Today I want to share some thoughts that I’ve been mulling over for a while on AI and its role in the design process. I would love to hear your take on this slowly-becoming-commonplace technology and how you think it will change the nature of the work we do day to day in the future. Please reply to this newsletter and share your take with me!
Let’s talk about AI-generated art
Over the summer there was a shift in the AI generated art I was seeing on my timeline.
It was easy to brush off the “AI will take our jobs as designers” talk when the results we were seeing from the likes of DALL•E were strange, mutated attempts at human faces or silly images like minions in space. Yeah. No risk there.
But then… they started to get pretty good. And then even better…
Clearly todays AI tools can do impressive things. So NOW should we, as people who bring ideas to life visually, be concerned for our jobs?
My take? Nope.
Even with the impressive results AI can generate today, our skills as human designers are still vital.
And if we shift our thinking from it being us vs the machines, we can improve our creative process by using AI as a tool.
Owen Seabrook, the writer and director who generated the images you see in the tweet above said:
AI can give us a quick starting point. It can start the wheels in our brain turning with examples of composition and visuals that could represent what we’re trying to communicate.
It can also make the more tedious parts of our process easier, speeding up the time from idea to concept.
This TikTok from Karen X showing AI digital painting really blew my mind, because in this case the AI is working to bring human imagination to the page.
Powerful stuff! How many times have you had a picture of something in your mind, but just haven’t been able to execute on it? It’s exciting to think of a world where we’re not limited by our craft abilities in bringing ideas to life.
But what about the folks who specialise in craft?
As an optimist, I wanted to start this essay with the things that excite me about AI for visual communication. But I do still have some major concerns about the way it’s sweeping through our industry.
Paul from Adobe put into words something that has been more of a concern for me than AI taking our jobs as designers.
AI is not inherently creative.
The only reason it can generate images from prompts is that it has been shown enough imagery created with human skill from the human mind to pull out commonalities and learn from them.
It was really interesting to see the results of DALL•E copying Frederique’s artwork, for example.
She’s an artist whose style I can recognise anywhere and while the AI interpretations of her work clearly don’t have the charm of her own, I believe if it were fed more examples it could learn to imitate her well; giving anyone on the planet the option to create art that looks like Frederique’s, but isn’t.
This thread from Halli has a more positive take on the matter:
But where things get concerning for me is when people start to profit off the work and creative ideas of others; something that artists have had to deal with since forever, but that AI can make incredibly easy
Our ethics and moral code as designers is still key. Just because we can write a prompt to have an AI rip off another artists style, doesn’t mean we should.
As AI becomes a key player in more parts of our workflow, I actually think it will lead to more work for creatives rather than less. The work will just take a different turn.
For example, I have no doubt we’ll see people who specialise in prompt-writing get paid well for their in-depth knowledge of how the AI has been trained and how to coax the best results from it.
Maybe we’ll see illustrators get paid to craft a brand’s illustration style then feed enough images to an AI that the inhouse team can then generate images themselves to represent concepts once the system is well-trained. (Heck, I’d LOVE to be able to do that for ConvertKit). Illustrators, in this case, could command very high fees for their IP.
As with many shifts that have happened in the industry since design became a profession, it’s those who are able to adapt to the tim
How are you feeling about the recent developments in AI?
Are you concerned? Curious? Think it’s all a fad? Reply to this email and tell me about it! I’d love to share your thoughts in an upcoming issue.
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Hope you have a good week ahead, and seriously, please reply and tell me your thoughts on AI. This is the third time I've asked so I hope you know that means I'm serious 😅