Beware of Content Aware
Adobe’s sneak peak of the upcoming CS5 just opened a potential Pandora’s box of trouble for the advertising industry (Pandora’s jar if we’re being historically correct according to Wikipedia). Okay, okay, I might sound a little emo but trouble’s a-brewing either way. Watch the video below of the new Content Aware Fill to see what I mean.
Photoshopping just became insanely easy. Plus, this is just one tool in the new suite to make things that much more productive. What used to take myself and all other graphic designers hours upon hours of work now can be done in a matter of seconds. We’re entering the ironically Fordist era of Photoshopping ladies and gentlemen, and I just can’t help but feel a bit cheated. Now anybody with an internet connection can learn how to become a graphic designer (term being used loosely) via YouTube videos to vie for desks at an agency.
This has great implications for all mad men, and ultimately the agency’s bottom line. If labour hours are decreased because of these new efficiencies for producing the same type of work, then billable hours will be decreased too. Clients will demand higher ROI’s, or worse off, cut their budgets as the deliverables simply don’t cost as much as they used to to produce. Margins are slimming, and so must the fat cats; this was not what Ford had in mind.
However, in true Fordist fashion (still Henry, not Tom), there’s still hope in this whole mess. Don’t fret yet, for all you art directors out there can still sit pretty. How? Because you can’t sit pretty without knowing what’s ugly first and vice versa.
This is how I see it. Website design and development went through the exact same industry disruption as graphic design is currently going through. Applications (both online and offline) such as iWeb, Dreamweaver, Tumblr, Blogger and even the now defunct Geocities wizard all played a part in the modest beginnings of “user-generated content.” And of course, it looked hideous. It was like a box of Crayola crayons mated with a Harajuku girl and gave birth to glittery diarrhea (think MySpace profiles). But that drew the indelible line between amateur and professional website designers, designers being the operative word.
I may come off sounding like a presumptuous cock when I say this, but not everybody is an artist. That’s why people get paid to be screenwriters, songwriters, stylists, etc., because it’s a creative skill that not everybody possesses. I mean if everybody really knew what good and bad art was, there would be no difference between a storyteller and a transcriptionist.
So although the term “graphic designer” has now been depleted of its meaning, kind of like the term “ordained minister” (since the advent of digital ordination), there’s still hope. There’s hope for the mad men to get a little madder, and start to make even better and more innovative art in order to re-assert themselves as true creatives. Take that same budget and put it towards increased production or media buys and get a cut that way. Think bigger. Because as it stands, anybody can learn the ropes, leaving art directors with their hands tied behind their backs. And all they have left, is their eye.