Creator INTERVIEW: Jon Porter
In these creator interview posts, I’ll be asking a series of questions to people using AI tools for their work or artwork.
I hope you will enjoy the read and learn one or two useful things ;).
Madebyai: Hey Jon, we met on LinkedIn and you are also a co-founder of the AI/CC LinkedIn group (we are something like 9-11 co-founders now I think) and Seth Pyrzynski is the founder. We just hit 3,000 members! That’s huge growth!
You share a lot on LinkedIn about Generative AI Art (as it seems we should call it now) and I believe your thoughts and insights will be useful for our readers!
Can you tell us who you are and how you ended up doing AI-generated art?
Jon: Hi Benjamin, thanks so much for the invitation to share! I’ve been into art and design since I was a kid. As a kid, I wanted to create my own comic books, newspapers, magazines, and books. I did my best with the materials laying around the house. I didn’t change much over the years. In college I was into printmaking, illustrated book production, graphic design, and digital design.
As a kid, my visions were bigger than my abilities, my materials, and often even beyond reality. I remember as a little kid telling my mom I wanted to make a pterodactyl. She suggested collecting sticks for the bones and leaves for the wings. I was like, no, you do not get it! I want to make a LIVE pterodactyl! I’m sure it was frustrating to be my parent.
And it wasn’t just dinosaurs. I wanted to be an Egyptologist, Entomologist, Printmaker, Author, Astrophysicist, Roboticist, Art Historian, Biologist, etc. Just about everything. And I dove into each subject with passion, burned out, moved on to a new topic. This pattern repeated itself through college and into adulthood.
And for the most part, all the knowledge has been bottled up in me. Brewing. Building up pressure and waiting for release.
Back in July, I came across posts about the new AI art tool DALL·E mini (no relationship to DALL·E 2). It was fun at first but after using it on a project I was over it. The quality and consistency of the results weren’t there yet.
In August I heard about Midjourney. I tried out the free version one day and had some of the ugliest results ever. I tried to make a Coke can and Nike shoes and they were so bad I nearly walked away forever. But the next day I tried again, had more fun, used up my free credits, and got the $10/m plan. Within 2 hours I was out of credits again so I upgraded to the $30/m “unlimited” plan.
I was hooked.
With Midjourney, I was able to create images of everything I’d ever imagined. I could experiment with words to create graphics. It was, and still is, magic. Every day I can focus on a new subject, explore the boundaries of the tool and level up a little bit.
There is a slight delay between sending the text prompt and receiving the resulting image. It’s like the anticipation before opening a gift every time. It’s addictive and there’s no turning back for me.
First Attempts in Midjourney:
Madeyai: Madebyai: I am really curious about your skills and experiences, you have a background in graphic design, what was your first impression when you discovered generative ai?
Jon: My first impression of generative ai was awe! I was shocked by the results.
I have a nontraditional background in graphic design. My first job out of college, besides working in restaurants, was at a graphic design agency. But I was hired to do sales. So I made the best of the situation and learned the tools and processes whenever there was opportunity. I’ve kept that up at all my other jobs and in that sense, a lot of what I know is self taught through just trying to do new things. I continue to learn every day and have met some incredible designers on LinkedIn. I learn from them every day, whether they know it or not!
Retro Pixelated Fruit:
Madebyai: You are a brand strategist and I think that’s interesting because you probably have some insider’s insights. I am curious about how brands are approaching (or not) generative ai so far?
Jon: From conversations, I know that brands are thinking and watching. I know they are psyched and want to figure out what to do with these tools. Small, agile, and future leaning companies are already using AI images for inbound marketing. Same goes for individuals working on their personal brands.
The list of times that AI art has been used IRL is both short and long. There’s a short list of times I know that AI art has been used for something that was truly in the public space (signs, illustrations, etc) and a long list of things like NFTs or art prints that are available for sale or download.
I don’t know if major brands have used it. I haven’t heard that yet. Nothing like Nike, for example. However, Nike just launched a new platform for buying, selling, and collecting Nike branded digital assets. So they now have a space to explore AI art if they want to. I think that type of experimental space is where we’ll see AI start to get popularized before it is everywhere. Eventually, AI art will just be another tool in the background like Photoshop. But right now, it’s pretty mind blowing!
Madebyai: I am curious to know if you managed to make some money from providing generative ai art services?
Jon: At BRANDEST, my business partner and wife, Kristen Tippit, and I have provided AI services in a number of ways. We’ve sold images to individuals and companies for use in social media, websites, and video courses. We’ve sold images through Adobe Stock as well. We’ve done some work for our solopreneur friends for free, to help them boost their profile and support their efforts. We’ve also consulted for companies interested in using AI Art to replace stock photos and level up their brands.
So yes, there is a marketplace, many marketplaces. But it necessitates companies that are brave, experimental, and honestly, they need to be a little edgy and want to be rockstars. To step away from boring design or stock photos isn’t as easy as we might think. Stock images feel safe, require no explanation, and are tested by the other people who have already used them.
We’ve also run educational workshops to share the tools and skills. We want everyone to have access and to know how to use them to create beautiful images, for business and fun.
What’s most exciting to us is coaching and consulting. We love hearing from people who are on the cutting edge of tomorrow’s technology. We want to live and thrive in that space where magic happens. We see opportunity with the evolution of the internet and the move to virtual spaces.
This is also where big brands are going to show up. This is where we will meet them as consumers and experience everything they have to offer. It’s an exciting space to be in and we’re always looking for more ways to connect there!
Madebyai: What do you think is the next big thing that is going to happen in the next couple of weeks/months, ai-tech related?
Jon: The future will arrive in several ways for sure. First, the tools will keep getting better. Midjourney and the other AI Art tools will increase their ability to produce incredible images. The interface will improve and be more user friendly. The tool’s ability to understand our plain language requests will also get better.
Second, we’re already starting to see text-to-3d images and text-to-video. They’re not great but they demonstrate the potential. These tools are going to evolve as fast as the text-to-2d so we’ll start to see them and experience their potential.
Third, we’ll start to see more acceptance and use of AI in branding. It might be subtle or even invisible to us. For example, if someone at Coke uses AI to brainstorm an image and then uses other digital tools to produce a final result, we might never know AI was involved. On the other end of the spectrum, we might see a Super Bowl commercial made entirely with AI and the point will be to show how edgy the brand is! And there will be a lot of content that will fall in this spectrum.
There’s a lot to come. And it’s pretty exciting. It’s also super early so anyone who is interested should dive in. A great resource is the AI/CC group on LinkedIn.
Madebyai: With your experience using the tools, you probably discovered a couple of tips and tricks. Are there some you would like to share?
Jon: So I’ve been doing AI art for about 4 months. I try to internalize the process so that I can create more intuitively. I am process oriented but I’m not much into creating documentation. I try to get into a flow each day and there’s not always rhyme or reason to my prompts. I like it that way because I love to be surprised. I’m always happy to share my prompts, tips, and tricks on my posts and encourage everyone to ask questions.
What I’d like to share is how I organize my Discord server. Maybe that doesn’t sound as exciting as prompt magic, but it can help make us much more efficient and effective so we can focus on fun.
First of all, I’m assuming the reader has created their own Discord server and invited the Midjourney bot to their server. If not, do that asap. Experimenting in the chaos of a shared public server was not fun for me.
On my 3rd day of experimenting in Midjourney, I realized that I had to endlessly scroll up and down to get to my prompts. So I decided to create a new Channel for each day. But then I had several ideas in each Channel and no idea where they were hiding.
Now I make a new channel for each concept that I start working on. I may create several channels each day. I organize the channels by creating monthly Categories to organize them under. Sometimes I create too many Channels in a month and need to create multiple month categories, like November part 1, November part 2, etc. I think there is a max of 50 Channels per Category.
If I need to search for an old prompt or concept, I usually just recall how long ago I created it and jump to that month. You can also use the search function.
I use descriptive titles for each of the Channels and leave them in the order that I created them, so it’s a bit like an art journal as well.
I also have a Category for unfinished concepts and works in progress. Unfinished means that I lost interest and may not return to it. Work In Progress is a place to hold onto what I think are good ideas and possibly move them into a month Category.
Madebyai: What is the next thing you are going to try using Ai tools?
Jon: I love working in Midjourney. I know there are so many other tools out there but my time is limited by work and family so I can’t do it all. I’m curious about working in video and in 3D. They sound edgy and next level. I’m not sure what my entry point will be but I’m looking forward to the new challenges and I’m inspired by the work of my friends.
I’m also most excited about working with others. This could be collaborating with other creators or working with new companies on their brands. I think about how in the 90s companies had the opportunity to get online first and make a big splash! That’s where we’re at with AI Art and related digital technologies. I wake up excited every day to be a part of this!
Super Mario Brothers Origami Style:
Madebyai: Is there anything else you want to share with our audience?
Jon: So much of my enjoyment comes from the AI Art community. I’ve been a creator all my life but didn’t have interest in sharing with an audience. The AI community is so incredibly supportive and it’s given me so much love and education. That’s why I keep returning every day.
On the 3rd day of creating on Midjourney, I decided to share the results on LinkedIn. Kristen was already deep into LinkedIn. I saw her having fun and building community every day and I wanted in! But I had no entry point, no reason to be there. I’d had an account for 10 years but no sense of purpose. So I shared my art.
It’s such a surprising place to share art! I recommend LinkedIn for anyone who wants a supportive community of high achievers. I’ve made dozens of friends on LinkedIn and a couple thousand connections. That’s crazy to me.
Many of my friends and colleagues are listed in our AI Art Top 100 Creators and Innovators list. Definitely check that out. If you’re looking for support, learning, or just have a question, I can help you find the right person to talk to from our community.
Madebyai: Where can people find out more about you?
Jon: LinkedIn is the best place to connect with me. Definitely send me a connection request!
Top 100 List: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6990294111488536576/
I want to say a big thank you to Jon for sharing these insights with us, check also some of his creations that I added in the “ studies “ section.
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