Will Art Created By Artificial Intelligence Kill The Artist?

Most of my photography friends have been playing around with some form of AI Art, and the results are pretty remarkable. However, as amazing as this technology is, I'm sure I am not the only one wondering if Artificial Intelligence will leave us all looking for new careers.

What exactly is artificial intelligent art? AI art is a brand new form of expression that allows users to string together a bunch of descriptive words, feed them into a machine learning program, and have the software export a one-of-a-kind, hyper-graphic image in seconds. The results aren't always what you might have imagined in your head, and more times than not, the efforts of the Ai algorithm are beyond your wildest imagination. On one hand, AI-generated art is one of the greatest inventions of modern history but on the other hand, it raises so many questions. Is AI art real art? Is the final image a creative product of the prompt writer? Who owns the rights to the final creation? Should we value it more than similar art that has taken much more time, effort, and skill?

Which of these paintings is real art and which is Ai generated art?

All of these questions led me to reach out to my good friend and fellow photographer/entrepreneur Pye Jirsa. Many of you know Pye as the creative face of SLR Lounge, but he also runs a multi-seven-figure wedding business (perhaps one of the most successful wedding photography businesses in the world), and has recently started a new business venture, 12 Week Relationships, which dives into the world of relationship psychology. Needless to say, Pye is an incredibly talented creative, has a brilliant approach to business marketing, and also understands how new technologies can lead to greater success for those who become early adopters. 

Since both Pye and I have explored the early beta offerings of many AI art generators, I thought it would be great to record our early thoughts, arguments, and perspectives on this crazy new form of art. Throughout this extended podcast, we find ourselves both intrigued and horrified at what this new technology will bring to the art world. Some of the topics we cover include:

  • What is art?
  • Is photography art?
  • What is AI Art and how can you use it?
  • Who is the author of AI-created art?
  • How will Ai Art be beneficial to society 
  • How Ai Art might be detrimental to society
  • Do humans value art that is "real" or simply art that most strongly evokes an emotion?
  • Are some art mediums more valuable than others?
  • Where is AI Art going and can we stop it?
  • Is prompt writing an actual skill?
  • Who owns the copyright of AI-generated art?

These are just a few of the concepts we freely talk about in our 90-minute conversation, and I have to say, after bouncing some of my own ideas off Pye, I found myself left with even more questions than I had entering this conversation. Pye brings up some interesting points about how technology shifts in the past have left 99% of nonadopting artists to ruin from a commercial and business standpoint. He also questions how future generations will value and dedicate time to learning any specific art form when artificial intelligence can simply create something far superior and intricate than decades of human practice and mastery of the same medium. Of course, there will always be value in learning an art for fun, emotional sanctuary, and to explore your own creativity. Still, the question remains, "how will AI art change the way we use, consume, and appreciate art in the future?"

Here are a few of the images featured in the podcast created through Mid Journey

Satanic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Two versions of "Portrait of an Indian woman" Pratik Naik (Left) and Patrick Hall (Right)

Pye Jirsa's "Map of Hell as drawn by MC Escher"

HERO Telescope image (left) vs Pye Jirsa's "The Mysteries of the Universe" Ai Art (right)

Perhaps once I have even more time to form my own thoughts about artificial art and where it is going, I will write up a full opinion piece on Fstoppers. At the moment, if I'm honest with myself, I'm not exactly sure how I truly feel about AI art generators like Mid Journey, Nightcafe, StarryAI, and Dall-E Mini. Half of me absolutely loves seeing what crazy and wacky ideas I can come up with and the resulting images AI generators can produce. The other half of me truly sees the writing on the wall and expects to both see and use AI art more and more in the future. 

What are your thoughts on this new form of creativity?  The flood gates aren't truly opened yet as many of the programs listed above are still in their beta state and many still require invitations to use their services. Once AI art becomes even more malleable, realistic, and widespread, do you think it will under mind the careers of many creatives or will it always remain a novelty and not compromise the skills so many of us have worked our entire lives to perfect?

If you want to share your own AI art and participate in our latest Critique the Community, check out the CTC Ai Prompt Art Page and perhaps you can win a free tutorial from the Fstoppers Store!

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18 Comments
Ed C's picture

Many years after it replaces YouTubers and bloggers.

Lee Morris's picture

I for one am blown away by how good this AI art is. I like this stuff better than 99.9% of the art humans are making.

Lefteris Kritikakis's picture

And which one of these would you put on your wall for 10 years? Just imagine "day 5"...

Roger Cozine's picture

I think it will replace some types of photographers, but not all. Fantasy art is a big seller amongst many consumers. AI is fantastic at creating that type of art. AI can't replicate or produce a scene in real-time. That's when it's best to hire a real photographer. That way a scene can be captured with complete accuracy. Real photographers will also be needed for other types of photography like real estate, photojournalism, beauty, sports and other genres that require live creativity.

Charles Mercier's picture

I'm afraid that they're working on that. AI will, in the future, be able to create photographic scenes in which you won't be able to distinguish between it and real photos.

Ryan Cooper's picture

I don't think it will because fine art isn't really about the quality of the image or some sort of ultimate aesthetic beauty but more about the exclusivity and fame of the artist. This is why a red square can sell for almost 100 million dollars but a beautifully painted masterwork by an unknown artist often isn't even worth pennies.

AI may be able to create incredibly stunning works but it will never be able to create exclusivity.

chris bryant's picture

Literally or metaphorically?

Some "artists" may even kill themselves when they realise that their "art" is not as good as the AI (or at the very least suffer ego deflation).

The term AI, to me, is a misnomer. It's a trendy revenue generating marketing ploy that is a lot easier to say than 'very complex code writing'. Intelligence implies awareness and perhaps some semblance of sentience, current AI has neither. The true genius behind this sort of AI art are code developers.

Ryan Cooper's picture

There are many definitions of intelligence. AI does not satisfy them all but does satisfy some. For example, Google Defines Intelligence as "The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills."

AI certainly meets that definition. Merriam-Webster has a few definitions. One of which is " the skilled use of reason". AI also meets that definition.

Another is "the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria "

AI also meets that definition.

I wasn't able to find any definition that spoke to sentience or awareness. While I agree that we are miles away from sentient AI (We can't even actually generate a truly random number with a computer) we are absolutely capable of writing software capable of meeting many definitions of intelligence. (Sentience is defined as "responsive to or conscious of sense impressions" which would be a wildly more difficult thing to achieve)

PS: Even if the ego deflation you speak of leads to suicide, it isn't AI that caused the death, rather, it is a mental illness that is responsible for the death.

chris bryant's picture

Google and Webster's aside, what is your definition of intelligence? I don't think that one should be confined by the constraints and perhaps even prejudice of others.

Mental illness is too harsh a term, but you know how fragile these arty-farty people are! I was being somewhat facetious. Sorry.

Kirk Darling's picture

LOL, well of course Google would define intelligence in a way that could include Google.

Lefteris Kritikakis's picture

True. And that's what one is getting from this "AI art" - the taste of a programmer in a hurry, whose artistic horizons begin from video games and end with deviantart random "coding library item" collections. I can see an 11-year old having this as a poster, but not a 15-year old, because his girlfriend would be making fun of him. Because by 15, they have already been exposed to at least one Caravaggio.
Those considering this to be "art", would also patiently listen to a speech by a random text generator, and also applaud in the end!

Edward Knuff's picture

No.

Hector Belfort's picture

I've used Midjourney. It's amazing. What is can produce with a few words is amazing. It's only a matter of time before it will create realistic photographs with a few words. It seems very exciting at the start. After a while I concluded that its creepy. Most of the images created are nightmarish, human figures are cold and lifeless, noses in particular are incorrect. The closer you look at all the images the more you see things that aren't right. It's a very easy way to create art but I think the art it produces is not good. I think people will quickly get sick of it.

Charles Mercier's picture

It's going to get better in the future.

Dominic Deacon's picture

I usually spend a long time making the backgrounds for my composites in 3d. Thanks to this article I learnt that I can get a computer to do it for me in 40 seconds. Massive time saver but does rather take any skill out of it. My first edit with an ai backdrop.

Darren Whitley's picture

Not entirely because the process of creation, discovery require immersion in the processes. Very similar to how digital has mostly replaced film photography but some photographers have returned to alternative processes and some of the oldest methods of image capture because analog photography has a different appeal to our emotions and personal satisfaction.

Kirk Darling's picture

It will replace those artists pumping out kitsch for Hobby Lobby.

It won't replace the high-end fine art valued by collectors, because the skill and eye of a human artist is the point of the value of fine art.

It won't replace depiction of specific subjects and events. However, I have not seen what the results would be if someone fed in: "Cassius Clay defeating Joe Louis."

Lefteris Kritikakis's picture

Well, art is supposed to be an expression of the artist that communicates or inspires or shows the artist's reality, imagination or emotional impression. A random collage of unrealistic "items" from deviantart is not art itself, but it could serve as the cover of a 15-year old "New Age" electronic music salad, and not even the good kind. Any random scene from Disney's "fantasia" is better. Talented artists, who can draw a simple single-color portrait in such a way that you want it on your wall and you never get tired of it, are now in despair, not because of the cheap taste of the AI's programmer, but because the staff of a well-known photography blog considers this "art". I've seen collages with better taste from my daughter's pre-school arts and crafts class.