026: Will Robots Replace Us?
Wherein we discuss the dangers of AI Art tools and potential benefits
Before we begin, I’m excited to announce some top brands for artists and more have pitched in for prizes for our PROMPTOBER drawing month! Folks like Field Notes, Blackwing, Makers Cabinet, J.L. Lawson, Dango and CANVAS lamps!
Please check in on my instagram for the latest on the prizes and brands, and find the prompt lists and rules there, OR in the previous newsletter here.
I hope this is an extra push to get some of you to draw every day in October!
Will the Robots Replace Us?
You may have been hearing a lot about AI art tools. Recently a human named Jason M. Allen won a State Fair competition by using the AI Art service called MidJourney. It made world news, and many artists are in an uproar over this.
“Magical” programs where you put a prompt in and it makes paintings for you.
You can keep doing iterations on one version until it’s “just right.” The winner of that art contest claims he took 80 hours to do that, just pumping in prompts and putting them all together. I highly doubt the claim it took 80 hours to complete.
I went to investigate MidJourney myself last weekend while I just happened to be listening to Pearl Jam live at the Apollo Theater. So the prompt I fed it was “Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell eating some ice cream together.”
You can then do things like make iterations of one version you like and it keeps fine tuning it. This takes seconds.
And it’s…. kinda scary to be honest.
What is the danger here?
Everyone can call themselves a “digital artist” now without even picking up a single tool. That’s a real shame.
This happened in the “influencer” world online already, where anyone with an iPhone taking selfies or prank videos can call themselves a “creator”.
We’re all creators now everyone!
That’s very sad.
There is no soul underneath the work. The majority of the planet will not care. Humans consume things on the surface. That’s how it’s always been, and how it will continue to be.
I see it already hurting artists. I’ve seen conversations online where writers are giddy that they don’t need to pay artists or designers. From a chat thread in MidJourney:
“I just typed in my scene description and it painted my book cover for me! No more back and forth with an artist.”
“I’m going to make a whole graphic novel now!”
The shortcut everyone has been waiting for. Who will make money from this? MidJourney. When you run out of free prompts, you have a choice to upgrade for ten bucks or thirty bucks a month. They’ll get rich, while artists get poorer.
How Can Artists Benefit From AI?
This week, I started seeing some lovely art coming in early based on the Promptober list from artist David Bleecher. He uses AI to help develop concepts to reference, then actually does the work. His complete process videos are on every post.
"It's great at generation concepts, but holy shit does it suck at refining a single idea." - David Bleecher
After seeing David’s process, my mind was totally changed in seeing this as a tool that smart artists could leverage.
Another friend of mine also posted on Facebook that while he thought these AI tools weren’t quite there yet, he loved the colors and may use them as backgrounds or color palettes in his work.
If this is a tool that’s going to encourage artists to draw more, than I am all for it. Sometimes we all feel stuck and need some inspiration. If it’s an AI program, so be it! Artists have been using photo reference in the same way since the 1800s. This is no different.
We as artists and storytellers should encourage non-artists using these tools to go study art and pick up a pencil. The mental health benefits alone would change many lives… maybe the world.
Hand-Made Becomes More Special
You old timers and purists out there, don’t fret. This actually may give you an edge. In many ways I think this makes truly hand-made work even more special. That you honed your craft. The pieces produced by human hand are truly one-of-a- kind.
It’s important that Artists understand it, instead of just hot trashing it on the surface.
There’s a much bigger picture happening if we only choose to see it.
Draw Every Day.
The Weekly Drawing Prompt
This week, I want to challenge YOU to re-draw any of the AI generated images from today’s Newsletter in your own style. It’s your choice:
Eddie and Chris eating IceCream
Robots from the Title Card
Be sure to tag your post #drawordieclub on the platform of your choice.
Don’t forget we have Daily Drawing Prompts to keep your pencil and mind moving. Try it for free.
Stay encouraged out there, and draw every day!!!
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I’m much like your friend that finds it useful for concepts and color pallets- it’s nice to know I’m not alone!
While the average person might not care about AI-created art vs organically-created art (I’m not calling myself human YOU CANT MAKE ME 😋) I do think there will always be a market for us. And I have to agree that it can bring more value over time.
People love the shiny new thing but the pendulum never swings one way- it always swings back. Maybe, just maybe- this will bring a sort of renaissance to the average person’s appreciation and understanding of art. The fact that so many people are talking about this already shows more attention to art as a concept in the general public than I’ve seen in my lifetime (so the last 3 decades or so) and I think that’s something that can benefit artists once the AI art trend feels less shiny.
I appreciate your bright side way of looking at this. I do worry about the future for artists, especially with the knowledge that many (if not most) clients are looking for the cheapest option. Hopefully we’ll be able to evolve with the technology and make it work for us instead of against us.