Three Realities Creatives Need to Accept

Sean Ferguson
4 min readJul 20, 2023

No, AI is not taking your job.. unless you’re doing it poorly.

“a graphic designer” prompt in DALL-E, with printed color palettes, for some unknown reason

It’s early July. My mentor mentions that he wish he could just get a glimpse of what goes on in my head. My response? Chaotic.

I knew I wanted to be a designer at fourteen. An internship at a local networking company. It was unpaid, but there was pizza and a Quake LAN party to end the weeks. I could barely do math, despised academics, and average at sports. What I could do (and love) was turn my mind into a whiteboard and design on it. That was my talent, that was strength.

Being in the field for over two decades now, there is finally a shift happening in the creative field with resistance on both ends of the rope that is the tug of war between old guard and rising stars.

Both sides have sound reasoning and data behind their views. However, we need to accept embracing some new realities of our industry, and put a stop to the clickbait filling every creative news outlet such as:

  1. AI is a threat to the creative industry and is taking our jobs.
  2. The creative process is dying.
  3. Brand consistency is most important than creativity

Let’s break it down.

AI is not taking your job— unless you’re doing it poorly

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” — Alan Watts

AI isn’t going to take your job unless you’re not doing it well. Trends in design and branding change several times a year. Some are surprising, some are exciting, and some are better left forgotten (looking at you Memphis style design.)

While AI is a pinnacle tool in our ever growing creative toolbox, it’s not going to replace human creativity.

Take the nightmare image at the start of this article. We have a graphic designer, back from vacation at The Stanley Hotel, happily designing with his plethora of printed out color swatches for some reason.

Any of us would be fired or lose a client if we utilized this in any capacity.

The only threat AI has to the industry are those who are doing it poorly. Those where creativity has died, and campaigns are an overused Shutterstock photo with Gotham messaging on top, and a plain white logo for the kiss of death. Void of color, passion, emotion and brand voice.

The Creative Process isn’t dying— it’s just evolving

“You know, if I were to draw this [holds up a glass], you would understand only 20 percent of its nature. You would have no sense of its weight or material or temperature. You would have no sense of the way that it reacted to its environment.” —Jony Ive, the former design head of Apple

The creative process isn’t disappearing — it’s changing. Many heads of design, creative directors, and professors continue teaching the same process.

  1. Receive a creative brief
  2. Conduct design research
  3. Brainstorm ideas
  4. Review at 50/99
  5. Present / Submit

What a tired, boring process in a field that celebrates outliers and revolutionary ideas.

But this process is evolving. The best ideas come from spontaneous conversations and actions. The upcoming generation of strategists, directors, and designers are constantly thinking, generating ideas and iterating on them. They lean on their years of experience and keep up with design trends to streamline the process. As a result, there is less need for extensive research.

When we have an active pulse on competitors, Sales teams providing in-depth target audience research, and the ever present social media in our daily lives, we can act upon an idea instantly.

Mistakes are made, but these often lead to great discoveries. The best ideas often come from the action of just executing an idea rather than overthinking it.

Embrace the chaos.

Brand Guidelines are meant to be broken, strategically

“It’s frightening how often the solution to business problems is, do nothing, or do more of what’s working.” — Alex Hormozi

Brand consistency is a staple in the creative field. It creates familiarity, brand expansion and footprint. The trap most of us fall into, for good reason, is brand guidelines become our bible.

The rules can’t be broken. We can’t use this color. This image is outside of our suggesting style.

While I’m a (huge) advocate of all things brand, the rules are meant to be broken — strategically. This is the age of five second attention span, and capturing it is vital. We need to stop our target audience or customers in their tracks, every now and then, with something different. Remind them we’re still here, that our brand has a personality that isn’t static in a single emotion or presentation.

Do something crazy every now and then. For every three creations that follow the brand to the letter, throw a curveball at your audience.

We’re creatives — outliers, revolutionists and in history, anarchists. So create a little chaos now and then.

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Sean Ferguson

Creative Director at Panther. Award winning and published. I Just work here, mam.