Riding the AI Waves

Riding the AI Waves

For over two decades, I've been navigating the ever-evolving design landscape. I've witnessed trends come and go, software rise and fall, and the digital world's constant expansion. Now, with AI undoubtedly shaping the horizon how do I feel about it as a designer? I joined Midjourney, open Beta in July '22 and it has revolutionised my design approach, workflows and obviously has sparked many conversations about the future of human creativity.

My position is that AI isn't a competitor, it's a collaborator. It's a surfboard that grants us access to previously uncharted creative territories. These platforms can churn out an astonishing variety of design concepts in seconds. However, just like riding a wave, creativity is about more than just speed; it's about discernment, refinement, and most importantly, taste. This is where the human touch becomes even more valuable.

Midjourney isn't just another design software update. It's been a paradigm shift. Imagine a brainstorming session on steroids. You type in a text prompt, and the platform generates a mind-boggling array of visual interpretations. Stuck on a logo design for a sustainable clothing brand? Describe your vision  ‘minimalist, organic, nature-inspired“ and Midjourney delivers a buffet of possibilities to spark inspiration and explore diverse directions. Maybe it generates a logo with a stylised leaf motif, or one that incorporates recycled fabric textures. Some unexpected outputs can push you beyond your initial ideas and unlock a world of design directions. While I’m not saying I would use any Midjourney logos its a great starting point for ideas.

While AI excels at generating raw ideas, the magic happens when it partners with your expertise. This is how, throughout the design process we've used Midjourney at Skinny.

  • Brainstorming Bonanza: It has definitely been of assistance when I have a blank moment or just cant think outside the box on a project. It does spark the imagination. We’ve used it to generate a range of visual concepts based on the project brief and client needs. Let AI break you out of your usual design patterns and explore unexpected routes.
  • Rapid Iteration on Steroids: Need to explore multiple design directions quickly? It delivers - Fast. Playing with different layouts, colour palettes etc without getting bogged down in manual iterations. Present a wider range of options to clients and refine based on their feedback. Let's say you're designing a mobile app for a fitness tracker. Use Midjourney to generate a variety of layouts even for webpages, allowing you to quickly test different design approaches and see which resonates best with the target audience. While indeed this has taken some learning in ‘prompting’ but once you understand the process it has greatly reduced this stage of the design process.
  • Prototyping Made Easy: Midjourney can be incredibly useful for creating basic prototypes. This allows you to get early feedback from clients without investing a lot of time in high-fidelity mockups. Test the waters with AI-generated prototypes before diving into the deep end of detailed design. Imagine you're designing the packaging for a new line of beauty products. Use Midjourney to generate different packaging layouts featuring various colour schemes and design elements. Get client feedback on these prototypes before finalising the design direction.

 

As AI capabilities continue to evolve, we can expect even more design-specific tools and applications to emerge. The key is to stay informed and experiment with these new technologies to see how they can enhance your design workflow.

AI is undeniably a powerful tool, but it lacks the secret sauce that truly elevates design from good to exceptional which is the human touch. Here's where us designers step in, bringing skills and intuition that AI simply can't replicate. It can generate a visually stunning website, but can it anticipate where a user might get lost or confused. So us humble designers just refining the AI's output and ensuring the design caters not just to aesthetics, but also to user experience. AI, while constantly evolving, can struggle to grasp these subtle nuances of human behaviour

There are many other nuances that it still learning and I think we are a few years away from it deeply understanding things from cultural nuances to experiential references.

The arrival of AI in design isn't a cause for alarm; it's an opportunity for collaboration. AI excels at generating ideas, automating tasks, and providing a vast library of creative possibilities. Humans, on the other hand, excel at refining these ideas, injecting them with meaning and emotion, and ensuring they are culturally relevant and ethically sound. As we move forward, the future of design lies in embracing this powerful partnership between human creativity and the automation capabilities of AI. We can’t lose sight of the importance of human expertise and the unique value we bring to the design process.

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