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In the dozens of lists circulating the internet that predict which jobs artificial intelligence will replace, graphic designers are often named. Adobe’s newest AI features could move that forecast along, but the company’s leadership has another idea about the future of creative jobs.
While developments in image generation are sure to make graphic design more accessible, they don’t diminish the work of artists, according to Ashley Still, Adobe’s senior vice president of digital media. “Two things can be true,” she tells Fortune. “Technological innovations can both bring more people into the medium and increase the need for professionals.
“Think about the invention of the camera,” Still says. “People thought painting was going to go away, and it didn’t. It’s just that a new type of content emerged.” Taking it a step further, the invention of the digital camera meant more people could take photos, but it didn’t replace the need for professional photographers, Still says.
That said, it’s not difficult to imagine company layoffs in the future targeting graphic design teams that have offloaded some work to AI. In the recent layoff sweep through the tech industry, designers were among those affected. If history continues on the same course, AI won’t eradicate the graphic design profession, but it will dramatically change the industry.
Adobe’s latest batch of generative AI tools, which it introduced at a company event on Tuesday, focuses on new ways to create and edit images. Included in the announcement is the second iteration of Firefly, the image generation software released in March. Along with improved coloring and more accurate details, the upgrade comes with the ability to make shutter speed and aperture-style adjustments to pictures, as if a professional photographer was behind the camera. Businesses can customize Firefly to mimic their brand’s visual style by providing it with a few marketing materials it can use as reference. When generating images on a Coca-Cola account, for example, Firefly would lean toward using its iconic red color.
Adobe is also launching a text-to-vector model for creating logos and icons that don’t use pixels, an art style common in graphic design. Users can generate new elements for the vector image and edit existing ones. Designers are also getting access to a template generation feature to create digital invitations, fliers, and brochures.
While the company is marketing its AI products broadly, a key audience for Adobe is the very group that AI threatens to replace—graphic designers. Many already use Adobe applications to do their jobs, and the AI tools are being added automatically. The upgrade also comes with a price increase from an additional $2 to $7.50 monthly, depending on the subscriber’s plan.
Adobe promises the price hike will be worth it. Its AI products can save time and energy for designers by completing routine but cumbersome tasks, like creating different file formats for an image, changing the width to height ratio and selecting specific groups of pixels to edit, says Still.
For commercial work, the executive imagines Adobe’s tools will allow more employees throughout companies to have access to the software. The bigger subscription plans could, en masse, boost Adobe’s revenue. Rather than replacing graphic designers, companies will still need them to guide the AI, she says. Designers will always get better results using image generation than your average Joe, Still told Fortune, because “they understand how to construct an idea, even if it’s through text prompts.” Whether companies adopt this approach, instead of simply using AI as an excuse to cut costs and minimize teams, remains to be seen.
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