Is the world being taken over by artificial intelligence (AI)? Am I scared of losing my job to AI? As a writer and illustrator, do I use AI?
I get these questions all the time at networking events, during client meetings, at social gatherings, and in my email inbox. So, it’s probably about time I clarify my stance on AI, and how I personally feel comfortable using it at e.g. Creative Solutions. I’ve been putting off this post for a while, because it’s such a touchy subject for some people. So, here’s a caveat; this is just my opinion, and as AI develops, I’m sure my opinion will change too.
Using AI as a Writer
If you’ve found me through my social channels, you might not know that, as well as being an illustrator, I also offer writing services. It’s true! I offer ghostwriting and editing services, copywriting for businesses, and I write blogs for clients too.
When it comes to using AI as a writing aid, I am a huge fan! I utilise spellcheck and Grammarly to help make sure that I’m not writing gobbledygook (or looking like a massive twat who offers writing services but can’t string a sentence together to save my own life).
I also use ChatGPT regularly, which surprises a lot of people. Just like spellcheck, I view the likes of ChatGPT and Bard as tools that help me create better written content and connect with more people all over the world. Since I mostly work alone, they’re great for bouncing around ideas when I hit writer’s block and exploring ways I may be able to write things in a more engaging manner.
I don’t view these tools as a replacement for the services I offer, but if you’re on a tight budget and need words written, but don't care so much about SEO or tone, they do the job (mostly), just be sure to always fact check content AI produces! I see lots of people saying that with X prompt you can get incredible writing out of AI. Honestly, I feel like I’ve tried it all, for me, it takes longer to fluff about with that, and then edit what is produced, than it does to just write it myself (and my clients say I do a much better job anyway).
Using AI as an Illustrator
Now, in my opinion, using AI as an illustrator is a lot more complicated, and less ethical.
If you haven’t used Midjourney, DALL-E, or one of the many AI art generators out there, I actually highly recommend messing around with them, they can be a lot of fun! But here’s the thing; they all suck.
The trouble is (and there are plenty of ongoing lawsuits because of this), all of these AI art generators have been trained using art without artists’ permission. Now, sure, we all put our art out there on the internet understanding that it may be used in ways we did not consent to (my art has been downloaded and reposted on social media without my consent before, and that’s a s#!t feeling, but I’m sure it’s been used in other ways that I’m unaware of that I’d feel even worse about. Unfortunately, that’s the price I’m being forced to pay so that I can share my art with people and make a living, but it doesn't mean I support it.
Because AI uses stolen art to learn, and create its own art, there’s a solid argument that what it produces breaches copyright and can’t be used to make money off of. My personal opinion is that using AI-generated art for anything other than personal use is unethical, and honestly, AI art isn’t that good, if you look closely at it. Chances are, if you choose to use AI art on a product or book, people will know (maybe only subconsciously) that something about it is off, and they’ll be less likely to buy your product.
AI art generators will get better with time, no doubt. But, ignoring whether your conscience can handle using it, there's a lot that AI just can't do. I'm very intentional with my digital art and use textured brushes to give depth and create the illusion that it was created on paper with traditional drawing tools, so far, I can't get AI to replicate it.
***If you’re in the know, you might have heard recently about a certain company offering for artists who use their software to opt out of having their art used by their AI. While I support their sentiment, there’s also been some drama about them not following through on that promise when people do opt out and I think it’s best we don’t dive into that here.
How YOU Can Utilise AI
If you’re looking to publish a book, then you should definitely use AI to get your ideas flowing! But not in your finished product.
It’s great for helping to self-edit your work and catch any silly missing words, or the the pesky double “the” our brains always skip over when we read our own writing. Be warned, if you're writing anything other than a professional email or a scientific report, Grammarly will probably try to lead you astray sometimes, but it's still useful for typos.
AI may also help you to discover the style you’d like for your illustrations and that may help you to find the right illustrator and convey what you’d like from them. It can also be super helpful for considering perspectives and layouts that you wouldn’t have dreamed up alone!
AI art can be fun to play with, but do yourself a favour, if you’re looking to self-publish a book, or you need art for your business, go to a professional. It may take a little longer, but I promise you, you’ll have a way better experience and the finished product will be a whole lot nicer. Plus, we can guarantee that your characters will look consistent on each page, and all have the right number of fingers and toes.
The future of my job (and yours)
Here’s the thing, when calculators first came out, I’m sure everyone panicked that no one would be needed to move the beads on an abacus anymore. But now that we all know how to use a calculator, we can see them for what they are; an incredible tool.
Do I think we should be cautious about using AI? Absolutely! Do I think AI can replace the work I do? It can certainly replace some of the more boring jobs I do, giving me more time to do the creative work I love! Do I think we should be afraid of taking over the world and none of us having jobs anymore? Definitely not.
But hey, if (Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning truly is impossible and Tom Cruise can't save us from AI, so) AI does take over the world, none of us will have jobs and we’ll all be free to focus on developing the one thing AI doesn't have; creativity. I don’t know about you, but a world where AI does all the boring stuff while we all focus on the arts sounds pretty good to me. And if we end up there in my lifetime, I’ll be glad that I got a head start creating art people value!
Speaking of art and stories created by humans; my latest illustration project, Wise ole Whisky is available for preorder!