A few weeks ago I was asked to design a presentation outlining career opportunities for Graphic Design graduates. Excited and eagerly wanting to share my passion for design, I powered up Keynote and designed an impressive video presentation. The presentation was aesthetically pleasing but lacked authoritative content. So naturally, I scanned a few websites simply to backup my claims. ‘Why the end is night for Graphic Designers’ by NICHOLAS KÜHNE’ was the first site I stumbled upon.

What? According to Kunhe: “Traditional graphic design is dead, some people just do not know it yet.” It might not be the best closing statement for this presentation. While trying to regain my composure I did some more research.

Artificial intelligence (AI), the dark cloud shadowing many occupations replaceable by machines, also threatens graphic design. More than that, these days anybody can be a designer by downloading an App or learning software programs through YouTube. If you are proficient in Adobe Illustrator are you then considered a graphic designer? Does using Canva and Giphy make you a social media expert? Well, yes, maybe. If technical skills were the sum total of Graphic Design, then sure, there is no future for this occupation.

The thing is, Graphic Design is much more about creative problem solving and is becoming central to the growth of modern businesses. Design is no longer an ‘add on’, to make things look ‘pretty’, but an essential tool in the conception and implementation of new business ventures. I believe the word ‘user experience’ (UX) describes the ‘new’ Graphic Design.

As designers, to stay competitive, we need to broaden our knowledge and expertise. Print designers, start learning code. Web designers, make peace with Wix templates and start exploring the world of videography. Animators, get comfortable with copy writing and start playing around in Adobe InDesign. Most of all, to all of us, learn to understand how business works because the line between design and business will continue to blur. Blending professional skills is the way forward. Good thing we are highly adaptable. By remaining creative and socially intelligent, AI will always be one step behind.

Yes Mr Kühne, I agree: Traditional graphic design is dead. How exciting!

Shani van der Hoven

Please let me know what you think in the comments below.