Will creativity be a thing of the past? The impact of AI on creative roles

3rd April 2023

I have been thinking about the future of artistic creativity. I admit to having very little artistic talent myself… so this is more looking on, than being personally affected…but hold that thought!

When magazine publishing moved to a desktop publishing model, graphic artists and illustrators previously armed with paintbrushes and ink were forced into new technical skills or faced becoming redundant and now it would seem those same roles are facing another existential crisis. Only this time, it may be their creativity itself that is being replaced rather than the means of expression.

In a chat with a client, I was reminded that Photoshop (other products are available) is a powerful and complex tool that requires both technical user interface and operative skills but also still requires creative skill and flair to produce a visually pleasing outcome. Now, with tools like the Mid Journey AI “bot,” those of us not blessed with artistic skill can perform the roles of illustrator and photo editors. The bot allows anyone to define, using natural language, the sort of image they need and will produce a new artistic work to meet the needs. The more detailed and specific the instruction; the more perfectly tailored the image will be. The image will be a “mash-up” of other images that were originally created by artists, but will make use of such a variety of images that it will not appear as a copy.

On this basis, the skill set needed for a traditionally artistic role will be more about the ability to articulate what is needed than being able to produce what is needed; a triumph for those with verbal skills over those with creative ones. But as much as this helps me create better party invitations and opens up the possibility of a complete career change, I am uncertain if this is overall positive for all.

And it seems I am not the only one to have this realisation. Last week, the reality of where AI is taking us is dawning on many including those most closely tied to the creation of the tools. So much so, that in an open letter to their own community, industry leaders have called for a hiatus on training of AI tools in order to give regulators time to consider the implications of AI and the potential need for boundaries on the developments.