There are various definitions of graphic design and even art in general, depending on where you are looking or who you are talking to. And in my personal opinion, I do not think there is one singular definition of what graphic design is or should be. Thus, the concept of ART in itself, which graphic design falls into, is also very subjective. Art really does not have a go-to definition that can fully capture the ideal idea of what ART means.
Some say Graphic design is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. Wikipedia defines graphic design as “a profession, academic discipline and applied art whose activity consists in projecting visual communications intended to transmit specific messages to social groups, with specific objectives. Graphic design is an interdisciplinary branch of design and of the fine arts.” I want to say that the number of definitions of graphic design should be as many as the number of graphic designers in the world. Each one should have a unique and personal idea of what graphic design means to them and how such a unique definition helps them see and also create what is unique to them and their craft.
For me, graphic design is the intentional or non-intentional combination of texts, typefaces, shapes, colors, and images, to tell a story. Art, they say, mimics life; if you ask me, life is really about our collective stories. Thus, a child doodling on paper or a professional graphic designer focused on his computer screen with all intensity are both the same. Both are trying to bring forth into reality what they have seen or experienced somewhere in life. So, if you ask the child who just doodled a massive line of “nonsense” on paper what he created, he probably will tell you it’s a tree. But what you are seeing is not a tree from your own life’s experience, but from the child’s life experience, what he created is the picture of a tree. Meaning that what really differentiates our definitions of graphic design of art in general, is the story within the art.
But sometimes, what a person arrives at in their creative process of graphic design may not really be what they intended from the start. Intentional creativity is when you arrive at a finished product using all your initial thoughts and ideas. Unintentional is when in the course of trying to put together your initial thought, things get mixed up or even messed up and then take a life of their own, then you realize you have arrived at something very beautiful, different from what you would have expected and which gives more power to your story.
Every graphic design or art has a story, which becomes both the driving force for the art and the pulling force for the target market. Meaning that as much as the art of design is very important, either as graphic design or any other form of art like photography, the story within it is what creates the uniqueness of each creator.
Graphic design in the age of Artificial Intelligence.
It’s no longer news that the next phase of creative designing is gradually being taken over by the advent of generative artificial intelligence software that can create whatever you can think of and some more. It’s an age we have entered in which fast will become faster and creativity will become more creative and man will likely be left wondering what has happened to the human ability to think. And while the advent of this generative artificial intelligence is not against humans as it were, my fear however is that over the past couple of decades, man has been bombarded with the reality of convenience and false speed to the point where humanities dependence on technology is becoming worrisome and even indicative of the fact that someday life on earth might be overrun by self-learning technologies.
I personally define ART as The Ability to Recreate Thoughts. Meaning that for me, ART is first of all what a person sees in the dimension of the mind’s eye and which he now re-creates with the tools of creativity, either as software like Adobe Illustrator, or Adobe Photoshop or hardware like camera or paintbrush. Therefore, a painting hanging on the wall of a home should not be called ART but a work of art. It is a work of the Ability To Recreate Thoughts.
The danger of Generative AI
To many, creative designs using generative artificial intelligent software is a game changer for designers and one of the main pros you always see highlighted is the issue of speed and how fast it will now be possible to create designs. Using ChatGPT, you can write a complete article in a few seconds using what they call “prompts” or generate a completely new graphic design in a matter of seconds with “prompts”. Prompts are basically sets of short instructions given to AI to generate an outcome. So, with your “prompts” at the back of your mind which you may have put together using the intended outcome you envisage, you can create anything from articles to graphic designs using generative intelligent software. This looks so good but I have a few reservations.
At some point, ‘fast’ will stop being the factor to consider when creating designs, but creativity that is backed by originality, truth, life and spirituality. Just like fast food and fast life is beginning to die in the face of more people who want to eat safe, home-prepared organic food and more people who want to live their lives a bit slower. A time will come when the only people who will really be making good money from their art or who will be happy with their creative art, will be those who stick to originality and who put soul and spirit into their craft. There is something special about when a living, breathing and thinking person puts their thought energy and even their spiritual energy into creating a piece of art. It comes alive with soul. Imagine how dead and soulless designs created using generative intelligence will be in the long run.
It’s a sad and dead world we are slowly creating in the name of technological advancement. And just as you are beginning to see more people abandon GMO products for organic products which have life and soul in them, so will it be in the nearest future for generative intelligence for creativity. Man is a spirit/soul in a body and anything that tries to shift him from that reality, will at some point fade away.
My counsel to creators
I do not write this to impose anything on anyone but just to point out what I am thinking about where our world is going. You will do well to think about it or even disregard it altogether.
Own your story
Always own your story, even when you are working for a client. What this means is that, as a creator, there is what makes you unique and true. This will likely be why the client came to you in the first place instead of the many thousand other creators out there. So, of what use will it be for you if you lose the story of your originality in your creativity just so you please a client?
The thing is, most times clients don’t know what they need until you show them something different from what they think they want. They may know what they want because they saw something somewhere that tickled their fancy but that may not be what they need.
Be bold about your story
Do not be ashamed of your style which is found in your story. That’s what makes you unique and will set you apart from others. The world is already filled with many designers, not to talk about the elephant in the room called generative AI and it’s easy to lose who you are while chasing after the new trends. It’s like losing your soul just so you gain the front seat of soulless people. Be bold about who you are, and what you stand for as a creator and then stick to it.
In the world of AI-generated art and graphic design, lots of fake art will flood the world. And just like the war between GMO and organic food, organic food will win. So, stay original no matter what.
There are thousands of stock photography websites online with millions if not billions of high-resolution images on them, most of them for free, but do you know some people are still looking for photographers to hire to get them original photos which they could get for free online? And this is true. But what does it show you? It means that even in the midst of all the commercially of the various aspects of our lives and the rush for convenience which in turn have created all manner of platforms for getting things done easily online, howbeit without soul, there are those who are still very much good fans of original creativity. So be original and original people will locate you.
It’s not always about the money
Creativity is not all about money but about originality, peace of mind and loyalty to the art. And this is not to say that you should not get paid for your creative work. You should. But never let money control the inspiration and the outcomes of your creativity. It’s one of the fastest ways to lose your soul to madness.
In conclusion, am I saying that you should not use generative AI for graphics design or art? That’s not what I am saying. In fact, I am neither saying use it nor don’t use it. All I am saying is that, as the world embraces generative artificial intelligence, do all you can to make originality and passion for the art the core foundation of your work. We are living in a very fast-paced world and we are also losing humanity and originality in the same amount of speed. We need to slow down before we can no longer remember what it means to be humans because we have been taken over by Artificial Intelligence.
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Samuel Phillips is a writer, graphic designer, photographer, songwriter, singer and a lover of God. As an Afrikan content creator, he is passionate about creating a better image and positive narrative about Afrika and Afrikans. He is a true Afrikan who believes that the true potential of Afrika and Afrikans can manifest through God and accurate collaborations between Afrikans. Afrika is the land of kings, emperors, original wisdom, ancient civilizations, great men and women and not some road-side-aid-begging poor third world continent that the world finds joy in undermining.