Avery: With the recent advent of A.I technology that can generate art with the press of a button, we are living in a strange time where artistic value is being threatened by artificial intelligence, and I have come to notice that many young aspiring artists on social media are becoming demotivated by this technological revolution.
“What’s the point, when A.I can do it better than me?” This, is a dangerous mindset, not just for artists, but people in general.
“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
-Vincent Van Gogh
The subject of A.I art is difficult to tackle, being there is quite a few ethical and legal problems with A.I art. But that is not what I wish to talk about. Instead I think this is actually a good time for us artists to reflect on what we want from our work as creatives. Sure, A.I can make impressive imagery and it’s only going to get better with time, but no matter how good the art may be, it’s going to feel impersonal.
It has to be said of course that A.I art is not going away, it is here to stay like it or not. And in no way do I mean to speak poorly of anyone using A.I image generation, I know for a fact A.I will be a common place tool used in the future. And I understand that many people find A.I image generation to be enjoyable, and there is no harm in that. But I do find it disappointing that so many “Artists” sharing A.I images share the art as final products instead of using A.I as a tool in the creative process. My issue with the term A.I “Artist” is that the art they create is not by them, it was created by the program through the prompt they wrote. I liken this to be more of a “discovery” made by the person typing the prompt rather than an image they “created.” Two different A.I prompt writers can create the same image by using the same prompt and A.I software and model. I don’t find A.I generated images to feel “personal” in that regard.
I foresee A.I as a tool that will be used to automate the workflow and time spent creating art for films, animations, and video games. And for people whom work in those industries, or indie creators whom make these kinds of projects on there own, this will be a fantastic tool. I know that I for one will likely make use of these A.I tools in the future. But the question is, did we really need to automate art? Especially when art is something many people actually enjoy doing.
I find it is quite sad that so many young artists feel like giving up. Thinking they’ll have more success in another field of work. But what i feel a lot of people are missing is that A.I and robotics are coming for all kinds of jobs, not just art. The career path for Artists have always been difficult and that hasn’t changed with A.I. If you love creating art, then keep creating, don’t let A.I stop you. Especially if art brings you joy. Many people create art for therapeutic purposes, and that won’t change with A.I. Creating art can bring a sense of peace and joy, calmness and relaxation, it is like meditation for some people, a flow state.
The controversy around A.I art comes from the fact that the A.I model data sets were trained on images scraped from the internet. Most of these images being copy-written images owned by artists who never gave consent to their images being used. It’s upsetting. And this is where the ethical and legal issues with A.I come into play. Some websites like Art Station and Deviant Art have added a “NoAi” tag that artists can assign there work with to make it so that their art is not scraped by bots collecting data. Sadly, the damage has already been done, with many artists work already having been used for training data, and the tag itself is just an artificial safety-net, as most bots can be taught to ignore these tags.
Artists have also begun to protest against A.I art on social media, due to the large number of accounts posting A.I images and taking over most of the feed. This takes away the eyes of people from looking at the work of real artists. So not only does A.I art harm the income stream of artists trying to sell or get commissions, but because these accounts can post dozens of A.I images in a day compared to a real artist who can only post (at best) a single image in a day, real artists are not even getting the exposure they once did or deserve.
I understand this can feel very disheartening, but I don’t believe A.I will take away from human art. Think about this: Why would you buy an artwork? It likely has less to do with the beauty of the work and more to do with the artist whom created it. Perhaps you bought the art from a friend, giving the art personal value. Maybe it was from a stranger, or an artist online whom you admire, perhaps the artist your buying from told you the meaning behind the art, or a story about where, when, why, or how they made the piece, making you attracted to buying it, you saw value in the art through the story that was told. Why would you display art on your wall? It is because it has some personal meaningful value you feel is worth displaying. Why do you like a specific artist? It’s because you value there creative expression, you value the world they create and invite you into.
Maybe it’s not so much about the art that matters and instead more about you and your creative human expression. I believe weird and unique art will be more valued in the future. Maybe not a “Banana duck-taped to a wall” kind of weird, but weird in a more personal and intimate kind of way. I foresee In the future, art that takes risks, art expressing your uniqueness, I believe will be valued more than anything. Humans tell stories, we can create worlds that we can invite others into. And that is special. Hold on to your creative expression and identity as an artist. A.I holds no identity. Story is a part of human nature, and that will always be most valued.
The artwork of Vincent Van Gogh will always be valued, why? Because it’s not the artwork itself that is valued, but the story behind the art. It’s the story and identity of the man who created the art that matters to us, it’s the creative and emotional expression he left behind, it’s the mystery and the sadness that makes us care. It’s the human soul behind the art that makes it meaningful.
“In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.”
-Vincent Van Gogh