With each new day it seems we are learning more about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The concern of machines replacing humans was originally limited to the assembly lines, farms, construction sites, and other manner of manual labor. There were some realms of value that perhaps we assumed to be sacred, inviolable if you will, one of those being the creation of art. Surely the concept of art is something so intangible, so deep, so connected to the human soul that you couldn’t just program it into a computer, right? Well, turns out that may no longer be the case.
Jason Allen won 1st place at the Colorado State Fair with this piece titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” generated on Midjourney.
That’s right, AI technology can now create “art”. Though that in itself may not be surprising, the implications raise many fascinating questions. For starters, it does suggest that, quite simply, there is no profession out there that cannot be replaced by a machine. Whether you’re a mechanic, an engineer, a priest, a designer, nothing is safe from the impending takeover. The truly shocking thing is not that it happened, but how quickly. Apple introduced Siri to the world in 2011, and though it is not the original AI, it is certainly one of the first AI technologies accessible to the public. Fast forward 11 years and AI technology is now winning art contests (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/technology/ai-artificial-intelligence-artists.html)! Of what will the machines be capable in the next 11 years? This writer is frightened to even imagine it.
I decided to reach out to art professionals with the following prompt:
“Do you think AI generated “art” is, in fact, art? How would you feel seeing a table with AI art in the artist alley?”
It was fascinating to see different takes on the subject. What's yours?
Darryl Smith Jr. (Darrylpyon)
"AI art is really scary to me because it makes artists almost seem obsolete. People who come to artists for their personal views and execution could possibly just go to their computer for a quick take that generates in less than a minute. So seeing someone with an artist alley table with AI art….I don’t know if I’d be able to stomach that. Because no dedication, or real work was put into any pieces. It’s the epitome of easy way out. A person with such a table would be a huge spit in the face."
"AI art is basically theft, they don't get anyone's permission before using it in the algorithm. In order for AI to work they need to use other people's art, yeah? So using it without asking seems like a dick move…..It’s like getting bootlegged, you know? Doesn’t feel good but nothing you can really do. That’s just how the future is going to be."
Sean Donnan (Tsukimusha)
"I don’t think it is art on its own. I think it can be used as a tool in the creation of artwork. Anyone can type in what they’d want to see just as easily as they could type something into a search engine like Google; that doesn’t mean they had any artistic agency in the creation of the art. If it’s used as a tool to come up with composition ideas for a piece they already had in mind, even if it’s painted over, I think I’d be ok with that. I do have a feeling that in the near future, artists will need to be very front facing about their creative process for full transparency toward customers, and of those who do who don’t use AI, they will potentially have their work prized at a higher level than they would have before AI generation became a thing."
Christopher Cayco (CCayco)
"The AI generated image itself, to me, isn't art. I think AI art is a good tool for digital artists. Use it to generate a base of an idea, then paint over it for the finished product. I don't see how that's any different than digital artists using ZBrush to create backgrounds to paint over, using self shot photography to photobash for a painting, or basically using any other digital tool available. In regards to the business side, I think there will be a lot of commercial jobs lost to AI. Traditional artists will be fine (for now) since there will always be a market for people who want to own physical original pieces. AI art at cons is a going to be a problem. I don't think unedited AI art should be allowed to be sold in general, but there's no way to enforce it."
Alexis Kristedja (Whispwill)
"I don't think I would like to see AI generated art in the artist alley. Much like musicians use AI generated tunes to inspire themselves or get the creative juices going - but they don't publish the AI generated things, i don't consider purely AI generated art to be well, art. If anything it should be a new category. Main takeaway is since most artist alley's don't allow photographers to sell, we shouldn't allow AI artists either unless its a separate area/AI alley so people know."
Peter Mohrbacher (Angelarium)
"I definitely think it’s art, but I think it’s going to take time for people to have a clear sense of what makes good AI art. I’ve been telling friends to make some and put it out on tables while it’s still a hot topic. I’d love to see how that all goes."
"I do think it’s considered art, but here’s the thing, AI wouldn’t have been able to come up with these art without the human giving them these concepts or keywords. So I see AI more of just another tool that people can use to create art. RossDraws did a video where he used AI to come up with some cool concepts and he painted over it. I find that to be a great way to use AI especially when a lot of us can hit art block. Everyone has different art goals, someone with no art practices at all who uses AI all the time would not be able to land a job as a manga artist, prop/background designer, or anything where you have to work with a client because clients will always want specific change that fits their needs. AI won’t be able to replace artists. Would I be mad if someone was selling AI prints in the artist alley? No, because that’s their business. Everyone would know it was used with AI tool anyways right? And honestly, I think these AI art looks pretty cool and out of this world."