Will AI replace graphic designers?

Six images (portrait of an otter, roman statue with headphones, tropical bird in landscape, astronaut riding a horse, colorful breakfast still life, and recreation of "Girl With a Pearl Earring" by Vermeer) designed by DALLE-2, a popular A.I. graphic design software.
These images were created by the AI graphic design software DALL-E 2 and it’s only getting more sophisticated.

The graphic design industry is no stranger to technological innovation. From desktop computer fonts to Adobe Creative Suite, design technology made design easier for everyone. With each technological innovation, people wondered whether the days of professional graphic designers were numbered. Now, with AI graphic design software poised to disrupt the industry, many are asking, “will AI replace graphic designers?”.

AI tools for graphic design existed for years without raising major alarm bells. Then, new, AI graphic design softwares — like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney — took it to the next level. These programs allow anyone to create complex visual works by typing words into a text box. If anyone can write a text prompt, can anyone take the place of a graphic designer?

A new tool for the designer’s toolbox

15 colorful nutella jars featuring labels designed by A.I. graphic design software.
Nutella leveraged AI graphic design to roll out 7 million unique labels in Italy. The campaign was a massive success. All 7 million custom jars sold out in one month.

It’s too soon to tell exactly how AI will impact a designer’s job, but we know the impact is coming. According to a recent McKinsey study, 56% of respondents reported AI adoption. Nutella used an algorithm to design 7 million unique labels for a successful Italian campaign (they sold out in a month). Still, if history can teach us anything, designers will adapt to these new tools rather than face extinction.

Less than 50 years ago, graphic design still relied heavily on hand drawing. Then, the desktop computer and Adobe digitized the industry. Instead of making graphic designers obsolete, the digital revolution of design helped the industry grow. Designers adopted the new technologies and the quality and efficiency of design work were better for it.

“Knowing how to use the latest and greatest graphic design tools is just one part of a designer’s job.” says SketchDeck CEO, Chris Finneral. “AI is a powerful, new tool that will make it easier to execute a design strategy, but we’ll still need professional designers to develop and oversee that strategy.”

AI graphic design still needs designers

A designer’s most important skills have nothing to do with their ability to use Adobe or Figma. You can teach computers design principles, but you can’t teach computers nuance or empathy (yet). Most graphic design jobs require the creative and social skills to negotiate, persuade and solve problems. AI might be the newest technology for designers to learn, but AI is far from a total replacement for professional designers.

According to SketchDeck‘s CEO, Chris Finneral, “Artificial intelligence can’t come up with creative ideas for you or manage relationships. It still needs to be guided to the right solutions, which is why you still need a human element to bring the best design to life. AI can certainly improve the design process, but only with the help of designers.”

Reaching new creative potential with AI

Many graphic design tasks can and should be automated. Today, designers spend countless hours formatting, creating, and editing designs. Instead of viewing automation as a death knell for design jobs, it could be a major win. With AI freeing up a ton of time, designers can evolve from executors to super-productive curators.

AI graphic designers can focus less on creative grunt work and more on creating highly effective creative strategy. They can increase design output and focus on the high-level direction AI needs to create unique, successful design. Designers can also play a crucial role in helping AI grow, learn and reach its full potential. In turn, AI will push graphic designers to new creative heights.

Like other graphic design tech before, AI presents a new challenge for designers, but will AI replace graphic designers? Not if they rise to the challenge. Being able to execute the rote tasks of design will no longer be enough to gain employment. The graphic designers of the future need to offer different value.

How can designers evolve with AI?

Portraits of the SketchDeck team as Pixar Characters created using Midjourney, a leading AI graphic design software.
The SketchDeck design team had some fun with Midjourney, a leading AI graphic design tool, to create portraits of our team as Pixar characters.

To stay competitive, designers have to offer skills that can’t be automated. Beyond learning to work with AI graphic design softwares, designers should lean on their uniquely human, creative skillset.

Designers can become experts in a specific niche like a particular industry. They should also broaden their skillsets to include algorithm and AI-powered work. Above all, designers should cultivate their skills as creative strategists. They should lean into their ability to solve problems with creative, visual ideas and strengthen their capacity to advocate for those ideas.

Much like AI graphic design software, SketchDeck aims to democratize design and we are experimenting with AI to improve the design process. We’re committed to using AI to empower our designers. Will AI replace graphic designers?  SketchDeck CEO, Chris Finneral said it best. “I believe we’ll see a new generation of AI graphic designers emerge that are more creative and effective than ever.”



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