Artificial Intelligence & Next-Gen Designers

I first learned about artificial intelligence from high school boys. Scary, right?

While in the Graphic Design program I teach at Van Buren Tech, I noticed was frequently battling for the students’ attention. I saw the strangest creations, usually including a popular Breaking Bad character in countless situations.

By the end of 2022, the rest of the world caught on. I probably saw at least one AI-generated portrait posted on Instagram a day. Along with the air-brushed images arose soldiers from two different camps: those pro-AI, and those con-AI. 

Amidst this battle, my graphic design students explored artificial intelligence for themselves. Rather than fight off AI in my glorious Mac lab, I decided to make it my ally. 

For a class project, the high school juniors and seniors each developed at least 5 images using artificial intelligence. They then combined the images in Photoshop to create mock product advertisements. 

What did they learn? 

  • AI is here! It’s fun!
  • AI is not going away. It’s too late for that. 
  • AI has its limitations. It tends to work better with specific prompts, so it’s critical that the designer has a well-thought-out plan for the type of image they want to create (you can’t just wing it and be successful).
  • AI will not replace graphic design. Instead, it will only make design better.
  • Copyright issues haven’t been figured out yet.

The last finding is a big kicker. While the students had some impressive project results, we remember that this technology is still relatively new and should be used with caution. Some argue that AI steals work from current artists, while others’ dispute is solely based on a preference for hand-crafted work. 

AI will get better because it needs to. The explosion of ChatGPT use is turning heads, including major organizations like Microsoft, who is rumored to be investing $10 billion in the tool. While ChatGPT is music to Microsoft’s ears, it might be ominous to others. Some raise the question of whether AI has the potential to replace Google’s search engine

It’s no surprise the introduction of AI is disturbing for some. Seasoned designers may have lived in a time before computers were used in their position. Even now, designers are continually faced with questions like “Am I a fake designer if I use Canva?” that tempt us to fear an impending elimination of our entire career.

Just as widespread availability of computers changed the game for design, I see AI becoming a major shift in the way we execute our creative passion—not an elimination of it. I believe the fear we should have is less of our jobs being taken away from us by AI, and more of us losing out on jobs because we haven’t learned to embrace AI and use it to our advantage.

While the tech industry battles it out, the next generation of graphic designers isn’t skipping a beat. They’re learning right alongside AI, and are putting together some amazing things.

Will you join us?

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