Applying to the Adobe Creative Residency

Applying for the Creative Residency was one of the best decisions I’ve made! People have been emailing me here and there asking for advice on applying and I’d love to give you my thoughts.

First, I’ll walk you through my interviewing experience. Second, I’ll give some tips on applying.

How it all went down

Throwing it back to January last year: the Residency had been on my mind for a few weeks, and I’d even sent the Residency manager at the time an email asking if my proposal would work within the Residency guidelines; however, I really, really didn’t think I’d get it, so I wasn’t fully intending on applying. With a little push from my significant other and friends, I decided to apply semi-last minute with a proposal I had been mulling over.

After I applied, I more or less forgot about the Residency altogether. Since I was graduating in June, I was applying and submitting myself to lots (LOTS) of different programs, jobs, etc. Don’t get me wrong- I was super excited about the Residency, but never saw it as anything more than a creative dream that’d never turn realistic.

In March, I heard back from the Residency program for the first time- they wanted to know more about my proposal, experience, and background. This was the first time it felt like the Residency was even a remote possibility. It was really, really exciting.

Soon after that, I was asked to fly down to San Francisco to interview. I spoke to people working on lots of teams — not just the Residency managers — and had conversations about my what excited me, scared me, and interested me about the work I was proposing.

After that, I was offered the position. This whole process, from the first contact made by the Residency to the offer, only lasted about a week and a half — so quick!

Okay, phew! That was long. With all that being said, here’s some tips and questions to ask yourself for applying to the Residency.

Tips for Applying

If you’re thinking about applying, the first thing to ask yourself (in my experiences) is: what are you currently working on, excited about, or considering?

If your proposal exists entirely outside of the realm of something you’re already venturing into, I would say you’re making it more difficult on yourself. The Residency is a great opportunity to expand the type of work you’ve already been doing in a way that you couldn’t have expected; but not so great an opportunity to start work that you’ve never stepped into before.

In crafting your proposal, think about what makes your work genuinely unique (yeah okay okay, cliché, I know, but it’s true)!

For instance, Julia Nimke proposed traveling to locations with historic folklore, and documenting photos and stories of the locations and those working there. Instead of saying “I want to travel to Iceland and take landscape photos!” Julia identified a topic area she was passionate about, making her work stand out with a unique narrative.

Your proposal is important, but what is equally (if not more) important is your excitement, knowledge of, and background in the sort of work you are proposing. You should not be 1000000% married to your proposal — I would know, my proposal did a pretty big 180! It is more important for you to be very excited about the type of work you’ve done, where you see that type of work going, and how the Residency will impact your future. (Hint hint: make sure you’ve got a solid portfolio to back yourself up!)

Lastly, after you’ve applied, relax. I know it can be hard to, but as someone who suffers from never being able to relax, allow yourself time and opportunity to think about what you’ve proposed and be proud of making it thus far.

If you get rejected, apply again next year! Add to your portfolio and revise your proposal- think about what you really want to do! Rejection is only natural, and usually means you’ll figure out something that might be a better fit. The Residency is an incredible opportunity, but you can still work on similar work regardless of whether or not you’re accepted!

Thanks for listening! I hope you apply (seriously. apply)!

TLDR; work on that portfolio! Write a proposal relating to the type of work you’re familiar with! Get excited about the work! You can do it!!!!!

-Natalie

Thanks to Adobe and my Adobe Creative Residency family for making this all possible. This year has been more than I ever expected out of graduation and I’ve got so many people to thank for believing in this work.