Throughout the years, artists have spent time, energy, and creativity on making works of art using their own skills. Now, in the digital age, anybody with an idea and a computer can materialize a drawing, painting, or other art pieces, simply by leaning on tools such as artificial intelligence (AI).
As an emerging medium, art generated by AI (hereafter AI art for short) can vary in subject, content, and style. The mechanical skills and artistic knowledge in creating it is minimal compared to the art that you may be used to seeing or making. All we need to do is provide the AI with some existing images or even just some text. From there, the AI can output a new image based on your prompt. For example, if asked to make “a painting of Paris in the style of Van Gogh’s Starry Night,” the AI will analyze images of Parisian scenery and the famous painting, then return a new image that integrates their elements.
Though seemingly simple, the process of creating AI art is far from it behind the scenes. Algorithms are run to analyze the input, identifying what the words in the prompt mean and how those words should be visually represented. This is done by checking through countless pictures online that are linked to those words. The resulting image is generated based on this analysis.
There are many different places to find and create AI art on the internet, such as DALL·E 2 and Midjourney. This allows just about anyone with access to the internet to embark on a new and flourishing creative journey. It is interesting to think about how the digital space has evolved so much—to the point where these kinds of advanced and captivating AI processes are not only common but also easily accessible. AI art is definitely a thought-provoking and fascinating technological advancement, having taken years of development to achieve its superior level of detail.
Because of the rapidly increasing prominence, capabilities, and impact of AI art, people have been finding practical uses for it. Those who have huge ideas—but lack the means of expressing them visually—can use these programs to create artworks reflecting their vision. For example, a novelist can create visual representations of their vast fantasy world as they describe it in the text, just by describing the settings. Even artists can use AI art to aid them in their creative ventures since AI can produce unique and accurately depicted objects or scenes to draw inspiration from, or even extend artworks beyond the canvas they are drawn on. If desired by the artist, AI can quickly paint a perfect warm sunset to finish off a drawing.
However, despite the marvelous beauty and creativity exhibited by AI art, not everyone is a fan of the underlying technology. As with any semi-futuristic concept introduced into our ways of living, it’s provoked controversy and dystopian perspectives.
Many of the concerns are about how it will replace human-made art and how this will affect artists. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that AI can complete full-sized artworks significantly more quickly than human artists can: A few minutes of typing a prompt into a program gets the job done, compared to the hours and hours of meticulous line work and thoughtful brush strokes that human-made art requires. At a certain point, people may ask themselves if hiring an artist for work is worth it. Why not just use AI to generate some drawings instead? This concern of replacement is very real and can affect many artists who hone their craft and rely on their work for their livelihood.
Whether AI art can be considered ethical art or even art at all has also been disputed, gaining major attention in the world of controversy. According to a recent news story, the winning art piece of the Colorado State Fair’s digital art competition was AI-generated, overtaking all the artworks from artists who spent hours of drawing to complete their entries.
But despite the backlash, I sense that AI art will only get stronger, developing even further and continuing to create mind-blowing images. Artists will be forced to grow alongside AI. How AI will be used and viewed by the public from here is up in the air and will reveal itself as the digital world continues to bleed into every aspect of our lives.
Nicholas, Josh, and Patrick Lum. “Dall-e 2 Mini: What Exactly Is ‘Ai-Generated Art’? How Does It Work? Will It Replace Human Visual Artists?” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, June 9, 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2022/jun/09/what-exactly-is-ai-generated-art-how-does-it-work-will-it-replace-human-visual-artists.
Roose, Kevin. “An A.i.-Generated Picture Won an Art Prize. Artists Aren’t Happy.” The New York Times. The New York Times, September 2, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/technology/ai-artificial-intelligence-artists.html.