The future of AI art, according to industry pros

by Jacob Solomon Jun 4, 2023 News
The future of AI art, according to industry pros

What will the future look like for artificial intelligence? The creative community is very interested in this question. No one can fail to be impressed by what artificial intelligence can do. Anyone who creates art for a living has to be afraid.

They might lose their work to artificial intelligence. The way artificial intelligence learns is by studying the work of existing artists, which most see as a disregard of their intellectual property rights.

Adobe Firefly promised never to study creatives' work without their permission. They are currently in the minority. A growing number of creatives believe that artificial intelligence needs to be stopped or strongly regulated.

There are a number of creative professionals who have an opinion on what the future of artificial intelligence will look like. Are you interested in learning more about the art of artificial intelligence? We explain what is artificial intelligence in our piece. Creatives are using artificial intelligence to enhance their work.

"These systems are based on theft"

Matthew Gallagher is a Florida-based creative director and product designer who is worried about the rise of generative artificial intelligence and its negative effect on those in his profession to earn a living. Anyone who can hold a pencil thinks they're an art director. Anyone can now deliver a completed image with the ability to simply enter a prompt.

Matthew has been in the industry for 35 years, working for companies like The Walt Disney Company and IBM. The impact of artificial intelligence on the creative profession can't be underestimated, according to him. The systems are based on the theft of my work by millions of other people. They're being used to create new works with no recognition or compensation for the original creator.

Matthew believes that this is immoral and illegal. He points out that most websites have contractual language that forbids the deconstruction of the site and the creation of something new. The site owners spend time, effort, and money to create their business model and want to make sure their interests are protected. A violation of laws, contracts, and the user agreements of almost every site they pull data from to train their large language models is what wholesale scraper content by artificial intelligence tools is.

Cover of ImagineFX featuring illustration of an assassin

Concept artist Karla Ortiz, a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and our sister magazine ImagineFX, is part of a class action suit against three AI companies (Image credit: Future)

He doesn't think there is anything positive about the rise of artificial intelligence. "Anything that is created through theft, on this scale, can't be beneficial to artists, the industry, or society in general," he says. The culmination of time, tears, effort, craft, etc., of the artist and once completed is a moment in time, based on a host of parameters of their lived experience. To make it sound like a million other artists don't create new art by spitting out lifeless drivel, combined from the blood, sweat, and tears of a million other artists, is cheapening. Both stink, but at least you can use manure to grow flowers.

Can AI art be stopped?

What are you going to do? Matthew supports the class-action lawsuit brought by artists Sarah Ander­sen, Kelly McK­er­nan, and a third person. He says that he is investigating new tools to further protect his work from theft and misuse, which increases the amount of time to create and deliver work to the market.

Rob Skelly is an associate Creative Director at Born Ugly. He argues that there needs to be a level of integrity in the use of artificial intelligence. Before stricter regulations come in, there will be more legal cases against Stability Artificial. How the data is used may be an issue of copyright. It could be compared to a human designer who looks at an artist's work as a source of inspiration instead of copying it.

Matthew thinks that the industry needs to be guided by the creative community. They need to recognize fair compensation and credits to the artists used in their LLMs, as well as a way for individuals and companies to remove their intellectual property from the source code. There needs to be an opt-in for any use of work going forward and a way to recognize and compensate those that choose to participate with these companies.

He thinks the US Federal Government needs to do the same. He says that they should make sure that the companies don't break private networks in a rush to grow their LLMs. Future government regulations will be needed to ensure an equitable industry for customers and that there is no single dominant player in the market.

Music industry parallels

Will any of this really happen?

Matthew points to a time when the music industry didn't credit or compensate the artist. After the lawsuits, the industry and their lawyers came to a mutually beneficial agreement to allow these new derivative works. The use of artificial intelligence in Hollywood's writing process and its detrimental effects on the creative process is one of the issues that the Writers Guild of America is striking due to.

Two promo posters supporting the WGA strike, one with a fist clenching a pencil, the second reading 'Pencils down' against a cluttered collection of pencils

The Writers Guild of America is currently on strike, partly over concern about AI. Could commercial artists follow? (Image credit: Writer's Guild of America)

Hope is given by the way that the music sampling issue was settled. The rise of illegal song sharing via Napster in the 1990s and 2000s may be an example of a similar rise in the music industry.

Thousands of similar sites continued to pop up despite the success of the music companies in shutting down Napster. The'record industry' has never recovered its profitability and cultural influence after that.

The site was run by a few young people. Today's artificial intelligence is backed by billion dollar tech giants. It doesn't mean it is unstoppable. Artists who want to protect their interests have a fight on their hands. In our article What can be done to stop generative artificial intelligence, you can read more about the artist fightback.

Should all creatives be worried?

Even the best-case scenario for artists and illustrators is likely to involve job losses. Is it a good idea to worry about creatives as a whole?

A sense of cautious optimism seems to be holding in the industry. "Only humans can create truly original content, that's why I work at 20ten," says Dan Bacon, executive creative director at 20ten. "The ability to create truly original content, to think of something one minute and paint it the next, to see a storyboard frame and then light it in reality, and to then make someone cry in a cinema seat is something that only we can retain" Artificial intelligence does not have that lens.

Rose Stewart is a designer at The Frameworks. She believes that artificial intelligence will become more and more prominent, and that it will be an empowering tool for designers. I want to know if there will be a heightened inclination towards authenticity and something being created by real people. I can see a power in being able to say that this was made by hand, by a person, by real materials, especially in art, as the use of artificial intelligence increases.

Image of butterflies around person's head and the words 'AI'

Will future tech put creatives out of work, or just change the work they do? (Image credit: Tara Winstead via Pexels)

Emma Jones is a senior designer at one bite. She says that she believes that artificial intelligence will never replace professional designers, developers, videographers and photographers. Quality and detail will always be pushed by professionals. We need to learn to work with it because we can't run from it. It is something I am looking forward to being a part of.

Are humans that special?

When researching this article, I heard a sense of disbelief that artificial intelligence will never match the creativity of a real life person. The creative director at the company sounds cautious.

He says that it seems like a human trait to underestimate the importance of the human mind. We say that machines can't be as creative as we are, but they may be able to follow the same path. They won't use their senses to explore a world, but they will have access to a digital library vastly greater than what any one person can experience. The end user can't distinguish whether it was made by a human or machine Is the audience interested in that experience?

He believes that the creative industry isn't under threat from artificial intelligence. Machines are likely to pick up certain roles or tasks done by humans. He believes that we can't run from that. He says it's part of the constant evolution of technology and how it can be used in the creative process. The balance of skill and creativity is knowing how to use artificial intelligence.

Impact on artists 

Is it a good idea for artists and illustrators to look for another job? Maybe not everyone needs to be afraid at the moment. Rebecca Dell, a senior art agent at London illustration agency The Different Folk, says that she is not concerned about the impact of artificial intelligence on her artists' ability to earn.

Collage of artworks from Different Folk artists

Rebecca Dell isn't worried about artists represented by The Different Folk losing work to AI... yet (Image credit: Aleksandra Bokova, Troy Browne, Josephine Rais, Hust Wilson and Bernardo Henning)

She doesn't think clients will shift away from working with artists to using artificial intelligence because of the lack of legal clarity. Rebecca believes that smaller clients with limited budget may be tempted to use artificial intelligence to cut costs, as her agency is focused on larger-scale commercial projects with big brands.

She says that this could have a significant impact on young, underrepresented artists who use smaller commission to fund themselves in the early years of their careers. "Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive of UK Music, said recently on Channel 4 News that 'ai can only generate not create'."

Artificial intelligence can only generate imagery based on previous references, whereas our artists can only create art from a human point of view. Who knows the longer term. Changing dynamics can affect pricing, usage and client expectations.

A legal minefield

Rebecca is worried about the effects of artificial intelligence on the art of her artists.

"Our artists each have unique portfolios that stand out in the creative field, so if Artificial Intelligence was generating new work in their styles and offering it to clients at significantly reduced rates, this would be a huge concern," she says. It would be a huge violation of their copyrighted works. If another artist were tracing someones work, we would take legal action as well.

"Platforms which compensate artists for using their imagery would be interesting as some artists may choose to participate in artificial intelligence as an additional revenue stream, similar to how they may upload imagery to stock websites," she said.

The future of artificial intelligence is going to be decided in the courts. With artists, illustrators and their representatives lining up to take on the tech giants, it's sobering to think that a few judges might have the power to decide the future of the creative industry.

We will be keeping an eye on events at Creative Bloq. We will bring you the most important developments as soon as possible and explain what they mean for creative professionals.

You can try out some of the tools by looking at our list of the best artificial intelligence art generators.