GENERATIVE AI: Creativity killer or enabler?

Cheh Chuan Low

1 Aug 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all the rage now and with the advancements in Generative AI, its proliferation into various fields has drawn mixed reactions. For the ‘Creative Purists’ (a term I coined), Generative AI kills creativity, originality and artistry. Read author and illustrator Rob Biddulph’s response, he said AI-generated art “is the exact opposite of what I believe art to be. Fundamentally, I have always felt that art is all about translating something that you feel internally into something that exists externally. Whatever form it takes, be it a sculpture, a piece of music, a piece of writing, a performance, or an image, true art is about the creative process much more than it’s about the final piece. And simply pressing a button to generate an image is not a creative process.” (Credit/Source: Article from The Guardian)

Generated using Leonardo Ai

But, would rejection change the fact that the disruption and further disruptions by AI will continue unabated. In the history of humankind, the technology train is rarely stopped by rejection of the technology. If the new technology offers significant benefits at a price point that encourages adoption, mass adoption is only a matter of time. And in this instance, I feel the AI revolution is one of these unstoppable forces. As a ‘Creative Pragmatists’ (a term I coined), resisting is a significantly poorer choice than harnessing such a powerful technology. Let’s be real, as creative professionals, we have always enjoyed the power and productivity that technology put in our hands. It enables us to create or realise ideas or concepts that were otherwise unachievable. The Lord of Rings or the Marvels franchise would not have been possible without Computer Generated Imagery (CGI). I guess this discomfort stems from the fact that this time round, it encroaches on the origination of ideas. Machine Learning has made this generation of AI too threatening.

Let’s be very open about this. While I am open to exploring the new possibilities Generative AI bring, I am also concerned about the negative consequences it may or have already resulted in. First off, the automation and productivity would result in a drastic reduction in the need for creative professionals in the creative industry. Effects that would taken us days to create can now be achieved in hours. Adaptation and transcreation of creative assets can now be automated easily. As an agency, we have seen executional level type of work evaporated in the past few years. Many large companies with regional offices have started adopting AI-driven technology that automates these processes and have taken these tasks inhouse replacing the agencies they used to rely on. These baseline work may not be the profit driver for agencies but they remain critical in covering the daily operational costs of the agency. In the longer run, it rids the lower level type of creative work, meaning to say roles such as junior designer, FA artists, etc. may become redundant. But many Creative Directors and Art Directors today began their training in these very humble roles. Agencies face the immense pressure to upskill, integrate these technologies into their creative offerings or face extinction.

Generated using Leonardo Ai

At Salt, we started experimenting with Generative AI technologies (MidJourney AI and Leonardo AI) in a few of our recent projects in the following areas. While both technologies still require further refinements, we were able to leverage both platforms to strengthen our creative proposals. In one recent project, we generated photorealistic female models in the specific ethnicity, age, poses that we require without any photo shoots. In a second instance, we used Adobe Firefly to apply special effects to an existing design to enhance the overall aesthetics. While we are still early on the Generative AI adoption journey, I am quite certain AI will become an important competitive advantage in the not so distant future.