Thoughts on AI: Do Androids Paint Electric Sheep?

You have probably seen the horror stories. “Cosmopolitan Used DALL-E 2 AI to Generate a Magazine Cover.” “Art Made With Artificial Intelligence Wins at State Fair.” The future is here, and it’s looking gorgeous — but very artificial. We’re living in a world where several keywords can generate sophisticated imagery in the blink of an eye, and this is posing some practical, ethical, and philosophical quandaries.

AI as a Tool

“What I hope is going to happen,” says Laszlo Balogh of Dantier and Balogh Design Studio, “is that AI will help us creatives in our workflow to assist with our projects. There are a lot of menial chore-like jobs in all creative disciplines which maybe should be done artificially. Things like sourcing good design mockups, stock photography, placeholders <….> Maybe, just maybe, humans and machines can stay friends.”

Clayton Barton of How to Draw agrees. “There’s going to be artists out there who don’t use [AI art] because it’s the Devil,” he says, “and there’s going to be smart artists who catch on to the fact that this is merely another tool that enhances their creativity and gives them ideas that they’ve never even thought of before.” 

Barton argues that the large databases of AI apps, as well as their mix-and-match approach t image generation, can help human artists come up with more varied ideas for character designs or background concepts. “All of a sudden, artists aren’t drawing inspiration directly from the artists they admire, or the subject matter they’re supposed to work off. Now they’re drawing artistic inspiration off of the AI-generated imagery.” 

Ah, but where does this imagery come from, exactly?

The Question of Copyright

Even people impressed with AI-generated art have concerns about its provenance. DALL-E, Midourney, and other similar apps don’t pull pretty pictures out of a vacuum. Rather, they are trained on the work of human artists who’ve never agreed to have their art scrapped for parts and monetised. To make matters worse, the average person using DALL-E or Midjourney doesn’t even realise that there’s unpaid human labour standing behind “robotic” art. 

This is why the general public needs to be educated about how AI imagery works and where it comes from. Artists on Instagram have taken to sharing their negative experiences with AI apps under tags like #createdontscrape and #notoai. “Until there is an ethically sourced database that compensates artists for the use of their images, I am against AI art,” says celebrated illustrator Lois Van Baarle.


To be sure, app users don’t actually get to own the imagery they are generating. However, this hasn’t stopped some major and minor brands from using these tools instead of hiring illustrators — a process that makes creatives fear for their livelihoods.

Surviving the AI Artpocalypse

So what’s the verdict here? Is all hope lost? Will our robotic overlords make human artists extinct? Nobody can know for sure. However, if you want an optimistic view of the matter, I’m here to oblige. 

In episode #393 of the Creative Pep Talk podcast, host Andy J. Pizza talks at length about his relationship, or lack thereof, with AI imagery. The episode is worth a full listen, but I will pull a quote that best summarises his worldview:

And that is exactly why I’m not that worried about the oncoming AI Artmageddon because <…> ultimately it’s not even about the artist’s relationship to the work. For me, the work is the relationship that I have with the artist. <…> It’s not about how good the art is, it’s about how well it connects me to another human.

Laszlo Balogh echoes this sentiment: “Real art is the emotion and experience of being human.” 

Also, neural networks still haven’t learned to draw hands. Feel free to take solace in that, too!
(Meme by Neil Butler)


ARTISTS TERMINATED BY AI ART GENERATORS? | The Debate on AI Generated Art That’ll Leave You Torn
By Clayton Barton and Ed Foychuck of How To Draw Comics. Net

Here’s why AI will FAIL at taking over Graphic Designers & Artists | creative jobs & AI ART
By Laszlo Balogh of Dantier and Balogh Design Studio

Creative Pep Talk, episode #393. By Andy J Pizza.

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