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Will AI text-to-art generators really rid designers of work opportunities?

AI text-to-art generators are popping up all over, including Meta and Discord. Will these programs soon affect designer’s jobs?

Kristopher Ray Bolleter is a well known designer and developer who has a brilliant creative mind and a rare skill of marrying aesthetics and language in a way that converts sales. At AG, we’ve been tinkering with the text-to-image AI tools and having many discussions about their ethics and implications.

Bolleter has penned the following to expand that conversation, offering the following case study:

With all the “hype” around the AI art craze, I couldn’t help but dive-in head first over the last few weeks.

I’ve been playing with the MidJourney AI which is utilized on Discord. I won’t be explaining the process in its entirety, so if you’re interested in a deep dive I’d recommend heading over to your favorite search engine or Youtube.

In this article, I’d like to dissect my brief experiences with AI, and some of the discussions I’ve been seeing about the potential impacts and ramifications this technology could have on numerous industries – from traditional art to video and photography and particularly (as it most interests and applies to me) – graphic design.

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I started out like most seem to: A blank canvas (or a blank field to type some prompts into that describe what you want to “create”) and just a wild imagination. I’ve been creating some wild art styles I’ve always enjoyed and would love to do in reality, but just have never had time.

The results were nothing short of incredible…

I was immediately curious about the impact this would have on so many industries. Even at this early stage, it seemed so powerful that a few well-curated prompts and a keen artistic eye could create images in mere minutes that would have previously taken hours, if not days, to create. Could this have the potential to make certain art forms and entire creative industries irrelevant? I, like many, had my concerns, but I still have plenty of doubts.

There have been many technological advances in the design and development industry over the past decade that have lowered the “barrier of entry” to roles titled “Designer” or “Developer.” It really democratized so much of the process that many influencers simply handle it all themselves – no design or development degree required.

Does this mean my job becomes irrelevant? Absolutely not. Why aren’t all chefs using air-fryers or the latest easy-bake oven technology? For the same reason AI will never fully replace artists: True artistry is about the process and how these systems augment the creative process.

So I wondered… how could this technology augment my process and allow me to deliver an even better product for my clients. Turns out, I didn’t have to look far.

I was already in the process of working with no.1 bestselling author and international, multi-award-winning trauma-informed therapist and coach Caroline Strawson on her new website, and I needed some creative assets. Caroline’s content is so rich and required so much depth to truly convey to the user what her programs provide, that stock imagery alone simply wouldn’t be enough.

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The timing couldn’t have been better, so I immediately dove into MidJourney and started pulling prompts of content directly from Caroline’s content (on the surface, I’m sure the AI had to have some “concerns” with the subject matter).

But funny enough… the AI nailed it. I took all of the images and brought them over into photoshop to quickly make them cohesive and dropped them into the mockups for development.

The cumulative time it took me to create, what is essentially, one-of-a-kind artwork assets for my client, and for a fraction of the cost of stock photography, is nothing short of incredible.

Could this job have technically gone to an individual artist to create curated imagery? Of course, but then we have to analyze the client’s budget and time to manage something like this. That frankly would have immediately precluded them from being an option in cases like these.

But don’t ignore the plethora of projects that put more emphasis on those carefully curated assets – those won’t go away just because AI art happened to be a good fit for this particular project.

What is partially ignored is the human component to intentionally creating and refining the images. Only in my early, ‘fun’ concepts did I “hit the nail on the head” with the first prompt. Even after many iterations, I still had to refine the results with some photoshop or moderate saturation tweaks.

This was by no means a “magic wand” for creating some perfectly on-brand assets – It still required a trained eye with a particular vision to execute – but that’s why robots won’t be taking over the art industry… anytime soon at least.

This story was first published here in winter of 2022.

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