AI Art and Traditional Illustration

Recently, I’ve come across discussions online debating the role of AI-generated visuals in the art world. Some argue that AI poses a threat to professional illustrators and advocate for its limited use in creative processes. While I understand these concerns, I’m trying to understand my perspective a bit here, and I’d like to explore this through an analogy.

I’m thinking specifically about the advent of synthesizers and sampling in music, which perhaps parallels the emergence of AI in visual arts. This comparison highlights a dynamic tension between tradition and innovation, and between human creativity and technological assistance.

Personally, my preference runs towards the sounds of acoustic guitar. However, this preference doesn’t lead me to dismiss music that incorporates sampling or synthesized elements*. While I’m not convinced that these technologies have inherently enhanced music’s quality, they have expanded the creative toolkit available to artists. Music rich in synths and samples, to me, exists in a universe distinct from universe I inhabit when I strum my Martin guitar.

AI-generated art, like synthesized music and sampling, opens up new creative avenues that might be unattainable through traditional methods. Almost certainly AI will impact the livelihoods of some artists, similar to how synths and sampling reshaped the music industry. But it’s important to recognize that these technologies also democratize creativity, enabling more individuals (for better or worse and with widely varying degrees of artistic quality) to express themselves.

I believe that mastery in music should require the ability to create great music without relying on synths or samples. Likewise, artistic greatness probably shouldn’t rely completely on generative AI. Art and music should foster inclusivity and diversity and they should celebrate individual creativity and autonomy. For me they should not require an over-reliance on technology but that’s not to say it shouldn’t be a tool in toolbox.

*I have an album that I’m working on releasing of mostly synthesizer music, so, again, I don’t think there’s anything wrong about synths or sampling.