Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about supporting technology. Whether it’s online content, software, or hardware; monetarily supporting services helps further future development. It keeps the developers fed and happy. If you believe that a certain program could be the next big painting application, back it any way you can. If you can’t afford to give money, give your time. Answer questions on the software’s forum, share your work online, or tweet your undying love. It’s our responsibility as users to hit the streets with our work and our knowledge, sharing our experience. This grows the user base and makes for a larger and stronger community. If you can give money also, all the better.
Hate is a strong word
When people have spoken to me about this blog, they want to discuss why I hate Adobe. The fact is that I don’t hate Adobe. What I dislike is that we as users have given them control to dictate the terms of our relationship with their subscription model. Personally, I don’t want to give any company control over my work, making me forever tied to paying a stipend for accessing my content.
Adobe has been friendly to artists over the years. They bundled software from acquisitions of other companies like Aldus Pagemaker and Macromedia, rolling their software into one integrated solution. While Adobe was doing this, none of us noticed that they were making a monopoly with this convenient and cheap software eco system. Now with all of the industry-standard software obtained, they hold the cards.
David vs. Goliath
After Adobe announced its moving to a subscription-only service in May of 2013, smaller companies and open-source developers have been pushing themselves like never before. Developers have been working feverishly over the past year developing tools or improving existing open-source products in order to compete against Adobe.
As a result, there have been big strides with open-source software, like Krita. Earlier this year they guaranteed rolling updates with the introduction of their Kickstarter. Since then Krita has been going through a long list of fixes and improvements to become a leader in digital painting. Their fixes include Liquify, Cage Transform, speed improvements, and Perspective Transformation. They’re also working a lot on Photoshop integration so that you can work between the two programs without any issues. It’s really inspiring to see all this work in such a short period of time and it’s exciting to see what’s in store.
All open-source software has been looking for money over the past year. Software like Blender and Tupi were less successful than Krita at reaching their funding goals. The message that they’re sending to users is that they need our help.
Before beginning my monthly offsetting, I thought of open source like many others—that it’s freeware. What I learned in speaking more with developers is that open does not mean free. In order to have open software and content, we need to give back with time, money, or both. Through this past year I’ve developed a lot of wonderful friendships and gotten to know the people who develop and maintain much of the open software that I love.
Developers are quick to point out that in order for them to be successful, they need to engage in an ongoing conversation with their community. Many artists have their thinking backwards. The misconception that open source is too infantile and not ready for daily use is the wrong way to think about it. You can’t wait for the perfect software that meets all your needs to fall at your feet.
Trying out software and starting a conversation about your experience with developers helps resolve many performance issues. One of my developer friends likened it to expecting a baby without the work of conception. Developers know code, but they don’t fully understand your process as an artist. Communicating with developers helps them understand what’s important to users as they tailor their development to fit your needs.
A world outside open source
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t support other smaller companies that are trying to develop a great set of tools. One piece of software that I absolutely love is Anime Studio. Even though it’s now distributed by Smith Micro instead of independently, the original developer, Mike, is still the vision for this super animation tool. They pack the software full of updates and make them available almost twice a year. There are plenty of software options like Anime Studio out there that are great tool and wonderful alternatives to using Adobe.
In the past year, I’ve donated over $500 USD to software, developers, and visionaries. I’ve supported open-source software, independent projects, inventions, and sites that provide wonderful content. Sharing my experiences and discoveries over the past 12 months have helped others who are looking for alternatives and new things to try.
Helping others isn’t always an altruistic act, and that’s not a bad thing. I’ve learned that individuals can make a difference. Giving time, energy and a few bucks can lend to making your dreams possible. The thing is that you have to start somewhere. I feel that my money and time has gone to a good cause—me. Supporting alternatives has gotten me closer to living in an Adobe-free environment.
I still use Adobe for my day job, but at home I no longer use any of the programs. My iMac has become a very large iPod that plays my iTunes collection while I work in Linux. The past year hasn’t been easy but it gets better with each passing day. I’m looking forward to 2015 and continuing my commitment to Adobe offsetting.