25 April 2023

AI and Creativity

AI and Creativity

A brushstroke, a melody, a written verse,
Are expressions of our innermost thoughts,
Can a machine replicate the diversity,
Of human feelings that can’t be taught?

Creativity arises from the heart and soul,
A product of our experiences and beliefs,
Can a computer ever reach that goal,
Of creating something that truly breathes?

Poem written by AI


So there we have it: AI has truly ‘arrived’. In the wake of OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT, we’ve seen an inundation of companies rolling out AI in their customer service and content creation processes. Some people are hailing the arrival of a new era for branded content, while others are panicking about job security and where this path leads us. Ultimately, none of us can quite predict exactly how AI is going to shape the world of work in the coming years: it’s early days, and many of us are still figuring out how to collaborate with AI and enhance our output. One thing is sure: now is the time to be looking into how we can employ AI to expand our creative offering and improve branded collateral.

Let’s stop for a second and imagine that a company has decided it needs a rebrand. This would typically involve a creative team getting together to brainstorm a range of options that would gradually be whittled down to a few ‘top picks’, which would then be further developed. As the team comes up with more ideas and takes more time to develop possible options, the cost of the process also inevitably increases.

With the incorporation of AI, that could all be about to change. We’ve seen how generative AI, when provided with the correct inputs, can create some impressive visual and text-based output – in a fraction of the time it would’ve taken a human team.

The question is whether there will be any distinctive differences between human and AI output. In one study at Rutgers’ Art & AI Lab, Marian Mazzone and Ahmed Elgammal designed an artificial intelligence called AICAN, which was able to produce art almost autonomously through the use of a ‘creative adversarial network’.

With a library of over 80,000 images to draw from, covering 500 years of Western art, the system produces new artworks by making reference to past works in a similar way to how artists refer to previous styles to guide new pieces.

The artworks produced by AICAN were then displayed alongside other, human-produced art at the Art Basel contemporary art fair. Interestingly, the audience was generally unable to distinguish the human art from the machine-produced art, using words such as ‘inspiring’ and ‘communicative’ in regards to AICAN’s work in the same frequency as they did for the other pieces. In fact, the audience attributed machine-generated images to human artists 75% of the time.

That’s not to say that we can, or even should, expect to see AI replace human designers and creatives. What it does mean, however, is that whereas creative teams used to face strict time and cost restrictions when brainstorming potential options, they will now be able to explore more possibilities more easily. Creatives might therefore see their roles shifting from production to ideation and curation, coming up with specific terms and concepts to input into the AI.

As part of this shift towards ideation, creatives will need to curate AI output that feels too literal or lacking in human emotion. Often, great designs and copy rely on a new, creative way of looking at a brief, impressing the client with something they didn’t even know they wanted. While AI is increasingly proficient at production, it lacks the human experience that can alter the ways in which creative teams interpret a brief.

The best creatives are driven by their personal experiences, enabling them to offer original interpretations of sometimes relatively standard briefs. Take a look at what David Standley, Head of Creative and Content had to say about his own experience creating a new brand logo for a client:

“The company was named after a city, but as a young, non-native speaker, I didn’t realize that at the time. There was however, a bird of prey that shared the name. As a passionate ornithologist, this was the first direction my thought process took me in.”

Ultimately, the client was impressed with the work, and decided to keep the logo as proposed. These kinds of ‘misinterpretations’, otherwise known as human error, are a staple of the creative process, and something that we are just starting to tackle with AI.

Back when the Apple Mac first appeared in design studios, many began to fear its impact. Many years later, its clear that the Mac has helped to expedite design processes and increase delivery speeds, but it still requires specialist designers. Looking forward, it’s likely that AI will become a playground for creatives to login, increase and decrease randomness and introduce creative inputs that draw from their own life experiences.

With every technological revolution, from print to the photocopier and the computer, we have seen human creativity continue to be unshackled. As we continue to produce new technology such as AI, that creative potential is only set to expand further. Part of the joy of creativity is that it is almost impossible to predict where it will take us in the coming years. AI is another tool that is going to help us realize our creative visions, and the prospect of what could soon be possible is thrilling.

For more insights on creativity, check out the latest report from Alpha Creative: ‘Wavelengths’.