ADIM 2016

Art Directors Invitational Master Class


Click image to read this story in Adobe Slate

Begun many years ago, ADIM was originally an invitation-only master class for art and creative directors. ADIM is open to any one who wishes to attend, it is an event of the highest caliber.
I was invited to ADIM 2015 by Russell Brown after attending his classes at Adobe MAX for several years. I had no idea the impact that ADIM would have on my career and my life. I’ve only attended two years, now, and many of my ADIM friends have been attending for decades.
This year’s ADIM was held at Adobe headquarters in San Jose, California and was attended by creative folks from all over the globe including attendees from Japan and even Dubai.

April 9, 2016

Bonny Lhotka

My first day at ADIM 2016 was spent learning from Bonny Lhotka in the imperfect art of image transfer. Bonny utilizes special proprietary products to print images on film and transfer them to various substrates including aluminum, arcylic, wood and tile. The method, recently refined, only takes a few minutes, but mastering it takes patience and practice.
Unlike direct-to-material printing, the DASS method, (Bonny’s art supply company) is a manual transfer method which requires practice to perfect. It’s a straight-forward enough process, started by choosing a substrate, Bonny has perfected methods of creating unique and interesting patterns on metal sheets by washing them in various detergents.
A special DASS transfer solution is painted onto the substrate and the image is carefully rolled onto the substrate. After a minute (depending on the material) the film is removed, the substrate is then washed, removing the left over film stuck on it and the substrate bearing the image is set to dry.



Bonny Lhotka / DASS Art


DAY 1 – RECEPTION – APRIL 10, 2016


A reception was held at the San Jose Marriot for the attendees and many came in costume. The costumes were more than just fun, photos were taken of the participants by photographer Sean Teegarden, for use in the upcoming projects.

Our host was Russell Brown, Sr. Creative Director of Adobe. Russell has been with Adobe since 1985 and is often the face of Adobe’s products. His creativity and spirit helps makes these events so special. This year Russell came in the guise of Captain Nemo, complete with a 3-hour makeup job by Race Bird and others.

Participants spoke with representatives from DJI about drones and aerial photography, tried out 3D VR goggles, had 3D portraits taken and reconnected with friends made a previous ADIM conferences.

It’s Micah! by micahburke on Sketchfab – 3D Image Created during ADIM 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

Rayce Bird creates an image for his project

Rayce Bird creates an image for his project

On day 2 participants learned about the project they would be completing during the conference. Using sheets of laser cut and printed acrylic sheets,including colored and mirrored sheets, lights and even iPads and iPhones displaying videos, the participants built dioramas, most of them around the theme of the conference.

Gilbert Gomez' completed project

Gilbert Gomez’ completed project



Each participant came up with a different design and was allowed to obtain objects that could be included in their design and other items by asking questions of the various speakers and otherwise being helpful. These included colored acrylic sheets, plastic marine life, t-shirts, even a digital camera.

The designs were created in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and then placed on an Illustrator template. Then, using a special script, the designs could be viewed in Photoshop in 3D.



The projects were then printed on film by an inkjet printer for testing. When complete, the files were given to the folks from Universal Laser Systems, who then cut the designs out of the various acrylic materials and then printed them with pin-point accuracy using a Roland VersaUV LEF printer.

During the project work, special speakers explained new features and techniques in using Adobe’s creative cloud products as well as provided insight into the creative process.

David Fleetham

Image by David Fleetham

David Fleetham, one of the most published underwater photographers, discussed his adventures and even explained the best way to stay alive around sharks. David also provided participants access to a selection of his photos, for use in their projects.

David Fleetham – Underwater Stock Images



Orlando Arocena

Orlando Arocena teaching

Orlando uses Adobe Illustrator and vector gradients to achieve a unique and dramatic look.After lunch and more project details, participants were treated to a presentation by Orlando Arocena, a fantastic designer known for his multi-layered vector artwork. Orlando explained how he came to design and even gave a sneak into his process.

Orlando Arocena – Mexifunk



Terry White

Terry White

Orlando was followed by the renown Terry White who discussed time-saving features in Creative Cloud, as well as some amazing tips and techniques for using Photoshop. Terry returned on day 3 to discuss Adobe Portfolio, a portfolio website included with the Creative Cloud subscription.

Terry White’s tech blog



Chris Converse

Chris Converse spoke at ADIM 2016 about creating video in Photoshop

Rounding out the day’s speakers was Chris Converse, an expert in interactive design and teacher for and Chris instructed participants in creating animations for their projects in Photoshop. Chris discussed importing video clips onto the timeline and using various layer blending modes to create unique effects for our underwater scenes. Participants then compiled the video and imported it into InDesign for publishing to mobile devices. Many used iPads and other mobile devices to display the videos within their projects.

Chris Converse – Website




Tuesday, April 13, 2016

Russell Brown takes panorama of ADIM attendees

Russell Brown takes panorama of ADIM attendees

Day 3 became a crush as all the participants worked to get their projects laser-cut by the 8:00 PM deadline. Meanwhile, the line-up of speakers continued.

Brian Yap

Brian Yap at ADIM 2015

Brian Yap discussed creativity using the Adobe mobile application suite including Adobe Sketch and Draw and integrating these applications into the design workflow. Entire designs can be made away from the office utilizing these powerful tools.

Brian Yap – Website





Matthew Richmond

Brian was followed by Matthew Richmond who discussed trends in online, interactive design utilizing many different aspects of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite. One amazing feature demonstrated was Lightroom Mobile/Web’s ability to auto-tag and search synchronized images. Matthew also discussed Adobe Slate (with which this post was originally created).

Matthew Richmond – Chopping Block



Julianne Kost

julieanne kost

Julianne Kost followed Matthew Richmond, discussing her creative process and the roadblocks she encountered as an introvert in the creative space, as well as her solutions to those issues. The author of several books, she is the Principal Imaging Specialist for Photoshop and Lightroom with Adobe and also provides ongoing video training in both products.

Julieanne Kost – Website




Joel Grimes

Joel Grimes

Joel Grimes unique style has earned him accolades as well as opportunities. A commercial advertising photographer, Joel also shoots sports scenes with high contrast composites. Joel has overcome the limitations of color-blindness to become an award winning photographer who’s work is often imitated. Joel has been been at previous ADIMS and this year taught the ADIM attendees how photography and Photoshop are inseparable as well as techniques for using Adobe Camera Raw.

Joel Grimes – Website



Michael Hawley

World's Largest Book - Buthan

Michael Hawley was up next with an amazing story about what he calls “The World’s Largest Book”. Hawley produced a 5’x7′, 133 pound book on the beauty and culture of the country of Bhutan during which he met many wonderful people and found his life profoundly changed.






Wednesday, April 14, 2016

Final day at ADIM 2016

Final day at ADIM 2016

The final day of ADIM 2016 included more wonderful speaking sessions from talented folk, as well as frantic project assembly. Unfortunately because of the complexity of my project, I wasn’t able to pay as much attention to the speakers as I would have liked!

Eric Joseph

Eric Joseph, Senior VP of Business and Product Development at Freestyle Photographic Supplies.

The final speaker of the day was Eric Joseph, Senior VP of Business and Product Development at Freestyle Photographic Supplies. As a photographer, Eric took a keen interest in how his photos were output, beginning with darkroom photography. With the advent of inkjet printing he became an expert on the differences in papers and printers for professional photographic printing.

Eric Joseph – Freestyle Photographic Supplies




Project Completion

The mad dash to the finish line was, for me at least, a struggle with hot glue, missing parts and mistakes, yet I was able to persevere and completed my project in time. I am quite proud of what I accomplished, a 3 1/2 layer diorama with an iPad video background, plus interactive controls on the front.

There were many amazing designs far beyond my imagination. One participant, Matt Davis, created a working back-lit star finder that showed the user the visible stars for each season.

Matt Davis' project

Matt Davis’ project

Many designs incorporated video, as we learned from Chris Converse, to great effect. My friend, Jennifer Wills, created her project just before the last call on the laser printing, even with a font issue, her project was absolutely stunning.

The projects were then photographed on a round-table by Sean Teegarden and Chris Converse and compiled into rotating 3D photos. See all the projects at the link below:

ADIM Project Gallery

The Reception

Finally, the projects were done and the attendees headed back to the San Jose Marriott to view their finished work and enjoy dinner and a talent show. Russell Brown was again the host, albeit dressed in a very different manner than previously.


Prizes were randomly awarded to talent show participants, with some receiving Canon wide-format printers and one luck participant won an iPad Pro 9″. Others received Creative Cloud memberships and others received prints by David Fleetham.


I’ve attended many conferences including Adobe MAX and Photoshop World. But ADIM is in a class by itself, with the quality of the training and the level of ability of the participants. In the past two years at ADIM I’ve learned so much, and made so many friends that leaving was a truly emotional event. I’m so thankful for the opportunities to learn that ADIM provides and highly recommend it to any art / creative director looking to push their abilities and stretch their talents.

Many thanks to those who provided images and assisted with this post including, Sean Teegarden, whose provided photography of the attendees as well as their projects. Sean worked tirelessly throughout the event to provide amazing images for us, Chris Converse who assisted Sean in photographing the projects as well as taught during the event. Thanks also for help with my project and providing images for this post: Jennifer Wills, Kevin Stohlmeyer, Valerie Sablin, Jason Occhipinti, Chris Penree, Orlando Arocena, Josh Campbell, Rocky Montez-Carr, Jack Weien, Jack Duganne, and of course, Russell Preston Brown.

A final extra note of thanks goes to Russell Brown, without whom I’d not have had the opportunity to attend ADIM. Not only did Russell invite me to last year’s event, but since 1985 Russell’s work has shaped my life, without our mutual knowledge. Having been a Adobe user for nearly 30 years, I’ve used products that Russell directly had a hand in designing Russell has organized and hosted many ADIM conferences as well as Adobe MAX events, plus countless others over the years, he is truly a man of many talents and grace.