Did you like that photo in the title of this post? I don’t want to brag (I TOTALLY want to brag), but I designed it myself. New AI software means that people like me, who think stick figures are high art, can type a few words into a search box and create masterpieces like, well, mine. This will revolutionize art—and cover design. Plus, since I’m the one who typed the words into the search box, I own the copyright. How does the AI do it? It’s all very complicated, but the short answer is that highly trained gerbils are involved.
The big controversy right now is that Jason M. Allen of Pueblo West, Colorado, created art with Midjourney, one of these AI programs, and won the blue ribbon for digital art in the Colorado State Fair. Here’s his creation:
You can imagine the reactions of other entrants. THIS GUY WON BY TYPING A COUPLE OF LINES INTO A COMPUTER?? But Allen says that he was upfront about his entry, stating that he used Midjourney to create it. (The judges didn’t know what Midjourney was, but they say they still would have selected his art for first prize even if they’d known.) Allen also says that he spent over 80 hours editing his piece, so it was more than just typing in a couple of lines. His supporters note that artists were pretty hacked off when photography hit the scene, claiming that didn’t count as real art, and AI tools are just the next step in the evolution of art.
Well. I don’t mean to make Allen jealous, but I used DALL-E 2, one of these fancy gerbil programs, to create more than just that stellar piece I already showed you. Please note that I spent a touch less than 80 hours on my creations. OK, I just typed the lines into the program. But now these images are MINE, ALL MINE. <Insert maniacal laughter here.>
For this first one I typed: Mr. Darcy on a motorcycle in a leather jacket driving to Pemberley. Check out my Bad Boy Darcy cover.
Is he winking at us? Darcy, you sly dog, you! And do you like the Into the Woods-style forest in the background? It makes me think the Big Bad Wolf is about to pop out. Oooh, Austen/ fairy tale mash up, anyone?
FYI, the title picture came from the same prompt.
Why does this Darcy look ready to punch someone? Maybe Elizabeth just rejected him, and he hopped on his Harley to blow off some steam.
My next one: Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth on a beach drinking English tea in fancy teacups.
I love the large teacup in front. Is that one for me? I’ve always wanted to have tea with Darcy and Elizabeth! Thank you, gerbils! I also like how Elizabeth isn’t looking at Mr. Darcy, as if she’s thoroughly uninterested in him. (She’s not looking at her teacup either, and she’s about to spill hot tea all over Mr. Darcy, but maybe there’s potential in that scene.)
The AI will extend the image for me to fill in the rest of the picture, so I asked it to extend Mr. Darcy. Here’s what I got.
Now he looks even broodier and angrier, and Elizabeth’s intrigued. Either that or she’s fascinated by his T. Rex arm.
OK, let’s shake it up a bit. How about an Austen sci fi? Coming up: Elizabeth Bennet dancing with Mr. Darcy in space suits on Mars, cartoon style.
Gotta love Elizabeth’s anti-gravity dancing. But I’m a little worried about her. Why didn’t she get a space suit? Society is so cruel in dictating women’s fashion, forcing them to wear pretty dresses even when it means their blood will boil and vaporize in alien atmospheres.
Do you like their faces? This must be the natural evolution of Earth-Martian intermarriages.
My next masterpiece: Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth as Lego figures battling Darth Vader.
Huge mystery solved here: Elizabeth’s light saber color is gray! There’s a decades long debate that’s finally resolved. Also, I like her fashion choices of a dress, bonnet, and cape.
From the same prompt, the AI also generated this.
Aaaah! Why does it look like Elizabeth is JOINING THE DARK SIDE??? Are they getting married? Is Mr. Darcy under that Vader mask? What does the AI know that we don’t?
We’d better move on. Next up: Mr. Collins proposing to Elizabeth Bennet, both inside a volcano, pointillism. (I am very fancy, doing my Seurat-inspired artwork, aren’t I? No stick figures in sight.)
Are you ready for this? It’s even more of a shocker than the last one.
Can you believe it? Lizzy Bennet, accepting Mr. Collins! I was aghast, but then I decided to cut Elizabeth some slack. They are standing in the middle of a volcano, after all, and the absence of other people suggests an apocalypse. Here we have definitive proof that, if Mr. Collins were the last man on Earth, Elizabeth Bennet would marry him. Thank you, Lizzy, for sacrificing your integrity and principles to keep the population alive. Also, I hope your feet are okay.
I’m not sure why Allen wasted his time with those 80 hour touch ups when it’s clear our images are pretty comparable. Or maybe I’m just a natural at this. But, Allen, yours was also…good.
What do you think of this new, AI generated art? Is this an exciting new revolution for cover design—and art at large? Or is it a threat and insult to the art world and traditional art?
I’d also love to hear what you would have typed into that text box. What Austen inspired covers would you make?