As creators of digital experiences, we spend a lot of our time within the creative process. That’s a highly collaborative process, often involving the collective efforts of multiple different types of specialized artists and creative directors. But these days it feels like big changes are underway in the world of creativity. Generative AI is unlocking new creative possibilities and reshaping the way we approach design.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen lots of recent news about AI. In multiple creative areas we’ve seen the recent rise of readily available tools that can allow anyone to produce output that previously could only be created by trained professionals. Companies like Adobe, Google, and NVIDIA have made significant strides in developing AI-powered tools that can rapidly generate design options based on predefined parameters. These tools leverage machine learning algorithms to analyze vast amounts of data and automatically generate design variations, saving time and resources for creative teams.

In many ways these are just extensions of algorithmic tools we’ve had for a long time, like Photoshop’s “Magic Wand” tool, and that have been ever improving. Decades ago I interned at a creative agency and made comps by cutting out photos with a X-ACTO knives and laid out type with Letraset. The computerization of this type of work has been making it more efficient every year since. These newer tools allow us to explore a multitude of design possibilities at an unprecedented speed, enabling us to iterate and experiment with different concepts in a fraction of the time compared to “traditional” design methods.

But the impact of generative AI goes beyond just speeding up the design process. These algorithms are also pushing the boundaries of creativity. For instance, researchers at Stanford University have developed an AI-powered tool that can generate unique and diverse visual concepts, helping designers to break free from conventional design patterns and explore new creative horizons. And we’ve seen how AI tools like Midjourney can create compelling visuals almost instantaneously (given the right prompts.) These more generative tools have empowered our creative teams to think outside the box and come up with fresh and innovative ideas for fast-turnaround pitches and creative ideation.

As we are seeing firsthand, generative AI is fostering collaboration between humans and machines, leading to enhanced creative outcomes. This has enabled our creative teams to collaborate with AI-powered tools that can analyze user behavior data, generate personalized content recommendations, and even generate written content, allowing us to create more relevant and engaging experiences for our clients’ audiences. Companies like OpenAI have developed advanced language models that can generate written content, such as product descriptions, social media posts, and even blog articles like this one.

Was this post written by ChatGPT? Not exactly. But I did use it to create and refine a first draft, so it did most of the busy work, allowing me to focus on my own personal experiences and point of view. The synergy between human creativity and AI-powered tools has resulted in a more streamlined and efficient creative process, with the AI handling the heavy lifting and providing valuable insights that augment our human creativity. I think this model of working can save me a lot of time and also lead to a better result. You be the judge.

It’s important to acknowledge that ethical considerations are also important when it comes to the use of generative AI in design. Bias in data and algorithmic decision-making is a concern, as are the intellectual property rights behind all of the data that’s been ingested to train these large models. We work to mitigate these risks by ensuring that our use of AI aligns with our values and those of our clients. And we don’t have any plans to use AI in the final products that we deliver – it’s purely a background to our creative process at the moment.

Clearly generative AI is revolutionizing the landscape of digital design. It’s accelerating the design process, pushing the boundaries of creativity, and fostering collaboration between humans and machines. There is no shortage of alarmist takes out there about the threats of AI to the creative class. I, for one, think these technologies will be more empowering than displacing. But for sure it will require us to grow and adapt our human roles in the creative process, as we have for previous rounds of technological advancement.

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