University at Buffalo
Department of


Art & Design

Art History

Visual Studies

Recommendations to Students Regarding Adobe Creative Cloud

January 10, 2014  by: Dom

The Graphic Design Program in the Department of Art is committed to engaging students in the critical study of design practice, theory and history, in an environment where students will acquire the technical knowledge needed for professional graphic design work. We believe that as digital technologies continue to evolve, design learning should not be focused on any given brand, but on the techniques and processes that allow for the expression of critical thought. Designers have overwhelmingly chosen Adobe tools over the past two decades, owning partly to Adobe’s innovation and partly to its acquisition of competitors. It is erroneous, however, for a designer to attribute her or his success to their choice of tools. Success is not dependent on how well you know the Photoshop interface, for example, but on how well you can adapt and apply knowledge to new scenarios using whatever tools are at your disposal.

Adobe recently moved to a subscription-based product licensing model which they call Creative Cloud (CC). We and many other professional designers and educators find CC unacceptable. We want to let you know that Visual Studies no longer recommends that students purchase Adobe products, and unless Adobe offers an acceptable alternative to CC subscriptions, we will not be updating Adobe products within our labs. Instead, we will continue to use CS6 as we research suitable alternatives.

CC effectively triples the cost of ownership over four years of college from what was $350 in 2013 to $960 and more once the introductory student price of $20 per month goes up. CC users are required to pay Adobe in perpetuity to be able to access the software needed to create and edit their work. If a designer ever stops paying the monthly fee to Adobe for whatever reason, after a 30 day grace period they will not be able to open or edit any previously created work. Can you imagine having a lifetime’s worth of work that you can no longer access once you stop paying? Software should not be priced as if it were cable television.

It is also worth noting that Adobe has made it much more costly for labs to install their products. Visual Studies was able to purchase 25 CS6 licenses and install them on however many computers necessary. The software might exist on 80 lab machines, and any given 25 users could access it wherever they were sitting. Under the CC model, licenses must be purchased for each computer. We would be forced to acquire 80 licenses, even though no more than 25 would be used at any given time.

In December I met with Dave Gasek, our Adobe Education Rep. SUNY is his biggest client. He was not surprised to hear our concerns and objections. His only response was that Adobe may be able to negotiate better student and institutional pricing in the future, but did not indicate that they were interested in abandoning the subscription model. He explained that Adobe promises that for the next four years Creative Cloud will remain backwards compatible with CS6. That is, a CC users could back-save files to CS6 format, then continue to work on them in CS6 indefinitely, as long as they have purchased a copy of CS6.

Our students are never required to purchase their own software. Our labs are open daily for your use. If you do choose to purchase, we suggest that instead of buying into the CC model that you consider purchasing Adobe Creative Suite 6 Design & Web Premium, which is still available for a limited time from for $567. This is a perpetual license – a one-time cost for software you can use indefinitely. [Edit 01/21/15: CS6 is no longer available.] Better yet, we encourage you to explore alternatives to Adobe software. We are compiling a list of alternative applications and will be making recommendations in the near future.

Here is a small list of other resources:

Please feel free to reply below with your questions and concerns.

202 Center for the Arts, North Campus
Buffalo, New York 14260-6010
(716) 645-6878
(716) 645-6970 fax
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