Good or bad, AI is getting a lot of attention these days. It’s being billed as the workhorse assistant who never takes coffee breaks, or the kickstarter of creativity for those in the creative fields. While some of this is true, how AI is used is more important than what it is used for.
At Studio 22 Design, we’re just scratching the surface of AI’s super powers. For us, it’s taking on the role of part-time assistant (who doesn’t make coffee). Who knows how this will change in the future, maybe we use it less or maybe it makes its way into more of our creative workflow. But for now, here is how we are leveraging AI in our work and what it means for our client work.
One of the most time-intensive tasks in a creative agency is the dreaded research phase. Sometimes we call this discovery, but no matter what it’s called, it takes a lot of human hours.
Along with traditional research methods like Google Search and simply asking the client who their competitors are, we also asked our favorite chat AI for some help, like: “Who are Nestle’s top 5 competitors?” While the results of this query were not shocking, there were some interesting discrepancies when you compare Google’s results to ChatGPT’s, most notably, Hersey’s didn’t make the cut in the AI results. No Kisses for you.
Other, more creative forms of research also help us move projects along. We can ask our chat AI what some of the popular colors in web design today are. And while we get generic results for this prompt, it does act as a navigational beacon that can point us in a particular direction.
From here, we can ask our favorite generative AI tool to create a color palette or even an entire scene that we can sample colors from. Before AI, we would generally have to scour the internet to find visuals that we could sample from or use as inspiration. Today, we can describe what we want to see using natural language and get more precise results. In the example below, we prompted MidJourney to “/imagine a vaporwave scene of a sports car driving down the PCH at sunset using bright neon colors”. And while the image itself is pretty good, save for the oddly shaped palm fronds and water flooding the highway, we’re not interested in the actual image. What we really wanted from this example is a color palette. From here, we sampled the colors, made adjustments, and created a usable color system that can be used in development of virtually any creative asset.
We also have been pushing the limits on what generative AI can do in terms of design and composition. On a recent book cover design project, we prompted our favorite generative AI tool to create a book cover including some really specific details. Since our book takes place in the 1960s Soviet Union, we dropped in the following prompts: moscow, soviet union, soviet propaganda poster, cold war, brothers, spy, etc…
What the AI generated were some really rough concepts of what this might look like. And while we didn’t (and won’t) use the actual imagery generated (too many weird artifacts), we can use it as inspiration when we develop our original vector artwork. This includes thematic elements that were used like buildings, people, shadows, textures, and colors. It basically gave us a template to follow and allowed our human creativity to take over to refine and improve.
Also, and maybe most important, we shared the AI generated concepts with the client who provided feedback on each image. This saved us a couple cycles of going back and forth with iterations which is a huge game changer. Not only does the client get more options to look at, it makes the final product better.
By allowing us to explore and experiment with concepts at minimal cost, AI allows our team to focus our time on developing creative assets with higher value.
How else are we utilizing AI?
As we learn more about how to use AI efficiently, we will begin to include more of these tools into our creative flow. We don’t see AI technology as a threat to the creative industry—if anything, AI underscores the need of the human-eye, human analytical understanding, and human empathy in design. AI is simply another tool in the designers workshop just like desktop publishing software was in the early 90s.