Category Archives: Illustration

An Open Letter to Adobe Systems

Dear Adobe,

I have been a very happy user of your products for more than twenty years. In fact, I’ve defended you repeatedly to co-workers who insisted on using competitors like Corel Draw, Microsoft Publisher and Aldus Freehand, until your elegant products became the dominant programs in all end-user creative categories.

I once wrote a happy-customer letter to you when I switched to Adobe InDesign after using QuarkXpress for many years. I made the switch after hours of research, and I actually convinced my new employer to buy InDesign. The transition was nearly seamless, with an almost nonexistent learning curve. I was very pleased that your products made my job easier.

I have never pirated your software, but over the years I’ve gained intermediate-to-advanced proficiency in Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and Acrobat. A lot of this experience was gained on the job throughout my graphic design career, but since the early 90s I have been able to purchase legitimate copies of all four products here and there. I could not afford to upgrade each time you released a new version, but have happily paid the upgrade fee every few years (mostly coinciding with the purchase of a new Mac).

The last time I bought the software outright was a couple of years ago with CS5.5. I admit I waited until I was able to qualify for the student pricing, and scored the whole package for just a few hundred dollars. I am studying to be a teacher, which means I will qualify for educational pricing for the forseeable future.

I appreciate that you provide significant discounts for educators, however I’m writing today to let you know that I’m very unhappy with your decision to force your entire user base into the Creative Cloud suite of products. Here’s why:

I am not a daily user of any of your Creative Suite products. My use of them happens in fits and spurts, mostly centered around holidays and summers. Therefore it bothers me that I must sign a year-long contract before qualifying for the educator’s discount ($74.99 is the month-to-month price vs. $19.99/month [special, limited-time price!] if I sign an annual contract). I’m annoyed about the months I’ll pay for but won’t use the software much, if at all, but the big issue for me is the fact that unless I keep paying, month after month, forever, I’ll lose access to my own work once the contract is up.

There is no baseline or comparable model with which I can compare. I am able to open files of many different types and versions now (using CS version 5.5)–even files I created years and years ago. I am filled with a sense of panic and dread (leading to anger) at the thought of not being able to open my own work after less than a year if I don’t renew.

Let’s be real: your new cloud-only, subscription-only model benefits you most, not your customers. And yes, there are some benefits to always using the latest and greatest copy of the software, but that’s never appealed to me because I was never one who needed access to all the new features as soon as you created them. Your new business model is best for high-volume, daily users at large companies, not sole-proprietor freelancers, small business owners, authors and educators like myself (who are feeling screwed by you right now).

I am sorry to say I will be looking for alternatives to Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat in the coming months. Until then, I’ll use my legally-obtained copy of CS 5.5 until it stops running.

Thanks for the memories, but I’ll be looking forward to finding a new creative partner to help me with my work from now on. A company who is happy to take my money without limiting access to my own stuff in the future. A company who cares about building long-term relationships with its customers. All of them.

Sincerely, Brooks Jones

New Toy: the Jot Mini Stylus

JotMiniLook what came in the mail today, straight from the sale page at ThinkGeek: a brand-new Jot Mini stylus, regularly $20+, bought by me for only five bucks. Thanks, ThinkGeek! Apparently propellerheads don’t like the color red, but I do. Looks like they’re sold out of the discounted red ones–I guess I got lucky.

The stylus I’d been using was one of those generic touch-screen things bought off the rack at Office Depot, with a tip about the same size as the top of my little finger. That’s right, no real precision. So you can imagine I was pretty eager to take the Jot for a test spin.

Within five minutes, I became completely spoiled. I’ll never go back to that gigantic stylus again, at least when I want to draw. Here are a couple of quick sketches I did today, using the Paper by 53 app.

Train by Brooks Jones

Train Over Hill

Cartoon Steve by Brooks Jones

Cartoon Steve

By the way, if there’s anyone listening from the development team working on Paper by 53, I have a humble suggestion for you. I’ve tried all the other major drawing/sketching programs out there, and nothing compares to the pen tool in Paper. Add layers and I’ll be happy forever, pretty please?

Here’s one last drawing I did with the new stylus tonight:

After The Game by Brooks Jones

After The Game

Can you tell I’m a happy camper?

For more of my doodles, cartoons and drawings (and photos too), visit me on Instagram and Flickr.

Used Bookstore Find: a Will Terry Book!

More Snacks by Will Terry

Check out what I found at my local used bookstore: a like-new copy of one of Will Terry‘s books! You may remember that we were able to get Will Terry to guest-host the weekly #storyappchat back in June, and he did a bang-up job. I do love his books but they seem to be a little hard to find, so you can imagine how stoked I was to get my hands on this: and for less than a buck, too!

The girls and I will take this book out for a spin at bedtime. And Will: thanks for sharing your fantastic art with the world!

I See Some of My Favorite Drawings… In Person!

Fins and Feathers

Me at the Fins and Feathers Exhibit at the NC Museum of Art

My mom turned 70 on January 22, and she decided she wanted to celebrate by visiting the North Carolina Museum of Art (specifically the Norman Rockwell exhibit). I was thrilled to discover that in addition to the fabulous Rockwell works, the museum is playing host to the work of some of my very favorite picture book artists too, on loan from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. I got to see drawings from Tedd Arnold, Arnold Lobel, Leo Lionni and several others (and if you’ve visited my favorite books page, you know I think these guys are wonderful!). I can promise you this was truly a thrill–and I recommend it to anyone who loves children’s picture books. The exhibit is up through Sunday, January 30–if you’re near Raleigh, go check it out! It’s FREE–no ticket required!