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My wonderful and scary first-time experience with AI-augmented design.

I have to admit, I am not the most tech-savvy graphic designer. In fact, technical skills are the part of being a designer that I struggle with the most. While creativity, artistic skill, and talking to clients come naturally to me, I often find it hard to learn new software or stay on top of the latest technological developments in design. AI was not an exception — I had been putting off trying it out as a design tool for months. I knew I had to learn more about the technology, and it had been nagging me from the back of my mind like having to pay the bills.

After so much hype from fellow designers, I decided to take AI out for a spin. I went on Midjourney and typed in “Intricate packaging for exotic loose-leaf tea brand with colorful illustrations of forest creatures rendered as a 3D mockup”. The result was nothing short of astounding — in just 30 seconds, I had four different versions of the packaging concept that looked better than what most junior to mid-level designers would be able to create in a day’s work. Tried the process again, this time using “Detailed packaging concept for healthy oatmeal for children with soft coloured whimsical woodland illustrations, rendered as 3D mockup” as prompt:

After the initial fascination wore off, I started to feel pangs of anxiety — surely, AI will never be able to replace the work of a talented and experienced designer… will it? If this is what Ai can do NOW, how will it perform in 2–3–5 years? After all, AI is a fast learner — it can accumulate lifetimes of experience for the time it takes us to drink a cup of coffee with a friend! But thank God, even the most advanced AI will have at least two major flaws that I can think of. First — it will lack the subtle sense of humor that builds emotional rapport. The second major flaw — it has the potential to be flawless. After all, the beauty of art is in the tiny irregularities and flaws that create nuance and texture.

AI is here to stay, whether we like it or not. And design professionals will have to find ways to use the technology to augment their work process, rather than be afraid of it. As the ancient Chinese proverb says: “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls while other people build windmills”. How can we adapt to use AI to our benefit?

Read my forecast about the future of AI and the creative industry here.

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