While it may seem like we’re on the precipice of an Artificial Intelligence dystopia, this isn’t anything new. Machines have been superseding human creativity for nearly 200 years.
As a creative agency we’re not trembling at AI’s most recent encroachment upon the most sacred realm of our human experience. In fact, we’re leaning into it.
Hear us out.
At the turn of the 19th-century portrait painting was the norm. Painters, brushes, paint. The subject would sit still for hours, or days, while the artist meticulously stroked their vision to perfection. With the advent of the photographic process, the Dageureotype – invented by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre in 1837 – machines had a revolutionary impact on the creative realm and wider society.
Some artists claimed it was the “death of art” itself.
For others though it was the “democratisation of art”, launching careers, and allowing middle-class and lower-class families to have their portraits done for relatively affordable prices.
Impressionism was born in response to photography’s realistic depictions, allowing artists to explore other dimensions such as colour, light, and movement as representations of the transient nature of reality.
These days, photography and digital artistry have fused and fundamentally blurred the lines between the creator and created.
One thing is clear. It would now seem absurd to say that the invention of the camera was the decimation of human creativity. We know in hindsight that painting did not die. Instead, photography was born, and the playground of human creativity was enlarged.
The camera – whether it be film, dSLR, mirrorless, or a drone – has propelled the human species into creative territories, and real-world applications, that would literally have been impossible to fathom in the early 1800s.
And it has all been for the better. Far, far better.
The human species have made their mark on the earth by learning to master, wield and leverage increasingly complex tools. First it was sticks and stones. Now it is AI-driven technologies.
We’ll put our bias on the table. We’re eternal pragmatists. Werk is a full-service creative and marketing agency partnering with brands to achieve their meaningful business goals. We’re problem solvers, first and foremost, propelled by an insatiable desire to see our clients succeed. We have a wide suite of skill-sets within our talented team—designers, content creators, marketers and data analysts—to pull the right tool out of the box at the right time, to get the job done. We don’t do things for the sake of it. We pull levers insofar as they achieve the desired outcome.
AI is just another tool.
It won’t replace our creative team. Instead, it will supplement and support our creative workflows when and where appropriate. Whether that be Dalle-generated imagery for video production storyboards, ChatGPT copy to test angles for a radio ad, or a flurry of catchy taglines to get the juices flowing for that next product release.
We’re leaning into the discomfort.
Even in the midst of naysayers harking back to centuries-old rhetoric with claims that “it’s the opposite of art” and widespread #NotoAIArt online campaigns.
Using AI in creative workflows will allow creatives to process vast amounts of data and information efficiently (hint: maximising clients’ budgets), allowing them to focus on more nuanced tasks. This can be especially useful for our advertising industry where the ability to quickly generate and test multiple ideas in an everchanging market is essential to success. With the help of AI, creatives can easily access and analyse data from various sources; such as social media, customer feedback, or market trends. This can help to inform and inspire new ideas, ensuring creativity is always fit-for-purpose.
AI is not a magic wand that will solve all creative problems. The key to successfully integrating AI into creative workflows is to have a deep understanding of the technology and its capabilities, as well as a clear understanding of the creative process and the goals of the project. With this knowledge, creatives can use AI to support and augment their work, rather than replace it.
If you’ve played around with DALL-E, ChatGPT or Midjourney you’ll know that the output is only as good as the input. While it’s true that the fidelity of the work produced by AI is getting better every day, you still need to know how to get the best out of it.
The perfectly configured text prompt.
Deft reworks (most often, lots of them).
Outpainting beyond the canvas.
And then maybe a little Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to polish it off, still.
AI-generated creativity has its limitations.
And this presents opportunities for creatives to wrestle with the tool to get the most out of it. But it also provides ample opportunity to push the boundaries of human creativity outside of these tools. Whereas AI’s creativity comes from the quality of its human inputs, human creativity comes from somewhere mysterious and deep down. We don’t just manipulate what is, we manifest what is not.
Like the Impressionists of the 19th-century we are challenged to go places machines can’t (just yet). We are the pioneers of creativity and this will not change any time soon.
Moving forward, our team will be having robust conversations about the role AI plays in our agency. Given our pragmatic and outcome-oriented approach, there will be a time and place for it. The spaces we create by embracing tools is more ground for us to play.
It’s never all or nothing.
I’m not scared of AI’s relationship with creativity.
What I’m deeply afraid of is AI’s relationship with the academic realm. We have already crossed a precipice where it is impossible to distinguish between peer-reviewed academic literature that is scientifically robust, and AI-generated literature that sounds about right but is just made up.
In an increasingly polarised and politicised post-truth world, where information is weaponised, that is truly terrifying.
Two paragraphs of this blog post were written by ChatGPT. Can you guess which?