Will AI end the careers of artists? Now that I have your attention let's discuss how artists don't have anything to fear from AI and how they and businesses can harness the power of AI to create beyond the boundaries of sheer imagination. We're not going to look at the crop of generative AI that often pops up on social media because that, by and large, creates a lot of noise that drowns out the true possibilities of AI. Instead, let's look at what AI actually is.
AI As a Tool
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has the potential to be an incredible resource for artists and designers, but we have to look at it for what it is: a tool. Many of the fears I hear about AI now I heard several years ago when another tool came onto the scene: Photoshop. Photoshop would make it easy to steal other artists' work. It would oversimplify the art process. Digital art would be less than and cheap. In the years since its introduction, Photoshop, and other digital art tools have become a staple in the art chest of many artists around the world. Digital art has become as respected and vital to our economic and creative world as physical art.
AI can be the same if we're willing to embrace what it offers us.
What AI Offers Artists and Designers
Let's begin by looking at AI not as a generative tool, but as a transformative tool. In this light, the utility of AI for artists and designers begins to come into view.
AI Can Enhance an Artist's Work
Every artist has a specialty - a certain style and mastery over specific types of images or renderings. An AI tool allows an artist to take an original creation and transform it in ways that they otherwise would not have thought to try or been able to with their standard techniques. Because AI tools work based on prompts, an artist can rework a piece to achieve the kind of effect they or a client want to see from their original image.
AI Can Help Spark Imagination and Creativity
Just as AI can help an artist transform their work, it can also help artists and designers overcome creative blocks. In this usage, rather than having an AI tool enhance a finished work, an artist might instead start with a simple shape and enter prompts to make the AI change the shape until the artist feels inspired by what they see to create something new. Likewise, an artist or designer could have an AI deconstruct a previous work or project of theirs to help them revisit their initial creative spark and find new ideas for their current project.
AI Has the Potential to Increase Efficiency
Art and design include a lot of tedium. While repetitive parts of art can be relaxing or help bring an artist into their work, they can also be exhausting and time-consuming. AI can automate more mundane tasks such as choosing color pallets, formatting design layouts, choosing typography, and establishing an image's background.
AI Can Help Artists and Designers Broaden Their Skills
While AI can't replace talent, it has shown an ability to increase skill in rendering images. As AI programs continue to learn, the types of images they create get better and better. Machine learning and AI experiences can help designers and artists improve their own skills as well. The same function that allows an artist to enhance and alter their own work can also help that artist discover new techniques they can work to implement in new works later.
What About Accessibility?
While I have seen AI proponents talk about how AI can make art more accessible, the truth is that art is already an accessible medium. We have artists from all walks of life and with different disabilities and challenges. They don't need AI to become artists - they already are and already can be artists and designers.
Moreover, discussion about accessibility will often begin with discussing people with disabilities but quickly turns to discussing people who aren't artists using AI to generate art based on the work of others, which is itself controversial.
If we want to see AI grow as a tool and gain wide acceptance, we have to look at AI not as a replacement for the work of artists but as an enhancement for all artists. The AI tools that we have now are incredible and offer artists and designers a new opportunity to stretch their craft beyond the current limits.
We simply need to give artists the room to be that creative.