Artificial intelligence is a term that is often met with mixed reactions. In art and design, some people see it as a welcome advancement. Others feel that it devalues traditional skills, and in turn threatens people’s careers. In this article we’ll explore the debate between A.I. art generation and conventional skills, and why A.I. will be transformative for creative industries.
Creativity and Inspiration
There’s no single answer to what creativity is, but most people would agree that it involves some type of original thought or invention. More often, we think of creativity as something that applies to the arts – painting, music, writing, etc. But creativity can also be applied to business, science, and other fields. Creativity has always been considered to be a purely human cognitive ability; involving the use of reason and imagination. It enables us to take existing ideas or designs and combine them in new ways to create something original. This process of combining ideas is what allows us to come up with novel solutions to problems, or to come up with completely new aesthetic routes. As designers, you’d think that the more inspiration we have at our disposal, the more creative we should be. The reality may not be so black and white.
Designers need inspiration to be creative, but too much of it can actually have the opposite effect.
When designers are constantly looking to current trends, successful studios or artists for inspiration, they are less likely to explore other avenues. This can lead to stagnation in the industry with fewer innovative concepts.
I expect that almost all of us turn to the internet as our primary source of creative stimuli at the start of a project. With so much content at our fingertips, it’s no wonder that it’s our first port of call for inspirational images. But what happens when we search for them?
Search engines have complex algorithms which either promote popular images or filter out offensive content from image results. The latter is a necessary measure to ensure that everyone feels safe and comfortable using the internet. But when the most popular subjects are given more weight, it can limit our creativity and stifle innovation. The same algorithms also mean that similar search criteria will provide identical results.
So what’s this got to do with A.I. generated art and creativity?
The perfect image
The perfect image can make all the difference to your project. With ai-generated art, you actually create the most appropriate image in minutes, without having to search for hours online.
Until fairly recently, the results were promising but somewhat unusable. When it comes to ai-generated art, the prompt or starting point is of utmost importance. This is because the ai program relies on this input in order to generate an original piece of art. The quality and complexity of the resulting image will be based largely on the quality of the starting point.
The A.I. program that generates the artwork used in these prompts is designed to take input in the form of words. This means that, in order to generate an accurate and interesting piece of art, it is important to provide a detailed and specific prompt. If you provide a vague or incomplete prompt, the resulting image will be equally vague, incomplete or particularly weird. On the other hand, if you provide a detailed and specific prompt, the resulting image will be much more complex and nuanced. In short, the better your prompt, the better your artwork will be.
Prompts can also include artist names, in order to add stylistic touches to the final output. It’s debatable whether the artist, whose style has been emulated, should in some way be credited with generating the work. For now, the jury is out on that.
Rinse and repeat, until you get the result you want
With a well written prompt the designer or artist then asks the computer to generate a range of possible outcomes. These outcomes can then be refined by the artist, who may choose to select certain elements from different pieces to create a final work. The process of refinement can be repeated multiple times, until the artist is satisfied with the result.
Both artists and designers know that being able to create multiple iterations of a design idea rapidly is key to success. The ability to quickly go through several versions of an idea allows for more experimentation, and can lead to better, more innovative designs. After all, if they’re not well-crafted and thoughtfully put together, they won’t resonate with people the way that businesses and organizations want them to. This is why so much time and effort is put into the development process of professional creative ideas. A.I. can definitely speed up this process. It can also help render images that would have been impossible for the artist to create.
Artists are often restricted by their abilities. They may be able to come up with great ideas, but they may not have the skill to bring those ideas to life. This can be a major limitation in the creative process. For example, an artist may come up with a great idea for a painting, but may not be able to paint realistically enough to make the idea work. A designer may have a great concept for a new product, but may not be able to create a prototype that is both functional and attractive.
AI will redefine what it means to be an artist. Traditionally, an artist is someone who creates works of art using their own skill and creativity. However, with A.I. becoming more capable of creating art, it may be more accurate to describe an artist as someone who designs or directs the creation of artworks by machines. This could lead to a change in how we view art and artists, and could result in new genres of art being created. The fear by artists and designers by this new revolution is all too palpable. A lifetime of experience, skill and technique condensed into a matter of seconds by a machine. It may be a challenging period for purely decorative art, but the value of great ideas can never be diminished.
The power of human experience
One of the reasons that artificial intelligence cannot compete with human creativity and ideation is that human experience helps form ideas, perspective and context. Our individual life experiences, as well as our cultural experiences, help us come up with new and innovative ideas. This is something that artificial intelligence cannot do, since it is not based on individual experience, culture or our spacial awareness of the world. Instead, it is based on data that is given to it. This, in itself, depends on our own personal experiences.
Ideas are the foundation of creativity and innovation. They are the building blocks upon which we create new things. For artists and designers, expressing those ideas is essential for creating unique and meaningful work. When it comes to idea generation, artificial intelligence can be a powerful ally; helping artists overcome creative blocks and prompt the creation of new ideas. By acting as a kind of digital muse, A.I. art generators can help to spark the imagination and jumpstart the creative process. In the end, it is up to the artist or designer to bring these ideas to life – something that a machine could never hope to do. Rather than seeing A.I. art generators as a threat, traditional artists should perhaps view them as an opportunity to explore new ideas and expand creative horizons.
Footnote: Much of this article was written with the assistance of an A.I. text generator called Jasper.ai. The results were in no way perfect, and many iterations had to be run to achive the points I wanted to make. However, it helped me form additional ideas, and took significantly less time to write.