You may have noticed that Adobe has opened up applications for the 2016-2017 Creative Residency. I've been receiving a handful of inquiries about the application process and I'm happy to share my answers with you here. I can't believe I'm in my last quarter! This year has flown by. Long story short: this residency has been even better than I imagined and I highly recommend you apply.
"Do you have any general tips on applying to the Creative Residency?"
I wish I had the magic answer, but the application is really about you. Enthusiasm is contagious. Be really excited about what you're doing and don't try to make it fit a certain formula that you imagine Adobe is seeking. They're looking to expand the program (new mediums, objectives, processes, etc.), so don't assume that because you haven't seen it done a certain way means it can't be done that way in the future. This is the second year of the program. Anything is possible.
"Do they pay you a yearly salary? Is the salary comparable to what I'd otherwise be making?"
Yes, I think so. It was for me. As a resident, I have always felt like the entire Adobe team has been rooting for me. This includes how they have compensated me over the last year.
"Do they compensate you for the materials?"
When I was applying, it was explained to me that Adobe is investing in my creative journey, not my business. So in my case, no, they do not pay for my materials that I will end up selling. But they will pay for materials to help foster my creative growth (art supplies and travel!).
"How do I budget what the project will cost?"
This portion is to give them an idea of what they'll be investing in with you. Sometimes it will be expected for you to pay for things with your salary and sometimes they'll pay (it's a case by case basis). But the rule of thumb is what I said before: if it aids in the creativity, they're all about it. The project budget is really to help them understand if they can fiscally support you. It doesn't have to be perfect, just do your best with the knowledge you have at this point about your endeavor.
"Do they provide free software?"
Yes, Adobe has given me the Creative Cloud suite for the year as well as a MacBook Pro (that will be returned at the end of the year).
"How much do you travel?"
Quite a bit, but that's relative. You're expected to be available for travel about 25% of the time. In my busier months I probably traveled twice a month, sometimes more. But often times it was initiated by me where I found an opportunity and went for it. They don't make you go anywhere (though there are a few important events), but it is assumed that as a resident you're willing and speak and travel when the opportunities arise. But no, they won't make you skip your best friend's wedding. Adobe covers all travel expenses.
"Could your partner or friend join in on the travel?"
Yes, sometimes Greg joined me. Often times I would be so busy with work that it didn't make sense to make it a couples trip, but you could do it. It is nice having one of the flights plus the hotel paid. The event you're traveling for is the priority so as long as you're smart and doing what you came to do, they don't care.
"How much of your work should be shown in the proposal?"
It really just depends on what is needed to give them a clear idea of your project. You can always link to your portfolio or a blog post that expands on the subject if there's a lot more you want to show (or give them the opportunity to dive in more).
"Does Adobe own your work?"
No. Part of the nature of the residency is being really transparent about what you're working on, so you're already sharing a lot. They don't want you creating in a dark corner. I think they always ask when they use my work, and it's always credited to me. I've always felt that it was to bring me exposure and support me. My book and art I'm selling is not owned by Adobe, but they do get to use it (again, they've always credited me). I'm more than okay with this.
"Can I do freelance work while in the program?"
Mostly no, but maybe yes. The point of the program is to totally focus on your personal project(s). They aim to pay you well enough that you don't need to consider taking on other work, but if a really great/special/exciting/once in a lifetime opportunity comes up, they'll work with you. The right perspective would be to go into this assuming you will not be taking on client work for a year.
"How did you hear about / how were you accepted into the program?"
Adobe found my work online and reached out to me to talk further about the program. I was asked to provide a project proposal and we continued the conversation from there. The process was much like the application process today, except they reached out to me rather than me finding an open call for applications online.
Remember, these are real people who are doing this because they really do care about our creative community. They're excited to see the applications and how they can work with you this year. They're not looking to nitpick your proposal. They want to see eager folks who are already investing in themselves; they want to take that to the next level. It's important that you share with the community as a resident (everything from social media to public speaking). If you can prove that you're already doing "your thing" to the degree that you have the opportunity, great. You're in good shape. It's better not to know what I did or what other people are doing (as far as crafting the proposal) because yours is a blank canvas and that's a good thing. Picasso wasn't formally trained as a sculptor. He just went after it, and you can too.
Check out what it means to be a Creative Resident, and don't miss the FAQ at the bottom of the page.