Jamie Myrold joined Adobe 14 years ago and now leads the development of the next generation of design tools as the VP of Design here in San Francisco.
Myrold has been instrumental in not only evolving design tools but the very processes by which design happens. With 300 plus people on her team and a big product portfolio, she knows first-hand that introducing a new tool is not as simple as updating to the latest version. “New technology is great, but you have to understand how it fits within a creative workflow,” states Myrold, and design teams have to remain nimble, adapting their workflow to fully take advantage of emerging technology.<
"New technology is great, but you have to understand how it fits within a creative workflow."
Myrold has also become one of the biggest voices championing A.I. and machine learning within design. While many designers still cringe at the thought—after all, we’re not too far from a time when layouts were done with T-Squares—Myrold reminds us that machine learning has been a part of Adobe products for decades. “The more the machine can help the designer, the better, and that is one great use we’ve seen for a long time.” Designers still define what algorithms do, and the payoff is that designers get to focus on the bigger picture.
Like CSS and HTML before it, designing with A.I. will become more accessible as new tools are developed. For designers interested in learning more about designing with A.I., Myrold recommends, Machine Learning for Designers by Patrick Hebron. It covers the basic principles and provides a good overview of what’s happening and how designers can take advantage of its potential. Other than that, Myrolds advice: “Just jump in, find a project you can work on and go for it.”
Central to Myrold’s philosophy is knowing that designers can provide the best critical feedback when new products are introduced. When developing Adobe XD, Myrold’s team used it to actually design the software. “That helped us to be very honest in the development...it was very clear what was super important.”
They also launched the product early, knowing there were still a lot of things that needed to be worked out in order to give the creative community the opportunity to provide feedback. “We want to be open, we want to be collaborative, and we want to know what our community wants from the experiences we’re creating.”
"We want to be open, we want to be collaborative, and we want to know what our community wants from the experiences we’re creating."
In addition to inviting a range of people from the creative community to provide feedback, Myrold also stresses the importance of creating diverse teams to develop emerging products. “Our usage patterns are biased, therefore we need to uplevel our consciousness around diversity and inclusion and our own internal biases.”
To her it’s very clear that it's not enough to just talk about it, or even to simply hire a diverse staff, but to create an internal culture that welcomes diverse candidates. Changing culture is one of the goals of the Adobe Digital Academy, which partners with General Assembly, to provide a critical pipeline for under-represented communities to access coveted design positions.
“For me, personally, it’s not enough for me to go out and speak about it [diversity]." In addition to making diversity a priority within her structure, she is the Executive Champion of a mentorship program embedded at Adobe which coaches women into leadership roles. Myrold has seen a major shift, especially a woman who has been practicing in a male-dominated field, but she knows there is still a long way to go.
"Our usage patterns are biased, therefore we need to uplevel our consciousness around diversity and inclusion and our own internal biases."
This past Spring Myrold was elected to the national AIGA board, bringing a great deal of experience to the table. Though she has yet to stake out her vision for the organization, part of her goal is to demystify new technologies. Designers are problem solvers, and though no one knows what the future looks like she firmly believes that “with change, there is always opportunity.”
When not attending to the helm of creating new design technologies at Adobe, Myrold can be found in her kitchen, cooking a week’s- worth of meals for her son and husband. Cleaning, organizing and a love of trying out new recipes and ideas reinvigorate her, although, with her busy schedule and new appointment, we’re a bit in awe that she still finds the time.
This writeup was the result of an interview between AIGA SF Executive Director Dawn Zidonis and Jamie Myrold in August, 2018. Words by Harper Brokaw-Falbo