The Art of AI: Understanding the Process Behind Generative Art and Design

Artificial Intelligence art or AI art is any form of art created through AI. It can be text-to-image models or musical generators. But in this article, we will primarily talk about text-to-image models and other visual art generators with artificial intelligence at their core. To better understand how AI art is created and address the controversies around it we have to first look at its elaborate definition.

What is AI art?

Here’s some surprising information for you-AI art was first introduced in 1956. Since its launch, researchers in the field of artificial intelligence have argued the ethical consequences of art created by AI. This is just a sophisticated way of the age-old Man vs. Robot debate, which still has reached no objective conclusion. But what AI does specifically depends on its algorithms. Usually, a machine-learning system consists of a data bank and a model that analyzes/transforms the data.

Artists who use AI to generate art, essentially collaborate with computer programs that mimic the artistic nature of the human mind to create a never-ending stream of unique visual works. While some artists have embraced the potential of this art form, others are not used to the ethical dilemmas it proposes. However, there is no doubt that AI art is here to stay. Because we are already witnessing AI-art generating pop album covers and even on the walls of traditional art galleries. It has also helped in boosting short and minority-run businesses to save money on graphic design. Moreover, it is changing the notion of the relationship between computers and creativity.

What is even more interesting, AI assistants can also help recreate long-lost art historical masterpieces, thus preserving key pieces of history. In conclusion, AI uses a set of algorithms to mimic human intelligence and generate an inspired but unique flow of novel visual work. And although the levels of autonomy can vary, AI art cannot be created without the consistent collaboration of the artist and the self-learning machine.

Does AI steal?

This is a tricky question. Since many human artists have claimed that they are visibly out of work since the AI art tools became available to the general mass. One of the most talked about legal procedures against AI stealing other artists’ works is the lawsuit filed by US-based attorneys Matthew Butterick and Joseph Saveri. Which was filed on behalf of a group of contemporary US-based artists.

Let’s look at the case more intently to understand why the claim of stealing. In 2022, Kelly McKernan witnessed her name being used as a text prompt in AI tools. Upon close inspection, she found that her name had been used to create art over 12,000 times.  A Web site called Metaverse Post published a list, where they suggested “Kelly McKernan” as a term to feed an A.I. generator in order to create “Lord of the Rings”-style art. This Tennesse-based artist was not alone in this struggle.

McKernan was admittedly shocked and freaked out. Moreover, she feared that the AI- rt really did look like hers. Since AI could even match her style of brushstrokes and not give her any credit, it is understandable how this felt like stealing. After the discovery, McKernan along with other US-based artists who felt the same way filed the lawsuit. When producing an image, these generators present it to you as copyright-free. But in reality, AI has to feed off of existing artworks. And that, at times, can be borderline unethical.

The issue of copying art is sensitive and courts have even sometimes ruled in favor of the copier sometimes. And even though the artists have called the AI artwork derivative you can still argue that “using” any image from training data is not at all similar to being derivative.

Is AI art really art?

Recently in a gallery in San Francisco, there was an art exhibit called “Artificial Imagination”. And as you can already guess, the exhibit consisted of art exclusively created by AI. So, it is without question that the traditional art world is coming around to the idea of AI generating actual works of art. But the opinions around this are varied.

For some people, thinking artificial intelligence can “create” art, seems preposterous. But there are many claims of AI creating actual art. For example, researchers from Rutgers University, Facebook AI research, and the College of Charleston have developed a type of GAN. And this GAN, they claim can create original works of art. They are calling it the CAN or Creative Adversarial Network.

But AI art can be called “derivative” or in extreme cases “stolen” when the models get lazy and modify other artists’ images without creating a new one. This can happen due to a lack of detail in the training process and diffusion models are especially prone to this.

How does an AI art generator work?

AI art generators from the text can follow different kinds of models. Two of which, which we will discuss below-

Generative Adversarial Networks

This is the initial self-learning model for creating computerized visual works. In this particular model, there are two kinds of networks that have essentially opposing functions. The first one is responsible for generating or creating images. But the second one, a discriminator, determines whether the image is real or fake. So, these two opposing networks, pitted against each other in this model generated the initial AI art. That is why its name is Adversarial Networks.

Diffusion Models

However, text-to-image AI models have come a long way from GANs. And diffusion models, are a completely different approach to art created by AI. In this new process, millions of images are fed to the model. And these images also come with specific words describing them. So, the models are able to make the correlation between a text and an image. Through the process, the network also learns to infer other conceptual information about the world, such as what colors or elements would make an image “feel” like it belonged to specific artists.

When the training is complete, the generator takes text prompts and creates low-resolution images. Then, it gradually adds details, and the process repeats to create a full-blown picture. Diffusion models claim to not just replicate or modify existing images but create everything from scratch. This approach does have some unique benefits

  • These models are easier to train.
  • These models generate more realistic images.
  • It is easier to maneuver and control what image it produces.

Benefits of AI art

Let’s see how creating art through AI can be beneficial for artists-

  • Increased Productivity: With an AI art generator, you will never have an artist’s block. And your current projects will take up a lot less time to finish. Moreover, you can create exclusive and beautiful visuals without having to learn complex editing software. Say goodbye to stock images for your blog and create beautiful, unique, engaging feature images yourself.
  • Increased control: It probably goes without saying but you will have infinitely more control over how your images turn out than you would normally. You can easily adjust the lighting, color, and textures, and even add specific kind brushstrokes.
  • Limitless imagination: It is not often that we get to create something which is this true to our imagination, without any physical handicap.

Is AI art copyrighted?

No, the art generated by an AI is never subject to copyright. But, the art AI draws from to create said piece might be. And if one is not careful this can lead to lawsuits. In 2023 itself, Getty Images has a lawsuit against an AI generator.

Now that you know what AI art is and how it is created time to check out some AI tools that are going to change your digital perspective forever.

How do people make AI art?

AI art is created by first, entering a text prompt in an AI tool. Secondly, allowing the computer to create an image based on the description. In addition, these text-to-image systems use a range of complex technology. Such as deep learning algorithms and generative adversarial networks.

How are AI images generated?

AI text-to-image generators usually use a machine learning technique called artificial neural networks which can receive instructions in the form of words.

Can AI create original art?

Yes, an artist can use AI to create original art. Because AI can create any form of art from popular art to cubic art. And if your prompt is original and unique it can create art that is completely yours. However, that does not mean it will not draw inspiration from previous artworks by other people.

How do I turn an image into AI art?

Although you can enter only text prompts to generate images, AI art can also be created by uploading an image for inspiration with your initial text command.

Are AI-generated images real?

Most images that AI generates are CGI or computer-generated photographs. But other forms of art can also be created through AI. Although there are controversies on whether AI art can be considered real art, some important galleries have given it the honor.

Leave a Comment