Takeaways From Our Top Five Speakers at Adobe Max 2020

November 12, 2020
By iQ Staff
Adobe Max Banner.

This year, Adobe Max, an annual creative conference for Adobe users, went virtual. For three days, iQ 360’s creative team attended live discussions, workshops and labs led by some of the most famous and respected creatives in the design, photography, video, illustration and UI/UX fields. Read on for lessons from their most memorable sessions.



Stefan Sagmeister.

Founder of Sagmeister Inc.

Stefan Sagmeister is a renowned graphic designer, famous for pushing the boundaries of design. His provocative and conceptual ideas are often the result of his daily ritual of challenging himself to produce two new ideas a day. He uses the three methods below:


1. “Edward de Bono approach” (de Bono is the author of Six Thinking Hats)

Pick a random subject or object and associate it with the task at hand. This will encourage you to think freely and deeply about a particular subject in a new way.


2. “Tony Buzan approach” (Buzan is the inventor of Mind Maps)

Create extensive mind maps (diagrams for representing concepts) and add to them daily until you’ve exhausted the theme.


3. “Stanford study approach”

Walk to generate ideas. A Stanford study showed that walking generates three times more ideas than sitting at a desk.

Photo via Forward Magazine



Taika Waititi.

Taika Waititi

Director, screenwriter, producer and actor

Most famous for directing and writing Thor: Ragnarok and more recently for directing, writing, producing and starring in Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi says the secret ingredient in his creative process is creating chaos. Why?

  1. Difficulties help fuel creativity.
  2. If the process feels too comfortable, you’re doing it wrong.
  3. Bad times make the good times more rewarding.
  4. Being flexible opens the door to a different and, most of the time, better end-product.

Photo via Boss Hunting




Irene Au.

UX designer and partner at Khosla Ventures

With experience leading the user and design teams at Yahoo! and Google, Irene Au mentors designers, builds teams and creates experiences for a portfolio of companies at Khosla Ventures. She credits her yoga practice for inspiring a philosophy that guides her personal life and work.

Irene recommends yoga to encourage self-awareness, understanding, empathy, patience, curiosity and observation -- qualities that help build better human-centered experiences.

In addition, she stresses the importance of examining the design health of an organization by looking at two main factors: the morale of the design team, and the product quality. She believes that the end-product can only be as successful as the health and happiness of the team that designs it. See the various scenarios below and what happens when you have a positive design morale and a good quality product:

Photos via Mind The Product, Irene Au



Chris Do.

Chris Do

CEO and founder of The Futur

Chris Do is an award-winning designer and mastermind behind his online platform, The Futur, which provides designers with valuable skills and insight for running a business. Here are his tips for building a successful brand:


Invest in the long game over the short game

Chris compares the short game to hunting, where you’re constantly chasing clients, finding yourself in unpredictable situations, sales-dependent and in feast/famine mode. The long game, he says, focuses on building your audience through things such as content marketing. He likens it to farming, where the pace is slower, more consistent and guarantees gradual but long-lasting success.


Cater to niche media over mass media

Niche media seeks to improve the quality of life of its customers. Spend time listening to your audience, learning their language, having a dialogue and finding common ground. He quotes Marty Neumeier from his book, The Brand Flip”: “The best brand-builders see greatness in their customers and figure out ways to enable it.”


Practice the reciprocity principle

The more you give, the more you get. Give freely without expectation and seek to offer a transformational over a transactional experience. Once your audience sees value in your content, their trust will grow and they will begin seeing you as an authority.

Photo via Blind, Inc.



Sagi Haviv.

Sagi Haviv

Partner and designer at Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv

Sagi Haviv is a master logo designer and partner at the firm responsible for designing some of the most recognizable logos, including NBC, National Geographic, PBS and Shell Oil. To him, a good logo is:

  1. Appropriate
  2. Distinctive
  3. Simple

Sagi uses this continuum to weigh his explorations and evaluate his competition:

Literal/pictorial                                                    Symbolic/abstract


Recognizable, literal/pictorial logos often are not distinctive. Sagi believes the most successful logos reside on the symbolic side of the continuum. He creates these marks by distilling the subject to its essence and consistently working with the tension between clarity and mystery. The final result is a logo that is distinctive and ownable.

Photo via Domestika



Final thoughts

While everyone has a different work style, these experts would likely all agree that a client-centric approach will yield the most effective, spot-on designs. Try these methods to reset your creative process and take a fresh approach to your next challenge!