Are You Providing Unique Value?

Google can't decide if AI will replace graphic designers. But many people on LinkedIn had many opinions on the topic.
The Threat of AI

Out of the eight primary results, three advocated that AI would indeed replace designers, while five suggested otherwise. However, even the ‘no’ camp conceded that AI would bring about changes in the way designers work.

This raises a question worth pondering – could these changes, under the guise of ‘improvement’, actually be a threat to the very existence of the profession?

As the influence of AI permeates various fields, graphic design won’t be left untouched. AI’s capabilities for rapid prototyping and the ability to generate simple designs within seconds, signal a future where AI tools might edge out human designers for tasks once seen as inherently human. A recent McKinsey report states AI will reach human levels of creativity MUCH sooner than originally predicted.

While it’s true that AI currently lacks the capacity for the human touch – the instinctive understanding of cultural nuances, the boldness of creative risk-taking, the empathy that breathes life into design – one must ask, how long before AI learns to mimic, or even perfect, these traits? The threat here is not simply AI replacing certain aspects of a designer’s work, but the prospect of AI surpassing human capability.

This should be your wake-up call. The advance of AI might not merely alter our tools or methods of work, but could pose a serious challenge to our professional relevance.

In this light, it is critical for us to prove our unique value beyond what AI can replicate – our deep understanding of human emotion, our ability to think critically, and our capacity for innovative ideas. In the face of AI, we’re not just defending our jobs, but the irreplaceability of human creativity in design.

I originally posted this article on LinkedIn a few days ago and it took off! As of this writing, the article has nearly 70,000 impressions and 50 comments (and counting). 

There were some great comments that introduced ways of thinking that I hadn’t thought about. 

  • Hannah Szabo thinks that AI won’t be able to replicate her ability to think “messily, critically, and creatively.” (she’s right)
  • Bill Snelbold pointed out that image generation is not actually design. (he’s right)
  • Marc Angelos said AI could lead to the necessity of universal basic income. (it could)
  • Eric Tolladay said this revolution is similar to the analog-to-digital transition that happened in the 90s. (he’s right)
  • Muhammad Bilal Rafique said we have to find our unique angle. (he’s right)
  • Others think that AI won’t replace designers. This is where I disagree with them. It seems like many think they’re John Henry battling the steam-powered rock-drilling machine. Unfortunately, many forget how that story ended. 

I’d love to hear what you think on this topic. Leave a comment below or on the LinkedIn post

Jim MacLeod

Jim MacLeod

Jim MacLeod was a graphic designer for more than a decade before pivoting to adjacent areas of focus such as marketing, digital experience, and branding. Knowing that AI is going to displace many graphic designers, Jim set up After Design to help designers prepare for this impending change. 

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