blog post

HB1 Web founder Robin, shares  why graphic design, has become subserviant to technology. Understanding the trend.

graphic design

July 10th 2019 - graphic design,

Over the last 5 to 10 years technology has brought us to a stage where we are rapidly disconnecting with previously established ‘died in the wool’ ways of doing things and entering a realm where new ideas, ideals and formats proliferate and nothing replaces anything. You simply get more. Everything is fracturing all over the place — in politics, entertainment, the media… even in the creative industries. Particularly in Graphic Design.


On the plus side this has freed up designers to expand upon their individual areas of interest.

Graphic Design might seem like a relatively young industry compared to say, banking or carpentry or whatever but it’s also become heavily reliant on technology and technology changes so rapidly these days that were all constantly having to play catch up. Sure, there’s a massive dollop of craft involved but it was only a decade and a half ago that us designers were first discovering the Apple Mac and what it was capable of and now you look around and it seems frightfully easy for anyone to pick up a computer and start designing things for themselves. In many aspects, talent has become subservient to technology.

Graphic Design will need to become a part of the thing and not the thing itself..

Designers and design studios now wear many hats from account handlers to debt collectors and more. Add to this curators, event organisers, illustrators, photographers, archivists, art directors, media commentators… The list now seems to go on and on and on. Look at creative agencies such as us us at HB1 Web or any young creative. We may be able to produce Graphic Design of an appropriately high calibre but that’s only really one segment of our kit of parts.

In a world growing steadily more interested in marketing, branding, crowdsourcing, ‘design thinking’, cheap typography and D.I.Y. solutions, many creatives are finding/will find themselves morphing to new, multi-faceted roles. The role of Graphic Design may loose some prominence. Graphic Design may become more of a ‘boutique service’ offered to select clients rather than the all encompassing visual glue it has been touted as for decades. One thing is for sure, it ain’t disappearing anytime soon though we might have to start questioning exactly what our relationship to Graphic Design is really about.

Well that’s my attempt at looking into the crystal ball.

The definition of the graphic designer is becoming blurred. The accessibility of technology now means that anyone with a computer and the correct software can become a designer. This has both negative and positive effects: On one hand, poorly-considered, non-disciplined design is now being allowed to flow through into the public consciousness. On the other hand, we are seeing new, forward thinking, unrestricted creative thinking from those who are not restrained by traditional formalities.

It is my belief that craft allows technology to be exploited effectively. Therefore, the continuation of taught craft in our academic institutions is essential to sustaining graphic design as a profession to technically exacting standards. As a trained graphic designer and typographer this is something which I am very passionate about.

Robin Fowler

HB1 Web founder and CEO. Full time contributor to my team at HB1 Web Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur. If you'd like to talk to us about what we can do for you, please contact us.

Comments 7
  • Commenter 1 Reply

    The true profession of graphic design will continue to be valued by a few, and an even smaller paying few, but, as always judged by all. I personally love it, live it and breath it :) As you do, strongly believe it will continue to evolve and grow (with technology). The art-form of GD will always remain independent from branding, art direction, crowdsourcing, strategy and so on. Though it is often bundled with these by the multi-faceted designers/studios, such as yourselves mention in your article—of which I confess, I am… yep that’s right. Balancing making a living with living, running a studio, and desperately trying to staying creative from client to client. It just aint easy, but loads of fun. Thanks for the midnight read. Catch you soon

    July 11th, 2019
    • Commenter 2 Reply

      Have you guys ever noticed that there is no more the figure of the “great graphic designer”? And that, at the same time, graphic design is everywhere? I think that graphic design in turning into something like a commodity. So, to claim back the position of the individual graphic designer would be just the same to claim back the position of, say, the “oil driller” or the “commercial jet pilot” individuals – even considering their important roles in the society. We’re not specials anymore – we’ve become an ordinary gear in the economy machine, where theorethical idealisms are worthless and vain. So, you guys would better stop complaining, getting to work, doing your jobs, making it worthy. And joining – and enjoying – the real struggle of the free economy.

      July 11th, 2019
    • Commenter 3 Reply

      I think I agree that being a ‘graphic designer’ isn’t so special anymore. It’s having creative talent and knowing how to let it proliferate that will set designers (whatever) apart.

      July 13th, 2019
    • Commenter 4 Reply

      I reckon the idea that design can be universally useful hasn’t died, it’s just that the term ‘graphic design’ has shrunk in comparison to the various endeavours emerging creatives are taking on these days.

      July 13th, 2019
    • Commenter 5 Reply

      At the end of the day, computers don’t replace the need for a good idea.

      July 15, 2019
    • Commenter 6 Reply

      That assumes the client WANTS a good idea. Many of them don’t.

      July 17, 2019
  • robin_hb1web_ceo
    Robin HB1 Web Reply

    I think it’s a lot easier to masquerade as a designer these days with all the tools that are now available to us. Ultimately I believe that good ideas (and intelligent execution) will ultimately be worth more than anything else but it’s not for every client. Plenty of clients won’t be able to recognize the difference but that’s o.k.. I think it’s up to us to push ourselves to create more unique and successful work and create our own demand.

    July 18th, 2019
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