Jasmine Katatikarn built her career as a 3D lighting artist working on movies like Rio and Ice Age. Today, she’s a creative leader at a Fortune 100 company and the founder of the Academy of Animated Art, an e-course business that helps people become 3D lighting artists in the animation industry. As a creative professional, she can draw inspiration from the most unlikely of places. Her newest source? AI. For Katatikarn, it’s become a starting point to get into flow and find ideas as well as a reference tool to craft and finalize concepts. “AI can help you get outside of your typical thinking and give you new perspectives,” she said.
And Katatikarn isn’t alone when it comes to using AI as a supportive bridge to her creative work.
WIRED magazine writer Kevin Kelly also used DALL-E to create thousands of AI-generated images. Nine Inch Nails’ art director Rob Sheridan creates AI art called synthography to push his creative boundaries. Artist Karen X Cheng has played around with RunwayML with GEN-1 to storyboard and make films. She also tests out other technologies to make AI art and shares her thoughts on the processes on her TikTok and YouTube channels.
Artists have always wrestled with the challenges that can come with creative work: How can I best use my time to do the work that really matters? Where do I get my next inspiration? How can I iterate a seedling idea towards something beautiful? To tackle these questions, there is an upcoming generation of creatives who are meeting AI with curiosity instead of anxiety. They’re finding that embracing this new technology with a spirit of experimentation can actually help smooth over some of the bumpiest, tedious parts of the creative process.
"Getting these tasks done quicker frees up my creative time.”
Speeding up processes for creative endeavors
Any creative who owns their own business understands that you need to get through a lot of other tasks before getting to the creative part of the job. In fact, a recent report from Adobe found that creatives only spend 29% of their day on actual creative work. This is where AI tools can come in handy and bear some of the grunt work of administrative tasks.
In addition to using AI to explore ideas for animations, Katatikarn uses Chat GPT-4 to get through her inbox. “While I might need to edit AI-generated text, it creates my emails much faster than I otherwise would. Getting these tasks done quicker frees up my creative time.”
For those in the design world, these tools can be a godsend. “AI has automated repetitive design tasks such as resizing images, cropping, and background removal—tasks that would have otherwise required us to hire an assistant,” says Vladimir Gendelman, founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc., a printing company that makes designs based on prompts from an AI software that combines nouns and verbs with color schemes and shapes.“This has allowed us to focus on higher-level design work and increased our productivity, turning out high-quality work within a shorter time frame without compromising the standard.”
Writers like Jennifer Goforth Gregory can also lean on AI tools for brainstorming outlines and helping with social copy. Gregory uses AI to do just that—utilizing these platforms to help shape articles she writes for clients and additional copy like meta descriptions and headlines. She suggests experimenting with the AI generative tools to learn how the inputs and prompts work, and to see what results come up.
“[These AI tools] save me time in the ideation process as well as extra steps,” says Gregory.
Low barrier for entry
Many online tools designed for creatives can come with a high financial cost and an even steeper learning curve. AI platforms, on the other hand, are often easily accessible and mostly free to use with little technical know-how required. “I like to say that generative AI has democratized creativity,” says Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute.
As a marketing expert, Roetzer can understand the advantages of using these tools for creative work. He first started researching AI in 2011 and now uses it to generate ideas and create keynote decks and courses. He encourages employees throughout his company to do the same. “For artists who struggle with words, or for those who are great at writing but lack artistic capabilities in design or video, these tools give you the power to create and express yourself in new ways,” he says.
"...these tools give you the power to create and express yourself in new ways."
You may be using AI tools already without even realizing it—video editing and transcription tools that leverage AI technology have been around for a while now and make current creative work streams unimaginable without them. Take transcription, for example. Before these AI tools, transcribing videos, interviews, and other audio content took hours of tedious work and often resulted in a high margin of error. With the use of easily accessible platforms like Otter.ai, this step for creatives is basically nonexistent.
Thanks to their low barrier for entry, AI tools can help support the work of artists and creatives alike regardless of where they are in their career. Utilizing these resources provides the opportunity to spend that extra energy elsewhere and ultimately, says Roetzer, “give us the ability to enhance creativity and scale content creation.”
The ongoing relationship between art and technology
AI tools have already begun to reshape the creative landscape and shift how artists, designers, and creators approach their work. However, as with any early-stage technology, the current advancements are just the tip of the iceberg for how AI tools can be used to support the creative community.
Some creatives are finding that their experimentation with AI hasn’t only helped sharpen their artistic and professional skills but also their understanding of the AI business landscape itself. For instance, Gregory created a course to help writers understand how to evolve their services into areas that AI writing can’t take over. She adds that an agency partner of hers has also begun helping clients with prompt engineering and editing AI-written content to align with a brand’s tone and voice. By staying up to date on AI technology, Gregory says writers can position themselves as experts in AI application and offer that service to their clients. “Writers who learn AI and evolve their services to fill in the gaps of what AI cannot do are going to end up being more successful,” she predicts.
Roetzer agrees there’s more opportunity here beyond simply optimizing workstreams. “The artists and creators who embrace AI and use it to enhance their capabilities have significant opportunities to create value for their companies and differentiate themselves in their careers.”
For those who are still experimenting, however, AI is another chapter in the ongoing relationship between art and technology. More and more creatives are finding that these tools can be exactly that—another tool in your toolbox that can support the work that matters.