Thoughts on AI

As an artist, I often get asked what my thoughts are on AI, specifically AI-generated images. The very short and straight-to-the-point answer is: I don't like it. And not just because it relies on stealing the work of artists the world over. One reason for me goes much deeper.

I spend a lot of time watching artists on YouTube and when possible, in real life too. They start with a blank sheet of paper or a new canvas on their drawing app of choice and they begin to make marks. They start mapping out loose shapes, figuring out their composition, proportions, perspective etc. They rough out one section, move on to another section then they notice something not quite right with the first section and go back to adjust.

With all the skill and knowledge that comes with years of hard-earned learning, trial and error, the image slowly takes shape. As they move through the process, they might start adding shading to give the shapes form, or just start laying down colour taking care to notice what colours work well together, what mood they're trying to convey. They keep going until the image is complete.

I'm simplifying the process a lot here but you get the idea. This might take just 5 minutes from start to finish, or might take hours and hours to craft the image they want to make. Regardless of how long it's taken, the image didn't exist before and now it does because someone took the time to make it so. Even if they drew the same image all over again from scratch, it will never be the same. Each will be unique in their own way.

Now imagine someone typing some commands into an AI-generator, hitting a button then waiting for the image to come out of the other side.

There's no magic there. There's no room for play or experimentation. There's no human thought at work in creating the resulting image.

"But it takes a lot of effort to use the right commands!" I can hear some people say.

Undoubtedly, there is craft in language and skill in writing that I only wish I could attain. But for me, if you want to show off your skill with language, I'd rather see someone crafting words into a book, a poem, or even just a blog post. I want to hear the voice of the author behind those words just like I want to see the hand of the artist behind those marks on the page.

Whatever creative outlet you decide to try, you might not get it right first time, or even the tenth. But with every iteration, you'll get better and you'll enrich yourself with knowledge and experience that just cannot be replicated using AI generators.

Being creative is an inherently human pursuit and there's nothing particularly exciting to me about removing the human element.