You’re currently reading Chapter 2 of The Ultimate Guide to Adobe Illustrator for Fashion Design
The current versions of Illustrator are subscription based and called Creative Cloud (CC). When you subscribe to CC, you get access to all updates.
Previously (before June 2013), designers would buy Illustrator (and other Adobe software) outright and own it.
When it got updated? You either kept the old version, or paid for the upgrade.
What version do you need?
The older versions of Illustrator were called Creative Suite (CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6).
Although CS5 and CS6 still work fairly well, they’re becoming more obsolete every year.
Illustrator CS2, 3 or 4? That stuff is VINTAGE in digital years.
MOST brands? They’re on Creative Cloud (CC). Meaning the software LIVES on your computer, but is CONNECTED to the internet.
That way, it’s always up to date like MAGIC.
As a freelancer, using the most up-to-date version of Illustrator shows brands that you’re a professional (even if you don’t have any industry experience yet).
And yes, it requires a monthly (or yearly) payment.
But if you JUST need Illustrator? It’s only about $20 a month.
If you’re still on CS, do you need to upgrade?
It’s up to you and your needs.
If you’re just using Illustrator for your own design purposes (i.e. you’re not sharing files with clients or other team members), older versions can work just fine.
If you have freelance clients? Most brands will expect you to be on the latest version. If you’re not? You will have file compatibility issues.
Why? Because Adobe supports forward compatibility, but not backwards.
That means if you’re on CS6 (older version) and your client is on CC (newer version), they can open YOUR files, but you won’t be able to open THEIRS.
Also, artwork can become a jumbled mess when transferring between versions. Designs can get so “broken” that they can become almost useless.
More than once, I’ve inherited artwork from different versions that was such a mess, it was easier for me to redraw it than try and work with existing files.
So, even though many people are annoyed about paying a monthly subscription fee, I personally think it’s a great way to keep everyone up to date on the same version. It makes it a lot easier to collaborate and share files.
If it’s not in your budget to upgrade and you have an older version? If it works for you, that’s all that matters.