Covering creatives’ tech needs from “A” to “Z”

At Adobe MAX, Z by HP takes center stage with new tools, powerful PCs and services for creative pros.

By Sarah Murry — October 24, 2018

When inspiration strikes, you’ve got to be ready.

For the some 12,000 graphic designers, artists, architects, animators and creatives of all stripes that descended on the Los Angeles Convention Center last week, that means having the right technology in your figurative back pocket. At Adobe MAX, attendees come to the yearly trade show to expand their knowledge and skills for Adobe Creative Cloud, the top-shelf software for this type of work. But beefy software demands a powerful enough computer to capture that moment when the creative juices start to flow.

HP, which was among the many tech sponsors at MAX, made a bold statement with the unveiling of its Z by HP brand, along with a refreshed Z portfolio of products and services with the goal of “reinventing the way you create.” HP also announced a partnership with 13 ambassadors for the brand who attended the show and spoke on key breakout panels and workshops about the way they work. HP’s presence at the show underscored its commitment to creative professionals — and its ability to meet their needs at every step of their careers.

Designer for designers

HP’s biggest news was that it integrated its SmartStream D4D (designer for designers) software as a free plug-in for Adobe Illustrator Creative Cloud, which enables designers customize and personalize their work by using algorithms to endlessly manipulate different elements of their art — whether it’s iconography, color palette, text and imagery — for a wholly one-of-a-kind effect.

Smirnoff vodka bottles designed by Eva and Marta Yarza, using HP's SmartStream D4D software.

Smirnoff vodka bottles designed by Eva and Marta Yarza, using HP's SmartStream D4D software.

It’s the same technology that enabled London-based design duo the Eva and Marta Yarza, of Yarza Twins Studios, to create a riotously colorful campaign for Smirnoff, and for Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign and Diet Coke’s “Get a Taste” campaign.

“A key benefit of digital print is the ability to produce limitless variations of a theme,” says Eva Yarza. “Once we conceptualized our approach for the Smirnoff designs, D4D brought it to life.”

It wasn’t just artists who got excited about SmartStream D4D, according to Michael Cox, a solutions architect in the graphics experience center at HP’s Houston office.

“We’ve seen a lot of brands, large and small, wanting to use D4D SmartStream to differentiate themselves, whether it’s an item on the shelf like Smirnoff, or a neighborhood restaurant that wants each of their menus to be a little bit unique,” Cox says.

Growing with “Z”

Part of HP’s strategy to grow its brand loyalty the “Z” lineup is to share the possibilities of the technology with freshly-minted artists and designers at the start of their careers.

Adobe and HP partnered to sponsor seven up-and-coming designers, photographers, illustrators and artists in its Creative Residency program. They get outfitted with Adobe and HP gear to work on a year-long project of their choice. A few of the residents staffed a booth at the rear of the convention hall that was decked out with HP-printed giant cardboard popups designed by resident Nadine Kolodziey. Based in Frankfurt and Berlin, she created a “walkable” environment where people were invited to take photos of themselves in a life-size “selfie park” filled with fantastically-imagined foliage.

Other residents who made cameos at the show included Aaron Bernstein, a New York City-based photographer, who is spending his residency launching an online culinary publication that focuses on the cultural influence of food; and graphic designer and photographer Temi Coker, based in Dallas, who is exploring commercial work for brands in fashion, music and sports.

With help from HP and print service provider Blurb, the residents were able to print their portfolios into sleek books that they could take along with them to pitch potential clients and agencies.

“Many creatives today don’t produce their work physically, they have virtual pieces of art that no one gets to touch because they live in the cloud,” says Doris Brown-McNally, global brand innovation manager for the graphics solutions business at HP. “We helped them produce high-end, coffee table-style books for their face-to-face meetings, so they can hand them out as calling cards.”

The books, printed on HP Indigo presses, are inexpensive (averaging around $30 each, as opposed to investing in a short run of books that could cost thousands), with about a two-day turnaround.

“There’s a certain quality to the paper and a touch to its soft cover,” Coker says. “I’m looking to use it in pitching commercial work, so I want it to be an experience that people will remember.”

Back at the booth, show attendees mingled with HP staffers, who were wearing Z by HP tee shirts touting the products’ ability to perform in “beast mode, all day, every day.”  Z by HP was getting its long-awaited spotlight, says Trent Koch, worldwide campaign manager for Z by HP displays and accessories. “We are helping people do such cool things that we felt that “Z” should be elevated,” he says. “We think that in this space for creative professionals, people are all about the products that help them get their jobs done.”


Read more about how the Yarza twins are shaking up the London design scene.