Are you afraid of the generative AI?
Long ago, when I lived with my mom, we used to discuss about the effects of digital disruption. When the two of us were having a dinner together.
“Watch the news. They wanted to employ the machinery and automation systems to cut costs, so the factory lay off its workers. Your career in the digital arts makes me really happy because your profession, in my opinion, cannot be replaced, as happened with the industrial labor.” My mom once said that.
Well, that was an incident before the arrival of the generative AI in 2022.
Some of you may already be convinced of the power of artificial intelligence. If you didn't, don't worry; in the following section, I'll discuss its potential.
In this article, I'll share my thoughts and discussion on the generative AI with two other experienced art company CEOs in Thailand.
We'll explore the ethical issues, legal issues, the future and the direction of the art industry, plus my personal guide to adapting my artist career for the coming AI revolution.
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“Hey, guys! Today we have two guests that will discuss and share their thoughts on the generative AI with us. I consider it an honor to have this conversation with them. OK, let me first introduce you to our guests.
“Hello, I'm Tatiya Sriyapan, Punica publishing’s co-founder. Punica is a publisher of several novel and comic book series like Garin, PAAM, and others. I currently own shares in Punica and has started a new business that is involved with both the game and the graphic novel.
“Hi, I'm Titepong Dankamphaengkaew, founder of Artimate Company Limited. Thailand-based Artimate is an art and graphic design firm. The studio's primary task is creating assets and artwork for mobile games that are played in Japan and China. In my studio I also has a group of anime-style artists working with me.
“Both Mr. Tatiya and Mr. Titepong have extensive experience dealing with and recruiting digital artists in a range of capacities, both on a long-term and short-term basis, so we can expect that they will share us their perspective from the standpoint of both an employer and client of the artists.
Alright! Let's dive into our topics.
The potential of AI
“Let me start our conversation with images that took me just 30 seconds per each one to generate from Novel AI.
“Novel AI is one of the generative AI platform based on Stable Diffusion. The algorithms will generate images based on text input from the user. They use machine learning to create art based on data sets. You just need to input your text prompt mentioning the artwork you want or you can upload a photo and let the AI generate a series from it.
Ok. Let's get back to our generated image from Novel AI.
It has quite a decent quality. However, the quality is not just one thing to be concerned about. I do think that we can practice and achieve at this point to create this stunning artwork.
But the big issue that worries me A LOT about the AI potential is “TIME.” As you may see, the AI can produce decent quality artwork in just a second.
“The AI can also create a variety of artistic styles. Not just concept and illustration art, but also vector art, traditional art style, website and icon design, magazine layout design, fashion and product design, and more.
Imagine the situation if the AI is a person. This person has the capability to create almost anything of decent quality in a matter of seconds.
So… Have you try generating images from the AI yet? What do you think about its potential?
“I've seen its potential when I was working with my team. As an entrepreneur, we'll absolutely use it. However, we're in the stage of researching to see how can we use it with our project. I also have a dedicated research team to study the AI.
“I feel that the quality and time saving potential of artificial intelligence is phenomenal. Even though I was concerned about their ability, I believe we can make use of it as a tool. The artist might not need to start from scratch. AI can assist us in lessening our workload.
“Actually I've been doing my own research to implement the AI with my working process. The AI didn't have only the potential to generate images but it can also make a variation of them. And this will come in handy when you're working on a design project.
What about the work ethics?
“I just wanted to ask you frankly; in your opinion, do you think it's unethical to use AI?
“I remember the time when painting digital art was considered unethical.
I was one of the first group of students to draw digitally on a computer, and the professor blamed us because he didn't consider it is an art. I've experienced it directly and am convinced by the development of digital art.
Therefore, I think that the ethical question will change depending on the situation of the society.
The same will happen with the AI. The AI age has just begun, and many individuals who grew up with digital art, their identity are linked to digital art, therefore it will be difficult for them.
Looking back, it was similar to the shift from the traditional art era to the digital art age.
While the use of AI may seem unethical now, this issue will eventually diminish and alter as society develops.
“I am confident that with the function of AI, by time, capitalism, and business society, everything will change and a new type of ethics will emerge.
When digital art was born, it was followed by a new style of working ethics. There are several definitions that have only occurred in the digital art era that individuals who only produce traditional art are unaware of. It will happen in the same way with AI art.
At the end of the day, being an artist is all about your identity. For the time being, identity is all over the place in AI-related art.
However, if society can grasp this concept, if we can create a new identity for AI-related art that is accepted by the overwhelming majority of society, then everyone will focus on the identity, while the constraints and ethical difficulties may be lessened.
I hope that this will happen in the future with AI art.
“I think it's a tool, therefore I don't think it's against the work ethic”
As Mr. Tatiya mentioned before, while we were in art school, our art mentor was still painting traditional art, and they kind of consider that digital art is cheating.
They used to believe that digital art did not require true art skills and it's like cheating since you can undo and redo everything.
When we utilize some auto action in Lightroom to make the lighting in an image appear lovely, traditional photographers may accuse us of cheating.
But, above all, these are tools. At the end of the day, we compete in the industry with productivity and speed.
“When we engage with clients in the real world, they don't mind so much about the process; they simply want a finished product with the fine quality that won't get them in legal trouble and send to them within the deadline.
“As I previously mentioned, if AI's usability and function are great, it will be the answer to the capitalist world. However, one issue that remains a concern and is still being debated in society is the copy right issue.
The legal issue
“What do you think about AI using images by many artists and some of the copyrighted images for machine learning without the consent of those image owners?
There's a wave of rage, resistance, or something like that. What do you think about this point?
“Okay, in my opinion, copyright is similar to ethics. In the future, it will be utilized in more new and unexpected ways.
If we go back to the Renaissance era or whatever, there was very little image copying case, so the answer is a lot more simple.
But in fact, if people copy images by making a new piece of work, or if images have been modified or inspired, it's learning. I think the same goes with the AI; it's learning process. The only difference is that AI learns very quickly.
Today, you may be concerned about copyright. But I'm sure in the future there will be a loophole for copyright to lower the limit.
I'm also interested in intellectual property law.
I believe that in the end, IP law will be defined by how much we can grant the right to others rather than defending the right owner. Even if you try your best to secure your intellectual property, almost everything in today's world is hackable.
“Hmm, actually this point is quite sensitive, but it's understandable. The fact is, we will judge whether it is copyright infringement or not after a successfully filed complaint.
The court will judge if there are really any damages to the plaintiff's business. If there is no lawsuit, and the person who is suffering doesn't sue, there won't be any copyright infringement anyway.
So, what people are debating about copyright on the internet right now is their own point of view. Actually, the owner of the property, the defendant, and the court determine what is right and wrong.
“If the property owner feels there's no damaged, or even if he think it's harmed, if he decides to file a case, he needs to show it in court and show how much damage is there. If proven guilty, it will be judged that the case is violation of copyright.
“If the features and functions of AI can benefit the capitalist world, the legal restriction will be reduced in the future.
Despite the numerous objections, it may be lawful in the end, but the extent to which we may utilize them will be debated.
“Do you think there should be an organization in charge of issuing AI regulations?
“This is the part I think is tough to answer. I think that in the end, the law never caught up. The current copyright law has yet to cover everything.
Because the regulation must be accepted by the masses, the problem is that some individuals will refuse to accept it. Maybe there will be organizations that try to control and issue regulations, but there will be people who will keep breaking them anyway.
For now I can't say if there should be regulations or not. It's going to be a lot more controversial. For example, in the Metaverse, the laws of the ordinary world still don't cover the Metaverse yet.
“Regarding the legal issue, I think that someone will try to develop a rule to control this in the future. But I believe it will be really tough to make it work.
Because of the continual evolution of AI, some individuals want this thing to expand quickly, while others don't want it to grow at all because he will miss out on an opportunity. It's also an issue of perspective.
“FYI: For now, the area of AI-generated images and copyright is complex and will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Here is the official statement from Stable Diffusion.
If you have any problem with the copyright or need to opt out from Novel AI database, you may contact them directly. And here is the statement from Danbooru that they suggest you to contact the AI platform instead of gallery website.
Will it stop?
“Next, do you believe the anti-AI movement oppose the use of AI will stop AI development?
Actually, painting AI isn't a new concept. I've seen the first white paper since five years ago.
“Well, there's no way. I can tell you that. There is absolutely no way to stop the AI development.
At the time, it was an AI project from Japan. It's not western stuff. They wanted to create an AI and trained it with the Japanese manga database to see if it could really draw.
I read it and was quite fascinated at the time. Then I spoke with my business mentor about any possible copyright concerns. That was five years ago.
At that time, AI technology and computer hardware were insufficient for this ambitious project, so it remained a struggle.
Everything that society is debating nowadays was the subject of our concern five years ago.
If you ask if it will stop evolving, the answer is no. It is now a reality after five years of development.
Furthermore, the AI has improved. It's even better than I imagined.
It was quite challenging five years ago. I didn't expect it would take only five years at first. The amount stated in the white paper for a fund was expected to be for ten years.
However, it only took 5 years, and we are now seeing results. I'm sure it doesn't stop. but will grow faster
“Of course, this is not possible. It's because the developer doesn't even consider this.
They concentrate on the investment. In terms of cost reduction and time savings, he believes that if the software can be marketed, he will sell it. He doesn't care about anything, that is, he develops and has a duty to develop and continue to develop.
Perspective of the employers
“From an entrepreneur's point of view, how do you think AI has good and bad effects on the business that you are doing right now?
“Evaluate it from the perspective of an entrepreneur. It's still useful.
It saves money and time, making it superior in every way. Of course, this is a perspective from the entrepreneur.
However, from the artist's perspective, I have collaborated with the artists and understand that they may have numerous questions about it.
From the artist's point of view, you may have to figure out how to use it and seek an answer about how it affects you. Is it beneficial for you or harmful for you?
In any case, from an entrepreneurial perspective, all entrepreneurs must strive for the highest income. As a result, it is beneficial since it significantly decreases the cost.
“Is it effective? It is unquestionably effective because these AI were designed to minimize working time.
People that use AI may just need an image. They may not be artistic, therefore they want to acquire an image without wasting time and money paying someone. It may be costly for them at times.
From the perspective of an entrepreneur, things are beneficial if they save people time and money. From the perspective of an artist, I believe that human artists' work will evolve into a craft work, similar to craft beer.
“That type of work is not said to be impossible to sell. In general, we can see that craft work is a form of work that can be sold. Because people are drawn to it as a piece of human art.
I believe it will be a different market that will not vanish.
The collaboration with AI
“Are you both interested in integrating artificial intelligence in your own business? How will you put them to use?
“Because I'm mainly focus on content creation, I'd say I use AI in practically every process. Our business is about creating a visual novel, and the artist's wages are quite expensive. The more gorgeous the image, the higher the price.
To cut costs, we'll recruit artists with a strong identity or who are well-known and utilize their work as a database for AI training. We'll offer them the incentive when we use the generated art based on their style once the AI has been trained using their artwork.
“So you're going to create an AI that can generate artwork in the style of any popular artist?
“Yes, this is our ongoing project. For example, if we believe Lunar's identity can be sold, we will make a contract with you to utilize your artwork as a database for AI. And we'll offer you a 1-3% incentive for each image generated by the AI. And we may name that AI “LUNARMIMI AI”.
From the perspective of an entrepreneur, the artist's mission is to develop their own identity. I didn't mean that you had to create a beautiful illustration, but that you had to increase your fame and popularity.
I don't think it's only me who intends to do such business. I believe that the other person in the world who is creating AI now thinks the same. I'm quite sure that this concept will be seen by the beginning of the next year.
“Great idea, I hadn't thought all this before. Are there any additional implementations?
“My company is different from Mr. Titepong's studio since I'm not an outsourced studio and I'm already focused on creating my own content. So it's a matter of trying to figure out how to develop content and build an identity that can be sold.
Consider it a smaller version of Disney. Because I make my own content to sell, I have to create my own signature. It differs from Mr. Titepong's studio's work, which employs AI to solve problems and minimize working time.
“So what about you, Mr. Titepong, how will you use the AI in your company?
“In my studio, I focus on the importance of retaining the artist's value.I don't want the artists to be concerned about being replaced by AI.
I mean, the artist's position may be altered, but I don't think they'll be fully replaced. I don't believe AI can replace my employee and I have no objections if my employee has an idea to apply AI.
I'm fine with it if it makes their jobs simpler and more productive.
“So, you mean you'll integrate AI in your business by allowing your employees to use it, right? Have you tried to implement it yet?
“Not yet, but I believe it will be beneficial because it will cover some of the artist's weakness.
As we all know, not every artist is an all-around specialist; he may be highly expert on one side but very weak on the other, so AI may step in and assist him there.
For example, a person may be extremely skilled at drawing characters but not so good at painting backgrounds; but, if there is an AI that allows him to complete the background painting efficiently, he can just place his character into it and make a small adjustment. His artwork is now much more beautiful than before. I believe they can collaborate with the AI here.
Furthermore, I believe that the artist may still create assets and sell them as data, similar to image stock. You create a picture and store it in the database. Allow others to browse at your images, use them, and buy them.
A scenario in the next 5 years
“How do you see the future in the art industry five years from now? Whether AI will replace most 2D artists over the next five years. Is there a significant decline in the employment of 2D artists?
“Let us split the next five years into two parts, in my opinion. Five years is just too long. You can see how big AI has grown in just three months.
In the next 1-2 years the number of digital artists will grow, with many new digital artists joining the field. Even now, there is an abundance of content but there is still a lot of work available.
There is still a lot of content development in Japan, Korea, and China, so even with AI, they still need a lot of people to utilize AI
I don't mean that they will hire artists to be artists, but that they will hire artists to utilize AI, therefore I'm confident that the number of artists will expand in the next 1-2 years, but it will be an artist utilizing AI.
There will be a new field of artists who are skilled in art theory, basic painting technique, color theory, and the ability to utilize prompt and comprehend how AI works. It will evolve into a new type of technical artist.
“This group of artists will undoubtedly grow significantly in the coming year. However, I believe natural selection will occur within the next two years, after the amount is quite great.
There used to be a lot more traditional artists, right? The number of traditional artists has not diminished significantly since the early advent of digital art. However, as digital art became practical, traditional art companies rapidly faded away.
My acquaintances own a traditional art firm that used to be at the top of Thailand before being closed down within a year of entering the digital art period.
Natural selection occurs quickly. At first, it will be a phase of harvesting experience for individuals to learn more about AI.
But after two years… two years may be far too long. Actually, the competition will be fiercer next year. AI applications will be released increasingly over the next year. Natural selection will begin after the end of next year.
“What is it about natural selection? Did you mean the downfall of the unskilled?
“Not really. I mean, some of them are highly skilled in the digital art field but not highly skilled in the technical AI digital art field.
“So, in your viewpoint, even if we have great artistic skills, avoiding adaptation may lead to our downfall?
“Yes. Even those who aren't very bad at drawing might have a chance to be gone if they do not adapt to technical digital artists and learn more about AI.
The natural selection I'm talking about is simple. If you do commercial work, companies will wonder, “Why pay so much?” They can't even use AI to increase work quality and cut down on labor hours. If employment is lower and they work the same amount of time, the value will be reduced as well. They will be naturally removed.
“Mr. Titepong, how about you? Do you believe that employment in the 2D artist sector will decline?
“Of course, even if I don't, other companies will.
I believe they recruited artists to improve their productivity. However, with the advent of AI, manufacturing became quicker. It could be enough for his requirements if it operated quickly. He could wish to decrease some costs. Artists are one of his most significant costs that may be reduced.
These artists may need to improve their skills in order to control these AI and create additional value for themselves.
This is not to say that those who aren't skilled at drawing are always bad. If your drawing ability is average but you are skilled at employing AI, you have the potential to be an excellent artist.
If you have a strong at story telling, you don't have to be good at drawing accurate anatomy or perspective. You just need to understand the camera angle or color theory and apply it to AI, then you could be a decent artist in this era.
It doesn't always matter if someone is talented at drawing or not. However, the factor is whether you adapt to it or not.
“So, it seems AI is not a fad for you guys, right?
“No, I think it is a generational shift. Aside from AI that can generate photos, there are so many AI that can do a variety of works, such as AI that can expand photographs or improve the clarity of the image, or change the color of the image.
AI is used as a tool in a variety of fields. It is difficult to say that nothing will change. It is undeniably evolving. Even our own, now we must face the fact that we must adapt. If we don't change we can't survive.
“AI has been spread in almost every business, movies, games, etc. It's already everywhere, so I think that it's definitely not just a temporary hype.
“What are your thoughts on the art industry's future after the advent of the AI?
“It will definitely lead to something new; a new economy that responds to AIs. These cycles are inevitable. But we haven't figured out exactly what will happen.
I believe that commercial art will become more commercial. However, the artist's values are split into a different subject.
Even though we live in the digital age, traditional artists continue to market their work. If you're intending to sell your identity through traditional work. Some traditional artworks are even more expensive so that we can't even touch them.
These things have been changed. You just have to chose your own path, whether you want to pursue commercial art or sell your identity like a traditional artist.
However, you cannot complain. Whatever path you take, it has a possibility of success or it might fail in any case. You must make a decision quickly. If you take too long to make a decision, you will miss out on an opportunity.
Finally, the value of your work lies in your identity; identity, I believe, is the value. It will remain in any case, regardless of new tools emerge.
“Communication, I believe, is the heart of being an artist.
If our visual storytelling has its own personality and is our style, it is hard to be replaced.
“It is true that the gap between AI and humans will eventually close. But I believe in the worth of each artist and the usefulness of individual communication. Regardless of the period.
The employer's demand
“What skills would you look for if you were to recruit an artist from now on? Are artistic skills still valued? What is the additional artist's skill set the company is looking for?
“If it were me, I would… No, I've started looking. I started discussing with the team to find a digital artist that can use AI, probably requiring more knowledge than just painting.
The digital artist we seek must comprehend color theory, understand how to work with software, design the proper prompts for AI, have a strategy for getting assets into a database, and have art talents at a level that can complete the artwork.
“For example, he should be skilled of composition, color theory, depth of field, then he can randomize useful pictures from AI to combine with his work.
“Actually, I'm researching into this working process.
In the previous month, I experimented with my work. In my drawing, I created the character and the composition. I drew a character, then utilized AI to produce the background and additional elements like Christmas trees and jewels. After that, I mix them all.
“It will be as you said, because it's challenging to use AI to adjust the composition of an image.
We need an artist who has the ability to design the composition and the capacity to combine and put them together. This is what we will need in an artist from now on.
“Simply defined, it's a selfie camera on a phone with functionalities that instantly make the photo appear lovely.
However, the individual taking the shot needs some expertise in order to capture it at a nice angle. Finally, much like an industrial machine, someone must be capable of controlling them.
“You imply that artistic ability is still vital. And you must know how to utilize it in combination with AI, right?
“Painting abilities are becoming less important. However, knowledge is still crucial.
“It's not only about using AI. But you must make it work.
“We need a technical artist who knows how AI works, understands programming code to some extent, and has a decent art theory to understand composition adjustment, color, and design.
People who lack a fundamental knowledge of art will be gone first. You should not skip the fundamentals of art theory, such as light and shadow, composition, and color use.
The artist's essential skills for the future
“As a company owner and the artist's employer, what skills do you believe are critical for artists to develop in order to be prepared for future changes as AI becomes more popular?
“I think there are two important things to support you, the first is identity. People will now buy or favor identity over your own painting skills. Identity is how the world recognizes you.
Taste is one identity you may develop. You must understand why this image is so beautiful, such as Andy Warhol's color matching or visual style, which he introduced to the world even though no one had done it before. The creation of new styles or color combinations according to tastes or eras
The second important thing is storytelling. Storytelling is one way to build your identity. It doesn't matter how gorgeous your image is; but how it communicates tells us what it's about and what emotions it conveys.
What artists should focus on is taste and storytelling, because these two things are difficult for AI to create originality.
“For me, the answer is similar to Mr. Tatiya's.
As I said, the artist's job is communication. And we must develop that communication to be clear and elegant. Of course, these things are fundamental to artists, but with the advent of AI, it raises the bar.
Another thing that must be added for sure is to have the skill of using AI to control it. It was like, you might have used Photoshop in the past. When Clip Studio Paint with interesting functionality came out, you switched to Clip Studio Paint in order to use new tools such as 3D models or its asset library.
This is important. It's about learning and developing your tools to make them as efficient as possible.
“And all of this is the opinion of entrepreneurs and employers working with artists. Many thanks to both of you for taking the honor to join the discussion and share your valuable opinions. Hopefully these comments will be helpful for the artists in planning their path in the future.
My art career strategies
I hope you find our AI discussion interesting. After speaking with Mr. Tatiya and Mr. Titepong, I now have a lot of ideas for future strategies. If you're interested, here's my core plan for a competitive art career in the new age of AI.
Select the path
I must first decide if I would pursue commercial art or sell my identity via original artwork. This is an important point that I was not aware of. I believe it is time to make a decision and focus on the route I have chosen.
These two pathways are not the same. I like creating my own artwork and content, but I have to do commercials for money. From now on, I'll try to reduce the commercial work in order to produce more original content and expanding my social media presence.
My ideal original work to commercial work ratio is 80:20. I intend to earn more money from my original work so that I may keep to enjoy drawing my original art.
However, if you prefer doing commercial work, it's completely ok. You must make your own decision depending on your interests, skills, and situation. Whatever path you take, I believe the most important thing is to study more and prepare for the future.
Be open minded and learn more about the ability of AI
My next plan is to do AI research and experimentation in order to find a way to integrate AI into the working process.
To be honest, I believe I should be open-minded and study as much as possible in order to stay ahead of my competition and be the industry leader. I have a love-hate relationship with AI; every time I talk about it, I get haters, which is extremely depressing. But I can't allow these feelings stop me from moving forward.
I'd love to learn how to use the AI more ethical and effective. Wether it's good or bad, I think the world need to learn and findout together. I'm trying to find the way I can enjoy drawing and using AI to help me with my work at the same time to reduce my workload and working time.
I believe that the best approach for me to do it is to learn and adjust as I go. That being said, this is my strategy, and you don't have to follow if you do not wish to.
Learn how to build a strong personal brand
During our talk, Mr. Tatiya stressed the importance of “identity,” which caught my interest. When AI first appeared, I wondered how humans might defeat them. What is it that we have that the AI don't?
Mr. Tatiya's statement on identity inspires me. I think “identity” is the same as “personal branding” in business field. Then I realized, I believe this is the single thing AI cannot achieve. It is incapable of generating originality.
The AI cannot create anything it has not learned from the database. So, if you truly want to defeat the AI, the only option is to increase your originality and personal branding.
Mr. Tatiya further stated that the identity he described is about how the world recognizes you, not only the quality of your art. This is my favorite part.
Even if creating great personal branding is difficult, I believe I can learn more about it and I encourage you to learn more too.
If you want to start, I recommend this video to help you understand the basic of the personal branding.
Develop my storytelling
Actually, I enjoy drawing illustrations with a backstory, but I currently do a lot of commercial work and don't have time to make my own pieces like I used to.
My next target is to create more original artwork that can communicate a story in a single image. I have a lot of ideas and stories to create and tell via my illustrations. Now I believe it is time to consider it. Maybe I can create a drawing theme and turn it into a photo set.
If you want to develop a stronger identity presence, one of the finest things you can do is think about developing your storytelling skills via your art.
As previously said, you can begin by drawing a photoset. Alternatively, you might create a character design set based on the same concept to spark your audience's interest.
I hope this post was useful to you, whether you are a student, a hobbyist, or a professional artist. Everything depends on your choice of action. For me, the arrival of AI is a massive wake-up call. It forced me to adapt and become stronger. At the end of the day, humans try to adapt, and I believe I am better prepared for any transitions.
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