How can visual artists ride the AI wave coming their way?

Tsunami in a City by me with Midjourney

AI is coming towards us like a tsunami. Over the past couple weeks, I've seen the beginning of the changes that are going to disrupt a lot of industries really fast. We're just at the beginning of seeing machines taking over tasks like creating art, writing articles, editing videos, helping customers with their issues, generating virtual models to sell products, coding more eficiently, and more. This reminds me of the story of the industrial revolution. The only difference is that the rate of growth of the AI revolution will be at least 10 times faster. I wouldn't be surprised if the end of 2023 looks completely different from today. 

You probably heard of some of the controversies regarding the first AI-generated artwork to have won a fine art competition just a couple of months ago. The winner's artwork was created using word prompts on the Midjourney platform. He then had it printed on canvas to showcased it at a fair and won a prize for it. Not everyone was happy about his win and this sparked a heated debate online with valid points on both sides. 

More recently, over the past couple weeks, there's been a viral trend of people using a new app called Magic Avatar by Lensa which sparked even more controversy, notably in terms of copyright infringement issues since the AI creates art based on existing artwork from artists online. There are even instances where the signature of the original artists are still visible within the AI produced artwork. The app owner get paid while the artist is not. Consequently, the way that this change is handled over the next couple week will have a serious impact on the lives of many artists. 

Variations from my Tsunami in the City artwork with Midjourney

Still, like it or not, AI is most likely here to not only stay but it's going to continue to progress. That being said,  it doesn't have to be destructive. The same way it's possible to trace the origin of NFTs to ensure the original artist gets compensated, it should be possible to trace the original artists of the artwork on platforms like Lensa and compensate them accordingly. Only time will tell if it's something people are willing to integrate. 

In the mean time, it would be wise for artists to consider where they want to position themselves in order to ride that AI wave as much as possible instead of getting drowned by it. It's something that I've been pondering on and will probably continue to do for a while. 

My experience with AI

Variations of my concept with AI 

Earlier this year, I started to dabble with platforms like Midjourney looking for opportunities to collaborate. One of the ways I experimented with AI was to help me generate a concept for a call for artist earlier this year. The kind of call that requires us to design a concept before getting selected. I tend to avoid these calls, but I figured it could be a great way to save time putting the rough ideas and colours together rather than doing all the research myself, putting things together and sketching them out. 

The project was for a mural for a local Shaolin School. I was interested because it aligns with my philosophy of life in general when it comes to the spiritual aspect of martial art, zen philosophies and meditation. I had a rough idea of what I wanted it to feel and look like.  I focused on the feeling I wanted to create and of course included some signature cloud aspects to the proposed design. After fiddling with the AI generator, trying to find the right words to represent what was in my mind, I finally got something to work with that fit my style : A minimalist floating monk meditating in a calming mostly green colour scheme and accented orange outfit as a focal point. 

From there I was able to roughly demonstrate where everything would be placed in the space and what each wall would look like. I then added that model on top of a photo of the walls top paint and created the artwork around it to give an overview of what the space would look and feel like. I was quite happy with the results shown below.

Because of my interior design background, it was important to me that the colours on the wall be complementary to the colors of the existing space. The door had to remain red as was going to get refurbished to look like the ancient door, which clearly make it a focal point, so I felt that a nice green would be the best color and the floating monk would be a nice secondary focal point leading toward the door. Upon further inspection of the space, visitors would be able to see silhouettes of shaolin monks performing various exercise poses (you can see one on the right of the door). 

Although I got great reviews from this proposal as you can read on their blog ( I won the 3rd place,  which means another artist got to create the mural. Although I wish I would have won, I'm quite happy with the concept I created and that I didn't spend a huge amount of time creating a piece that didn't get selected. That was one benefit from using the help of AI. There are many more but here are 5 to get you started :  

5 ways AI-generated art can be beneficial to visual artists : 

  1. Generative art: AI can be used to generate original artworks, either by creating images from scratch or by manipulating and altering existing images. This can allow artists to explore new styles and techniques that might be difficult or time-consuming to achieve manually.
  2. Image processing and manipulation: AI can be used to perform tasks such as color correction, image enhancement, and image restoration, freeing up artists to focus on more creative aspects of their work.
  3. Inspiration and ideation: AI can be used to generate ideas and concepts for artists to explore, providing a starting point for new pieces of work.
  4. Collaboration: AI can be used to collaborate with artists on projects, allowing artists to work with technology in a more interactive and dynamic way.
  5. Education and training: AI can be used as a teaching tool to help artists learn new techniques and software, and to improve their skills. It can also be used to provide personalized feedback and guidance, helping them to grow and improve as artists.

What are you thoughts on AI-generated artwork and its impact on our future?