Elke Reva Sudin is a Brooklyn-based visual artist and founder of Drawing bootha digital live sketch event company.
Anyone who has led a creative project for their company knows that miscommunication and frustration can arise between the creative team and the usual way companies operate.
On the one hand, you have your client’s traditional linear thinking that is focused on the end result, and they try to exchange with a creative whose specialty is exploration and iterative processes. Tensions can arise even in the early stages when the client wants to see their concept magically answered in the infancy of the project.
The creative process is an exploration of revealing hidden potential, first through a decay process and then expansion and newness. Think about how a seed has the potential for the whole plant to grow, but needs the right conditions to release that potential. Try explaining a flower to your plate without presenting what it looks like. You have the seed but need help to germinate it. I believe that increasingly accessible artificial intelligence generation tools can help the business team achieve their vision faster while saving time and resources.
At my company, which provides live digital sketches created by humans, I’ve seen customers use AI before coming to us with mock-ups that a real artist can create. Through this experience, I learned that there are a few tips and strategies companies can use to work with AI tools and get the most out of their creative teams.
Generating ideas with imaging apps
Imagine describing something you see to someone who can’t see what you’re referring to. Which colors are used? How many people or items are in the picture? What kind of lighting is there so you can see what’s in the picture? When using AI, it is important that you are as detailed as possible. In addition, don’t forget to:
1. Put it in perspective. Play with the point of view from which you want the story of the image to be told. What view do we see? Is it far away or close by? Is it from a bird’s eye view, a fly on the wall, or from the main subject? For example, when viewing a cityscape, are you looking from the top of a building, from across the river, or from the ground and looking across or down or behind a streetlight?
2. Think about the visual language of the message. Understand whether what you want is ultimately through photography, illustration, or somewhere in between. Think about the difference between an animated infographic and a live-action realistically rendered image.
3. Take it to the next level. Push your idea further and go more extreme. The results are instant when using AI. Play through 50 different scenarios by asking challenging questions so you know your comfort zone from the start.
4. Be playful in finding your (human) creatives. Maybe you have an internal team or someone you’ve worked with for years, or maybe you’re looking for a new supplier to help realize your vision. What the end format experience entails will help you find your suppliers. Think about how you want to export your vision, such as printing on a unique material or moving your image.
Finding a balance between AI and humans
From my perspective, AI can be particularly effective in the brainstorming phase, helping you come up with a topic and an efficient setting. Use specific keywords to help the AI and don’t get stuck on a wrong turn. The models learn like you do, so they learn to collaborate just like real creatives.
The second use of image-generating AI is choosing a style. AI makes it easy to play around with different styles before committing to one. However, be careful that your AI-generated image doesn’t use styles from unattributed artists; be respectful that what the AI comes up with is likely based on real or digitally created artwork from a real individual.
Don’t forget the value that your team’s creativity can still bring. I believe there’s an abiding need for human creatives for the same reason it feels so satisfying to get on the phone with a customer service representative: a real person can help fill in the gaps in what you’re looking for and give you solutions offer. Plus, it can be frustrating and confusing if you can’t accurately describe your problem to AI.
You may consider working with human creatives to help interpret what’s on the tip of your tongue and work your changing mind. They are sensitive to what makes sense for your company’s voice, and they can see things from the user’s perspective. People know how people work. They’ll be able to tell right away if something doesn’t feel intuitive to another person. Creatives can present your mockup in a different context or approach or turn the idea on its head. Instead of thinking about what could be printed on a coffee mug, perhaps a creative mind could envision how your project could provide viewers with the experience of the coffee.
In general, let your creative team lead you on a journey to an abstract place while staying on the path laid out by your company’s personality.
I often explain that the way artists can come up with such out-of-the-box thinking is that they absorb many dimensions of information around them. Visuals are broken down into their properties. Relationships between different techniques and hidden stories become strategies for artists to use. AI image generation tools work in a similar way, and getting comfortable with the idea that you have to teach the AI how to unfold your vision is humbling to both its limitations and yours.
It can be overwhelming to start exploring the ever-changing world of image-generating AI, but with curiosity and a willingness to make something wrong or ugly, you have the potential to understand your own creative powers.