An interesting article that I recently came upon, written by a team across the pond at Bluesky Graphics (blueskygraphics.co.uk), examines whether our mutually beloved profession of Graphic Design is, in fact, a dying career.
As much as I, in the interest of self-preservation, would like to believe that my chosen field is NOT dying, it is valuable and insightful to examine why some people would think it and what its future holds. Is professional graphic design already being replaced by cheaper methods and alternatives? Will professional graphic designers be supplanted by easy-to-use software and maybe even robots (AI) in the near future? Or is this a field that will continue to exist and thrive due to its humanistic and creative nature?
Fast and Cheap Design
One of the reasons that many businesses view graphic design skeptically has been the mushrooming of design service providers and freelancers that don’t charge a premium for their work. A Google search for “graphic designers in my area” should give anyone a quick list of service providers from sites such as Fiverr, Upwork and others. Moreover, these services are advertised at lower rates. This gives people the impression that graphic design comes cheap and can be done by anyone with the necessary software and some know-how.
Things aren’t very rosy in the B2B arena either. One of the first cuts to the budget of any company is, oddly enough, its marketing budget. Within marketing, it is likely the scaling down of graphic design for its multiple purposes – companies feel that once their branding/letterheads/stationery have been revamped, there is no need to keep going back to refresh their look or change as per current trends. Companies may also feel that a complete brand refresh is costly and time-consuming.
As if the above was not enough to threaten graphic design professionals, there is now a third (and a fourth, evolved front) that we are being attacked on. Easy-to-use design software and design templates are ubiquitous now and available all over the web. They allow pretty much anyone with digital literacy to create content, graphics and even websites.
The recent development of artificial intelligence (AI) has led to machine-learning software that is capable of creating graphical content and even video automatically. Its evolution could signal yet another departure from traditional design, threatening designers’ relevance and skillset as we march into an age of automation.
Fast, cheap and good — from these three things you should always choose two. If it’s fast and cheap, it will never be good. If it’s cheap and good, it will never work out quickly. And if it is good and fast, it will never come cheap. But remember: of the three you still have to always choose two.