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Recommendations to Students Regarding Adobe Creative Cloud

January 10, 2014  by: Domenic J. Licata

The Communication Design Program in the Department of Visual Studies is committed to engaging students in the critical study of design practice, theory and history, in an environment where students will acquire the technical knowledge needed for professional graphic design work. We believe that as digital technologies continue to evolve, design learning should not be focused on any given brand, but on the techniques and processes that allow for the expression of critical thought. Designers have overwhelmingly chosen Adobe tools over the past two decades, owning partly to Adobe’s innovation and partly to its acquisition of competitors. It is erroneous, however, for a designer to attribute her or his success to their choice of tools. Success is not dependent on how well you know the Photoshop interface, for example, but on how well you can adapt and apply knowledge to new scenarios using whatever tools are at your disposal.

Adobe recently moved to a subscription-based product licensing model which they call Creative Cloud (CC). We and many other professional designers and educators find CC unacceptable. We want to let you know that Visual Studies no longer recommends that students purchase Adobe products, and unless Adobe offers an acceptable alternative to CC subscriptions, we will not be updating Adobe products within our labs. Instead, we will continue to use CS6 as we research suitable alternatives.

CC effectively triples the cost of ownership over four years of college from what was $350 in 2013 to $960 and more once the introductory student price of $20 per month goes up. CC users are required to pay Adobe in perpetuity to be able to access the software needed to create and edit their work. If a designer ever stops paying the monthly fee to Adobe for whatever reason, after a 30 day grace period they will not be able to open or edit any previously created work. Can you imagine having a lifetime’s worth of work that you can no longer access once you stop paying? Software should not be priced as if it were cable television.

It is also worth noting that Adobe has made it much more costly for labs to install their products. Visual Studies was able to purchase 25 CS6 licenses and install them on however many computers necessary. The software might exist on 80 lab machines, and any given 25 users could access it wherever they were sitting. Under the CC model, licenses must be purchased for each computer. We would be forced to acquire 80 licenses, even though no more than 25 would be used at any given time.

In December I met with Dave Gasek, our Adobe Education Rep. SUNY is his biggest client. He was not surprised to hear our concerns and objections. His only response was that Adobe may be able to negotiate better student and institutional pricing in the future, but did not indicate that they were interested in abandoning the subscription model. He explained that Adobe promises that for the next four years Creative Cloud will remain backwards compatible with CS6. That is, a CC users could back-save files to CS6 format, then continue to work on them in CS6 indefinitely, as long as they have purchased a copy of CS6.

Our students are never required to purchase their own software. Our labs are open daily for your use. If you do choose to purchase, we suggest that instead of buying into the CC model that you consider purchasing Adobe Creative Suite 6 Design & Web Premium, which is still available for a limited time from deals4edu.com for $567. This is a perpetual license – a one-time cost for software you can use indefinitely. Better yet, we encourage you to explore alternatives to Adobe software. We are compiling a list of alternative applications and will be making recommendations in the near future.

Here is a small list of other resources:

Please feel free to reply below with your questions and concerns.

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  • I have NEVER been more proud of my Alma Mater that I am at this moment. Keep your stance. I myself have gone so far as to include stipulations in our freelancers contracts at my place of employment FORBIDDING them from using the Creative Cloud software on any project the create for us. All projects must be submitted in a CS6 format or they do not work with us. I have also blacklisted Adobe from being able to advertise through my creative site. I refuse to support what was once a great partner in the design and production community.

    Keep your standards up!

  • CPettit says:

    Your sales reps comments regarding backwards comptability to CS6 is outright false. Ask him about CS6 PR compatability, or AE with Cineware. The list goes on.

    Long term there IS NO backwards compatability with CS6. And Adobe knows it:

    http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/news/creative-software/adobe-vp-on-creative-cloud/

  • Bob Levine says:

    I wonder if you’ve taken the same stance with the cost of text books because this post reads more like a complaint about your own costs and not about the best interests of the students.

    • Domenic J. Licata says:

      Bob, great analogy to the textbook conundrum. Indeed, if any given textbook tripled in cost from one semester to the next, and required that the students pay monthly for the duration of their career if they wished to continue opening that book, we would drop it in an instant and find an alternative. Many faculty are doing just that – relying on free and open online resources, or writing their own. In our studio classes we can’t find a text that is relevant for more than a semester or two, since software UIs change frequently and just enough to make the figures outdated. All the more reason to teach fundamental techniques rather than becoming dependent on a particular product.

      It is not in the best interest of our students to teach them that they are at the mercy of any particular vendor if they wish to succeed in their chosen field. There are alternatives, and they are getting better all the time. In fact, the entire approach to design is changing, and clinging to a historical product for no other reason than the words Adobe and design have mistakenly become interchangeable, like Kleenex and tissues, does them a disservice. Photoshop and Dreamweaver are less frequently used, as more web design is done in the browser. There are free and open source tools that can accomplish many of the tasks that once only Photoshop could perform, and our students are becoming smarter and more resourceful because of them.

      This is also not complaint about “our own costs.” Our lab software is purchased with fees paid by the students. If we were to install CC on the 50 computers among which we now float 25 CS6 licenses, we’d have to more than double the fees. That’s not in their best interest either.

      • Bob Levine says:

        Thanks for the clarification and perhaps I should have been more clear with my comment. Let me expand on it.

        The cost of text books has been astronomical for a long time. The cost doesn’t have to triple to be a burden. It already is. Creative Cloud on the other hand can be had for less than what most students spend at Starbucks. And certainly less than they pay for their cell phones.

        While I agree that the for art students, being able to design is very important, being proficient in industry standard tools is ultimately what is going to make them employable. I don’t recall any job description that requires gimp or scribus skills.

        Finally, do you really expect, in this day and age, that a student could buy one version of software an have it last four years?

        • Jeff Beach says:

          Domenic, I think Bob would be happier if the bookstores charged you $20/month for your textbook with no option to own to keep them.

          Bob, at least with a textbook purchase (to keep with your analogy), you have equity in the item and have the option to sell it (or even use it level your coffee table)at the end of the semester. Many people when they compare the license vs. subscription model do not take that owned equity into account. Take a look at how much CS5 and 5.5 are STILL selling for on Ebay. The equity professionals have in their business is directly correlated to how easily they can function during hard times. Ownership is CRUCIAL.

          Having UB support the Adobe Model means that they are also allowing their students to have their work held hostage. In 4 years of college work, they are developing a customer base who is FORCED to subscribe or lose access to their portfolio.

          Being in the Creative Business myself I can tell you we would much rather have an incoming employee be design savvy than program specific. We adopt new options ONLY based on the content and project demand. And that adaptation is a METICULOUS choice for the good of the work. I would be scared if a potential job candidate came in specifically requiring one model of design. A crutch is a crutch. Adobe’s model is flawed for the professionals and they market to the “good enoughs” who haphazardly update their software at every given possibility in order to make their work “better”. The designer is what is important. Their software is secondary.

          I understand this is falling on partially deaf ears, considering any acceptance of my argument on your part would mean that your blogging career, maybe career in general? would be over. I wish you luck over the next few years and hope you are still capable of learning.

          Maybe start by understanding that most, if not all of the negative comments about Adobe’s subscription model is done because these people are passionate about Adobe’s software and it’s capabilities.

          • Bob Levine says:

            On the contrary, Jeff. As someone with very little in the way of design and art skills, I agree wholeheartedly with you on that point. I only wish I could design as well as those who have those skills. But at some point, those designed files have to go somewhere.

            Most of my living is made in production (certainly not blogging) and I’d be dead in the water without InDesign skills. Contrary to what you may think, I understand the concerns about a subscription model, but it has its benefits. Everyone on the same version and everyone up to date and nobody waiting two years for improvements. And yes, I do believe the price is fair.

            All that said, it would seem that your ears are the deaf ones.

          • Nate says:

            “I think Bob would be happier if the bookstores charged you $20/month for your textbook with no option to own to keep them.”

            If I could get ongoing access to ALL of a bookstores books? That sounds great! Sign me up.

            This the mentality of the digital generation: We’d rather pay for the convenience of access than the burden of ownership.

          • Yeah, the bookstore analogy wasn’t exactly the greatest 1:1 comparison.

            I agree with you about the digital generation. It extends past even the paying for convenience of access. I’ve met many young freelancers who feel it is OK to use a pirated version of software until they make enough money to pay for it… which somehow, never happens.

            The real issue isn’t with the so called “burden of ownership” but the disconnect between conducting a business or working for fun/hobby and the way in which people HAVE to go about it. A business or individual would most likely always purchase a vehicle to have as their company (or personal) car because there is an obvious long term benefit to owning it vs. renting. A person on vacation or traveling would rent a car in a city they will only be in for a short period because the short term benefit is much greater. The problem is taking away either parties right to do either. Imagine if GM all of a sudden told everyone that every 2014 Model Year vehicle could only be rented because people weren’t buying cars every year they were released.

            The “digital generation” has unprecedented access to more information and technology then any before them, but the same principles of business hasn’t changed. Companies will constantly look to reduce monthly cost. I mentioned it in another post on this page. It has more to do with positioning themselves for times which may be low by taking advantage of times in which they are high. Companies bought CS packages when they felt they were able to and was beneficial for them. I also mentioned that updates in a professional setting are almost nil until that update is vetted… completely. Ask any IT or systems admin what they think of constant updates.

            The “burden of ownership” is something I will excitedly embrace. It means I have full control over my working environment and that is something I value greatly. Much more than any amount saved by paying a “smaller” monthly fee.

          • Bob Levine says:

            The problem is that there is no great 1:1 analogy. In the past you had two choices. Buy or don’t buy. That went to three for short time. Buy, subscribe, or do neither. Now we’re back to two. Subscribe or don’t.

            While we can try like hell to come up with analogies, there really aren’t any. Like the piracy issue you mentioned, it’s like trying to compare stealing a digital copy of Photoshop to stealing a car. Just doesn’t work.

          • Domenic J. Licata says:

            Let’s acknowledge that piracy hasn’t gone away, and many students (and even some professionals) think it’s ok to “borrow” a copy now and pay for it once their business becomes profitable. But like Quark before it, in their efforts to ward off the pirates by clamping down on installation/activation, they’ve made it more difficult for legitimate users to remain customers, and have actually increased piracy. Hopefully Adobe will learn from the iTunes model – by making songs inexpensive and removing DRM barriers, they have profited even as customers have become empowered.

          • Bob Levine says:

            Dominic makes an excellent point. But it’s been my point from the beginning. At $19.99/month or prepaying at $199 for a year, Creative Cloud for students is highly affordable. Even $29.99/month is something any student should be able to swing, especially since they can use it for paying work.

            There are people who will pirate anything, even a $0.99 song so let’s eliminate that group. There is zero barrier to entry for every Adobe application out there right now for any student that’s interested pursuing a career in any creative field, whether is web, video print, interactive applications.

            So what does that mean? It means that for them subscribing to software will be a normal way of doing things. Instead of more and more resistance to this model, I really think there will be less and less.

          • Domenic J. Licata says:

            Bob, as usual, I disagree with you, but I am grateful to hear so many passionate people debating. As has been stated, we all want to see Adobe succeed. But…

            $200 per year for four years and beyond is simply not affordable for a great majority of college students (and their parents, as the case may be.) You can argue that the cost of a college education is already high, and a few hundred dollars more doesn’t matter. But it does, and students will continue to obtain pirated copies, because they can. And it’s worth noting that Financial Aid does not, in most cases, cover the cost of subscription services.

            The previous price of the CS6 bundle at $350 was barely affordable, but students saw that as a reasonable investment, and many bought into it, with my recommendation.

            Zero barrier to entry, perhaps. But as the song goes, “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

            You think there will be less resistance to this model? This blog post has received 4400 visitors and 6200 views in the week following my post on the Facebook group “Stop Adobe From Forcing Creative Cloud On Creatives”. My colleagues and I are hearing from faculty and alumni in the field across the country who have heard our announcement and are standing with us. We are discussing ways of investing the money we would have spent on Adobe licenses in open source initiatives. The resistance is only beginning to grow, and it will continue to increase.

          • Bob Levine says:

            Fair enough. And whether we agree or not, it’s a pleasure to discuss it in a rational manner.

  • Jeff Beach says:

    Sorry to hear that Bob…

    My fearSince winning the War, Quark had become over confident and complacent. It was ubiquitous, a mandatory tool in design and print production. It was king of every hill, and, without PageMaker at its hip, clawing for the throne, Quark’s pace of rapid innovation slowed and all but ceased.

    • Bob Levine says:

      Hi Jeff,

      That was indeed the death knell for Quark. But beyond the change in licensing nothing else has really changed at Adobe as far as “…Quark’s pace of rapid innovation slowed and all but ceased” call me crazy (or worse) but that is not what’s happening here.

      The biggest benefit of CC is the rapid rollout of new features. And I don’t know why I have to keep asking people this, but why is it that anyone who sees the benefits of Adobe’s move to subscription called a shill, a commercial or something worse?

      Is it that hard to have a professional dialog without hurling insults back and forth?

      • Jeff Beach says:

        My assumption on your association with Adobe is based on your blog and how heavy handed it is towards Adobe. There is obviously not much initial doubt as to why championing for the product line is of interest to you (again initially).

        The problem a lot of real professionals have is that same draw that many hobbyists hail. The allure of “constant” updates is something that professionals don’t exactly care for in their day to day environment. If I am working on a client gig, I am NOT going to update mid project. Everything release has to be fully vetted and controlled internally or it will not be done. I have never been in a professional situation where “updates” were held as a freely positive thing. It is the same reason why post and editing houses may even skip a CS release. There have been releases that have been nothing more than “fluff-grades” to professionals utilizing the CORE software. And to bring it back to relevance, an collegiate environment could really care less about many of the knit-picky upgrades that are made when they try to teach the science and base behind the software. I know Content-Aware Fill IS cool, but it will not revolutionize a syllabus.

        AGAIN I LOVE Adobe. But hanging their hat on upgrades will kill them in the professional market and it just shows you how disconnected their marketing team is.

        • Jeff Beach says:

          I do want to also note that my initial “falling on partially deaf ears” comment wasn’t intended to be a “dig”. I just happen to see that your entire identity is kind of rooted in InDesign and I understand how hard this must be. Really for the first time there is animosity towards Adobe and their products. If I had my livelihood completely connected and am known on the internet as the #InDesignGuy, I would be quite nervous as well. The silver lining is that we BOTH don’t want to see Adobe go away. I’ve been in engineering, IT and creative meetings on the professional side. I have honestly not heard ONE utterance about what a great thing this is. Sadly and personally, my place of employment actually WITHDREW our 9 workstation order for Adobe Editing systems and went over to AVID (I’ll send you work orders to prove it). Businesses are not interested in this model.

          I WANT Adobe. The uncertainty and ultimate question is, how badly does Adobe WANT me.

          • Bob Levine says:

            Thanks, Jeff.

            I think (well, at least I hope) we finally have something we can agree on. Ultimately we want Adobe to succeed and find a way to keep as many people happy as possible while supplying us with the tools we love to use.

            But no, I’m not going to apologize for being a strong proponent of Adobe any more than I would ask you to apologize for being against them. I make a nice living using their tools especially InDesign.

            BTW, I don’t need any proof. I have no reason to doubt you.

          • I’m sure we’ve always agreed on that, and I hope I’ve haven’t made it the impression that you need to apologize.

            I hope you can keep your living and the use base that supports it.

  • Mike D says:

    Domenic, I agree 100% with you! I am the head photography instructor at a local college in NC. It seems you read my mind or I yours. Below is a post I sent to my students regarding Photoshop. Personally, I will just continue using CS6 and continue my search for other software. Bob Levine sounds like a commercial for Adobe. And YES I do believe it is absurd that whether a student or a business, anyone should have to perpetually buy new software every freaking year! Even Apple has recently thrown us a bone in their OS. Then to make matters worse Adobe has upped the on going price anty. I don’t care who you are, student or professional, this cuts deeply into anyone’s pocket. Just because a practice has been around for a long time doesn’t always make it right! And,Bob, I do not drink Starbucks either! And here is a thought, if business wasn’t in it for money, then it would not be a business for long! However, if a business price gouges then it to may not stay in business for long, unless it’s a monopoly of course! Below is what I posted for my students!

    “Just wanted to make a comment on a new marketing “strategy” Adobe is trying to dupe the consumer on. Adobe will discontinue selling it’s professional version of Photoshop on DVD. In it’s place Adobe is requiring consumers to “join” it’s membership or Cloud in order to access Photoshop and other software’s. There is a monthly fee, typically $19.99 per month to access just Photoshop. However, you can join for the “SPECIAL” rate of just $9.99 with a year contract which on the surface doesn’t sound to bad. I call this a “Cable Co. type Scam”. Adobe is taking a page out of Time Warner’s (for example) marketing ploy. After your year is up, the rate goes back to $19.99/month. This means $239.88/year! Still not sound bad? Adobe used to sell Photoshop Pro for approx. $199 “student” rate and you would get a hard copy to keep and use forever (within guidelines). Now, if you miss a payment or when Adobe does it’s “monthly” check to see if you have paid and your internet is down. You loose the software till the problem is corrected [yes also assuming you accidentally missed a month payment, jeez lighten up]. If you should happen to loose contact with the Adobe Cloud due to computer problems or the internet is down and you loose the Photoshop software, then you are out of luck if you have work to do. If you had a hard copy (DVD) you could just pop the DVD into the computer and you are back up and running.

    So, just like Time Warner’s (for example) ever increasing price, so will Adobe. Oh, by the way, don’t forget to pay attention to the “Plus Taxes” in addition to the monthly fee (just means the price is of course higher than just the fee). Adobe is really sticking it to the consumer that wants to use their software and doesn’t care to buy a new version every year. This is really one of those BUYER BEWARE type of sales ploys. CS6 is apparently the last edition that a DVD will be sold.”

    Other than keeping up with the Jones’s, CS6 is good enough to last as long as I can work in it. Of course, Adobe will probably come up with some way to ruin that too.

    • Bob Levine says:

      Mike, the $9.99/month plan for Photoshop and Lightroom, while it does require a one year commitment is not an intro rate.

      • atomaweapon says:

        Bob the bottom line is your customers hate this new method. You will eventually lose market share and make your company vulnerable for a company like google to swoop in and dethrone you. Though I doubt photoshop will go anywhere anytime soon the rest of the suite has some solid competitors.

        • Bob Levine says:

          I don’t work for Adobe but I do my research before making public recommendations that are completely misleading. The Photography program is $9.99/month.

          That’s it. That’s the price. Not an intro like the $29.99/month for the full package.

      • Jim Wiseman says:

        Bob, $9.99 IS an introductory rate from their Terms and Conditions. Notice the last sentence on RENEWAL:

        VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Eligible customers may purchase an Adobe Creative Cloud membership to Photoshop CC™ and Adobe® Photoshop Lightroom 5 bundled together for a reduced price. Offer valid for purchases of an annual plan, which requires a 12-month contract. This offer is only available to customers who purchase directly from the Adobe Store or by calling a regional Adobe Call Center. Residents of embargoed countries are not eligible. This offer is limited to one (1) purchase per customer. Offer is subject to U.S. export control laws and laws where the recipient resides. Offer may not be assigned, exchanged, sold, transferred, or combined with any other discount or offer, or redeemed for cash or other goods and services. Offer is valid until March 31, 2014, and can be changed without notice.

        Renewal
        After the first 12 months, we will automatically renew your contract based on the current price of the offering.

        Comment mine: Based on the current price, not $9.99/month!

        • Bob Levine says:

          Jim, as confusing as the communication is (definitely not Adobe’s strong suit) $9.99 is the price. While the pricing for the full CC subscription is intro at $29.99, the $9.99 is not an introductory price for Photoshop/Lightroom program.

          Could it go up at some point? Yes, but there is no plan to do so.

  • George Campbell says:

    I am happy to see someone standing up for the little guy. I also feel that Adobe is forgetting some important facts and out to get all the $ they can obtain.As you said, after working on different projects for 1,2,3 or 4 yrs, then be locked out because of $20.00 is crazy

  • Dan Henrichs says:

    I read your article and you may be missing an important point. Yes, the student cost is $20 a month, but it includes all adobe products for students. I’m not sure how many, but it is more than 10. I currently pay $59 a month for the same thing and find it a real value vs paying for photoshop, lightroom, and after effects, the 3 programs I currently use. They are always current and the former cost of these programs would have been over $1000 without any updates!

    • You are looking at a very short term cost Dan. It’s like saying it’s cheaper to rent a car vs. buying one. The money you pay to own the software means you have equity in the program. A used full version of CS5.5 STILL sells for close to 1,100 dollars on Ebay (on average). Owned Equity. It’s important to realize this before making an argument FOR renting something. Not only will you not own the program if you stop paying Adobe, but you will not have access to any of your Master files, meaning you are actually at a LOSS if you chose to stop. THAT is a big deal to businesses as well. The price argument does not pan out when you crunch the numbers. It just doesn’t.

      • Bob Levine says:

        Jeff makes a good point about price but he’s left out the cost of upgrades and the extras. So, I’d like to bring a new word into the equation: value. In my case, I can look at applications like Muse and Edge as things I’d never have learned about or how to use. DPS Single Edition apps being included means I can do two a year and more than pay for a subscription. If you’re in a very narrow field and have no interest in any of that, I can see the point about not upgrading or subscribing. But at that point you are no longer a target market for Adobe.

        Those that continue to clamor for perpetual licenses are in many cases the very same people that have skipped versions in the past. Do you think all those boxes of software and the applications cost nothing to develop? The value in Creative Cloud is possible because at this point it’s the only product Adobe is offering. One product to develop. One product to support.

        Isn’t value what it comes down to for any purchase? The old saying that you get what you pay for comes into play. The other old saying is you take the good with the bad.

        Contrary to what I’ve been accused of, I’m not pushing CC on anyone. In fact, I’ve acknowledged that it’s not for everyone. But what is?

        The only point that I’ve made, and continue to make, is that CC is a success and Adobe continues to work to improve it. A point was made in another post that “free software is catching up.” I agree whole-heartedly that there is some terrific open source software out there. Don’t you think the powers that be at Adobe are aware of that as well?

        Based on everything I’ve seen, the chances of perpetual licenses ever coming back are slim to none. And that’s the only point I’ve been trying to make. So, if you’re in the “I’m never going to rent” camp, then start exploring the alternatives now. If you’re in the “give me an exit strategy; a way to open/print/export my files” then stay tuned and see if Adobe can come up with something to satisfy you.

  • coco says:

    Interesting article! Thanks for speaking out!In case you are not yet aware of the Libre Graphics movement, pls have a look at this:
    http://libregraphicsmeeting.org/2014/

    Free software is catching up! Cheers, COCO

  • Thanks a lot for your article. In addition to what has been said I’d like to point out that to me software isn’t just a tool to act with, it is also a tool to think with.

    I consider software a technical object but also a cultural one that implement ways of thinking. Having a larger scope of software pieces helps realizing how our creative work and vision is so deeply forged by the patterns implemented in software (workflows, task-separation, aesthetic, etc.)

    I switched entirely to Free Libre and Open Source software a couple of years ago. If we talk about alternatives then FLOSS is to me invaluable because it open a space for software that is not entirely driven by marketing considerations implementing mainstream design practices.

    Besides that, it makes the software visible, through source code, public mailing-lists or bug trackers. It is a way to realize how deep software is that you can hardly realize if you only are in the Adobe ecosystem, where slick interfaces and generic error messages rule.

    Finally FLOSS is inspiring as an educational model because it creates knowledge beside the conventional frames of the university or the company, deconstructing the professional/amateur, teacher/student, commercial/non-commercial “cliché” dichotomies.

    It is often harder (sometimes not: think about webdesign) as it tends to give you building pieces rather than ready-made monolithic software, so you can build your own personal workflow. It is in any case enriching as it places you in an active situation toward what mediates your creation.

    • Domenic J. Licata says:

      Wonderfully stated, Alexandre. Sheds a new light on the connection between our software and our cultural approach to what we create. May I quote you in two other threads I am involved with: The AIGA group on LinkedIn, and AIGA Educators Yahoo Group?

      Is it your experience that participation in the Free Libre and Open Source movement is wider in Europe than in the US? It is my perception that Europeans are less likely to cave in to the control of multinational corporations — most encouragingly demonstrated in EU bans on Monsanto GMO crops.

      • Yes, feel free, and please correct my typos/broken English if needed!

        I don’t know how it compares to the US, but in Western Europe art schools there is only very little interest in scrutinizing (digital) tools. The only one I know about where FLOSS was part of the curriculum is the Piet Zwart Institute, Media Design Department, where I had the chance to study.

        On individual basis there are more initiatives from teachers toward this question. See the wip freshly created page at for a start and feel free to contact me/them for more information.

        With Adobe flip to CC I heard there has been quite some discussions lately in art schools, with some reactions in line with this blog post, but still a lot of hesitations on how to react. This is why I was happy to read this blogpost, although it seems like Adobe is doing some heavy lobbying right now.

        Oh, and regarding GMO, two days ago: No consensus to prohibit GMO maize in Europe (in French)…

  • J.Essex says:

    “Adobe Software to be Removed from Virtual SINC Site on Feb. 26″ is the subject line in an email received by an employee at a SUNY school. The email was addressed “To the Campus Community” and stated that this SUNY campus and “other institutions within the SUNY system are no longer permitted to deliver Adobe software products to non-University-owned computers.”

    The email suggests alternatives to Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign and others.

    This is an email that I have read and have in hand. I have read it many times and I have read this blog post and all of the comments.

    I see everyone making excellent points and none of which I would consider wrong or better than another. It has to do with what the students and staff can afford, what they are willing to pay for and whether or not it makes personal sense to purchase the software or purchase a subscription. Choice is the keyword and choices are made available by Adobe Systems. The campus that sent this email is one of the larger and more financially robust Universities. High school students who are looking at schools to apply to would benefit knowing which schools will no longer be permitted to deliver Adobe software products.

    Have any other campuses other than Stony Brook received similar emails or notifications?

    The email that I am referring to largely resembled your blog post. It appears as if the email took your blog post and used it as a model to write an email but instead of announcing the option, this email removed it.

    • Domenic J. Licata says:

      While I’ve heard from several institutions within SUNY and elsewhere that share Visual Studies’ position, I have not seen any official announcements from them.

      I am curious about the statement “no longer permitted to deliver Adobe software products to non-University-owned computers.” I’m assuming that the new license model limits virtual lab deployment.

      Are you able to post or perhaps forward a copy of that email?

      • Joseph says:

        I am a student of SUNY @ Stony Brook, and there has been an official announcement. I, personally, am upset at the fact there is a possibility of using out of date software, and the simple fact is that Adobe dominates the market – I fully support open source and alternative choices, but I wonder how this will affect those who will be using Adobe for their careers in the future if students aren’t adequately trained in the Adobe suite?

        • Joseph says:

          But, let me follow up and say that I do support SUNY’s decision to not move forward with the escalated costs associated with upgrading their software. Adobe needs to realize that institutional discounts are not a liability but an asset to their business, and they should treat their customers as such – instead of trying to rip them off.

        • Joseph, as an employer, I can assure you that I evaluate portfolios based on talent and aesthetic and I agree that Adobe is a set of tools only. Frankly, I would be excited to welcome someone on staff who could help my team evolve and think outside of Adobe.
          I employ 10 people in a small firm and I find this subscription based plan a distraction and an albatross. I do need a tool for my team to use, but our great work is because of what our talented designers invent, not the latest filters and functions from Adobe.
          Pave the way, I look forward to learning something new.

          • CPettit says:

            Bravo Kristen!

          • Bob Levine says:

            Obviously, at this point most of you have expertise in using Adobe applications and for one reason or another are cheering on a school that is planning on dropping all support and training in those applications.

            I’d like to throw a question out there for you. Would you be willing to remove your Adobe experience from your resume if you were looking for a job? Would you submit a resume instead with nothing but experience in using alternative software?

            Because if the answer is no, I suggest you rethink what’s happening here. While I fully support the school’s right to teach whatever it wants I’d be pretty ticked off spending a huge sum of money on an education that wouldn’t get me a job.

            This is a serious issue for the students. While you folks here may be all rah-rah over this, it is very likely to come back to bite the students and by extension, the school.

            For the most part these kids will be sending resumes out when they get out of school along with a portfolio. Yes, their skills as artists or designers are incredibly important, but many of them are going to wind up looking for production jobs, and those jobs are going require skills in specific programs. If they don’t have those skills they won’t get those jobs.

            At that point they’re going to have much bigger problems than paying $199/year for software. Then what are you going to tell them?

          • Bob raises a great point. As someone who has hired, I would like to say that IT DOESN’T MATTER. (sorry Bob). An applicant who wishes to put experience with desktop publishing software BETTER have a portfolio with them. Just like an applicant with Final Cut experience BETTER have a demo reel with them. Most if not ALL job stemming from a creative background will be judged on the applicants personal ability and not by their brand loyalty. For example, we had a web designer who came in and switched our entire 100+ staff off of Dreamweaver and into Drupal. When our higher ups raised concern about switching he sternly looked at them and said “They’ll learn or they weren’t meant to be hired in the first place”. Take a quote from Andrew Gordon, Pixar’s Directing Animator: “I think any art-based job is more about your portfolio and less about credentials. Because at the end of the day employers want to know that you can do the job. You could have a master’s degree or a Dr in animation if it was possible to get one, it doesn’t matter.”

          • Bob Levine says:

            No need to apologize, Jeff.

            And I’ll go so far as to say for video and to some extent web, the applications you mention are also considered standards (though I don’t think Drupal or WordPress are replacements for web authoring tools. HTML/CSS skills are still needed and those can be used with notepad).

            I’m not saying don’t teach the other apps, in fact, the more you teach the more marketable the students will be. I still think a lot of what’s being said here is based on emotion more than anything else.

            That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’re all passionate about what we do, and we certainly disagree on Adobe’s business model, but to totally dismiss it without even thinking about the ramifications for the students is another thing completely.

            Again, I fully support anyone running their business as they see fit (that includes Adobe). But there are only a handful of people here commenting. I suggest doing a little research into the job openings that exist out there and the qualification required for them. The school, of course, needs to be run as a business, but how long will that business last if the students start graduating and can’t find jobs because they weren’t taught the requisite skills.

            I think it’s great that some of you are willing to hire people without experience in specific computer applications but to think that’s what’s happening out there in the real world may well come back to haunt these kids.

          • Yeah but speaking from the “Real World” and my own college experience, I wouldn’t be hire-able right now if I hung my merits on the Media 100 workstations we used and the SVHS camcorders we shot on. We could also argue that them solely following Adobe during this tumultuous time might not benefit the students either. What if the worse happens and many companies stay off of the ships they are jumping right now. What good is specific InDesign experience when most businesses have abandoned it?

          • CPettit says:

            I agree 100% with Jeffrey and I will go one step further. I hire mostly freelancers for various projects ranging from video editing, to motion graphics, to 3D animation to programming of various types.

            The ones I hire the most are the ones that the MOST application mobility, not the least. The biggest problem I’ve had over the years is that too many editors know Final Cut Pro and NOTHING else. They are so fixated on a single propreitary application that they become narrow in focus and narrow in skill.

            As we all push ahead in to the future, the most successful people will unquestionably be application neutral, NOT locked in to one platform simply because at the moment they’re behaving like a monopoly. I suspect that over time, Adobe will have more competition than they do now, particularly now that they have a lot of opposition to mandatory CC.

          • Bob Levine says:

            Chris, I agree with you. That’s why I said this:

            “I’m not saying don’t teach the other apps, in fact, the more you teach the more marketable the students will be.”

          • Bob,

            I do hear you. But I am not in agreement. When I look at a resume for a Graphic designer, I am evaluating their type choice, their attention to detail, their kerning (or lack of), their grid and their own graphic identity. Software training does NOT factor in to my decision process.

            I also do not personally list my software experience on my resume.

            My team relies on Adobe products now. I bought up the last 3 CS’s on Amazon and am going to wait to see what happens over the next year. I’ve lived through PageMaker, Quark and InDesign and I do believe there will be something even better that comes out of this. I also believe what makes a great designer is their ability to problem solve and to think outside of Dribbble and the computer.

            I think this discussion is a healthy one and I think that students need to have their eyes wide open. I suspect this will spark conversations and a discourse that will have these students thinking harder about what they want to pursue in their careers, which is a great thing. Maybe they do in fact need the Adobe products on their own machines and they feel it’s essential for them to learn them. Fine. They are in their young 20s and can pick up an application and learn it in about 2 days. What they need from their school is to learn the ins and out of design, production, and how to succeed in their give career paths.

            Let’s let the tools evolve like they always have and always will.

            Thanks for listening,
            Kirsten

  • Barbara Alt says:

    So have you come up with alternative suggestions yet? Please let us know ASAP. Thank you

    • Domenic J. Licata says:

      Inkscape seems to be the leading Illustrator contender. Gimp and Pixelmator to replace Photoshop, with a nod to Apple Aperture for photo management. No need for Dreamweaver — now teaching hand coding using Sublime Text. Toon Boom for animation. Processing for interactivity. Waiting for better CSS animation tools. Also still evaluating InDesign replacements.

  • Bob Levine says:

    Great points, Kristen! That’s what this about…a dialog about the future for all creative professionals.

    As much as I love Adobe products, I’m always happy to see competition. It keeps everyone on their toes.

  • […] ### The University at Buffalo’s Department of Visual Studies actually recommends its students to NOT subscribe to Creative Cloud. […]

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