Whether you love AI or you loathe it, we all have to admit it is the future of creation and automation. From ChatGPT, YouChat or DALL-E 2, we’ve all seen the bots taking social media by storm. They can write your social media captions, craft conversation responses and create striking graphics. AI art in particular has been a hot topic but has warranted criticism for alleged copyright infringement and for stealing opportunities from real artists. Fiery debates have ensued online but the questions remains: are they fun tools designed to augment an artist’s workflow or is this the beginning of the AI takeover?
As designers we know that art is subjective, we’re reminded of this fact every time we present a client with the 109th iteration of a design and they still can’t quite decide which aesthetic they like. So how do we quantify what art is? Is it just geometry and colour? Is it complex mathematical tessellations that are appealing to the eye? Is there an indescribable factor that elevates a piece from aimless shapes to a work of art? Is that quality called creativity and if so, are only humans capable of harnessing this skill? These are the questions that have triggered many discussions on the internet landscape and though we don’t profess to have the answers, we can explore how this links to the wider debate on AI technology.
AI generates art by using examples of artists’ works scraped from the internet as an input and creates a new image from the prompt you enter using the styles, strokes and textures it has learned from viewing the hundreds and thousands of works available online. There is some outrage about this process as many artists have not given permission for their work to be used as input in training these AI’s and therefore feel the outputs created in their signature styles are a rip-off of their uncredited designs. Many years of experience and practice go into an artist’s work and that’s what makes their styles unique to them, they may feel robbed of a commission when an AI creates a lifeless replica of their work that can then go on to be sold or used commercially. This blurry line of ownership can then cause real problems with many parties feeling that they are the true owner of the final product.
On the other hand this is a quick, cheap and easy way for unlicensed art or logos to be produced for companies or individuals who can’t or don’t want to spend time, money and resources on an artist or designer for their business needs. For example, a small business that is just starting out may have to choose between paying a designer’s fee or keeping the small amount of profit they have made. AI could even be used by artists themselves to create variations of their own work without spending any extra resources and time to make countless versions, which then frees up their time to pursue other ventures.
All in all AI has many benefits and many drawbacks but ultimately, as with all tools, it is the intentions of the user that make all the difference. As with every new invention over the course of history, there is inevitably an adjustment period and only time will tell whether AI will be used as a force for good or for bad. What’s your take?