The Hitchhikers’ Guide to AI

aka. Embracing the Unfamiliar: AI in Graphic Design — A Tool Not a Creator

The Human-AI Partnership in Graphic Design

Douglas Adams’ astute observation about technology across life stages provides a profound perspective on AI’s role in graphic design. He noted:

  1. Technology present from birth seems normal.
  2. Innovations occurring between ages 15 to 35 are exciting and career-enhancing.
  3. Technology developed post-35 feels unnatural.

This view is particularly insightful when considering AI in graphic design (or anything, really!), echoing past technological shifts like the printing press and desktop publishing.

Historical Context: From Printing Press to AI

The introduction of the printing press revolutionised information dissemination, akin to AI’s impact on graphic design today. It made literature widely accessible, while AI is democratising design capabilities. The journey through pasteboards and desktop publishing set the stage for today’s AI tools in design, each innovation making design — and creative expression — more accessible.

AI in Graphic Design: A Creative Assistant

For the younger generation, AI — and online curation tools like Adobe Color — in design is a natural tool, assisting in tasks like layout adjustments and colour schemes. However, it’s important to recognise that AI serves as an aid, not the originator of creative ideas. The human mind remains the forefront of creativity, with AI acting as a facilitator.

The Professional View: AI as a Career Tool

Professionals aged 15-35 see AI as a means to enhance their career, enabling personalised designs at scale and solving complex problems. However, the origination of an idea, the core of creativity, still relies on the human mind. AI’s role is in aiding the execution and evolution of these ideas.

Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to pick up a piece of paper.

Experienced Designers: Adapting to AI

For those over 35 (**does a Forrest Gump wave from 46**), adapting to AI can be challenging, echoing the shift from manual pasteboards to digital design. It’s crucial for experienced designers to understand that AI is a tool to be wielded, not a replacement for human creativity. The essence of design – the spark of an idea – remains human.

AI as a Collaborative Tool in Design

The development of AI in graphic design mirrors the evolution from the printing press to digital publishing. Each technological advance brought new tools to the table, but the essence of creativity remained human. AI in design should be viewed as a powerful assistant, enhancing human ideas and making their execution more efficient. As we navigate this AI-infused era of design, embracing it as a collaborative tool, not a creator, will be key to harnessing its full potential.

And always remember: Don’t Panic!

This post was written by James Kindred

Oh, hey! I’m James Kindred - a graphic designer in Suffolk, UK, and I run Fork: a creative consultancy for start-ups and scaling brands. With over 25 years of experience, I work with start-up and scale-up brands to develop their identity, collateral and brand strategy.

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