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Artificial Intelligence AI Art and its Effects on Artists.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI) art?

AI art is any digital artwork created with artificial intelligence, such as images, text, audio, or video. (Artificial intelligence is machines' simulation of human cognition, particularly computers.) 

Humans may also be involved in AI art by adding prompts or data (i.e., imagery including paintings, photos, print ads, cartoons, etc.). However, the final creation is left to AI. 

This method has been around but has only gained attention in the last few years.

Machine learning is artificial intelligence that enables computers to learn through "experience" (typically, scraping the internet or another large dataset) without being explicitly programmed by a human. 

Machine learning relies on algorithms that identify complex patterns in data and use those patterns to make decisions and predictions. It helps computers analyze large amounts of data quickly and accurately. This makes it a powerful tool in many fields, including healthcare, finance, government, retail, and more.

The algorithms (a list of rules laid out in code) used to generate AI artwork can range from simple ones that use randomness or chaos theory-based approaches to more complex methods such as neural networks, deep learning, and natural language processing.

How can AI art assist the creative process?

Concept Artist and CG Spectrum Dept. Head of Digital Painting, Brandon Reimchen, thinks AI art in its current form shouldn't hinder artists. However, they can use it to speed up creative workflows and generate innovative ideas.

Brandon says artificial intelligence (AI) can be helpful. It can produce a base for first-pass concepts or provide multiple options for a mood board. He tried AI art and benefitted earlier. Input and prompts can be time-consuming for the right AI image. A creative eye and solid digital painting skills will speed up the process.

I could waste days trying to get the flawless piece of AI art, or I could get something rough out and start painting into it, using my experience and grasp of art fundamentals to make it an actual piece that I can use and which can potentially speed up my workflow.

Regardless of its benefits, understanding art fundamentals and learning essential technical and creative skills is still a prerequisite to becoming a successful digital painter.

Brandon advises his students to rely on something other than artificial intelligence if they want to improve as artists. Mastering our skills is through practice. This helps you speed up your workflows and grow and develop by learning from your mistakes. AI art will not achieve this vital artistic step.

Practical and ethical issues in aesthetic art?

Suppose you want to become a serious artist and make money from your art. Brandon warns that specific AI programs can hinder commercial sales due to copyright issues.

AI models represent a moral issue as they scrape images without licensing. Using AI for internal mood boards and inspiration is fine, but it should not be used for the final product."

AI art has moral and practical limitations. One example is that AI art doesn't (now) produce the same image from a different perspective/angle, which is a typical client request, particularly in concept art. AI also needs help understanding human communication nuances: body language, intonation, contextuality, etc.

"Client briefs and feedback require artistic interpretation. Suppose a client cannot express what they want properly. In that case, it can be a considerable obstacle for an artist to capture their vision accurately. When working with clients, you develop shorthand once you get to know them. You know what they mean when they say specific words or use certain inflexions. Those words mean something else to another client, so it's about relationship-building and understanding your craft."

How does AI art impact artists?

AI tools and techniques allow artists to create works in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional practices. Within the creative industries (and beyond), ethical questions surrounding artificial intelligence are stacking up alongside technology's rapid and unchecked growth, and creatives have begun asking how AI will impact artists. Brandon Reimchen, a concept artist with two decades of experience, helped us answer some of these questions.

Should artists worry about AI art?

Brandon is not concerned about AI art in its current state because it is a derivative of human art but lacks humanness. Many artists, including writers and musicians, have taken a similar stance on AI art. Singer/songwriter Nick Cave recently wrote about ChatGPT in his weekly newsletter, The Red Hand Files (issue 218):

"Algorithms don't feel. Data doesn't suffer. ChatGPT has no inner being. It has been nowhere, endured nothing, and not dared to reach beyond its limitations. Therefore, it doesn't have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, as it has no limitations to transcend." 

One way to demonstrate your humanness is by recording your creative process to showcase in your portfolio. For example, suppose you're using Procreate to create your art. In that case, you can export the process video to add to your portfolio or social media accounts.

When constructing your portfolio, focus on more than just the final piece. Show how you got there. Include sketches and iterations that walk people through that human process. Recruiters/studios will better understand what it is like to work with you. 

Should artists use AI?

Whether you embrace AI art in your creative process, Brandon advises artists not to shun evolving technology like AI art. This is because it may result in being left behind regarding technology.

"AI art highlights, even more, the importance of technical soundness as an artist. If AI art sticks around, you can use it if necessary. Suppose art devolves to pressing buttons. In that case, you'll be a better "button presser" than some random person with no art fundamentals."

How can artists protect themselves from AI art?

We cannot predict the future of AI, technological advances, or what that means for artists. So, how do creatives ensure they remain employable in the face of new faster, cheaper options like AI art?

The only thing artists can do to protect themselves is become proficient at art.


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