Can AI Design?

An eager intern awaits your instructions

Artificial intelligence is neither intelligent nor creative. My experience with AI has revealed it to be like an eager high-school intern.

It delivers something that is really trying to look good or sound smart—but without expertise or finesse. AI tools can only recombine existing content. GPT—generative pretrained transformer—is a more accurate acronym than AI.

ChatGPT is great for a first draft. When I use it for presentations, it helps me gain traction. It’s better than a blank page. But it always reads like someone trying to appear intelligent—who has no idea what he’s talking about. As the expert, I have to make major revisions for accuracy, then add a little personality.

I enjoy playing with Midjourney. The feature image for this post was made there. Can you tell? Usually there are some unreal aspects to an AI generated image. We all know the feeling of being in uncanny valley. Unless you are intentionally trying to create that dreamlike feeling, best to avoid.


Because AI can only mash up what already exists, generated images cannot be copyrighted. Already lawsuits are being filed for infringement of intellectual property. Scarlett Johansson is one of the more notable cases. For now, AI images are appropriate for personal projects, but I caution businesses from using them. Adobe Stock and iStockPhoto have tools that incorporate AI. Because you are paying to license these images, they are generally safe from copyright infringement.

AI tools are being used to be lazy or even cheat. Many of us are already getting good at detecting the lack of humanity. Not only that, but AI has a tendency to hallucinate (or lie) when it has no other way of satisfying a prompt. In Henry Kissinger’s insightful (and long) article in the Wall Street Journal, he tells of an experiment in which ChatGPT cites him 6 times, and only one is accurate! The others are plausible enough to fool anyone but the author himself.

AI Generated Logos

I experimented with some logo design tools that use AI. My opinion of these tools is that experienced brand designers have nothing to fear. But designers doing $99 logos on Fiverr are now obsolete. The cheapest way to make a logo is to take a free piece of stock art, set the name in a free font, and put it together. That’s what you get from cheap crowdsourcing sites and that’s what you get from AI.

When an illustration is pulled from an existing library, you know that hundreds of organizations have already used it. One of my rules for designing a professional logo is “make it unique.” At this point, you are not going to get a unique logo from artificial intelligence. Sometimes a free or low-cost logo is all that’s needed, especially for a start-up on a shoestring. In this case, AI is one viable solution.


Harnessing the creative process is something I am very interested in. To me, creativity has always been about setting the conditions for it to happen. And when it does it is magical. In one sense, AI is “creating” something that didn’t exist before. In another sense, there is no insight or genius or breakthrough possible. These things only come from human experimentation, mistakes, and failures.

The best AI images are the result of carefully crafted prompts. That’s an art in itself! Human initiative is necessary. The most creative humans are going to get the best results from this new tool.

It’s a Tool

Now we all have our own intern that can generate rough drafts with ease. We will learn to use it to do boring or repetitive tasks so we can do the work that requires creativity and connection.

The more artificial content we see, the more we will crave the human touch, with all the imperfection that entails.

Studio 2D