Gen AI is a game changer for Small agencies like this one
Sherry has studied art and a strong opinion about it
Hey Sherry, we discovered your work on LinkedIn and we thought it was really inspiring, we are together in the AICC community and in the top 100 ai artists on LinkedIn as well. Can you tell us who you are and how you ended up doing AI-generated art?
Sherry: Hi. My name is Sherry Horowitz and I run a boutique design company called Sherry Horowitz Design Co. You can check out samples of my work at www.sherryhorowitz.myportfolio.com. Thanks for inviting me into this space to have a conversation.
I have been involved in the arts since I was a young girl. I started my early education and career in illustration and advertising design. For a while I took a break from the visual arts to pursue a Masters of Poetry, studying under American poets like Maxine Kumin (Pulitzer Prize), Gerald Stern (National Book Award) and Carol Frost (National Endowment for the Arts Award) and many others. I went on to publish many pieces of my writing over a span of 7 years.
I got into GenAI Art because I realized that the dynamics in the design world and the economics of a digital marketplace were rapidly upending the norms of the past. When I decided to open my own company, I knew I wanted to stay ahead of that change. As soon as I found GenAI Art, I experimented with it and saw its massive potential.
As a new, small agency, it’s been a game changer. I now have the ability to produce 360 degree work for clients. In the past, the work I do would take so much time, but also require a team of graphic designers, art directors and photographers. Now I’m doing art direction, creative direction, graphic design, package design and photoshoots all by myself with incredible results.
In this series, we meet interesting founders and creators from the AI scene and discuss with them not only their take on this new era of technology, but maybe learn a few secret tricks from them. If you’d like to share your story and tips, you can get in touch with us here.
We are really curious about your thoughts around the elephant in the room. As someone who studied art at university and as a designer, would you say that GenAI is art or not and why ?
This is a really loaded question and there’s a lot to unpack here, so bear with me. In short, in my humble opinion, Art is art no matter how it’s made or who makes it. But, let me frame the question a different way.
When we question the artist’s credentials, we are being protective of art. We are really asking what is the value of art that is visually pleasing, even arresting, if the author of that art isn’t a skilled or educated artisan? The fundamental question is really getting at the value of art and how we esteem it.
Art, in its purest sense, the art we celebrate and value, (and this is the driving idea behind your question), is a form of expression that transforms both the artist and the spectator.
What we are protecting is not only the skill, the dedication to craft, but also the ideas that transform us, the critical thinking and philosophical point of view expressed in art. The most powerful kind of artists aim to synthesize fact and emotion. Their work investigates and interprets the tension between subjective and objective truth.
Such investigative artistic expression is the highest form of art and reveals deep truths about the human condition. This is the art we are revering and celebrating when we criticize GenAI art. What I think is troubling people, is that anyone can now produce something visually pleasing.
This perturbs us because the skill to create a meaningful image is becoming less important. The thing on people’s minds now, what they are asking themselves is, this: If everyone is now an artist, does that mean no one’s an artist? Is the hive-mind of AI a collective engine of all of our skill? Are we criticizing the speed at which we can generate coherent visual work? Are we criticizing the fact that an under-educated, unskilled man has access to skills to express coherently a visual he has in mind?
Well, consider this: We can’t be criticizing the speed and skill at which art is produced because those things don’t always translate to art. A traditional artist might have the mightiest mastery of technique and skill manipulating a medium, but that does not guarantee his art will be a critical success. Sometimes it does, but not always, so there’s a distinction there.
My point is AI is making us notice a new distinction between the artist, the artistic process-act, and the ideas or intention behind the resulting work.
To answer your question, I see GenAI art as just another tool. If it is used to create meaningful work, then it will be considered art by most. If technical skill will become less crucial, it means that those with a breadth of knowledge, history and experience of the arts will have the advantage. So, while the door is open to all, my guess is that ideas will trump skills in terms of what we esteem as art.
I say this because, if we are forced to reassess how skill is, or isn’t, reflective of art’s value then we will force the idea of ideological meaning to the fore. AI art is forcing us to re-evaluate value. And, since skill is not entirely essential, we will demand that the work speak for something more than itself.
For the moment, we continue to need artwork that is commercial, entertaining and visually stimulating. Perhaps advancements in AI art mean that we no longer even need to create these works anymore because we’ve automated it and already created everything we could possibly need.
People talk about AI induced abundance, so maybe this is part of that abundance. I mean we’ve codified zillions of data points and stored a zillion more images. Maybe we are coming to the end of our need for superficial visual beauty as a race. Maybe creativity and meaning will be reflected in ideas.
I am imagining that GenAI art might open the door to new vistas, with new mediums, to elevate our intelligent nature, and art is now a way to study and learn to articulate wisdom and truth.
I am not sure if a lot of creatives are already doing client work with GenAI but you told me that you are already using it. Could you tell us how it fits in your workflow and how clients react to it?
Sherry: Midjourney has enabled me to do the work of an entire team myself. I can do rapid prototyping for all sorts of ideas. I’ve been creating concept art or photos for creative ad campaigns. I’ve been using it to generate stunning and realistic photoshoots for products.
Most recently, I was able to generate and iterate about 60 ideas in about 6 days for the entire ideation of a brand discovery process. This included photography, ad campaign ideas, aesthetic brand visualization, copy supported by visuals etc. Needless to say, my client absolutely loved it.
Did you encounter any legal issues so far ?
No. Nothing yet. And, I’ll leave the copyright issues to the lawyers. And I’m keeping an eye on where it goes. Right now, Midjourney has considered the legalities and baked in anti-copyright measures by avoiding direct copy of anything. I follow Midjourney’s rules and own whatever I create under their guidelines.
Obviously, as an artist I respect everyone’s right to own their work, but copyright issues have a long and established legal history in this country and I don’t see the need to discuss more than that here. I will say however, that a lot of the criticism I see online is really misinformed and ignorant about how the legal parameters function and how the tech works.
You are also a writer and I believe you are aware of chatGPT. You are into GenAI art but you don’t use yet chatGPT, why is it different and what do you think about it?
Sherry: I’ve posted about AI and ChatGpt on my blog so if you want a more in-depth analysis you can check that out at medium.com/@sherryhorowitz.
In short, my opinion is that it is an interactive data base that one can use with semantic dialogue. I think it’s incredible that they’ve managed to codify the ambiguity in semantics so that it feels so natural to use it, but it doesn’t possess any wisdom or insight, at least for now.
It’s great for research, culling and gathering information, organization of ideas and summarization. There’s a real danger that we can’t verify where the information is coming from so that’s an issue I have, like whether or not it’s even accurate. Personally, I like writing from my own head better. Writing is a way for me to think and crystallize my ideas, so I don’t like giving it to the bot. I do like using it most for research so I don’t have to hunt and peck in Google’s particular hierarchy of search results.
What do you think is the next big thing that gonna happen in the next couple of weeks/months, ai-tech related?
I think you’ll see significant socio-economic-cultural paradigm shifts in terms of our values. The loss of job categories will push people to question their own value and the value of human output that is now indistinguishable from machine output. People are wondering what abundance means. And artists are definitely reassessing their identities as artists if they’ve lost their edge to AI.
With your experience using the tools, you probably discovered a couple of tips and tricks, Which ones would you be ok to share with our audience?
I talked about my process using AI and art at a recent hackathon, which I’ll be posting in the near future on my portfolio website. You can see a lot of my process on my LinkedIn posts so definitely follow me there to learn more. My point in the talk was that in order to leverage AI to create meaningful art, one should consider doing in depth research into a topic. The more specific jargon you have the more you are accessing the data sets in a deeper way. This gives richer results.
Sometimes I spend a few hours researching an idea and then I get amazing results by using distilled language. The AI stores a lot of information so when you use specific jargon you are accessing implied meaning in a data set.
Consider the differences between the following: A table of food vs. a banquet vs. a smorgasbord vs. feast vs. a holiday dinner vs. a food display vs. food photography. These all have rich data sets and if you think about your intention this sort of nuance in language will help you produce more intentional results.
Here’s a sample of this kind of mindset:
Prompt: a bountiful feast, classical composition, beautiful arrangements, Avant Garde art, bold colors, collage work, painterly, vibrant, beautiful food motifs
What is the next thing you are going to try using Ai tools?
Well, definitely going to keep my eye on the advancements of ChatGPT. I’m also going to keep my eye on advancements in AI film and in automating my business. I have so many ideas for films that I never could develop, so to be able to execute on those visions would be amazing.
Is there anything else you want to share with our audience?
Yes – It’s important to consider that we are evolving as a race and it’s important to consider who we elect to be our leaders. There are new societal and cultural trends emerging.
For example, AI is causing some paradigm shifts in how we value human endeavors.
Tech is presenting new cultural norms and ideas coming out of tech like blockchain are fomenting the ideas of decentralization, but a society cannot function cohesively in a decentralized way.
I heard Sam Altman of Open AI talk about the possibility of “Abundance,” due to AI taking away the need for so much of human labor. In this scenario, he also spoke about the concept of a “A Universal Basic Income.” These ideas of “decentralization and a universal income based on abundance” are fundamentally at odds, because we cannot have a universal income without a centralized concept defining what that means. It will be interesting to see how we solve these problems.
We are entering new territory which requires the perspective of hind-sight and the wisdom to make ethically moral choices and bake them into the tech.
These ideas of decentralization are similar to other ideas of revolution and aren’t new in human history. We need wisdom and perspective to guide us, but wisdom and morality haven’t always been a priority as traits for those we elect to lead us commercially or politically.
I think it’s time for people to consider how they will develop their own sense of wisdom traditions and moral codes so that they can make educated choices.
Otherwise, we can be swept up and manipulated by the automation that is currently being developed. Many of the people at the helm are not people I would consider a trusted leader, and yet, they are de facto leaders in that they are leading the way by shaping society with new forms of tech.
Where can people find out more about you?
You can find my portfolio for work samples at sherryhorowitz.myportfolio.com, what I’m doing and thinking about at the moment on LinkedIn and my long form thoughts and essays on Medium.
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