This Famous Logo Designer Turned Out to Be an AI

The studio charged $1,500 for his designs, and no one suspected anything for more than a year

Catherine Novytska
Jul 18 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Studio Republic on Unsplash

“Artificial Intelligence can’t take over creative jobs,” they said.

“AI will never match human creativity,” they said.

We know AI can do a lot of things, but can it be truly creative?

We have already seen AI painting, writing novels, and composing. But little did we expect. This time it went to another level: For more than a year, AI was working instead of a human being.

His name is Nikolay Ironov. He is a Russian logo designer. He’s working freelance in one of the most well-known agencies in Moscow. Or at least that’s what brands that worked with him thought.

A Russian studio, Art. Lebedev, developed an AI that can come up with unique original logos and create brand identities. A separate team in the agency developed the project in complete secrecy. They gave their AI a common Russian name — Nikolay Ironov — created a portfolio page, and introduced him as a remote employee in the studio. Nothing suspicious. Even the photo of Nikolay Ironov was generated based on the pictures of all the designers in the agency.

Nikolay became a part of their “express design” program. Logos with this option cost approximately $1,500, and the logo the studio develops is final, without revisions and further discussions.

For over a year, remote designer Nikolay Ironov was developing the logos and gaining popularity. In total, he designed 17 projects. He worked with real clients, real brands: restaurants, bloggers, apps, products. All the clients were unaware that their logo was created by artificial intelligence. And now Nikolay’s work can be seen all over the country.

After revealing the truth about the designer, the studio pointed out: “Nikolay is available 24 hours a day. He does not get sick. He does not experience crippling creative blocks. He is always developing and can complete tasks in a matter of seconds. More importantly, his designs are completely unique.”

Maybe it was a genius marketing move or maybe designers and other creatives should start fearing for their jobs. One way or another, they managed to create a lot of buzz around their art studio.

Hiding the fact that AI developed the logos allowed them to gather honest feedback from people without prejudice. Most of the reviews were positive, considering the designs “cool,” “fresh,” “memorable,” and “worth the money.”

You can take a look at Nikolay’s portfolio here.

Image for post
Image for post
Screenshot

I particularly like this project for craft beer.

Image for post
Image for post
Screenshot

Art Lebedev studio says: “Designers, even the more daring and progressive ones, are often defined by the work of their peers, international award juries, and their own experiences. Given that artificial design intelligence sidesteps all this, Nikolay Ironov can utilize techniques that no human would ever consider.”

The question remains: Should we fear that AI will take our jobs? Even the most creative ones?

An AI logo designer can do everything a human can and more. Should the creatives all around the world worry, or can we turn this into a positive thing?

Andrew Ng, the co-founder and lead of Google Brain, once said that AI can reflect both the best and the worst in humanity, and yet the biggest harm in the short term is job displacement.

Now our task is to make the best out of it.

The list of jobs we can automate with AI becomes longer and longer. A computer can now perform even the most creative processes. Art Lebedev’s experiment didn’t shock us; it made us realize that the future is much closer than expected.

The fact that clients were happy with Nikolay’s work, and no one suspected a thing for over a year tells us that AI is fully capable of replacing human designers. But it also tells us that there are amazing possibilities for collaborations of humans and AI.

I think it’s time for us to stop worrying if AI will replace us. It’s time to come up with more opportunities for people. Opportunities to collaborate.

AI capabilities only continue to expand. That’s why we have to think about how we can combine our human and AI strengths to become even more creative, come up with the most unusual solutions and create things no one has ever done before.

If we use AI as a tool to make us stronger and better, we can reach the most exciting and unexpected results.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium