As artificial intelligence continues to improve, its impact on creative fields like graphic design is only just being understood. Whilst AI is worrisome for some design professionals, others embrace it with open arms.
With artificial intelligence and job security having an as yet relatively unknown relationship, it’s easy to see why many workers get anxious over this topic.
One thing that is apparent is AIs quick acceptance amongst tech industries. Whilst traditional segments have been slow to adopt AI, technology & software firms have been highly receptive. This puts fields like graphic design directly in AI’s line of fire.
In this article, we’re going to look at how AI might influence the graphic design sector, and whether this will be a good thing for freelance professionals.
AI Design Is Nothing New
As it happens, simple applications of artificial intelligence in graphic design has existed for quite some time, at least on the consumer side of the market. Ai powered branding tools like LogoAi, Brandmark & Tailor Brands provide remarkably unique logos at the click of a button. Likewise, fun apps like Prisma turn photos into works of art. But insofar, they haven’t exactly dented the custom branding industry.
Perhaps then it’s not that Ai will detract from the design industry, but provide technology that helps enhance it.
The Power of Cloud Computing
The emergence of affordable cloud computing through the previous decade has a benefit to many industries, graphic design included. In years gone by, designers were limited by the power of the processor in their local machine. Today, anyone can tap into the almost endless power of cloud computing networks, enabling resource-intense processes to be completed at lightning-fast speeds. Think 3D modelling, world-design and particle rendering.
As an example, experimental tools like This Person Does Not Exist generates photorealistic artificial portraits in the time it takes to refresh your browser. Traditionally, this level of realism would’ve taken many hours – if not days – in complex 3D modelling software.
Outside of experimental tools, cloud computing for design is already powering enterprise solutions. Tools like AutoDesk Dreamcatcher and Adobe’s Sensei are spearheading cloud-computing powered machine learning and in some examples, like Adobe’s SceneStich tool, passing on the benefits to everyday designers.
It can be easy to consider functions like this in desktop apps like Photoshop a built-in feature, when in fact they’re the result of huge cloud-computing power.
The Positives of AI Powered Design
A common misconception when we discuss the effects of artificial intelligence within an industry, is that we assume the quick replacement of human jobs. It could well be, according to reports, that AI creates just as many jobs as it replaces. Though this is disputed.
AI needn’t replace designers. Properly harnessed, artificial intelligence could simply enhance the tools graphic designers use; helping them produce higher quality work in a more efficient manner.
For example, when it comes to 3D modelling, the combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence enable designers to run tens of thousands of design simulations in a matter of hours. This replaces the traditional need for months of R&D, helping product designers deliver better work in less time.
This clearly demonstrates the use of artificial intelligence doesn’t need to replace the designer, but simply improve their efficiency.
Reducing The Need For designers?
Whilst AI is mostly being used to enhance the professional design process, there are recent examples of AI replacing designers almost completely.
Advertising agency Ogilvy recently produced an AI-powered packing lineup for Nutella, creating over 7 million unique packaging designs. Obviously, this is somewhat of a marketing gimmick, but it does highlight the scalability of AI design when compared to that of a human.
Designers will adapt
AI has already impacted the design industry. But just as website themes were heralded as the death of web designers, and design templates said to kill designers, the industry marches on with haste.
Adam McIntyre, a lead designer at BrandPacks, said “Designers will adapt. We always do. A century ago designers had pen and paper. Today we have Photoshop & Illustrator. Tomorrow, perhaps we’ll have artificial intelligence. Whilst our tools and styles may change, designers will remain necessary”.
Founder of FilterGrade, Michael Moloney, added “the same has also been said for years about photographers. First, it was the Polaroid camera, then the digital camera, then iPhones and Instagram. Throughout all these technological advancements, Photographers have continued to thrive.”
The Future Graphic Design Landscape
Considering just how much design tools have consistently changed over the years, it may not be fair to equate evolving design tools with the downfall of designers.
Instead, a better comparison could potentially be made to the design projects required by clients. As was pointed out above, a century ago designers had pen and paper. In these times, clients requested hand-painted signs and simple type-based projects. Today, our available tools enable us to create for print, the web and ever-changing mobile devices.
It could be said that the changing information mediums and client demands are that which shape the tools and technology we need; not to reduce the role of the designer, but to promote it.
Into the near future, as virtual reality becomes more prevalent, designers will need tools powered by artificial intelligence, rather than being replaced by them.
For designers, virtual worlds and mixed reality experiences are a far cry from yesteryear’s hand-painted signs. Progression in the industry will require more knowledge and our tools will need to be more powerful, so it stands to reason, given AI’s scalability, that it’ll be our graphic design tools affected more than the individual, or even the industry itself.
Preparation is Key
As the old saying goes, failure to prepare is preparing to fail. It might be too soon to know for sure just how design professionals will be impacted by AIs growing power, but we can make sure we’re ready.
By improving our knowledge of existing tools, and closing following how artificial intelligence is used in our industry, we can give ourselves the best chance possible when big changes arrive.