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February 9, 2023
October 27, 2023

The Impact of Technology on the Graphic Design Industry

Rangan Das

The Impact of Technology on the Graphic Design Industry

February 8, 2023
October 27, 2023
Rangan Das


Graphic design has existed for ages, some claiming that it even dates to the Stone Age. However, the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century is when graphic design as we know it today began. Posters were used to promote items including transportation, entertainment, and manufactured goods in the late 19th century. 

Graphic design evolved drastically over time, thanks to technology. Easels and canvases have made way for computer screens and design tools in today's art - graphic design and technology always progressed together.

Art production has now altered considerably, from depictions of patron saints and gods in the Middle Ages to the popular Non-Fungible Token (NFTs) motifs in 2022. The newest technology, like VR or AI, has greatly influenced how artists manage projects, connect with customers, and show their work.

How has graphic design changed over the years

Typographer William A. Dwiggins first used the phrase "graphic design" in 1922. It has a long and varied history and is now so ingrained in our contemporary culture that it is difficult to picture life without it.

Here is a brief history of graphic design.

Paleolithic era

Cave paintings are the earliest forms of graphics, which can be traced back to 15,000 BC. These murals usually featured handprints, animals, weapons, and other references to hunting.

Paleolithic paintings of Lascaux’s Great Hall of the Bulls. Source: The elusive cave writing of Lascaux | The Past (the-past.com)

Chinese printing

Since most discoveries relating to printing were done in China, the Chinese are frequently regarded as the forerunners of printing and graphic design. These included the first printing press in history, papermaking, and wooden block printing.

So, Gutenberg Didn't Actually Invent Printing As We Know It ‹ Literary Hub
Source: So, Gutenberg Didn’t Actually Invent Printing As We Know It ‹ Literary Hub

Middle Ages

The Gutenberg Printing Press, often known as the portable printing press, made its debut in 1439. This idea opened new visual communication channels across Europe. With the advent of this technology, the idea of ads and graphic design became more solid.

Johannes Gutenberg | Printing Press, Inventions, Facts, Accomplishments, &  Biography | Britannica
Source: Johannes Gutenberg | Printing Press, Inventions, Facts, Accomplishments, & Biography | Britannica

Industrial revolution era

Early in the 1620s, printed advertising started to appear regularly in newspapers. Early in the 1620s, printed advertising started to appear regularly in newspapers. Lithography and chromolithography were two more breakthroughs brought forth by the Industrial Revolution that helped boost productivity and advance graphic design. Around this period, significant elements like various color schemes were introduced to the graphics to help establish a link between businesses and consumers. As a result, the graphics quality became more obvious. Around the turn of the 20th century or the late 1800s, graphic design truly took off.

10 Old Newspaper Ads You Won't Believe Were Real - ToughNickel
Source: 10 Old Newspaper Ads You Won't Believe Were Real - ToughNickel

Modern era

To engage more people with their work, artists and designers pushed themselves to experiment with new styles and approaches as technology advanced during the 20th century. In the 1900s, posters also evolved into a form of expression as short propaganda slogans gained popularity. During wartime, posters were used to encourage young men to enlist in the military. The introduction of Adobe Photoshop in 1990 irrevocably altered the field of graphic design. Users of Photoshop were able to edit photographs by adding digital overlays, fading features, blending different visual elements, and using several graphic designs.

33 Years of Adobe Photoshop Design History - 101 Images - Version Museum
Source: 33 Years of Adobe Photoshop Design History - 101 Images - Version Museum

Emerging technologies in graphic design

Today's cutting-edge graphic design technology provides a massive potential for designers. Over the past ten years, graphic design tools have seen significant evolution. They provide better ways to accomplish tasks, cooperate, and exchange ideas. Some of the newest innovations in graphic design include the following:

1. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Extended Reality

AR allows users to interact with the design as if it was a part of the physical world. By doing this, a more natural atmosphere is created for exploration. It makes 3D things more lifelike and immersive by allowing us to see them in real-time. Virtual reality provides a complete virtual experience where reality is blocked out and users interact with the elements in the virtual world. XR is an extension of VR. The ability to stimulate all five senses—sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste—is one of the distinctive features of XR.

AR is more popular when it comes to sales and marketing applications whereas virtual reality is more used for entertainment. AR, VR, and XR have given rise to sensory design. Through multimodal interactions, users interact with their environment with the aid of wearable technology. 

Taqtile relies on Microsoft HoloLens to simplify equipment maintenance for the defense industry. Their augmented reality (AR)-enabled work-instruction platform, Manifest allows repair, maintenance, and inspection. Source: Business Wire

2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Jason Allen’s A.I.-generated work, “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” took first place in the digital category at the Colorado State Fair.
An AI-generated digital painting. Source: NYTimes

The emergence of artificial intelligence is transforming how we do business, including enhancing workflows and branding compliance. Only 10% of companies utilized artificial intelligence in their daily operations in 2015. That percentage increased by 270 percent in such a short period, reaching 37 percent in 2019.

While this may seem like a negative impact of technology on graphic design, there is little cause for concern for graphic designers who fear that one-day robots may take over their employment because artificial intelligence in graphic design strives to support rather than replace human designers. AI and ML can improve workflows and brand asset management. When paired with automation, AI and ML will provide hyper-automation. Creativity is still a skill unique to humans. 

Photo editing and organizing software, Luminar by Skylum, uses AI to edit photos, suggest templates, and more. Source: Skylum

3. Web 3.0

The internet is changing. Web 3.0 brings you progressive web apps, creates a more distributed internet, and integrates with AI and ML technologies. With Web 3.0, you are also getting new designs. The initial web design philosophy, Web design 1.0 was "One-dimensional." Most of the design components are placed in orderly succession and have a rigid layout. With web design 2.0, a new dimension was added. Now, responsive grids are available, allowing you additional flexibility when putting items in cells.

The next dimension is web design 3.0. It allows for the flexible arrangement of pieces as well as their overlapping and layering. It creates new opportunities for site design. And the new era of web design has just begun. Designers are now getting acquainted with the tools and the design language. Web 3.0 often makes use of background elements such as shapes and curves to impose a specific design navigation path. These shapes and blobs can help to highlight valuable content while providing an aesthetically pleasing UI. 

Graphical user interface, application, websiteDescription automatically generated
Source: nicepage

4. Alternative Human-Computer interaction techniques

The discipline of design known as human-computer interaction (HCI) focuses on how humans and computers interact with one another. HCI is a field that combines several academic fields like computer science, psychology, human factors, and ergonomics.

For instance, with chatbots, the number of businesses using conversational interfaces has exploded. This also requires a new graphics design. Graphic design also needs to become more inclusive to accommodate those who are physically challenged. 

Color guide for designing for color blindness. Source: Studio Analogous

5. Smarter software for workflow management

Dealing with changes is one of the most time-consuming processes in graphic design. Professional graphic design projects often involve multiple stakeholders. People from across multiple departments, and even multiple organizations, must collaborate to build the final product. 

Designers have had to cope with what seemed like an endless cycle of comments and adjustments. Lack of communication between clients and designers, especially when talking online, accounts for a significant portion of redesigns.

Now, brands and design teams have improved the revision process using graphic design tools as they seek to meet that demand. Such programs include Artwork Flow, Figma, and Skitch, to name a few.

What’s Next?

Technology will have a major impact in the coming years. Designers can use natural language descriptions to generate user interfaces, or they can use machine learning to auto-complete designs just like predictive text on your phone’s keyboard. 

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