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How Does AI Art Work? What Does It Mean for the Future of Art?

Run any AI art search, and you'll discover a huge array of designs, themes, styles, and immersive creativity as artists and creators push the boundaries of what we consider art and how we develop unique works.

However, is AI art bad for artists, and does it detract from the skill we're used to when we look at masterpieces? Can we really compare a digital artwork built with an AI algorithm as meaningful and important as the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, or The Kiss? 

As with every art-related debate, it is subjective. While some may perceive AI as detrimental to art as we conventionally know it, it may be a case of broadening our horizons and recognising that digital artwork is a sign of an evolving society where every avenue of creativity holds relevance.

What Is AI Artwork?

AI artwork generators use text prompts to create graphics, developing new concepts that match your input phrases, with varying outputs depending on your selected style or theme.

Creators can design 3D spaces, simulations and moving imagery–AI can be used across technical applications such as architecture design and gaming, so it is unlimited. It shows how advanced tech can deliver original art as a form of expression, useful tool, or illustrative technique.

The argument against AI art is that the AI is doing the work rather than the individual artist picking up a pencil or paintbrush. Still, it is also exciting, making art accessible, free, and open to everybody who wants to experiment.

However, the basis and foundation for any AI-empowered creation are the prompts, text, phraseology and styling the artist chooses. Without human interaction, these fast, innovative, and quickly evolving AI art generators simply wouldn’t work.

Is AI Art Really Art?

The first question is this: what makes art, art? The term itself is incredibly broad, so we can’t necessarily determine that the only valid artwork is one that has been made with brushes, paints, charcoal or any other traditional medium.

While AI art is in the spotlight, modern art exhibitions and galleries have long championed more contemporary alternatives. 

Damien Hirst's embalmed animals are a great example! The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living features a preserved shark. Since it was unveiled in 1991 (more than thirty years ago), it has been widely regarded as a reflection on mortality and a confrontational way to challenge how we live in the natural world. Even a decade beforehand, critics would have likely dismissed this now-renowned artwork as a gimmick.

This thought process applies to AI artworks in the same way. If we're ready to acknowledge that dance, photography, cinematography, performative art, and even embalmed animals are as valuable as a canvas, it’s difficult to argue that AI doesn’t fall into that same category.

Is AI Art Original, and Who Does It Belong to?

Originality and ownership are essential factors to think about, but the concepts in today's world are perhaps a little unrealistic. Nearly any image, character, colour, or creature you can imagine has already been discovered. In contrast, a new, emerging art form allows us to experiment with genuinely unique things.

If you’ve used an AI art generator, you’ll know that the final creation you produce is infinitely adjustable, so if you’re unhappy with the initial response, you can tweak and edit it as much as you like.

Currently, the issue of copyright is contentious, and regulators have been reluctant to allow copyright protections against AI artwork. However, as attitudes change and we see real-world uses of AI-generated art, there's no telling whether that may change.

Will AI Art Replace Professional Artists?

It seems highly unlikely that any AI algorithm, no matter how advanced, will replace the need for artistry as a central part of marketing, entertainment, design, and numerous other sectors. However, it does have the potential to simplify jobs and make art a level playing ground, where anybody can create something aligned with their input phrases rather than relying on a third party to interpret the image they are trying to make.

For most, AI art is a hobby, a way to express yourself, and a useful tool. Still, it's also considerably cheaper than investing in supplies, materials and training that aren't available to many.

There are blurred lines, and any novel form of art meets resistance. But, if we step back and reconsider what art is, it seems clear that any new creation, whether made by hand by an individual or created with help from an AI generator, is arguably a piece of art.

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