Some of us have seen a lot of change in digital art over the years. So much so that we‘ve embraced AI-driven features in applications like Photoshop and clamor for more. AI image upscaling? Even better and very useful in certain situations. Some users wait for the next update to see if there are any AI related features that makes our work look better.
The one thing that most of us never saw coming was the fact that a simple text prompt when manipulated properly, with the right combination of words and perhaps a little magic (luck), would generate high-quality images in just about any art style imaginable.
The Art of the Prompt is upon us. An era few saw coming and now includes a place where you can purchase or sell prompts, Promptbase. Probably won’t be alone in the market for long either. To this point, this can be good or bad news. The good news is another income opportunity the bad being the loss to the general public of seeing great images until a prompt is sold and the artwork generated.
Some of us saw the argument coming that a well-crafted prompt is just that... well-crafted as in any piece of art. That is if you recognize AI-generated images as art. As a writer, I’m sure I’m a bit one-sided on this because to writers it is a craft and to some it’s art.
So does just forming a text prompt count as a “craft”? From Merriam-Webster:
What is the definition of craft?
1: skill in making things, especially with the hands. 2: an occupation or trade requiring skill with the hands or as an artist Carpentry is a craft.
Does inputting the text count as “with the hands”? A good argument until we realize this can be done by spoken word too. Since no one can define art to another person, i.e., we all decide for ourselves what is art, these arguments boil down to splitting hairs. Or even worse, getting bogged down in the technicalities of it all instead of just enjoying it.
Most of us already know, all too well, that the only constant in life is change. Denying this puts one in league with the flat earthers. Things WILL change. We generally accept this until it hits too close to home... like say... our livelihoods. However, most freelancers are in a constant state of change anyway and this is just to keep up with the market and stay employed.
Just as factory workers were replaced by offwhoring... excuse me... offshoring… so companies could squeeze out more profit, the days of lifelong employment became numbered. Computer tech in general has been a massive disruption in itself. Just ask anyone that had to deal with training a lot of workers that had never seen a computer in the early days of the PC boom.
Early tech was a disruptive, expensive burden during the adoption phase, but it reaped big dividends in the long run. In the 2010s... we see more disruption come home to nullify some of our income streams while at the same time producing new avenues of income like prompt craft and selling.
To some, putting words together is a legitimate, viable method of making a living or earning extra income. Considering the human-made prompt (not an AI-made prompt which we know is coming eventually) that still qualifies it as art to some and a craft to others.
We are not all on the same page with AI-generated art, but we are on the same playing field and changes will be made as once again we must adapt to stay on top and not get trampled by this latest “thing”.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.