Anatomy and Art

a blog by Sara Egner

Creative Cloud

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Well I’ve finally jumped the bridge into having my own personal Creative Cloud subscription with Adobe.  I’ve been giving it a lot of thought though, and this move to mandatory subscription based software really feels like a problem to me.  If you are the type that keeps and updates their software at every upgrade, and right away, then you are exactly the type that is happy with the current model.  It is actually cheaper than following every packaged upgrade was.  But I also feel like they don’t put nearly as much into their upgrades as they used to now.  They don’t have to impress anyone into buying the latest upgrade with their amazing new tools, so they just make a few tweaks here and there, and everyone has to futz with upgrading their machines and try to maintain compatibility with each other on collaborative projects.

And really, compatibility on collaborative projects is the #1 reason for me finally paying into Creative Cloud services.  The last new features that really impressed me in flat image manipulation were Photoshop’s Content Aware fill and Puppet Warp tool, both of which came prior to Creative Cloud.  The video updates on the other hand, have been more substantial.  That has a lot to do with Premiere and After Effects’ abilities to work with codecs that didn’t even exist prior to Creative Cloud.  Also, Premiere has this thing these days where it just recognizes what you’ve put in a timeline and asks if you’d like everything to match that.  And come on, that’s just really nice.  But ultimately, I can still do most of the things that I want to do with my old CS5 software.  I just can’t work with a file that someone sends me that was made in Creative Cloud.  I also can’t open my own files, that I have made in Creative Cloud when I’ve had it supplied through my work.  And that brings me to one of my bigger concerns with Creative Cloud.

I find myself hesitant, even now that I’m paying Adobe all of this money to have access to the Creative Cloud, to use the new shiny software, because it makes my work feel less my own.  I know that if I start a project, I’m only able to get back into it again as long as I continue to pay Adobe for access to Creative Cloud.  If I want to know I can open something later, sometimes I still open things up with my old CS5, because I don’t know if it will always be worth it to keep paying Adobe for their cloud services.  They do have these really nice tools, but it’s also a trap.

Back when I was working odd jobs here and there, I relied heavily on my old software bought under school discounts.  And occasionally you’d land a job that would come with some new software or an upgrade as part of your compensation.  That was when you upgraded.  But there was never a continued monetary commitment to hold on to that software.  You just had it now.  And you could always count on being able to get back in to those old projects.  And if a job wanted you to have better, they either bought it for you, or you decided if you could buy it for yourself.  And if a really impressive upgrade came along, maybe you saved up for a bit and upgraded to get it.  Now, I don’t know what new artists are doing.  I suppose that the ones with family funding have the subscriptions, and the ones without it either sink into debt quickly or just can’t access the tools to do the work.  And I guess that’s always been the case to an extent.  This has always been expensive software.  But there used to be real ins to having it and having the opportunity to practice with it, that weren’t then stripped away, or worse still, charge you fines to break contract and stop paying them (sometimes jobs go bad), or auto fine you if you miss canceling the subscription at the right time.

Sometimes I wonder, if I use these tools my whole life, how much will Adobe make off of me when I die?  How much have they already made on deceased or hospitalized artists?  Calling Adobe isn’t exactly a first priority when a loved one dies, or goes into the ICU.  I had a great aunt who passed away a long time ago, and I remember that when my father was trying to help out with her affairs, he found that AAA had been auto updating her account and charging her.  She didn’t drive for probably her last decade if not longer, but AAA was getting their cut the whole time.

The Adobe products themselves are still really powerful, and I don’t mean to suggest that the company shouldn’t turn a profit on them.  But I’m just not comfortable with the current model.  I hope that it is someday reformed.  If it isn’t, I believe that Adobe will come to find more competition as many artists begin investing in tools that better serve their needs.  But for the meantime, they are still the industry standard.  And what that ultimately means is that life for digital artists comes with this extra expense that you don’t see in most professions and that isn’t necessarily paid back in added income.  And that’s just the way it is right now.  My fear is that more professions will look like this as more companies find ways to get people into subscription contracts for their basic tools.  But my hope is that competition will drive the market to create better options for artists over time.

Written by Sara

November 10th, 2018 at 11:10 am

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