Adobe Creative Cloud is not a tool, it's an abusive relationship. It has seeped into higher-education, presenting itself as "the real thing," and convinced a whole generation of designers, teachers, and industry professionals that reliance on Adobe is a necessary part of our success. It takes courage to realize our own potential; to see ourselves as individuals outside of this relationship. Once you do, you'll know that it's time to break up.

Photoshop is not a tool. A paintbrush is a tool. You can make a paintbrush yourself. If the fibers get damaged you can rip them out and bind new bristles in their place. If Photoshop has a glitch, you cannot fix it. Even if you get a PhD in computer science, you still cannot fix it. Your smartest friends cannot fix it. The agency you work for cannot fix it. The government cannot fix it. The Dalai Lama cannot conjure all the love in the world to heal this contemptible piece of proprietary software.

Only one, exclusive group has the ability to fix it. Adobe. You would think they were some kind of cult. Like, before they let you fix the software that you paid for you have to go through their initiation process and get absorbed into their corporate culture. They made it this way on purpose, because if other people could fix it, they would lose power over you. And if Adobe ever dissolved, its software would fade into obscurity, and 10 years from now the thousand of proprietary *.psd files you've made will only be viewable on a pirated version of Photoshop CS6 running in a Windows 7 virtual machine.

I first learned Photoshop when I was 10 years old. I spent hours following tutorials. Star Wars had just come out, and I learned how to make my family members look like Sith lords by painting their eyes red and I burned creases into their skin. A decade later I was working at an ad agency and considered myself a pro in Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and InDesign. Dropping Adobe felt extremely painful. At first I thought I couldn't do it, then I just felt like I'd been taken advantage of and wished I'd done it sooner.

If Adobe aren't tyrants, then what do you call the people who make GIMP, Inkscape, Krita, Blender, and Scribus? Philanthropists? These people have full time jobs, then they return home at night, and then they spend the rest of their time creating professional open-source graphics programs that anyone can use for free. And they're good. And you can use them instead of Adobe products to do professional web design. And people in third-world countries can be empowered to learn design without overcoming Adobe's financial hurdles. Adobe employs 17,000 people and made $7.30 billion in revenue (2017) and they still will not do this. Why? What kind of world rewards people who exploit others while punishing people who work hard for the common good and share freely?

It's already on the tip of everyones' tongue. See: Subscription cost increasing AGAIN (March, 2018). Adobe puts people into a vulnerable position and then exploits them by doing whatever they want. They know they can get away with it, because people depend on them. The pipeline is obvious:

  1. Adobe makes deals with colleges, enticing them to teach their students Adobe products.
  2. Colleges teach students Adobe products. It's what the industry uses, after all... right? The vicious cycle begins.
  3. Adobe's marketing convinces students, teachers, and agencies that Creative Cloud is the one true, authentic graphics suite for professional design work. You can't be "professional" without it.
  4. People form a dependency on these products. They are very difficult to learn, so the more people use it the more dependent they become. Changing to a different program means unlearning the complexity and leaving the comfort zone you've worked so hard to reach. Designers who just paid $60k+ for school will suffer from escalation of commitment.

Cancel your damn Creative Cloud subscription and direct those funds towards the developers of GIMP, Inkscape, Krita, Blender, and Scribus. We might still have a chance to save this world.