What does this mean?
We are in new territory.
I have to admit to being shocked at how good DALL-E is. I thought we were still years, perhaps decades, from this kind of ability in artificial intelligence.
The algorithms that power DALL-E (known as GPT-3) are already disrupting written industries too. It’s now common for programmers to get large amounts of help from AI, at least in the form of suggestions. GPT-3 has written shockingly good poetry and news articles. In some cases, it seems to practically pass the famous Turing Test.
What are the ramifications of this technology for fine artists? What are the ramifications of this technology for commercial artists? For illustrators? If I need an image for my latest book, blog article, whatever, do I even need to hire an artist? I can just keep working with DALL-E until I get an image I’m happy with. Why would I go to the time and expense of slowly dealing with back and forth communication with a human when I can try out a few dozen or hundred ideas just by typing a few sentences?
We are setting aside for the moment that DALL-E can’t “paint” on canvas – because that’s an easy problem to solve. The hard problem of text to creative image appears solved.
Back to the original questions, which are probably the most important to our audience: what is fine art? Is DALL-E producing fine art? Will people be more interested in buying art from DALL-E than from humans?
Here’s my opinion: Aside from a few technophiles and, of course, the initial interest into AI generated art, I don’t think so. I think people will still want to purchase art that is created by humans. I do, however, see this technology drastically disrupting commercial illustration and stock photo companies.
But I’m talking about fine art now. Art for art’s sake. While this technology may hurt some industries, it may also be a boon to some creative fine artists. Imagine being able to sit down and “try out” 1,000 ideas just by typing them. I can see art becoming co-created by humans and AI. Just like how some code is today created that way. Even word processors today already “assist” writers with grammar corrections. Those will grow to suggest not just sentences, but entire paragraphs. Entire written pieces from different angles.
In some ways, this new technology is no different than any new technology. Cameras certainly didn’t kill fine art – they added a new technology that expanded what humans can do with fine art.
In the end, I still think fine art will continue to be ruled by humans. At least by those humans who understand art is about more than just the images they create.
Here’s the important part, so please pay attention:
The reason that humans will still drive most art is that, for the most part, people don’t just buy the image. People buy the story. People buy the connection with the artist. The human connection.
We’ve been saying this for over a decade. I don’t know if most artists believe us. But, frankly, you better all start believing us. Because if art is just about the images, you’re toast. You’ll never keep up with a machine that can happily spit out thousands creative images a day. The story is the important part.
If you don’t believe that, consider that people are buying NFTs in massive numbers. People are paying good money for images they can download for free just to be part of the story. And they are just keeping them in their computer or phone, they aren’t even hanging them on a wall in most cases. Why? Because they are literally buying their way into the story of that human artist. That is a human connection.
And that’s good news, because, if it really is about the story, the connection, the feeling AND the image, then human artists still have the upper hand. At least those artists who understand that their story is important.
This human-first way of marketing is what we teach artists in the Sovereign Artist Club. If you want to learn how to market your art in the 21st century in a story-first, human first way. If you don’t want to be replaced by a machine, then consider joining the club for less than $1.50/week by clicking the button below.