May 14, 2023

The Future of Work for Designers

I don’t know if you’ve noticed all the recent massive Twitter threads and news, but design is undergoing rapid change as a result of AI. A ton of previously designer-only tasks are already being automated. It’s only a matter of time before it begins to automate even more.

So will AI put designers out of work? For me, the answer is not so simple. While AI is certainly capable of automating many tasks, it still needs to be capable of replacing the human touch that is essential to good design. AI can generate ideas and concepts, but still can’t think outside the box. The things it tries all still feel like cookie-cutter solutions. And, while it might seem it does, it doesn't have empathy for us or the user’s needs (which is a bit scary.)

Some optimists, like me, believe that AI is likely to create new opportunities for designers. While AI becomes more sophisticated and can automate more tasks, it will also free us up to focus on more creative and strategic aspects—like filling a wall with post-its. We have yet to see a robot do it quite like us. I emphasize, yet.

AI is also likely to create new markets for designers. As AI becomes more widely used and creates more FOMO from our clients and bosses, there will be a demand for designers who can help businesses and orgs understand and use AI to their advantage.

Now, is there a possible niche market for people who want 100% human creations?

I know this sounds kind of funny, but it’s possible that there will be a niche market for human-made, 100% organic creations in the future. Some people may be distrustful of AI and prefer the unique touch that a human can bring to a design. Just as some of us snobs like to buy our food 100% organic, some people might want their logos and websites to be all human-made. I’m sure some will even wear it as a badge of honor, “My logo is 100% organic—I support my local designers!”

However, given that AI is on fire, it’s possible that, eventually, it’ll be able to produce artwork that looks exactly like human-made artwork (the new stuff from Midjourney 5.1 does look mind-blowing.) If this happens, the demand for human-made designs may decline, or distrust may shift towards humans who claim it was all made purely by them. People will be like, “Hmm... really?”

Only time will tell what the future holds for the design industry. As AI becomes more sophisticated, the role of designers will likely shift from being hands-on creators to being creative directors. But a world full of people who want to make everything pop does sound like an apocalyptic dystopia.

Anyway, for some naive optimists like me, the future of design is bright. It will be an opportunity to be more productive, create better work, reach new markets, and fill more walls with useless diagrams. However, we’ll need to be willing to adapt and embrace change to succeed before the robots figure out that all they’ll need to seem more legit is to wear black skinny jeans, black t-shirts, and black thick frames.


AI tools I used to write this,

  • Quillbot
  • BARF. The new thing by Google to compete against chatGPT. So far is okay.
  • ChatGPT for some info.
  • And Grammarly to correct my grammar horrors.

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