Today’s graphic designers have more options than ever for areas of specialization due to the rise in technological advancements within the field. Discover some of the latest technology and graphic design trends that are innovating the industry.
Growing fields of graphic design
The future of graphic design involves not only how attractive a digital space looks, but also how functional it is. This is known as user experience (UX) or UX-focused graphic design, and it's critical for webpages to be user-friendly, navigable and accessible.
As graphic design grows and changes as a field, it may be helpful to think of it as more than one area of knowledge, especially if you're a graphic design student looking to focus your coursework. Graphic design has several sub-specialties. In addition to traditional graphic design, studying subjects such as UX, web development or graphic information technology (graphic IT) can also be great ways to develop a specialized base of skills and knowledge that can help you stay ahead of the curve in your graphic design career.
VR and virtual design
Graphic designers are essential to the growing field of virtual reality (VR). Virtual reality is no longer limited to video games and virtual entertainment experiences. VR is now being utilized in fields such as education and medicine. Well-designed VR experiences can be used to expose students to experiences they can't access in the real world, such as the Dreamscape Learn virtual biology labs at Arizona State University. VR is also being used for medical training, patient treatment, medical marketing and public health education, and it’s estimated the global market for VR exceeded $21 billion in 2021.
Some industry leaders believe 3D graphic designers will play a crucial role in how VR will evolve. Designers will be in charge of creating the virtual spaces people visit for education, work or pleasure, suggests Vladimir Gendelman, founder and CEO of office supply firm Company Folders Inc.
Making a VR experience compelling is one of the more important and more challenging aspects of the graphic designer's job. Since VR experiences are seen in three dimensions, a 3D graphic designer working on them will have a different perspective from one who is working in a traditional 2D setting. Virtual environments are constantly evolving, so designs must be flexible enough to accommodate changes in layout and functionality.
To design images for a 3D VR setting, a graphic designer needs to become familiar with the software used for three-dimensional rendering, which may be different and more complex than what they've worked with for 2D projects. A 3D graphic designer also needs to have the artistic knowledge of how elements such as perspective, light and shadow can impact the final visuals of a VR experience.
Graphic design for 3D printing
Creating 3D visualizations in virtual reality isn't the only emerging graphic design trend. Three-dimensional printers are another area of innovation with implications for graphic design. 3D printing can produce objects in a short amount of time, but they need graphic designers to design those objects. Entrepreneurs looking to make prototypes or begin small-scale manufacturing, as well as those wanting to use 3D printing to custom-make items to their exact preferences, will require graphic designers to turn their visions into reality.
A graphic designer with the skills and knowledge to design for 3D printing is valuable. Designers could work with a company or client to create a 3D-printed model of one of their products. That 3D model could be showcased on a website to give customers an accurate perspective on the product, or it could be used to help the web designer develop the page and gain an understanding of how the product looks on the scale of a computer monitor.
AI graphic design
With the rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of graphic design, some have wondered if AI will soon replace graphic designers altogether. However, the use of AI in graphic design is best leveraged as a design tool that helps designers to optimize and speed up project completions.
Looking at this from another angle, it can be seen that the increase in the popularity, proliferation and use of AI graphic design tools can actually aid graphic designers in their work. Designers will be able to use AI as a creative collaborator and tool to more effectively meet the needs of clients and streamline their design process.
Using AI graphic design tools can help designers reduce costs, improve efficiency and create multiple different versions of designs that can be A/B tested. Jobs and projects that may have previously taken graphic designers a week can be shortened by days with the use of AI tools.
Education and the future of graphic design
As an aspiring graphic designer, your educational choices can help you stay at the forefront of the evolving technologies in the graphic design industry.
Pursuing a degree in graphic design or a related field ensures you'll be receiving the latest education from experts, as well as valuable networking opportunities with your classmates and professionals in the field.
ASU Online offers several graphic design and web design and development bachelor's degree programs that can help prepare you for this field, including:
- The Bachelor of Science in Design in graphic design teaches you essential design principles and helps you master applying these skills to professional print and web design projects.
- The Bachelor of Science in graphic information technology and the Bachelor of Science in graphic information technology with a concentration in user experience can prepare you for roles such as web designer, web developer and user experience designer.
- The Bachelor of Science in graphic information technology with a concentration in full-stack web development offers you an in-depth understanding of front-end and back-end web development technologies. You'll also gain a broad foundation in the principles and practices of graphic information technology. The web development curriculum prepares you for diverse software and web developer positions in a wide range of industries.