How will AI affect graphic design?

Get ready for a tsunami of changes in the way graphic designers work.

AI header images


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) is already affecting the graphic design profession. This is almost certain to continue as AI technologies advance. One potential effect of AI on graphic design is the automation of specific tasks. Designers can use AI-powered design tools and software to generate images, graphics, and layouts based on predefined rules, allowing designers to focus on more creative and strategic aspects of their work. This could lead to increased efficiency and productivity in the design process and the creation of more sophisticated and innovative designs.

On the negative side, however, the increasing use of AI in graphic design may lead to concerns about job displacement and the potential for AI to replace human designers.

While it's true that AI can perform specific tasks more quickly and efficiently than humans, it's important to note that design is a highly creative and complex field. It requires a strong foundation in design principles, an ability to think creatively and critically, and an understanding of the needs and preferences of clients and audiences. As a result, AI's use in graphic design will likely lead to the profession's evolution rather than the complete displacement of human designers.

In summary, the effect of AI on graphic design is likely to be both positive and negative. While AI may help streamline and automate certain aspects of the design process, designers need to continue developing their skills and expertise to remain competitive in the industry.

DO YOU AGREE with the preceding paragraphs? If not, that's OK because I didn't write a single word of it. No one did.

An alternate AI-generated illustration suggested by Midjourney

An alternate AI-generated illustration suggested by Midjourney

Instead, I asked ChatGPT, an AI chat program, to write how artificial intelligence might affect graphic design in the near future. ChatGPT wrote those paragraphs in about eight seconds. I then ran the text through Grammarly, an AI-enhanced copy editing program, to clean up the writing. The paragraphs you read above are the result.

Not only is the AI-generated text competently written, I largely agree with what it says.

I'm certain you noticed the illustrations I used for this article. They're quite good, but I didn't draw them. Again, no one did. I typed a handful of prompts into Midjourney describing the qualities I thought were appropriate to illustrate AI's potential impact on graphic design. Midjourney drew them for me in about two minutes. It even suggested several other examples drawn in different styles.

I've seen considerable changes in the field during my graphic design career. First was the switch from manual paste-up to desktop publishing. A few years later came the internet and its knock-on effects for design. Then digital photography finally came to fruition, followed by digital printing and inexpensive competition from overseas and online crowdsourcing. More recently, do-it-yourself online design sites, such as Canva, allow former clients to create passable results, which is often all they need.

Each of these developments destroyed some design jobs while creating others. I suspect artificial intelligence will do much the same. I can't imagine an AI program arguing with a difficult client or using its intuition to envision a never-before-done ad campaign that engages an emerging target audience with a never-seen-before product — at least not yet.

However, graphic design is already a highly competitive career choice, with far more recent design program graduates than there are good jobs. I'm afraid many entry-level and mid-career positions might give way to AI. Art and creative directors' experience and conceptual abilities will likely still be in demand, but who or what will they direct? Computer algorithms?

Cory Maylett

Cory Maylett

I'm a proponent of developing practical solutions to communication problems through good design. My career has included newspapers, magazines, books, websites, corporate branding, and typefaces.