Adding value in a post-AI design world


There can be no denying it anymore. The AI floodgates have opened, and the industry of graphic design is set to change irrevocably. It started with the introduction of subtle integrations to help automate the more mundane and repetitive tasks, but now, with the introduction of Adobe Firefly and Photoshop’s generative fill, how we design may be about to change forever.  

Like many, these massive developments have triggered a range of emotions in me, from excitement and curiosity to apprehension and caution. It’s only natural to feel nervous in the face of such seismic change, but in this blog, we’ll look at the impact of AI and outline how designers will be adding value in a post-AI world. 

The impact of AI on graphic design 


It may feel to a graphic designer that the introduction of AI is entirely new, but we’ve seen a gradual integration of AI which has gained significant momentum in recent years.  

Design software tools started incorporating basic integration features in the early 2000s, which centred around the automation of monotonous tasks, such as batch processing and basic image editing. Although these weren’t powered by AI, they laid the foundation for future developments, and now there are many instances of AI-driven automation that have already become fully integrated into a designer’s toolkit. 

Some specific examples which are already widely integrated include image editing, template-based design, colour palette generators, and generative design. With these developments, including the release of Photoshop (Beta) generative fill, we see how the automation of previously laborious tasks frees up designers to focus on what matters: creativity, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving. 


Another key development is how AI can be harnessed to create personalised design experiences. This is through targeted designs for users based on their specific behaviour or preferences. 

AI can empower designers to create personalised designs by leveraging user data, generating recommendations, optimising designs, and enabling user-specific designs. This has the potential to facilitate designs that resonate with the audience on a more individual level, enhancing user engagement. 

Creative assistance 

AI can be harnessed to assist graphic design in numerous ways, allowing designers to generate ideas faster and work at closer to speed of thought. This can help designers push beyond their usual boundaries and create innovative designs. 

AI can generate design concepts from specific text inputs and requirements, allowing designers to explore concepts and directions in minutes rather than hours. These generated concepts can then act as a springboard for further design development. 

As AI develops, we can expect to see significant developments in areas such as in-software colour palette suggestions, typography assistance, layout optimisation, and feedback and recommendations, all utilising AI algorithms which analyse the most up-to-date design trends and principles. These developments will assist the designer in optimising their design work, but it will still be crucial for graphic designers to lead with their expertise and creative leadership. 

Adding value in a post-AI world 

The power of originality 

Despite these rapid developments, creativity and originality will continue to play a leading role in graphic design. AI has made significant developments in generating designs and visuals, but it still lacks the ability to replicate unique human perspectives, processes, and innovative thinking. It typically operates based on patterns and existing user data, which limits its ability to create truly unique, thoughtful, and innovative designs. 

Currently, AI is only as effective as the information provided to it. A large part of being a successful graphic designer includes being able to interpret the needs of your client, adding your own intuition, understanding, and creative vision. Creativity and originality are fundamental aspects of graphic design that involve a deep understanding of the project brief, thinking outside the box, and expressing unique perspectives that are tailored to your clients’ wants and needs. These qualities allow designers to create and deliver compelling solutions that resonate with audiences, evoke emotions, and effectively deliver on the project objectives. 

As long as there’s a need for nuanced and tailored design, designers will continue to play an important role in the future.  

Curating and guiding AI tools 

The rate at which AI software is developing can feel a little daunting at times, but staying on top of these developments and working out how to make these tools work for you and your organisation will play a key role in the success of graphic designers. It can be challenging to stay up to speed with everything but ensure that you are putting aside time to engage and experiment with these developments. 

There can be many strategies for staying up to date with the latest trends and developments. Some of the most effective include attending design conferences and workshops, following thought leaders on social media, engaging with discussion groups, reading industry specific blogs and publications, and keeping an eye on your competition. 

Early adapters of this emerging technology will find themselves in a great position when compared to those that are resistant to moving with the latest trends and developments. Ensuring that you’re receptive and agile to these developments, and proactively implementing infrastructural change will ensure graphic designers play an important role moving forward. 

Understanding the limitations 

There is power and value in understanding the potential limitations and biases of AI and how these could negatively impact brand image and consumer trust. As discussed, AI relies heavily on the information it’s provided, and may therefore lack the context and the appropriate nuance when it comes to understanding a brief, an industry, or a specific problem.  

Some AI algorithms generate designs based on existing user data and patterns. One issue with this is that it can inadvertently lead to designs that bare resemblance to existing work or infringe on intellectual property rights. It’s crucial for designers to take ownership of their work to ensure it remains original and avoids plagiarism. Another issue with this is that there can be implicit biases within the training data that could then be replicated in the designs AI produces. These biases can be subtle and difficult to spot, so it’s important that as a designer, you’re alert to the issue and ensure that your work is appropriate and considered. 

Ultimately, it’s the role of graphic designers to be cultivating design thinking, which includes a deep understanding of the project brief, empathy with the target demographic, and research to ensure you understand their needs and preferences. AI should be utilised as a tool to assist in these processes, rather than a direct replacement.  

By leveraging the strengths of AI while capitalising on your own expertise, you can navigate the limitations and create impactful and meaningful designs. Remember, AI is a powerful tool, but it cannot replace the unique perspectives, creativity, and human touch that a skilled graphic designer brings to the table. 

With innovation comes innovation 

As the industry of graphic design undergoes this paradigm shift with the development of innovative, AI-powered software, there will be opportunities for graphic designers to challenge their own practices and processes and improve their output.  

With every major shift of this kind, there is apprehension, as seen during the early stages of computer adoption in graphic design. There were a host of familiar concerns around job loss, lack of creativity, and technical barriers. These all proved to be largely unfounded, as designers adapted their skills and embraced the new technology, which ultimately enhanced their work and the field. 

Similarly, the development of AI could present unpredicted and untapped potential as new problems, solutions, industries, and sectors emerge within the field of graphic design. It will be the role of the graphic designer to seek out these opportunities and be receptive in introducing fundamental changes. 

Rounding off my thoughts  

To conclude, the integration of AI in graphic design has improved – and will continue to improve – automation, personalisation, and creative assistance. While AI excels in streamlining monotonous tasks, it lacks the originality and creativity of human designers, ensuring that graphic designers will continue to play an important role by providing their unique perspectives, understanding, and innovative thinking. 

In a post-AI world, graphic designers must stay informed and guide AI tools to enhance their work. Understanding AI limitations and biases will be crucial in ensuring originality. Design agencies will become more strategic, leveraging AI while maintaining the human touch. 

There will be opportunities for graphic designers to challenge and improve their practices by embracing AI’s potential. The future of graphic design lies in combining AI with human expertise for impactful and innovative designs. Ultimately, AI is a tool, not a replacement for human creativity. By leveraging AI’s strengths and human ingenuity, we can shape a future where technology serves the designer to push creative boundaries. 

Learn more about how we use (and don’t use) AI in marketing.

Author: Dan Henderson, Head of Design

Dan Henderson