Designers are in Denial When it Comes to AI

AI is Your Competitor. Designers who believe they can simply hibernate through the AI winter, popping their heads back out when everything returns to a comforting, familiar landscape of pencils and palettes, are setting themselves up for a rude awakening.
Graphic designer in denial about AI

If you’re a designer stubbornly doodling away on your Wacom tablet, dismissing the exponential rise of Artificial Intelligence, I’m afraid I have some bad news. You’re in denial.

The AI revolution is not just happening. It’s here. And, it’s not merely tapping on the door of the design industry; it’s knocking it down.

AI is Your Competitor

Designers who assume they can merely retreat during the AI winter, expecting to reemerge when the environment reverts to the comforting familiarity of pencils and palettes, are preparing themselves for an unpleasant surprise. The reality is, like a beast waking from its slumber, generative AI is transforming the way we create and view design. It’s not something to be feared, but acknowledged, embraced, and utilized to our advantage.

AI is no longer the far-fetched sci-fi concept we once thought. Algorithms are now capable of creating designs that even the sharpest eyes would struggle to distinguish from those created by human hands. The deniers might argue, “AI can’t capture emotion, tell a story, or connect with a brand like a human designer.” This is where they’re wrong. AI is not only matching human abilities but also transcending them in ways that we never imagined.

The Risk of Ignorance

Like it or not, your competitor is an algorithm that doesn’t need coffee breaks, sleep, or even a salary. Designers dismissing AI as a fleeting trend are playing a dangerous game. They’re not just ignoring a new tool; they’re ignoring a profound shift in their industry.

Remember Kodak? Once the king of photography, they scoffed at digital photography, dismissing it as a toy for amateurs. And where are they now? A case study in business schools on the price of ignoring innovation.

Adapt or Face Extinction

AI is not coming to take away your jobs*, but to change them. The critical aspect here is how designers can pivot, adapt, and evolve with these changes, not against them.

Designers need to understand that embracing AI doesn’t mean they are surrendering their creativity. It’s the opposite. It’s about harnessing AI as a tool to enhance their creativity, to automate the mundane tasks, and to focus more on strategic, higher-value work.

The designer of the future is not a mere executor but a strategist and a visionary. They aren’t just pushing pixels but guiding AI tools to generate outcomes, testing iterations, and making informed decisions. They are the maestros, leading the symphony of creativity where AI is one of their many instruments.

Wake up, Designers!

Designers clinging onto their traditional roles while ignoring the AI shift are akin to musicians refusing to use digital audio workstations because they deem it less ‘authentic’. It’s time to stop the denial, wake up and smell the AI coffee. The change is not coming, it’s already here. Embrace it. Adapt to it. Learn from it. Only then can you ride this wave, rather than being swept away by it.

As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” The same rings true for designers in this AI era. Are you ready to adapt, or will you be left behind?

*This a topic I’ll get into in my next article.

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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