On the day that I meet Terry White, his Adobe Creative Suite video podcasts have just reached 20 million downloads. It makes sense, because if you Google him, you’ll soon discover his passion for technology and software. He has a successful blog, podcast stream and his very own Facebook fan page, all centred around his love for technology, but more specifically Adobe products. Not only is Terry the Worldwide Creative Suite Design Evangelist for Adobe Systems works, he’s also a columnist for Photoshop User Magazine and Layers Magazine, author of Secrets of the Adobe Bridge and co-author of InDesign CS/CS2 Killer Tips.
Terry was recently in Australia for the Adode Creative Suite 5.5 Roadshow that toured the country during early June 2011. I caught up with him to find out what his role as evangelist involves, and whether he has any Creative Suite tips.
Where does your love for technology come from?
It comes from my love for gadgets. I’ve always had an affinity for science fiction, technology, devices, remote controls and all of that. I grew up with that fascination, ever since I was a kid, and just followed it – my blog is actually a gadget blog.
How did you become a ‘design evangelist’?
I went from the technology aspect of the computer, into the software aspect of the computer and then from there I opened up my own training business for graphic design interning. Back then (over 15 years ago) I met my oldest rep and she let me know about a position that had opened up at Adobe. I applied for it and got it. I was in sales for 14 of those years (in the technology section as a system engineer) and since 2009 I’ve been a worldwide evangelist.
What does your role involve?
Well for 14 years my role was technical sales – so telling people about the products, but also selling the products. Now my role is evangelising the products, which you probably think is the same thing. The difference is that I don’t carry a quota, I’m not rewarded or penalised by the number of copies which are sold. So I can truly get into the aspects of just getting people excited about the software, without thinking in the back of my mind, ‘I need to close this deal… I need them to buy.’ It’s honest communication. So of course I’ll tell them the great things about the products but when there’s something not so great, I’ll point that out too.
How do you keep up-to-date with the new products in the suite?
I have found, over the years, that the easiest way is to actually use them. I’m a photographer so I’m always in Photoshop, always in Lightroom. Prior to that I was doing design work for a non-profit, so I was designing the newsletter etc, so I was always in InDesign, always using the tools. And while I don’t think that anyone would have a problem learning something – if you really want to be into it, you just have to use it.
You publish numerous podcasts of tips about and problems with the products, where do most of the questions come from?
Well, it’s either a problem that I ran into and thought, ‘Hey I should probably record a video on how to solve this’ or a question that has come from a reader. Believe it or not, that’s half the battle, coming up with something new to record or talk about, so I love it when someone asks a question, ‘How do you do this?’. And I think, ‘That would make a great video to record’. The feedback is very helpful.
This is a huge question. Is there just one new feature across the Adobe product range which would impress our readers?
I get asked this all of the time. Overall, I would say the most impressive feature across the suite, is between two features actually. I really do like the HTML 5 offer in Dreamweaver, that we’ve taken on, and the Image Stabilisation in After Effects, that is automatic. I love things that are automatic – they just do it for you. It’s a problem that everyone that has ever held a video camera has faced. If you’re holding a small camera you can’t keep it steady in your hand for very long. So to have a product that automatically smooths that video out, with one click, that would have to be the one.
Can you talk about the increased interactivity involved in using InDesign 5.5. for digital magazines?
The funny thing is, if you think about the history of print and print publishing, printers are usually the last people that want to adopt anything new. It it’s ‘working’, they don’t really see the benefit of it – ‘Why should I buy this new press?’ ‘Why should I buy this new RIP?’ But with digital publishing, on the other hand, it’s different because they’re coming to us first and asking – ‘How can I get my publication digital?’ Because basically they’re seeing a decline in the interest and in new print jobs… and more in the interest of digital design.
And I think the printers have learned their lesson (especially the ones that faulted desktop publishing, when they were doing it the old way with film, linotype and copy graphic machines). The people that fought it died off in the industry and I think that they don’t want to repeat that history. They want to embrace it because they basically see a change coming – if history repeats itself – you will fall behind. Print isn’t going to go away tomorrow – as long as there’s a newsstand inside of an airport, people will always want to pick up a printed item to read on the plane.
Interestingly, Amazon announced publicly that the kindle books are outselling the printed books, and that’s huge. For them to make that public (because they make more money on the printed books), that’s saying something.
What’s next for Terry White? Another book?
The next for me is probably to ramp up more of my online training because while I enjoy the finished product of a book – they’re a pain in the neck to write! I love it when it’s in my hand and it’s done. So I think I’ll do more videos and more online training.
If our readers have any questions for you, how can they get in contact?
The best way to ‘interact’ with me is through my Facebook fan page.
All images copyright Terry White.