What's in Russell Brown's iPad mini

What's in Russell Brown's iPad mini

Who: Mr Russell Preston Brown, 60, is senior creative director and an Emmy Award-winning instructor at Adobe. An evangelist of Adobe's software, he travels around the world giving product presentations in his own inimitable style.

Russell Brown is a wizard when it comes to creating stunning images with Adobe Photoshop. He is what you would call a Photoshop guru, perhaps even the very first one.

After all, he was there at the very beginning.

"Well, the Knoll brothers (Thomas and John) who created Photoshop came to Adobe Systems. They needed someone to distribute it.

"So, they came and gave a demo and I liked it so much and the president of the company liked it so much, we purchased it and history was made," he said.

"Photoshop became this magic tool. It's part of the language now," he said.

Mr Brown reckons he was the third person to see the Photoshop demo. With his background in graphic design, he instantly recognised the software's potential.

"What it represented was that for the first time, someone could be working on an image themselves," he said. At the time, he explained, magazines and newspapers used large mainframe computers, called Scitex, to process images.

These machines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. "And you had to pay an operator US$1,000 per hour to use it," he explained.

"You went from that to doing it yourself - that was the big change. You had the Macintosh, Photoshop and creative minds. And boom! You now had the freedom to make anything you want and publish it."

As Photoshop was unknown at the time, he travelled the world giving seminars and demos. Nowadays, Asia is his focus, so he goes to places such as Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore.

He was in Singapore in February to give a one-day workshop. For attendees, he was probably a sight to behold in his Shakespearean costume.

"Got to keep people awake," he quipped, when asked about his unorthodox presentations. But there is method to his madness.

"We want them to take photographs. So you show up in crazy outfits and they take photographs. And they start spreading the message around. They will post them and make a mention of the event," he explained.

His zany antics and exuberant personality earned him an Emmy in 2008 for Dr Brown's Photoshop Laboratory, a series of video tutorials in which he acts the mad scientist.

"The Doc Brown thing just kinda happened. I was trying for that look," he said.

He grew serious when asked where Photoshop was heading: "It is not so much about features as it is about connections. We are going to see more and more sharing."

He believes phone cameras will become as good as high-end cameras. "I think we'll be surprised at what they (programmers) come up with. I guarantee it. They invent it and then I can't live without it," he said with a laugh.

Despite spending 30 years at Adobe, Mr Brown is far from done. He said: "I have a very good job, get to be creative, act like a madman, wear costumes. I don't know when I will retire. They will have to fire me. I think I'll quit when I can't walk any more. It's exciting times."

This article was first published on April 15, 2015.
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