On generative art

As an art teacher, I have seen firsthand the incredible impact that artificial intelligence (AI) has had on the world of art making. From the way that we create and share our work, to the very techniques and materials we use, AI has transformed the art world in ways that were once unimaginable.

One of the most significant ways that AI has impacted art making is through the development of new tools and technologies such as OpenAI’s DALL E 2 (which I wrote about briefly a few months back when their first research paper was published) and Stable Diffusion by Stability AI. With the help of AI, artists can now create digital works of art that would have been impossible to create just a few years ago. For example, AI-powered software can generate complex, detailed images and animations, or even create entire music tracks from scratch.

But it’s not just the tools that have changed – AI has also had a major impact on the way that artists approach their work. Many artists are now using AI to generate new ideas and inspiration for their art, and to experiment with new techniques and styles. This has opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities for artists, and has allowed them to push the boundaries of what was once thought possible in the world of art.

Understandably, there are also those who worry about the impact of AI on the art world. Some fear that as AI becomes more advanced, it will replace the need for human artists, or that it will somehow dilute the value of traditional art forms. There is also the concern of copyright - many of these training models have used artist works without their permission, and are thus making derivatives without attribution. It means that artists, particularly smaller independent creators, are having to reckon with platforms that can generate works in their style which potentially leads to lost commissions and income.

One only needs to look at the recent and ongoing protest at Artstation where artists have begun fighting back against technology companies using their IP without their permission. In the case of this protest, artists are also up in arms about the prevalence of “AI art” on the site. As noted by character artist Dan Eder, to place an image generated using a tool like DALL E that was simply generated using a prompt “alongside artwork that took hundreds of hours and years of experience to make is beyond disrespectful.” Artists have provided free labour for technology companies to train and improve their models which, in the case of an entity such as OpenAI or Midjourney, is then sold as a SaaS product back to consumers.

The impact of AI on art making will depend on how we choose to use it. At least in the case of Stability AI, they have begun addressing the IP and ethics concerns by allowing Artstation artists to opt-out of being using to train future releases of Stable Diffusion which is positive. For artists, there is an opportunity to embrace this technology and use it to push the boundaries of what is possible. It makes for a great starting point, but is still a long way off from completely replacing the creative agency that comes from a real living, breathing artist.

Scattering seeds in the wind,