The AI boom hasn't reduced the demand for graphic designers - student numbers are breaking records


The digital environment has been expanding for several consecutive years with the growth of graphic designers, the need for graphic designers who can combine the skills of an artist and a programmer has increased over the last few years. Although there is increasing talk about the use of artificial intelligence in this field, the number of applicants to design and graphic design studies is not decreasing; on the contrary, the number of applicants to study graphic design in higher education is at an all-time high this year.

This year, the field of design studies is one of the most popular among Lithuanian higher education institutions – as many as 7 universities and colleges are training specialists in this field, and a large number of students are particularly interested in graphic design. “This year almost 100 students have chosen to study graphic design, which is about half of all the students who have started their studies at the Faculty of Design of our college this year. The choice of these studies is primarily encouraged by the general visibility of the graphic and communication design spheres in the public space, their relationship with popular media and, together with the world of art, providing wide opportunities for self-expression,” says Jonas Malinauskas, chairman of the graphic design studies programme at Vilnius College of Technology and Design, adding that a significant number of the students find work before they finish their studies.

Employers grab and offer competitive salaries

“There is a high demand for graphic design professionals: advertising, marketing and communication agencies, and print companies are constantly looking for new employees. As many information channels are increasingly going digital, the demand for digital design professionals who can combine the skills of a designer and a programmer is growing rapidly,” says Jonas Malinauskas.

One agency providing communication and marketing services in Vilnius also agrees. “The services of a graphic designer are needed all the time – from creating layouts for social networks to creating billboards, websites, geolocation games or visual identities,” says Živilė Navickaitė-Babkin, the founder of the agency Good to Know, and adds that the demand for design services is so high that several graphic designers have to be worked with at the same time in order to meet the clients’ needs. Experienced graphic designers can also expect a competitive salary of at least EUR 1500 or more.

Creativity moves from technical performance to the formulation of work tasks

As artificial intelligence (AI) advances, we are now seeing that it can not only generate text but also create visual content. So the question might be: will AI replace graphic designers?

Jonas Malinauskas answers this question and reassures us that in the near future artificial intelligence will not replace designers’ creativity, but will give it new possibilities: ‘Thanks to their ease of use and excellent quality of artistic work, AI-based applications open up creative possibilities to a much wider range of people than before. In addition, the ultra-fast turnaround time with AI leaves artists with much more time to think about concepts and experiment creatively. Creation is now moving from technical execution to the formulation of briefs, and in order to formulate a brief for an IoT application, the designer needs to come up with at least a rough vision of the work to be created – that is the essence of creativity.

Živilė Navickaitė-Babkin echoes him – she says that IoT tools for graphic design have a lot of promise, but we can’t do without a specialist who is able to formulate the task properly. Moreover, it is noticeable that agency clients are still more inclined to opt for graphic design work created by humans than by DI software.

According to the interviewees, the most popular graphic design studios usually cover a wide range of activities: typography, illustration, infographics, publishing, pre-press, visual communication, corporate identity, packaging, typeface, advertising, web and computer game design. It is the complexity of these activities that makes these professionals particularly welcome on the labour market.