When businesses adopt new technologies, it can directly impact how creative and digital teams work. For one, it often demands that they learn new skills quickly. But there’s one rapidly evolving technology — artificial intelligence — that has many creative professionals wondering if they’ll be able to adapt to change fast enough. This disruptive and transformative technology even has some pros asking, “Will I need to work in artificial intelligence jobs in the future?”
It’s likely that the creative industry, among others, will generate artificial intelligence jobs in the coming years. At the very least, creative and digital teams will rely more heavily on artificial intelligence tools — and to their benefit. The computation and automation that artificial intelligence and machine learning enable can help reduce tedious work. Teams are already using AI-powered tools and platforms, like Adobe Sensei, that help expedite time-consuming processes like image searching and color blending.
The application of artificial intelligence can lead to more practical and cost-effective design processes overall, says Ashleigh Axios, design exponent at Automattic, the web development company behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, Longreads and more. Axios is an executive committee member of AIGA’s national board of directors. She also served as the creative director and digital strategist at the Obama White House.
Axios notes that better processes and collaboration that result from AI use can spark more experimentation and iteration. In short, creative and digital teams are able to develop and deliver more options to their clients faster. She suggests that creative professionals who are worried about the impact of artificial intelligence on their profession — and fret about its potential to replace them — should shift their mindset.
“Look at artificial intelligence not as a job filler, but as an opportunity maker,” Axios says.
Creative professionals with AI skills already in demand
Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are so new that many companies are just starting to experiment with them. That means creative professionals have both time and opportunity to drive how the technology is implemented and used in their organizations — and therefore help shape artificial intelligence jobs in the industry.
Results from The Creative Group’s Creative Workplace survey shows a solid percentage of industry professionals see the emergence of artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies through a positive lens. Forty-five percent of respondents expect that these technologies will create more demand for their skills in the next three years.
However, the survey also revealed that a strong majority of creative professionals (88 percent) worry about keeping their skills up to date and marketable as they advance in their career. And more than two-thirds of respondents (70 percent) rated their employer’s efforts to prepare staff for new technologies fair or poor.
Meanwhile, research for The Creative Group 2019 Salary Guide shows that many employers are looking to hire creative professionals who can bring technical skills like artificial intelligence and machine learning to the table. Proficiency in those areas is highly coveted. For job seekers who have not yet had much (or any) exposure to working with artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, that information may be disconcerting.
However, Axios emphasizes that most employers aren’t looking for technology experts with engineering or data science degrees. “Designers don’t need to be able to build artificial intelligence or machine learning systems,” she says. “They are most valuable in focusing the attention of the technology on meaty challenges and allowing the technology to take design solutions to a new level.”
How might creative professionals work with artificial intelligence technologies to generate value for the business? Here are a few examples:
- A user interface and user experience (UI/UX) designer utilizes customer data from artificial intelligence applications to inform designs for new products.
- An interaction designer works with a multidisciplinary team to create end-to-end user experiences across web, mobile, augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence mediums.
- A digital team, using a website design that incorporates artificial intelligence into the design workflow to automate basic decision-making, maintains design systems that ensure better product consistency.
The need for more training on artificial intelligence
Axios says designers and other creative professionals shouldn’t wait to engage in this new and quickly evolving space. “They should be trying to get their feet wet with the technology, at least,” she says.
One potential starting point Axios suggests is to seek out content, like books and online videos, that explains how artificial intelligence and machine learning are already being used in the creative process. Industry articles and blogs are also good resources for learning what creative pros are doing with, and saying about, these technologies. (Algorithm-Driven Design is one site Axios recommended.)
Once designers have a foundational understanding of what’s happening around artificial intelligence, they can start adding their own ideas to the dialogue about where the technology could and should be applied and make suggestions for how it can be used in their workplace, Axios explains.
However, creative professionals can’t drive all the change on their own. Employers need to be partners in this process, too. And Axios says the creative industry, as a whole, needs to pivot toward building a greater understanding about the potential use cases for artificial intelligence and what the future may hold for artificial intelligence jobs in the profession.
“Artificial intelligence will open up a new field of opportunity for creative professionals,” she says. “But it’s an area in need of much more attention and training.”
Ashleigh Axios is an international speaker, strategic creative, and an advocate for design's ability to break barriers and create positive social change. She leads The Studio for Automattic, a company with the mission to democratize publishing and commerce. She is a board member for AIGA, the professional association of design, and an editorial board member for Design Observer. Ashleigh served as the creative director and a digital strategist for the Obama White House, in the first-ever Office of Digital Strategy.