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Graphic design: will AI replace graphic designers?. By Graeme Leslie, Designtastic

In what seems like just a few short years, automatically generated artwork has become increasingly convincing- and, in turn, impressive. Without scrutiny, many of the designs generated by text-to-image tools like DALL-E and Midjourney would quite easily pass for ‘real’ art.

The debate surrounding such tools is ongoing, particularly in creative industries like graphic design. For a small business that can’t justify paying a design agency or a freelancer, AI tools could be a gamechanger (especially if their branding steers clear of human hands).

What has most AI detractors up in arms are the companies that can absolutely afford to pay real people, but are more and more frequently being called out on AI art. Marketing material for Amazon’s upcoming Fallout series, Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio dramas, and most unabashedly the entire intro of Marvel’s latest Disney+ series; it’s no wonder creatives across the world are fearing the day their jobs might become obsolete.

But in the long term, will that ever really happen? Will AI replace graphic designers? These are the questions we’ll be attempting to answer in today’s blog.

Can ChatGPT do graphic design?

ChatGPT is a language model, so unlike visual design programmes, it can’t generate actual designs. It can be of assistance to the design process, though, particularly when it comes to ideation. If you know your target audience, and if you know the goal you’re trying to accomplish with your design, input this information (without being too specific) to ChatGPT. Ask for a dozen or so design concepts based on that information, and if you’re lucky, one of them might just be the ticket.

If you’ve used ChatGPT since its launch, by now you’ll probably agree that its capabilities are largely dependent on the prompts you’re providing. So if you request a number of design ideas and each of them miss the mark, don’t be immediately discouraged. Tweak your prompts over time, and you might just find yourself edging ever closer to the right idea.

It’s also worth noting that while ChatGPT is just a language model, written copy goes hand in hand with the graphic design process. While most designers tend to use placeholder copy, ChatGPT can provide you with text that helps put your visuals in more context.

The downsides of AI for graphic design

There’s no question that AI can help save designers many hours on the more menial aspects of their work. With the right parameters, you can very quickly generate specific textures, repeating patterns, variations of existing brand assets, and so on. But while they can offer a welcome helping hand, AI tools are not without their drawbacks.

Visual design programs like DALL-E can generate convincing imagery with just a quick prompt. But the main thing to bear in mind with these programs is that all this imagery is based on the existing work of real designers. All AI algorithms are based on existing data, existing patterns, and in the case of visual design programs, existing art. This means there will always be a limit to the creativity of AI designs.

This leads us to the ultimate ethical quandary about automatically generated art. AI tools can easily be trained on the work of graphic designers without the designers’ consent. An artist could discover AI art that they strongly feel is aping their style, and claim copyright infringement. But since this is still a relatively new technology, the lines of legality are blurred.

That’s not to say those lines will remain so. There are already lawsuits underway which seek to answer the question: is AI fair on actual artists?

Will AI replace graphic designers?

While there’s no denying that AI can be a great help to graphic designers, the chances of technology completely replacing real human beings are slim. No matter how accurate AI designs go on to become, there is simply no replacing the human touch. The most complex AI design concept will always be regurgitating the imagination, and emotion, of real artists.

Will AI replace graphic designers? Not any time soon. But the debate is ongoing- and rightfully so.

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