Is AI Really an Art and Design Killer? (2023)

Is AI Really an Art and Design Killer? (1)

If you’re worried about artificial intelligence coming for your job, read on . . .

This year has seen an explosion of interest and hype around AI art. The release of a number of new artificial intelligence tools for generating art has made it more accessible than ever, and the power and capabilities of these tools is increasing all the time. It’s raising a lot of existential questions, and some people are quite frankly freaking out.

Will AI eventually replace human artists altogether? Who owns the copyright of artworks created by AI? Will designers be forced to work with AI or risk being left behind? The future is uncertain and no one can predict for sure what long term impacts artificial intelligence will have on the art industry. We do know one thing though—the AI genie has been let out of the bottle and it’s not going back in. The problems will come if it turns out to be more of a Pandora’s box.

If you’re an artist or designer, you might be worrying about the future of your job or what impact AI might have on your work, so let’s explore the possibilities and see what it could mean for you.

What is AI-generated art and how does it work?

When we are talking about art that is created by artificial intelligence, we are talking about programs that have been trained through a process of machine learning to produce images on command. The programs have been trained using millions upon millions of images, and you can make them create new images by giving them prompts.

Dall-E is probably the most well known of the new wave of image generators. After it was released in mid-2022, you likely noticed Dall-E generated images popping up in your timeline. People love to give Dall-E ridiculous prompts to create silly images like ‘Trail cam footage of gollum eating watermelon’ or ‘Angry cat sitting on a pile of gold in a goblin cave, realistic photograph’.

The other most popular of the current AI technologies are Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. As a user, all of these digital technologies work in the same way—you input natural language descriptions and then the AI generates a number of images based on your prompts. You can then further refine this image or make new iterations of it.

The method feels deceptively simple and anyone can get to grips with it fairly quickly. In a matter of minutes, anyone can get the AI to produce incredible artworks with ease. The versatility and power of these image generation digital technologies is quite incredible. They can produce photorealistic images, or paintings in the style of Van Gogh, or any number of other artistic styles.

The speed, accessibility and quality of the output that is what is now making professional artists and many people in the creative industries pause for thought. And panic. If someone with no artistic skills can so easily produce high quality pieces of art, then what does this mean for the future of artists?

Has this type of thing happened before?

Advancing technology is not a new phenomenon, nor is artificial intelligence. When the camera was first invented, people thought that it was going to spell the end of painting. If you can accurately capture the beauty of a landscape with a camera, why would you need to paint it? Of course, painting didn’t die, and photography emerged and evolved as its own artform.

But, photography probably did put a big dent in the work of portrait painters. Before the arrival of the camera, the only way to capture your image was to have a portrait artist paint you. Once photography entered the game, the ease and accuracy of creating a portrait in this way quickly displaced painting as the method of choice. It may be the case that AI-generated art will displace some modern artists in the same way that photography displaced portrait painters.

Artificial intelligence has also been having a big impact in other areas for quite some time. In chess, AI has evolved to the point where human intelligence can no longer compete with it. Even the best human players in the world crumble in the face of AI. This hasn’t stopped humans from playing chess though, and if anything humans are now learning from AI and using it to improve their game.

It is extremely unlikely that humans will stop creating art just because a piece of technology can make AI-generated artworks. The way in which contemporary artists operate might be influenced by AI, and the creative sector might incorporate AI into its workflows, but human-created art will not disappear.

What dangers might AI present for designers and illustrators?

It’s only a matter of time before AI becomes commonplace, so it is best to be prepared for any eventualities and know how to adapt. The greatest danger of AI for designers and illustrators is that laypersons will use AI-generated art instead of employing a human artist.

Right now, there are plenty of memes circulating about how bad AI is at drawing hands and faces. This is true, but progress is being made and every new iteration of software brings marked improvements. People messing about with Dall-E and Midjourney for fun and creating their own art is one thing, but what if newspaper editors, magazines, and website owners start using these services instead of professional artists?

Is AI Really an Art and Design Killer? (2)

At the moment, if you want a current political cartoon, an illustration for an editorial feature on the decline of the Amazon rainforest, or fun drawings for a kids book on eating healthily, you need to get an illustrator or designer to create them for you. But what if you can create accurate images that you want just by using AI and some prompts?

From a business perspective, this will be much cheaper and more cost-effective, and could result in many illustrators and designers losing work. If this seems far fetched, think again—it’s already happening. A writer for The Atlantic used a Midjourney created AI image for an article, and The Economist used an AI-generated image for its magazine cover in June, 2022. These examples could be just one-off responses to AI being a trend, or they could be the shape of things to come.

Don’t panic, AI might have upsides

We might have been painting a dystopian picture so far, but there is no need to immediately panic. In fact, AI might turn out to be an amazing tool for your creative process. Here are some ways in which AI could be a positive development in the foreseeable future.

AI could become just another tool that illustrators and designers use

Yes, people might suddenly be able to create a great looking piece of art without ever going through a day of art school, but there is more to illustration and design than just generating images based on prompts. The creative decision-making part of the design process is always going to be better when it is undertaken by someone who has been trained in the creative fields.

It will probably be the case that designers and artists will be the ones who work with the AI to generate the right images by understanding what prompts to use, and being able to refine the results and carry out any necessary changes or touch ups at the end of the artistic process.

AI can be used to generate sketches and ideas

At the start of an illustration project, it is always a good idea to create sketches for your client or the job before jumping into creating your final piece of work. Producing these sketches could prove to be an excellent use case for an AI tool. Instead of spending a few hours working up different sketches and ideas, you could use the AI image generator to quickly produce the rough ideas to present to your client.

The versatility of the AI means that you could quickly try out many different styles of illustration and sketches without having to create the artwork from scratch yourself each time.

AI can be your brainstorm buddy

Coming up with new ideas and concepts can be a challenging part of the artistic process for designers and artists. In the same way that artificial intelligence has led humans to think about and play chess differently, AI could do the same for art and serve as a creative spark. You could input your prompts and ideas into an image art generator, and then use these as starting points for coming up with new ideas of your own. Machine creativity could turn out to be very different than human creativity, and it could result in some fresh approaches and concepts.

Could AI really replace artists?

The really big question people are asking right now is: ‘AI will eventually overtake humans and render artists obsolete?’. The thinking here is probably the fact that AI is able to outperform humans on most tasks that it is assigned. AI is unbeatable at chess, so what’s to stop AI becoming unbeatable at art?

There is of course disagreement about how art is defined, but a big drawback that AI faces is that it can only draw from art that humans have already created. AI art generators might be able to imitate the style of renaissance painters, but it couldn’t come up with this style all by itself. A neural network is trained on images that have been made by human creators, and it can come up with twists on these images, but it will never create its own artistic movement.

The other big hindrance that AI faces in making art is that much of art is reflective of the human experience. Humans use art as a way of understanding each other and the world, and as a medium to relate to each other. A super intelligence might be able to mimic art that reflects the human condition, but it will have had no real life experiences that could be authentically translated into art.

Humans will continue to use technology and AI in the creation of art and there may be new synergies and developments, but AI will never replace human created art entirely.

Is AI Really an Art and Design Killer? (3)

What next?

If you’re an designer, illustrator or artist, our advice would be to familiarize yourself with the new wave of image generating AI programs, now. They’re a lot of fun, and they are likely to keep improving at a rapid pace. It’s highly unlikely that AI will replace humans entirely, but it will probably be the case that those who are utilizing AI in their own work will have an edge on those who don’t. Technology doesn’t move backwards, so you try not to get left behind.

Explore more content on digital art in our blog, and to boost your design skills, be sure to enroll in our academy.

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Is AI Really an Art and Design Killer? (4)
Is AI Really an Art and Design Killer? (5)


Is an AI artwork really art? ›

As artificial intelligence becomes increasingly popular for generating images, a question has roiled the art world: Can AI create art? At bitforms gallery in San Francisco, the answer is yes.

How does AI impact art and design? ›

To create AI-generated art, artists use AI as a creative tool and work with algorithms to set up specific rules through which machines analyze thousands of images to comprehend a particular creation process, like a specific style or aesthetic.

Is AI art a threat to artists? ›

Artificial intelligence art is not comparable to human-made art, backed with stories and emotions, but the real threat is the lack of compensation towards ill-credited artists.

What is the argument against AI art? ›

The case against AI art

The first is the most easily dismissed, as it claims that AI art programs mash or stitch existing images together to create something new. This is simply not how the technology works. These AI models “learn” how to create in ways that are not entirely dissimilar to how the brain learns.

Can AI ever be truly creative? ›

While each of these are impressive, it still takes actual human creativity to let AI “create” on its own. All of this work was created by using past artwork created by humans, based on human emotion and consciousness. It is doubtful AI can ever replace the true creativity the human brain can.

What are the limitations of AI art? ›

AI art models still struggle to draw hands correctly. Image created by the author using Stable Diffusion. There's also the obvious constraint that these models can only produce digital art. They can't work with oils or pastels like people can.

Will art be replaced by AI? ›

It is extremely unlikely that humans will stop creating art just because a piece of technology can make AI-generated artworks. The way in which contemporary artists operate might be influenced by AI, and the creative sector might incorporate AI into its workflows, but human-created art will not disappear.

Will AI take over design? ›

AI will become a design partner. And design process will be a co-creation of AI and humans. The design process will be more or less automated by AI. Companies will hire people who are good at formulating the queries for the AI engine (prompts) and be able to fine-tune the outcome created by the machine.

What are the pros and cons of AI art? ›

Overall, there are both pros and cons to using AI in art. While it can certainly lead to increased creativity and innovation, as well as greater efficiency, there are also ethical concerns and the risk of losing the human touch and personal connection that are often present in traditional art.

What is the biggest threat of AI? ›

Automation of jobs, the spread of fake news and a dangerous arms race of AI-powered weaponry have been mentioned as some of the biggest dangers posed by AI.

Why are artists upset about AI art? ›

AI-driven image generation tools have been heavily criticized by artists because they are trained on human-made art scraped from the web, and then effectively remix or even closely copy it without attribution.

Is AI a threat to the world? ›

However, some people claim that it will wipe out jobs for humans. But this is not true. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will not replace human jobs completely, as it can only perform simple tasks and cannot replace a person's ability to think creatively or solve problems intelligently.

What are 4 disadvantages of AI? ›

Disadvantages of Artificial Intelligence
  • High Costs. The ability to create a machine that can simulate human intelligence is no small feat. ...
  • No creativity. A big disadvantage of AI is that it cannot learn to think outside the box. ...
  • Unemployment. ...
  • 4. Make Humans Lazy. ...
  • No Ethics. ...
  • Emotionless. ...
  • No Improvement.
7 days ago

Why is AI-generated art so creepy? ›

Art generated by AI is often weird and creepy, as it's the distillation of an algorithm smudging together random but associated images into one scenario, commanded by a particular style or wording.

Why is AI threat to humanity? ›

If AI surpasses humanity in general intelligence and becomes "superintelligent", then it could become difficult or impossible for humans to control. Just as the fate of the mountain gorilla depends on human goodwill, so might the fate of humanity depend on the actions of a future machine superintelligence.

Is AI already smarter than humans? ›

They have better memories, they can quickly gather information from numerous digital sources, they can work continuously without the need for sleep, they don't make mathematical errors, and they are better at multitasking and thinking several steps ahead than humans.

Is there anything that AI Cannot do? ›

AI cannot answer questions requiring inference, a nuanced understanding of language, or a broad understanding of multiple topics. In other words, while scientists have managed to "teach" AI to pass standardized eighth-grade and even high-school science tests, it has yet to pass a college entrance exam.

Can AI have its own thoughts? ›

Scientists and philosophers say AI consciousness might be possible, but technology is so good at fooling humans into thinking it's alive that we will struggle to know if it's telling the truth.

Does AI lack creativity? ›

Artificial intelligence is a computer program or software that simulates human intelligence processes like problem-solving and learning. AI isn't very good at being creative because it's focused on achieving results, it doesn't deviate from instructions, and it isn't open to different interpretations.

What Year Will AI take over? ›

In all cases, the majority of participants expected AI singularity before 2060. In the 2022 Expert Survey on Progress in AI, conducted with 738 experts who published at the 2021 NIPS and ICML conferences, AI experts estimate that there's a 50% chance that high-level machine intelligence will occur until 2059.

What will AI not replace? ›

Jobs AI Can't Replace
  • Teachers.
  • Writers.
  • Lawyers.
  • Social workers.
  • Medical professionals.
  • Therapists.
  • Management professionals.

Will AI take over 3d artists? ›

Conclusion. AI art can never replace human artists as they will always be required to choose the subject and its surroundings for producing the desired results. Even though generative AI art may look great, it still needs help from the human artist.

Is graphic design being replaced by AI? ›

AI isn't going to replace graphic designers but what it can do is complement and enrich their work. And it's already begun. Design work can be time-consuming, especially with small tasks that pile up.

Will AI replace design engineers? ›

Their expertise empowers the designers with additional tools, which is a massive gain in competitiveness for the entire company. This new workflow also means a much smarter usage of CAE tools. In conclusion, AI approaches will not replace simulation softwares nor engineers.

Will artificial intelligence remove designers from the design process? ›

The general consensus seems to be that AI will not remove the need for UX design, nor will it replace human UX designers. UX design is arguably one of the most human-centric jobs out there. It requires empathy to relate to your target users and understand the problems they need you to solve.

What are some negative effects of AI? ›

This paper sheds light on the biggest dangers and negative effects surrounding AI, which many fear may become an imminent reality. These negative effects include unemployment, bias, terrorism, and risks to privacy, which the paper will discuss in detail.

What are 2 pros and 2 cons of using AI? ›

Let us look at the agenda for this blog on the merits and demerits of Artificial Intelligence:
  • Why do we need Artificial Intelligence?
  • Pros of Artificial Intelligence. Error-free Processing. Helps in Repetitive Jobs. 24/7 Availability. ...
  • Cons of AI. High Costs of Creation. Increased Unemployment. Lacking Creativity.

Can AI wipe out humanity? ›

There is a high probability that advanced forms of artificial intelligence, or AI, may wipe out humanity from the Earth, as per some recent research. A paper on the matter, co-authored by Google DeepMind and Oxford researchers, was published at the end of August in the AI magazine.

Why is Elon Musk afraid of AI? ›

As AI gets probably much smarter than humans, the relative intelligence ratio is probably similar to that between a person and a cat, maybe bigger,” Musk told Swisher. “I do think we need to be very careful about the advancement of AI.”

Is Elon Musk against AI? ›

It's important to note Musk isn't against AI itself, but against the lack of regulation and human checkpoints that could come with the race to dominate this fledgling industry. That's why he helped found OpenAI in the first place - because AI needs checks and balances from humans.

Why was AI destroyed in the Bible? ›

Biblical narrative

In the Book of Joshua, chapters 7 and 8, the Israelites attempt to conquer Ai on two occasions. The first, in Joshua 7, fails. The biblical account portrays the failure as being due to a prior sin of Achan, for which he is stoned to death by the Israelites.

What did Elon Musk say about AI? ›

For many years, Musk, the world's richest man, has warned humans that one day AI could outsmart and endanger us, calling the artificial intelligence the biggest threat to civilisation.

What will happen if AI take over the world? ›

Some experts believe that this will eventually happen, while others are more doubtful. AI can do a lot of things that humans cannot do, such as making decisions quickly and accurately. However, AI cannot do everything that humans can do, such as creative thinking or empathy.

Will AI help the world or hurt it? ›

On a far grander scale, AI is poised to have a major effect on sustainability, climate change and environmental issues. Ideally and partly through the use of sophisticated sensors, cities will become less congested, less polluted and generally more livable.

What is the danger of AI generated images? ›

This could lead to a loss of authenticity in photography, as the images produced may not be a true reflection of the photographer's vision and skill. There is also the concern that AI images and generators could lead to a decrease in the demand for traditional photographers.

Why are so many people afraid of AI? ›

Asked to explain in their own words what concerns them most about AI, some of those who are more concerned than excited cite their worries about potential loss of jobs, privacy considerations and the prospect that AI's ascent might surpass human skills – and others say it will lead to a loss of human connection, be ...

Why AI is not good for society? ›

Biased and discriminatory algorithms

Design flaws or faulty and imbalanced data that is being fed into algorithms can lead to biased software and technical artifacts. So AI just reproduces race, gender and age bias that already exists in society and deepens social and economic inequalities.

Will AI benefit us or harm us? ›

The key for humans will ensure the “rise of the robots” doesn't get out of hand. Some people also say that Artificial intelligence can destroy human civilization if it goes into the wrong hands. But still, none of the AI applications made at that scale that can destroy or enslave humanity.

Can AI replace humans Why or why not? ›

While it is true that AI has the potential to automate many tasks that are currently performed by humans, it is unlikely that it will completely replace human workers in the near future. One of the reasons that AI is not likely to replace human workers is because it is still limited in its abilities.

Does digital art count as real art? ›

So, the question is, is digital art real art? Our answer is definitely yes. Digital art is simply another medium choice, just like collage or oil paint. Hopefully, you feel empowered to learn how to do digital art, and we have answered the question of what traditional artists should know about digital art.

What do artists think of AI art? ›

Artists can view AI not as a threat but as a tool, similar to how art transitioned to digital tools from traditional methods. It can be a means to augment the creative process in novel ways and act as a creative guide through the process of idea generation or concept development.

Is AI art better than human art? ›

AI-generated art is created using artificial intelligence algorithms, while human-made art is created by human artists. AI art can be produced quickly and in large quantities, and it can be highly detailed and complex. However, it may lack the emotional and personal touch that human-made art often has.

Is AI-generated art copyrighted? ›

In a decision that could have far-reaching implications for artists, the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) has stated that AI-generated images are not protectable under current copyright law, as they “are not the product of human authorship.”

What is the disadvantage of digital art? ›

Disadvantages of Digital Art

Limitless possibilities can lead to creative paralysis. No Original Copy. No original physical copy. It can be printed on textured paper but it's not the same as an original painting.

Does digital art take skill? ›

Skills and knowledge

Depending on the media they work with, animators/digital artists need to have: drawing, painting and design skills, if they are making models. animation skills (2D and 3D) coding skills.

Are all NFTs digital art? ›

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are one-of-a-kind digital assets. Given they're digital in nature, can physical works of art be turned into NFTs? The short answer is that yes, physical artworks can be minted and sold online as NFTs.

Why are artists worried about AI? ›

A user can ask the system to produce an image, such as “a cat in the style of Van Gogh,” and the AI tool will quickly do so. That makes living artists worry that their works will be copied without their permission. Two new legal actions, or lawsuits, have been brought against the AI companies creating the images.

Will AI replace the art industry? ›

It is extremely unlikely that humans will stop creating art just because a piece of technology can make AI-generated artworks. The way in which contemporary artists operate might be influenced by AI, and the creative sector might incorporate AI into its workflows, but human-created art will not disappear.

Will AI replace graphic designers? ›

AI is no different. AI will replace the designers of today and create the designers of tomorrow. AI will become a partner for the designers of tomorrow. This partner will help designers meet the ever-evolving business demands and create products faster.

Can people tell the difference between AI art? ›

AI-created images are so well done that it can be difficult to tell the difference between a drawing created by the hand of an artist or a computer within seconds. On Thursday's episode of This Is Nashville, Nashville-based artist Kelly McKernan said they can tell if a work was created using AI.

Can robots replace art? ›

Some individuals predict that AI will someday replace artists totally, but this is unlikely to happen soon. Although artificial intelligence is capable of producing technically proficient works of art, it is not yet capable of producing works of truly creative or innovative design.

What is the AI art thing everyone is using? ›

One of the most well-known names among AI art generators is Artbreeder, which is an image quality enhancer. The tool enables you to produce different variations of an image through the use of machine learning. You can create landscapes, anime figures, portraits, and various other works of art on a single platform.

Who owns art created by AI? ›

The Act makes the human requirement clear: “The U.S. Copyright Office will register an original work of authorship, provided that the work was created by a human being. “ This means that, under the current rules, AI-generated art has no owner.

Can you sell AI-generated artwork that's not your code? ›

Courts have ruled that AI cannot hold copyright, which by corollary also means that AI-generated art sits in the public domain. This legal loophole has angered many professional artists whose art is used to train the AI.


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