So, here we are. We all thought – hoped – we’d be going back to something resembling normalcy as the Covid pandemic slowly abated. But that didn’t materialise, thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sudden realisation of the whole world that the non-sustainability of business-as-usual is now going to bite us in the ass sooner rather than later.
I’m an unending optimist and a believer in the ingenuity of man. Like a true procrastinator, we as a species tend to not do much in the way of positive stuff until we have to (or until we see a profit for us down the road). Now we have both of these carrots dangling in front of us – the need to innovate our way out of the situation we’re in, with food scarcity on the rise, energy crisis globally and a major economic recession looming over us, while at the same time potentially creating something that will be enormously lucrative down the road. I’m convinced we’ll be able to do it, through a number of new initiatives and innovative solutions.
The field of media is not different. Here, if possible, the pace of innovation has been even quicker. The art of reaching people and engaging with them in more logical and attractive ways with stories that resonate with them, that’s something that will only be increasingly important (not to mention potentially lucrative) and people will continuously strive to find new ways to make that happen.
In my latest episode of the Evolving Media podcast I talk to Steve Coulson of Campfire NYC about AI art and the use of it in creating content. He’s released two graphic novels over the course of a few weeks – a blistering pace, compared to “normal” content production – all with the help of the Midjourney AI bot which created all the artwork, prompted by Steve. The novels can be downloaded for free here .
Art created by AI is truly fascinating. As I mentioned above, I’m an unending optimist and as such I’m convinced this will be a true boon for anyone in the creative field. Mastering a tool like Dall-E or Midjourney can allow you to iterate new versions and test out new ideas quicker than ever before. Not only that, but the things the AI bots spit out can potentially give rise to new ideas, new viewpoints and new content, juggling the creative mind of the person behind the prompts.
AI will also, naturally, allow for more stories to come to life in forms that are potentially more accessible and more enticing. Yeah, there will be less than great stories coming out as well, but there will also be some truly magical stuff. Moreover, it will be stories that in a much more organic way can interact with audiences and fans; if a team through the power of AI art can churn out a new 50 page graphic novel every week, the involvement of the audience is a tool that absolutely should be harnessed to the fullest. Imagine having your own panel as one page of the next Marvel comic, voted for by your peers?
Naturally there are drawbacks to this. I don’t blame artists for feeling threatened – this looks to be a form of cheating, to say the least. However , what I, in my optimistic (or perhaps naive) mindset, believe to be possible is for AI art to instead help artists iterate, generate and publish at a greater pace and with greater variety than before. Nothing will change the level of the creative geniuses in our art world today. The AI bots would be nowhere if they couldn’t draw on what has been created before. But incorporating AI art bots in the process is something I believe can actually elevate the work of many artists today. I would get hopping on the AI train immediately, figuring out how to best utilise its possibilities, were I an artist.
There’s been backlashes already, of course. Getty Images, for instance, recently banned all AI art on their platform and removed the already added pieces of content. There will be more instances like this. I can imagine a future where we have different categories – “real art” and “AI art”, “hand-drawn comics” and “AI generated comics” and so on. Lines will be blurred, and this looks like an upcoming field day for the lawyers of the field as the current free-for-all state of affairs at some point becomes more regulated and legislated. I mean – who actually owns the rights to everything that is created through AI today?
I would finally encourage everyone who does work in the content business to at least familiarize yourselves with the possibilities that platforms like Dall-E and Midjourney bring. If you’re going to reject them, at least know what it is you’ll be rejecting.