Ordering a pizza doesn’t make you a Chef. Even if you select the toppings. So why would this be any different in the world of digital art? In an age where words matter, I believe that it is more important than ever to set the record straight on AI and the language adopted by the people that choose to prompt “art” requests from it.
If I task you with making art for me based on my description of the desired final product, then I am acting as an Art Director. If you make an artistic interpretation for me based on that request, then you are acting as the Artist. *with me so far?
Even if I, as the Art Director posses the artistic ability to make it myself, it is irrelevant. In this instance, directing art makes you an Art Director. It is unethical for an Art Director to claim credit for something that an intelligent Artist has made for them by request. Not crediting the creator is not an accurate recording of the provenance of the piece – and it’s untrue.
If an Art Director takes the requested art and then modifies it, the art does not magically become theirs. It is by definition an artistic collaboration. Even if the Artist is unaware of its modification (or even cares). AIs don’t don’t care about anything. This also does not make it alright for an AI Art Director to claim a prompted image as their own. Copyrights on AI created artworks continue to be contested in the courts. One thing is for certain, more than 1 intelligence has claim over these creations.
When I make something – It’s mine. When you prompt an AI to make you something – you share it. For over 30 years, I have used machines to make digital art. Not the other way around.
What is Art?
That is a profound philosophical question. One with many interpretations. All of which are grounded by one universal constant: Art is created by humans.
It is a process. Not a set of instant results. It comes from a place deep within the soul. How can you program that into something that lacks one?
So who defines Art anyway? Well for starters, the Dictionary does:
It’s not a tool. Tools don’t think. Stop referring to it that way.
Defenders of the use of AI to prompt Art will often argue that AI is just another “tool”. Like imaging software or a paintbrush. It is a dismissive attempt to justify the use of AI for their own personal gain. Paintbrushes don’t think. Intelligence (even an artificial one) is not an ingredient.
No Math Teacher ever lost their job to a calculator and the printing press was not a super-intelligent thinking machine. There are no comparisons to support an argument in favour of AI Art. This “tool” (as it is often inaccurately described) is about to wipe out so many jobs beyond the art world. Tools aren’t supposed to do that. How any Artist could just stand by and say nothing about this just astounds me. It was the reason for this article. Someone had to say something. I didn’t want it to be me. But it’s me.
“There is no ethical way to use the major AI image generators. All of them are trained on stolen images, and all of them are built for the purpose of deskilling, disempowering and replacing real, human artists”Molly Crabapple, Artist and Activist, LA Times.
Search Engines don’t see a difference. Why should you?
Johannes Vermeer was the Dutch baroque master Artist who is best known for his iconic masterpiece “Girl with the Pearl Earring” (1665). If you close your eyes, you can see her looking at you in a way that only an artist can capture. But now, when you Google an image for “Johannes Vermeer” one of the top images is an AI generated image prompted by AI Art Director, Julian van Dieken.
For 358 years, this painting held its place in art history and our cultural memory. Now some guy with a “magic wand” gets to replace that? 10 years from now will anyone even care?
This is not a warning about Artificial Intelligence
The purpose of this post is not to warn you about the inherent dangers of AI (that ship has sailed). There is nothing anyone can do to stop it or slow it down. But that doesn’t mean you have to celebrate it’s inevitable takeover either. History is filled with people who chose their own immediate self interests over the future consequences for the generations to follow.
Asking an AI to make you art is about as artistic as ordering take out on your telephone. Delicious when it arrives, but we both know you didn’t make it.
AI is a trick. It is wrong to allow it to write, draw, design or create any aspect of our cultural development. Only humans should do that. You want It to tell our stories? Make our movies? Design our cities? Make our music and create our Art?
– Before you jump to answer that question internally, check out this nightmare:
Who is teaching it to emulate our artwork?
Have you been on Twitter lately? It is polluted with these AI images. Each prompted (and paid for) by people who want to be seen as Artists (regardless of artistic ability). This small group is single-handedly feeding it requests based on their politics, education and personal tastes. They are defining the next generation of artistic culture. Slowly, the goulash of images made by humans and AIs are beginning to simmer into an undistinguishable mass. Most don’t care or understand what that means for Art History and the next generation of Digital Artists to follow.
Personally, I won’t knowing use it or hire anyone who does. Not even (and especially if) there is a discounted financial incentive to do so.
There’s nothing artificial about my intelligence
As an Artist that uses multiple mediums and collaborates with other creative people, I understand the importance of supporting others in the digital art community. And no, you can’t just call yourself an Artist. That is a title that I am afraid you have to earn on your own.
Prompting a paid request for images from a soulless slot machine is not artistic. Stop referring to yourself an an AI Artist. Calling yourself that is insulting to real Artists and diminishes the efforts of those that are long gone. A more accurate title for directing an AI to make art for you is AI Art Director. “It” is the artist – You are the customer who takes the credit for it’s creations. Harsh, but true.
*Please be respectful with your comments and support your position with facts not feelings. Do not use the word “Tool” in your response.
*Written by a person. No AI.