An open letter: Why I’m breaking up with Adobe Illustrator

It is with a heavy heart to admit I am breaking up with Adobe Illustrator. Not only am I leaving Illustrator today, I am also switching to Sketch.

Before I tell you why, I have to give you a bit of history on my relationship with Illustrator. Also, so you know I’m not a nut, you can check out my dribbble.

I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time I sat down to use Illustrator. The setting was a small print shop located in Tysons Corner. The space was small, smelled like ink, with paper laying all over the floor — the perfect setting.

Honestly, it was love at first site. The classic loading screen of CS2, with that small golden flower placed on the top left of the container. The simplicity was perfect.

My opportunity came when one of our clients had brilliantly sent us their version of a ‘vector logo’ as a 150px by 30px JPEG centered in a word doc. My old boss was frustrated at the delivery, giving me my chance. A chance to meet face to face with the illusive Adobe Illustrator.

There I sat, being taught how to trace a logo and manipulate shapes. A moment every designer can relate.

Now, let’s flash forward a decade. Early this am, I sit in anger, screaming at my laptop. The spiteful moment when Illustrator decided to crash.

Sadly, this is nothing new. Just another domestic dispute in which Illustrator randomly decided to crash. My design companions tell me to “use the auto-save feature.” To them, I reply, “it constantly turns off because I’m using up so much memory.” “Well, stop creating so many artboards!” they shout. A conversation I’m not willing to reason with.

I believe, like any love story, there isn’t a right or wrong way. There is only the way you know. Personally, I need a ton of artboards, all in one window. My reputable design friends say it’s me, to which I reply “Maybe, it’s YOU.”

Classic “it’s not you, it’s me” situation.

As my team sits in the middle of a new product design, I lose a solid 4 hours worth of work. 4 hours I can never get back. 4 hours that I’ve lost over, and over, and over again.

Why don’t you just save frequently, you may ask?

Because, when a designer is in the zone, he/she can’t be stopped. My particular zone was a typical date with Illustrator. Big Gigantic blaring in my headphones, as I sip coffee, and use my magic trackpad like Harry Potter uses a wand.

Then it happened.


Everything vanished.

My arms reached for the sky, as I shouted “THAT’S IT! YOU HAVE DONE THIS TO ME FOR THE LAST TIME.”

After my calm down walk, I quickly Slacked my boss. “Can I please have a key for Sketch,” I begrudgingly admitted. “Finally,” he replied.

And that’s how it happened. How, after a decade-long relationship, I finally broke up with Illustrator.

In fact, I just exported my first mock from Sketch, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a feeling of complete freedom — like the release of a caged eagle.

All of you other design tools out there, watch out. I am free if Illustrator, and on the hunt for some beautiful Sketch plugins. Principal, I’ve got my eye on you, you sexy thang.


David Roddy

Senior UX Designer at StartingPoints