2023-10-11 - By Robert Elder, Maegan Cabañes
It's been just over 6 months since the flurry of advanced AI tools that gained attention and saw widespread use in early 2023. This includes ChatGPT 4, Stable diffusion, Dall E, and Midjourney. Many people have written about how this will 'disrupt' the world of creatives and artists, so it's worth asking exactly this question to an actual artist: How has AI changed your work in the last 6 months?
To get some insights, I reached out to Maegan Cabañes who is a trained artists by profession. Maegan is a 2021 graduate of Laguna college of art and design with a bachelor's degree in illustration. She even made this portrait of Alan Turing!
Over the course of many emails, I've discussed the topic of AI art with her and her contacts to get some insights about what's going on in the art industry right now. I have compiled many of these questions into the following list:
Robert Elder: "Has AI generated art affected your day job at all yet? What about your art peers? Has their job been affected yet?"
Maegan Cabañes: "As of now, neither me or any of my art peers are affected by AI generated art. The most I have heard is that AI is affecting careers but I cannot say I’ve seen it with my own eyes."
Robert Elder: "Is there a lot of anxiety in the art industry right now, or are many artists seeing this as a positive?"
Maegan Cabañes: "Me and my art peers feel a little uneasy about this technology because of copyright and ethical concerns. We don’t like thinking that AI might be using our own art as reference in their art spree. Though I will say when I asked them about the possibility about using AI as a tool in their work, they are mostly open with a little hesitation because of the possible copyright issues."
Robert Elder: "Have you played around with many of the art tools yet? If so, which ones, and what do you think?"
Maegan Cabañes: "I tried the AI art generator on Canva for chibi art reference for a client, and I wasn't impressed. The artwork was not of quality whatsoever, and obviously not human-made. I will say that maybe other softwares or apps are better and I possibly have not explored enough."
Robert Elder: Have you tested out any of the dall e/midjourney/stable diffusion image generators?
Maegan Cabañes: No I have not, because I believe the ones I tried are not free. (Dall E and Midjourney) I have not looked further than that, because the artist in me feels like I’m doing something wrong if I invest my time into this too much.
Robert Elder: "Does your employer or the employer of any of your peers anticipate any changes related to AI art? Or maybe, they're not even thinking about it?"
Maegan Cabañes: "No one has mentioned anything to me, but personally I believe that AI will change things around. I think that maybe companies will start using it as a tool to promote efficiency with their artists/designers."
Robert Elder: "What do you think AI generated art will mean for the future of copyright infringement?"
Maegan Cabañes: "Honestly, I’m not sure. This is what gives me the most anxiety about all of this. I don't know my career’s fate even though I exerted so much of my time for this."
Robert Elder: "When you asked around to some people you know in the art industry if AI has affected them in any way yet, How many people did you ask? What did they say? What is their job title/function?"
Maegan Cabañes: "I have asked 10 people in total, and none of them have been affected in any way other than mentally. Most of the people I asked are college friends that majored in Illustration. Most of them are designers now, ranging from product designer to graphic designer. Others are freelancers, using internet algorithms as their tool in their business and others are fine artists doing their own thing."
Robert Elder: "Has AI personally affected YOU in your day job (I think you're still doing art stuff right now as you day job?)"
Maegan Cabañes: "Personally, I have not been affected yet. But to be fair, I do a range of things in my career, from Illustration to design so I feel like if I found the right client, I would possibly be given the opportunity to use AI generative technology as a tool in my creative process."
Robert Elder: "Have you thought about the possibility of people stealing your artwork in the future and using it to make money?"
Maegan Cabañes: "I have definitely thought of this, even before the rise of AI art. It happens a lot in our industry, especially to smaller artists. Now with AI, I feel more anxious because I think that it might be easier to steal art now without the artists even knowing."
Robert Elder: "Can you go into more detail on the specific concerns that your client had about AI art? That is an interesting data point about real business decisions people are making about AI art."
Maegan Cabañes: "My client personally did not want anything to do with AI art, because she did not support it. She wanted to support human-made art more than something that she believes is a form of technology that could threaten human artists or designers. However, I am not sure what businesses or companies think about AI art which could be a completely different opinion of it."
Robert Elder: What do you think of these videos?
Maegan Cabañes: Midjourney AI: Text To Image Supercharged! Quality: Overall, it seems AI imagery gets smarter the more time passes when it comes to rendering. Though I feel like right now, I can sense too much perfection in most of the pieces shown in the video. What makes something look human is imperfections, and I feel like I don’t notice much of that. Using the Sand Dune images as an example, the pyramids look off at times, if not, it looks too perfect (almost copy pasted). The video creator also mentioned himself that some of the camels look pasted, which I have to agree with. I felt that this was more prominent in the latest version (V5.2) of the image; The camels are all too similar and it might bug artists and designers.
Maegan Cabañes: On "Multiple Prompts and New Prompts": AI has made it more convenient for people because of this feature. It definitely saves time, but I don’t know if I personally like this or not. The examples in the videos look like thumbnails, which is something I take pride in when it comes to my work ethic. I don’t know if I like seeing a piece of technology do my hard work in 5 seconds.
Maegan Cabañes: The Current Absurd State of Generating AI Images: I feel weird about this, because I can’t comprehend why people would follow someone they don’t know is real. That is all I can say.
Maegan Cabañes: On "Quality of AI Generated Images getting better": As I mentioned from the last video, nothing can stop AI technology from getting better everyday. It’s something I will have to accept as an artist.
Maegan Cabañes: On "LORA": This is definitely interesting, but I feel there is too much technology and technology words being used, that I cannot keep up. But it seems like what they are trying to tell me is that there is specific AI software for each use. I think that’s cool because it means the software has specializations, which could make people trust each software more. I don’t know how to feel about the anime lovers falling in love with Lycoris because of what they thought the reference is, though. That makes me feel a little uneasy.
Maegan Cabañes: On "Text to Image": I think it’s understandable that the software has evolved to “Text + Lots of Extensions = Image”. The more we can customize something, the more specific we can get, right? I thought that was inevitable. Also, I did not know that there are software that helps fix the AI’s mistakes (ex. deformity, bad quality, wrong lighting, etc). I thought that it would be helpful if anyone were to tackle making a finished piece with AI, though I don’t think I would do that myself, as an artist. My heart tells me I should support other artists instead.
Maegan Cabañes: Photoshop’s New AI Feature is Amazing Content Aware Fill and AI Generative Fill: I was already familiar with the content aware feature, but I did not know that there is another feature that contains AI. I feel like this would be an extremely helpful tool when it comes to photo editing and I’m thankful for this feature.
Robert Elder: Overall, my discussion with Maegan on this topic has left me with the following overall impression: Thus far, the only way in which AI has 'disrupted' the life of an ordinary artist has been to add considerable anxiety and uncertainty to an already highly competitive and difficult career path. The use of AI art tools does not appear to have yet permeated it's way into the life of most artists, and in general, most artists seem to be going on with their lives as usual. Having said this, most artists do anticipate that this will change in the near future, however is not yet clear if this will have a positive or negative impact on their livelihood.
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