the Adobe Creative Residency program is designed to be beneficial for not only the artists in the program, but aspiring artists, the creative and design communities, and the larger surrounding community overall. 

Tian said one of the most important facets of the program is the use of mentors. Each resident is required to choose both an internal (Adobe representatives) and external (a professional in the field) mentor to help guide them through their residency, as well as help develop their skills and increase their exposure. 

“If diverse creatives don’t have access to that, that can be a big problem because then they have to figure out basically how to reinvent the wheel, and we try to make that not a factor in our program. We want them to learn from other people’s experience, so that they can have an accelerated path,” said Tian.

After not discovering art until her sophomore year of college, Tian saw many of her peers fall out of the path to pursuing art as a career due to the worry of putting food on the table. That then inspired her to start a mentorship group to help others hone their crafts in order to become a creative professional.

“That was the point in which I found I really got a lot out of art leadership and helping others continue with a path that they were passionate about, and trying to find ways to make a living from that, rather than just abandoning it,” she said. 

In addition to valuable mentorship, the Adobe Creative Residency program provides passionate residents with a full salary, health benefits, access to Adobe software, speaking opportunities, and other project-specific support to make their creative vision a reality, always with the goal of sharing what is learned with the community.

“Our hope is that by investing a lot of resources into these individuals, that people are able to see them as leaders in the community that showcase how to make that journey from early-stage into more seasoned creative professionals,” said Tian.

Adobe is accepting applications for 2020 creative residents until Jan. 22 at 11:59pm. 

Applications will be accepted from candidates living in the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Future residents should have a strong area of focus in one of these categories:

  • Short-form online video
  • Photography
  • Illustration: digital drawing and painting
  • Digital and Print Design
  • Experience/Interaction design using Adobe XD

For more information on the program or how to apply, click here.

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