The Robots Are Here And Soon We'll All Be Dead...
...Or maybe just out of some art jobs. My initial thoughts on A.I. Art and what it means for the Human Art.
In case you missed it, A.I. art is the hot topic filling up most of our social media feeds right now. I have to admit, this is one of the harder subjects for me to draw a hard line on.
Let me say this right up front so there’s no confusion: I do NOT like that A.I art is a thing that exists. I don’t enjoy the images. I won’t be putting any links to the apps or sharing any examples of what I might consider good or bad A.I. art in this post. I’m also not shaming anyone who DOES like it, nor will I be getting in any debates supporting or defending any side. I’m just expressing myself on the subject.
For those few that might not be in the know, some apps allow you to plug in some word prompts or upload photos and the Artificial Intelligence works up…well, a piece of art. And you know what? Some of it looks CRAZY good. Like, it’s pretty unbelievable. On the flip side, every app is not created equal. Some of it spits out the things of nightmares.
As can be expected, this is stirring up all kinds of emotions and justifiably so. I mean, this isn’t just some Snapchat or Instagram filter that throws a few freckles on a photo and calls it art. I’ve seen some that look like they’re ready for an album cover, or in another case, full-blown development art for a film. So, what does that mean for all of us real human being artists? My hot take is…
…who fucking knows?!?!
I can’t speak to the larger question of what is or isn't art, nor have I ever wanted to wade into the murky waters of that discussion. I can’t get into the details of the legality of where the A.I. gets the info based on the prompts, or if giving the A.I. a prompt of THE LION KING triggers a copyright issue. I know several artists that find photos of buildings and trace them for their backgrounds. A piece of art (the photograph) is taken from the person who created it without permission and repurposed in their art in a different medium. The line between that and feeding prompts to a machine and having it repurpose them is razor-thin to me. And I have no idea if either is right or wrong. It’s just an interesting example of how slippery this slope of “is A.I. ‘real’ art or not” can be.
Whatever side of the line you land on, I can tell you that I’m not really afraid of it.
“But Skottie, the machines can draw now and it looks as good or better than what you do.”
First of all, RUDE. Second, maybe you’re right but that still doesn't scare me. I’m not afraid of A.I. art because I don’t just DRAW things. I SAY things with drawings. The machines can replicate lines, shapes, and brush strokes, in any medium out there. Here’s the thing, real-life human beings have been doing this to artists for years. I’ve been to cons where booth after booth, people are drawing versions of my art, some of them barely changing a thing. I’ve had to reach out to major publishers and show them how one of their covers wasn’t just biting my rhymes, but a full-blown trace job, just changing the character. You know what, none of that ever scared me either because you can’t replicate ideas that haven’t been realized yet. Ideas are my art and no computer will be able to take my place on that front. Not yet at least. (Stay tuned for my future post I’M SCARED AS ABSOLUTE FUCK BECAUSE THE ROBUTS STOLE IDEAS I DIDN’T HAVE YET.) (Wait, did I just make up a new comic? Wait, no. I think that’s a Duncan Rouleau comic.)
“I don’t just DRAW things. I SAY things with drawings.”
I completely understand that there are many areas of the art world that this technology is going to affect to varying degrees, from “It’s not affecting me” to “Well, this is a fucking extinction-level event.” It’s a new paradigm that we all have to come to terms with and I’m empathetic to the whole spectrum. In the same way we all watched musicians have to figure out an entirely new way to replace an income stream previously fed by album sales that completely VANISHED with the advent of Spotify. We will have to find ways to be valuable in a way that’s irreplaceable because like it or not, it’s here now and I don’t see it going anywhere any time soon.
Luckily, I’m a storyteller first, even on an image with no words. I think about narrative first, line quality and craft seco…well, maybe fifth or sixth…if at all. haha. My art exists to represent my humanity, as heavy or as shallow as that can be at any given time, and I express that through the imperfection of my lines. That’s what the code will always lack. A.I.’s humanity is the first word in the name…ARTIFICIAL. So, until A.I. art starts to think like the big, idiotic, dumb dad joke-making lunkhead that I am, I’ll just keep on keeping on and hope you all stick around for the ride.
“…until A.I. art starts to think like the big, idiotic, dumb dad joke-making lunkhead that I am, I’ll just keep on keeping on and hope you all stick around for the ride.”
I’m sure this won’t be the last words I’ll have to say on the subject, but until then…go buy some of my so-so art stuff and maybe a few of my MEH comics over at my site.