Once upon a time, designers donned many hats. They were the creators of brand identities, web experiences, and the artists behind print materials.
These generalists used a single toolkit to explore the several design landscapes. As technology advanced and time passed, there was a change in the design industry. With the advent of the era of specialization came an array of tools and technologies, each addressing a particular aspect of design. Designers now have titles like "product", "graphic" or "brand" attached to their names, identifying their specialization within the broad field of design. But as time passes, we find ourselves on the verge of yet another paradigm change.
The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gradually erasing the boundaries once again, ushering in the renaissance of the generalist designer.
In the early stages of digital design, a designer's role was broad, often spanning across branding, web design, print, and advertising banners with a limited set of tools. Hence, artists explored a wide array of mediums and subjects.
As technology advanced, specialized tools emerged, segmenting the design landscape. The Adobe Suite became indispensable, birthing specialists like Photoshop wizards and Illustrator artists. The trend towards specialization was driven by a growing digital complexity. The generalist designer took a step back as projects demanded the refined skills of specialists.
As digital tools advanced, design roles became more specialized, giving rise to titles like UI/UX Designer and Branding Specialist. Companies valued the precise expertise of specialists to navigate the growing complexity of digital platforms.
However, the advent of Artificial Intelligence is now simplifying complex design tasks, hinting at a revival of the generalist designer's role in the industry.