The Inevitable Rise of AI in the World of Art: Opportunities and Challenges for Creatives
The development of new AI programs to create artistic output is accelerating. This article examines the role of creatives in this world and how AI art will influence it.
- The rise of AI in the field of art is a natural and expected development in the current capitalist system — decreases labor cost, increases productivity
- Effective communication and understanding the problems to be solved for customers will stay the KEY skill for success in the creative field
- As AI continues to advance, creatives will need to adapt and use tools that enable them to excel
- Lower-level jobs involving artistic craftsmanship might be eliminated, many higher-level jobs will spruce up
- The key to success in the creative field will be the ability to adapt and excel in a constantly changing landscape
- Things that might have seemed impossible will become possible
1. AI Art Controversy
A lot of the new developments are accompanied by heavy pushback from a large part of the online art community, and rightfully so, due to the unethical way the current AIs have been trained.
The currently most popular AI models — StableDiffusion, Dall-E, Midjourney — are all based on the LAION dataset of labeled online pictures. Most of those pictures were scraped from the Internet without any consent from the copyright holders. The trained AI models can produce output resembling many of the artists whose works were sampled in the model.
These artists had to work their entire lives to develop their own style, yet these models make it trivial to copy. This reduces the work of those artists almost to something resembling a Snapchat or Instagram filter.
Hopefully, the pushback will lead to the development of ethically sourced datasets and ethically trained AI models. Unfortunately, this might also mean that the biggest companies like Disney and Sony who have vast libraries of images and their copyrights might be the ones who will have the most powerful AIs to build upon.
Despite these controversies, the development of such tools is unlikely to be stopped and we still need to adapt to the changes they bring.
2. The Job of a Creative Worker
Most artistic jobs involve providing a service. Only some artists are beloved for their style and will be just paid to do what they already love doing. As the person providing the service, it is your goal to satisfy your customer or client. This could be your boss, a client from an advertising agency, or a private individual who has commissioned a piece of art.
Your artistic skill is just one asset of the service you are providing. While it is important to have a certain level of skill, the most important skill you need is the ability to communicate effectively. This involves being able to understand what the client wants, manage their expectations, and provide a solution that satisfies their needs.
Once again the most important skills are:
- Figure out what the client wants! (They often don’t know)
- Understand what and why they want it. (They often can’t explain without asking the right questions)
- Manage their expectations (Tell them what you can deliver, and how, and what you need to deliver it)
- Deliver the result (This is the easy part if 1–3 was successful. But most time often goes here)
Points 1 to 3 are the most important ones to get 4 right! For them, you don’t even need creative skills, yet. But 1,2,3 will get you the job.
In order to be successful in the creative field, it is essential to have a good understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. This will help you to determine the best way to provide a solution that meets the client’s needs and expectations. In many cases, the artistic skill is not as important as the ability to effectively communicate and work with the client to deliver a successful solution.
When it comes to providing a solution, the tools you use and the time and money invested in the project will ultimately determine its success. It is important to choose the right tools and to respect your own time and resources, as well as the budget of the client. By effectively managing these factors, you can deliver a successful solution that satisfies the client’s needs and gets you the next job.
3. The Inevitable Rise of AI Art
In the capitalist system we live in, value is often expressed in terms of money. In this system, a company is considered successful if it can make a profit. Unprofitable organizations or systems can only survive if they are subsidized by the state, such as schools, police, and healthcare.
As a result, much of what we do is driven by the desire to make progress, which means making more profit possible. This often involves inventing ways to make things easier and more efficient. Every innovation we use in our daily lives is designed to make our lives easier in some way, whether it’s using electric lights instead of fire, or mass-producing plastic appliances instead of hand-making them.
However, every innovation also has the potential to make certain workers obsolete. In the past, this often affected manual laborers, but with the advent of computers, it has shifted to more educated workers. For example, there are so many calculations done in a second by a computer that not even a thousand mathematicians could keep up with it.
The industrialization of art is a natural and expected development in this context. Just as other industries such as pottery, tailoring, glass manufacturing, and carpentry have been influenced by industrialization, so too has the field of art. In many cases, we don’t even think about the artistic talent behind the products we use in our daily lives, such as the pants we wear or the mug we drink from.
The process of creating art is incredibly slow and tedious, and it takes decades to train a masterful artist. AI has the potential to make this process faster and more efficient, which could revolutionize the field of art. However, it also raises questions about the future of human artists and the value we place on artistic talent in a capitalist society.
4. The New Role of Creatives
As AI continues to advance, creatives in the field will need to adapt and use tools that enable them to excel. Just as the advent of digital tools made us faster and more efficient, the use of AI tools will again make us even faster and allow us to do higher-level work. However, this does not mean that lower-level work will be completely eliminated. The demand for lower-level work with “manual” labor may decrease, but the price for it may also increase over time again. Since lower demand will drive less people to develop those skills and the skills will become very rare.
Higher- and lower-level work are not inherently better or worse than each other. They are simply different abstraction levels. For example, planning a movie is higher-level work than acting in a scene, but this does not say anything about the quality or inherent value of the work.
Regardless of the level of work, the skill of communication will remain the most important. The job of a creative will still be to deliver satisfactory results for their boss, customer, or client.
AI has the potential to allow for more higher-level work. This will shift our jobs in new directions. Just as a fashion designer no longer has to design the fabric and sew the clothes themselves, but can instead focus on more conceptual decisions, creatives in the field of art may be able to do the same. It is difficult to predict exactly what new roles will be created, but based on past innovations, it is likely that lower-level work will be eliminated to a large extent and a multitude of new roles will be created.
This can be exciting for those who embrace change and innovation, but it can also be scary and create anxiety for those who value stability and have invested a lot of time and effort into acquiring a certain set of skills that may become obsolete or less relevant in the future. Ultimately, the key to success in the creative field will be the ability to adapt and leverage new tools, such as AI, to create unique and valuable art.
5. AI Art as a Tool
When digital art tools emerged many traditional artists were saying that digital art was not art. It is true that painting digitally makes many aspects of art creation easier — undo, redo, layering, filling in colors, copy-paste — yet every digital artist will tell you that it comes with a steep learning curve. Many talented digital artists can transfer their knowledge also to a traditional medium.
Ultimately, it is just a tool that allows for more flexibility in the creation of art, which helps especially when working on client work that comes with many cycles of feedback and iteration. After some time many reluctant traditional artists had to change or incorporate digital mediums to stay competitive.
Similarly to this AI tools that are developing very fast right now will be a huge time-saver in the workflows of creatives down the line. Some really mundane tasks like background removal or photograph restoration come to mind as less controversial examples. But even increasingly “creative” tasks like changing a pose, or re-rendering parts of an image, or coloring in animation might be enhanced by AI.
AI-assisted workflows are already part of the workflows of major studios in high-budget productions, like the machine-learning-assisted drawing of facial features in “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)” which gave it that iconic look and transformed the entire animation industry.
6. An Unforeseeable Paradigm Shift
AI art represents a paradigm shift in the field of art. With AI’s ability to create masterful works of art in seconds, or even in real-time, it opens up new possibilities and use-cases that were previously unimaginable. For example, it could bring back high-quality hand-drawn animation to television, or allow individuals to create worlds and stories with a level of fidelity that is currently only possible with big-budget productions.
One area where AI art is likely to have a significant impact is in the world of gaming. Games require a large number of assets to be created, and AI’s ability to quickly and efficiently create these assets could revolutionize the industry. We have already seen impressive things being created by small indie developers, but the potential of AI art is much greater.
Of course, every technology also has the potential for malicious use. In the case of AI art, it could be used to impersonate people or create fake works of art that are difficult to distinguish from the real thing.
Another challenge is not to only create massive piles of content, but to create things of true value that will break through the vast amounts of content that will be created.
Fake news, fake content, and information overload are already real problems today. Flooding the internet with a massive heap of AI-generated art would be very easy and almost inevitable. We have to find solutions how to deal with these things.
7. The Value of Human Art
Human art will not disappear. The invention of photographs did not kill art, AI art won’t either. It will change the concept of art.
There might even be a return to more traditional mediums of art as hand-made paintings will be a rare thing in a world over-saturated with mass-produced digital AI art.
Like hand-made pottery, the human touch will be a major feature of the art we acquire. As people, we put a value on things that are made by other people. It might be an esoteric or whimsical thing, but it just feels nicer to have something that was made by someone real.
Nevertheless, it’s valid to ask yourself these questions:
Will AI art replace a ton of jobs?
- Yes. And create different ones. Sadly, not necessarily for the same people.
Should I still make art?
- Yes. And expand your concept of art. Art is not drawing or painting something. Art is expressing yourself through different mediums, with different tools and methods. The important thing is the message and what it means to you or others. Art was never about the tools. Find the medium that suits you and enjoy the process.
Should I still learn to draw or paint?
- If that’s something you enjoy. Yes. Just like writing, talking, or singing, the act of painting and drawing is an expression of how YOU see the world. It teaches you to see the world in a different way. It is a way of thinking. Of working out problems. Of meditation. Of processing trauma. It has a value that cannot be expressed in economic measures.
- If you want a job, develop your artistic eye and personal taste.
In conclusion, the rise of AI art brings both exciting and terrifying possibilities. As with any technology, it will be up to us to harness its potential for good and mitigate its potential negative impacts.
It helps to keep an open mind to new possibilities. Stay curious.
Revisit your old dreams that seemed impossible to achieve with the tools you had in the past. Maybe emerging tools will make it possible now, or in the future.
For me, I’d like to make a feature-length animation movie someday. With the same quality as Disney or Studio Ghibli, or Klaus (the 2D animated christmas movie). I would like to make it with a small group of people, not a huge studio. I see tools emerging that will make this possible and I’m excited to be here for it.
Thanks for reading!
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