How to be an analog designer in a digital world

How to be an analog designer in a digital world

I’ve been running my craft-based design business for almost 14 years now. Using a handmade, analogue approach to design is what has set me apart and helped me to forge a niche career path that I am super proud of. But the true secret to longevity for me has been all about integration - using both analog and digital skills to compliment each other in my design practice. It’s also been about being open to change and continuously adapting my handmade design practice to embrace technology. If we can use tech to help us to be more creative and enhance what is already there, then that’s a really lovely place to be.

The benefits of handmade
For brands, incorporating handcrafted elements into a campaign helps create an approachable personality, and can be a genuine, effective way to connect emotionally with audiences. [Source] When you look at something tactile, like a handmade prop for example, a connection forges between you and the maker. You can tell someone has made this object with their own hands, and it’s that personal touch and authenticity that leaves an impact. And so by extension, this forms a stronger connection between the brand using that handmade technique in their campaign, and their customer, which strengthens the brand and gives it more authenticity. So actually, handmade techniques can be a really useful marketing and brand building tool (as well as looking amazing and unique too!) There’s also a lot of mental health benefits to creating things with your hands, and in using handmade pursuits as a compliment to a very screen heavy existence.

Kitiya, a female craft-based designer with black hair, sits at a desk in a colourful studio, in the process of creating a papercraft collage

But where does technology fit in?
You wouldn’t think it being someone whose whole business revolves around tactile handmade things, but I rely on technology heavily for my work. Whether it be concepting, pre-production, mock ups, editing, marketing, or simply design in general, I use it to some capacity  every day in my design practice. Early in my career I experienced imposter syndrome, feeling like I didn’t have a place in the digital world because of my handmade practice, and feeling inadequate due to not having any “formal” training in how to use digital design tools.

Luckily today, the barrier for entry as someone who has minimal digital design experience is very low. Generative AI and Adobe’s many clever “one-click” tools and Quick Actions make it so accessible to get started and enhance your creative practice. I now work regularly across Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Adobe Express, and feel empowered and confident to do so. Love that for me!

Using technology is also integral from a business perspective. I’m a solo designer and business owner and am solely responsible for the day to day running of my business. Alongside my creative work I am responsible for all of my own business admin, client outreach, accounting and in particular marketing, which often feels like a full time job alongside my already full time job. My priority is really the creativity part of my business, so I’m always looking for ways to streamline this stuff so it takes less time. This is where tools like Adobe Express come in really handy for me. 

Kitiya, a craft-based designer, sits at a desk creating a digital design using Adobe Express.
How to use Adobe Express to streamline your marketing workflow
Adobe Express is a perfect example of a tool that can be used to elevate and streamline an analog design practice, and also make life easier for busy small business owners. I’m currently using it as a one-stop-shop to set up all my marketing bits and pieces in, from content production all the way through to asset design, and even scheduling. I also use it to design marketing collateral for my business - whether that’s social media template suites, flyers and other promo material, presentations, pitch decks, or briefs. Here’s a few specific ways that I’m using it that might be useful to you too:

  • Template generation: create a template to promote your business on social media, and make use of the Design Asset Library to add realistic, handmade elements (like textures and collage ephemera) to your designs to keep that analog vibe prevalent
  • Use the resize feature to create a suite of assets based on that template for posting across multiple social platforms
  • Content creation: use the animation and timeline features to create short form video content for your social platforms
  • Schedule everything to post on socials within the app using the Content Scheduler
  • Create professional presentations and return briefs for Clients that you can download as PDFs to present or print

Want more? here’s some other ideas to inspire you.

Using AI to enhance creativity
Another way that I use Adobe Express is for its AI tools. There’s a lot of very practical (and fun!) ways to use AI within Express, like Generative Fill, Text to Template, and Text effects. I’ve been using the Text to Image tool in a really unique way to help me during the concepting and ideas phase of my creative projects. I look at AI as the studio assistant I always wish I had. She’s a lot more free-thinking than me, and while I can get stuck within the design structure I’ve used for years, she’s always thinking outside the box. As such, her ideas tend to be more out there than mine can be. She’s not thinking about sticking to a client brief like I am, so her creativity can be more free. Whenever I want to inject some of this free spirited approach to design into my concepts, I’ll use the Text to Image tool to generate AI images based on the brief I’m working on. If the brief calls for an abstract papercraft collage, I’ll feed this into Text to Image to see what she can come up with. It’s always still my style, but enhanced in ways I might not come up with myself. I’ll then take this image and use it as a starting point for my handmade, analog design, and go from there. Or, I’ll use it straight within Adobe Express to create something digital.

The colourful, maximalist design studio of craft-based designer Kitiya Palaskas

What does the future of design look like?

When AI first came on my radar as a design tool I was really nervous. Like many I worried about how if it was going to replace me, and if technology was going to advance so far that it would leave a handmade artist like me in the dust. But after leaning into it and trying to work out ways I could make it work for me, I now embrace it as  part of my design practice, and get excited about ways I can make it work with me, rather than replace me. It’s my hope that we will be able to use it in more and more different ways to make running a creative business way more efficient. I’d like to see it used to empower solo creative professionals like me to accomplish business tasks that might have previously needed whole teams to do. There are so many people who aren’t yet at the scale of business where they can have a whole team, or their lifestyle or choices mean that they prefer to be solo over building a team. I would hope that advances in AI technology could make the path to being a creative professional more accessible to everyone.

From a creativity perspective, I’d like to see it used more and more for enhancing our creativity - giving us access to fresh and new ideas that are still very us, but help us think more outside the box. It’s an exciting frontier and I’m here for the ride!

A colourful creative template designed by Kitiya Palaskas with Adobe Express
A colourful creative template designed by Kitiya Palaskas with Adobe Express

Get creative!

Inspired to try Adobe Express for yourself?
Why not get started by customising this free template  for your Instagram stories? Click through to access the template and remix it to make it your own, and share some fun facts about yourself with your audience. Don’t forget to tag @adobeexpress and @kitiyapalaskas so we can see what you create.

You can try Adobe Express for free here.

A horizontal border of blue and pink star shapes

This blog post was created in partnership with Adobe Express and accompanies a video series called Great Chats, which profiles diverse creatives from this region and explores their thoughts on the future of technology in the creative space, and how they integrate Adobe tools into their workflows. In this series you’ll get to come along with me to their studios, meet the artists themselves, and hang out with us as I learn about their creative practices and what makes them tick. We’ll also have fun experimenting with Adobe Express and AI, and find out why these tools are so great to compliment our design work, enhance our creativity, and help run the professional side of our creative lives. Watch Great Chats on YouTube, and feel free to share an episode with a creative friend who might find it inspiring and useful. 



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