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  • Foto van schrijverfoeshel

Drawing in the Age of AI: A Personal Perspective on the Future of Illustration

Bijgewerkt op: 31 jan.

Foeshel's floating head illustration with a funnel represents the integration of technology and human imagination. The eyes are are hypnotized by all the distractions. The open mouth suggests the man's or AI's creativity. by Foeshel

As an illustrator, I have been following the developments of AI's such as Midjourney. It is interesting to see how capable these AIs have become in such a short amount of time, generating images and illustrations with great detail or great style.

I can't help but wonder if AI will overtake a huge amount of jobs, even creative ones. In many ways, it reminds me of a YouTube movie called ”This Anime Has The Internet Furious” by Scamboli Reviews I saw recently, which had a very interesting premise about the weavers vs. photographers of the past. The weavers who lost their jobs to machines during the industrial revolution. Similarly, the invention of photography was seen as a threat to painters, as it was quicker and more efficient.

However, not everyone saw photography as a threat. Some artists adapted, incorporating their knowledge of painting into photography and becoming successful photographers. I believe that AI has the potential to broaden our perspectives and inspire new ideas. It can serve as a tool to both assist and challenge human artists.

But as an illustrator, I've also noticed a high flow of generic art being created by AI. The Midjourney AI is often trained on generic styles, resulting in illustrations lacking in identity or personal touch. These images are aesthetically pleasing, but they fail to resonate with me on a deeper level. These images below are pieces created by AI, and while pretty, they do little for me. I see them as concept pieces for maybe a game or a movie, but they do not evoke emotion, except for the statement, "wow, pretty I have seen something like this before."

I try to create works that have an emotional connection with people. I don't always succeed, and for all the pieces I create, there are also popcorn pieces that just look cool. Sometimes, I try to make people laugh with certain situations. In manga, which has a general sameness to its art style, there are artists like Kentaro Muira, who created Berserk, and Takehiko Inoue, who created Vagabond, who bring their own style and personality to their work. There are many more examples, such as Eiichiro Oda who created One Piece, Tatsuki Fujimoto who will probably become one of the greats... I think that better things will always rise to the top, and in the coming years, our vision might be changed and challenged by AI.

I have noticed that on a lot of platforms, such as Pinterest or Instagram, a lot of accounts before the emmergence of AI had this concept art-vibe. I see a lot of those images being created by AI now, which is normal as it is sort of the flavor of the month, and this is what those AIs were trained upon. But I have seen some fine examples of it creating stunning illustrations as well.

Where I see AI hitting the hardest is the book industry. Already, Amazon is being flooded by AI-generated books, illustrated books, and so forth. But what I do see happening as well is—let's imagine you are a book publisher. An author has his book written and needs a cover. In the olden days, you would write a brief, a summary of the book, a couple of events that would go nicely on the cover, and a description of the characters so the illustrator or photographer had an idea of what to make. Then a sketching phase will ensue, which will eventually lead to a finished product. These processes take some time to complete. Today, that brief, a summary of the story, a description of an event, and a couple of character descriptions—would give you a cover for Midjourney in a couple of minutes. These jobs will vanish soon enough.

I've also explored different ways to monetize my art, such as selling originals at art fairs or making illustrations to order or for printing (books). I understand that not everyone can make a living from their art. If I sell some originals, I am glad. I have a main source of income, and of course, I would love to live from drawing alone. But I have noticed in some sectors, this comes at a price, and if I want to draw what I think of, then this too comes at a price, but that one I am willing to pay.

I have my reservations about AI, but I don't believe it will spell the end of the creative industry. Instead, I think it will kill off many generic jobs, but the demand for human connection and personal touch will only grow. While AI can generate amazing images and ideas, it still lacks the emotional intelligence that human artists possess. Who knows? Maybe in time this barrier will vanish as well. But I still believe that there will always be people who want that human touch, that original, and not that print.

While AI may lead to job displacement and other challenges in the creative industry, it also has the potential to broaden our perspectives and inspire new ideas. I do see some jobs becoming the weavers of our time. As for me, I'll continue creating original illustrations and exploring new ways to monetize my art, and hopefully adapt with the times.

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