AI Tools in Tattoo
The world has changed. Fundamentally. The rise of the machine is here. It arrived quietly without fuss or commotion.
If you don’t believe it or want to do something about it, forget it. AI tools are too easy to access, too cheap to license and too fast to learn how to use. The progression of AI tools, their power and capabilities is phenomenal and without doubt, today, they are changing our world in so many ways, how people work, how fast things can be done, where people are no longer needed, or what people can now achieve.
You may think ChatGPT, Midjourney and Deep Dream Generator AI tools are just for fun and help with basic tasks or producing strange, abstract pictures. That’s a huge underestimation.
AI tools available to everyone with an internet connection at the moment are incredibly powerful and dynamic. While the earth shattering changes won’t necessarily be in tattoo, they do demonstrate the incredible power and intuitive nature of these new tools.
Have a look for yourself, explore and understand what’s out there because the pace of change AI is creating is only accelerating.
So with that out of the way, let’s have a nice cosy chat about AI tools in the world of art and tattoo.
Rise of the machine
AI-generated art has been gaining popularity in recent years, and many artists have been incorporating AI art tools into their creative process. These tools use machine learning algorithms and neural networks to analyse and learn from existing artwork, and then generate new art based on that analysis.
One of the most popular AI art tools currently available is Midjourney. This tool uses a neural network to generate unique abstract compositions, which can then be used as a starting point for further artistic exploration. The tool offers a wide range of customisation options, allowing users to adjust everything from colour palettes to the level of abstraction in the generated art.
Another popular tool is Deep Dream, which was developed by Google. This tool uses neural networks to analyse images and then generate new images based on that analysis. Users can upload their own images and then use Deep Dream to generate new and surreal versions of those images.
Others include ArtBreeder, Runway ML, and NVIDIA GauGAN. Each offering unique features and capabilities for artists.
The majority of online available AI art tools are designed to be user-friendly and easy to learn. They often come with intuitive interfaces and provide tutorials and documentation to help users get started. However, as with any new tool or technique, there is still a learning curve involved, and it may take some time for artists to become proficient at using AI art tools.
The speed and simplicity in which AI art tools can generate artwork for users is frighteningly fast. Seconds for drafts and initial concepts. With traditional art techniques, creating a piece of artwork can take hours or even days, whereas an AI art tool can generate an entire composition in a matter of minutes. This can be particularly useful for artists who need to create large amounts of artwork in a short amount of time, such as those working in the film or video game industries.
Another advantage of AI art tools is that they can help artists generate ideas and explore new creative directions. By generating a wide range of different compositions and variations, AI art tools can help artists break out of creative blocks and find new inspiration.
There is a concern that the widespread adoption of AI art tools could lead to a homogenisation of artistic styles, as artists rely more and more on algorithms to generate their work. This could lead to a loss of diversity and originality in the art world.
There are other risks of course for the tattoo design from AI tools. Designs may not translate well to the medium of tattooing and artists may become too reliant on AI tools, neglecting the importance of traditional drawing and design skills.
When it comes to whether people can tell the difference between art generated by AI tools and art created by a person, the answer is not always clear-cut. While AI-generated art can often look highly realistic and detailed, it can lack the grounding elements in design and composition that come from human training. Anyone who thinks it’s a working art solution just needs to ask an AI tool to create a piece incorporating people. Hands are the usual give-away where fingers are often warped, merge into objects, number more than five or create people with two left hands and very wonky toes.
Give it a go.
We spent a few hours using the AI art-generation tool, Midjourney to see what the fuss was about. What happened was very unnerving and crazy. After an hour of playing around to learn the ropes we set out to see if we could create a range of tattoo designs using the tool.
Here are the results. Keep in mind, each of these designs took less than 5 minutes to create and required no training or expertise in using this tool. It was crazy easy.
Our first go. Kind of a failure as we asked for a traditional tiger design with flaming eyes. We could have restarted and tried again, but frankly this design looked pretty cool. The lower left flames and top head protrusion seemed to resemble an embedded dagger point while the flames contain some tribal elements.After the tiger we simplified the instructions given to Midjourney and simply asked for “A traditional tattoo swallow design”. The result could easily be adapted to a fine design. The AI even provided a handy banner for text.
Pretty much a complete disaster. We asked for a dragon tattoo design in the style of Horiyoshi III and Don Ed Hardy and this abomination was born. The flowers and scales are cool but look at the dragons body shape and feet.
Probably our favourite. Love this fine lady. Taking those cabbages to market.
Black and red dog portrait as requested. The AI even delivered some geometric patterns within the design and decent composition. Pretty fair effort for the 2 minutes it took.
Our final design and pretty happy with it. The bird shape is clear and we liked the inner geometric pattern resembling a sunflower. The outer design isn’t really there but jeez, it’s a start.
So what did we learn?
Well, it took less than three hours total to figure out how to access, use this tool and produce a wide range of designs. All these designs are unique and come with a commercial license to use. They are quickly downloaded for upload into any design software editing tool.
It was clear that with some further practice and a trained artists eye, anyone could produce an unlimited range and number concepts, designs and ideas in an unthinkably fast amount of time and tiny subscription cost.
Tattoo art has been around for thousands of years. The tools and techniques used by tattoo artists have always evolved, with modern technology playing a big role in the advancement of the industry.
What can AI tools in their toolkit do for an artist? A hell of a lot for those that wish.
- Inspiration and Creativity - These tools can provide artists with a wide variety of design options that they may not have thought of. AI art generating tools use complex algorithms and global resources to analyse images and prompts to create unique designs based on them. This can help artists come up with fresh and innovative ideas for their clients.
- Time-Saving - These tools generate multiple design options in a matter of seconds and allow instant refresh and redesign when it misses the mark, by pressing a single button. AI art tools can generate an entire composition within minutes, allowing artists to create a large volume of work quickly. While the design will not be final, at the very least it creates a new, unique reference for the artist to use massively accelerating their design process.
- Customisation - while AI art generating tools can provide a range of design options, they can also be customised to fit the client's specific preferences. Tattoo artists can input certain parameters into the tool, such as colour scheme, size, and style, to generate designs that are tailored to the client's needs. This can help artists create unique and personalized designs fast.
- Experimentation - AI art generating tools can also be used as a way for tattoo artists to experiment with new styles and techniques. The tool can generate designs that the artist may not have otherwise thought of, allowing them to explore different design elements and techniques.
How about some potential dangers presented to tattoo artists using AI art generating tools?
- Lack of originality - AI algorithms are designed to create designs that are similar to existing art, so they can lack originality and uniqueness. This one can depend on the user request of course but looking over examples there is absolutely a similar vibe in many designs. Hard to say if this is the algorithm or just a preference trend of the users.
- Misrepresentation of cultural or religious symbols - AI algorithms may not be programmed to understand the cultural or religious significance of certain symbols, and as a result, may generate designs that are offensive or inappropriate. This can be especially problematic for tattoo artists where the tool unintentionally create designs that are insensitive or offensive. Where that is not the intention.
- Legal issues - Many AI art generating tools are not designed to create original designs, but rather to replicate existing designs or images. If a tattoo artist uses an AI-generated design that is similar to an existing design, they may be infringing on copyright or trademark laws. Artist and comedian Sarah Andersen (@sarahandersencomics) wrote about her terrible experience in the New York Times in an article well worth reading. Find it here.
- Limited skill development – Any artists who relies on automated tools may not develop the same level of skill in drawing and design that they would if they were creating designs by hand. This can be problematic in the long run, as it may limit the artist's ability to create original designs or to work outside of their comfort zone.
So, art generating tools can be a valuable asset for tattoo artists. They can provide inspiration, save time, offer customisation options and encourage experimentation. They can be a useful tool in the design process.
Ultimately, it is up to the individual artist to decide whether or not an AI art generating tool is right for them and their clients.
Is using AI art cheating?
Whether using AI art is considered cheating is a matter of perspective and context.
From a technical standpoint, using AI to create art is not cheating, as long as the artist is transparent about their use of AI and properly credits any algorithms or tools they use. In fact, using AI can be seen as simply another tool in an artist's toolkit.
Some may argue that using AI art is cheating because it removes some of the human creativity and effort that traditionally goes into creating art, or draws too readily from other work. AI algorithms can generate unique images and designs quickly and easily, without requiring the same level of skill, practice, and experimentation that a human artist would need.
Ultimately, whether using AI art is considered cheating depends on the context and intention of the artist. If the goal is to create something purely for aesthetic pleasure, then the use of AI art may be seen as just another tool. If the goal is to create something that reflects the artist's personal experiences, emotions, and vision, then using AI art may not be seen as authentic.
What about picking up a pencil or brush!
Often ignored in the debate on AI tools, the importance of physical practice in your art. Painting, drawing, sculpting, print making are all skills that requires practice to improve, and there are no shortcuts to mastering it. The more you practice, the better you become.
Practicing your creativity has numerous benefits, including improving focus and concentration, reducing stress and anxiety, and enhancing cognitive function. More on that later.
Importantly for professional artists, practice helps you develop your unique style and voice as an artist. It allows you to experiment with different techniques and mediums, discover what works best for you, and refine your skills.
Some of the agreed benefits of practice for artists include:
- Improved Brain Function - Creating art stimulates the brain and improves cognitive function, including memory, problem-solving skills, and concentration. A study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences found that creating art can help to improve memory function in individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
- Stress Reduction – Painting and drawing helps reduce stress levels and promotes relaxation, beneficial for overall health and well-being. A study conducted by the University of Westminster found that individuals who participated in a 45-minute art session experienced a reduction in cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress.
- Improved Mood - The act of creating art provides a creative outlet for individuals to express their emotions and feelings, which can be cathartic and therapeutic. As artists practice and improve their skills, they may develop a sense of pride and accomplishment, leading to increased self-esteem and self-confidence.
Wrapping it up (with a twist!)
In conclusion, while AI-generated art can be a useful tool for tattoo artists, there are also potential dangers that tattoo artists should be aware of. Lack of originality, misrepresentation of cultural or religious symbols, legal issues, lack of control over the design process, and limited skill development are all potential dangers of using AI-generated art in tattoo design. Tattoo artists who choose to use AI-generated art should do so with caution and be aware of these potential dangers.
Coming back to our starting statement, the world has changed. These tools have phenomenal capabilities, are very easy to use and are accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
While the application to tattoo is significant, it’s not ground breaking or earth shattering. To take in the scale of the change you have to look at how easily these tools are working with complex, and sometimes vague instructions. The intuition and breadth of comprehension. Considering that, what else can they do?
Another information funnel has emerged and is already fighting for supremacy. What these AI tools enable in the future is unwritten. Just ask ChatGPT
Disclaimer: Typically a blog article takes us several weeks to months to prepare. The idea, formulation, research and review all take time. This article was written over the course of three days. It was written by ChatGPT. Well, most of it. We asked ChatGPT a bunch of, took the responses with some editing and put it into a sensible flow. Did you notice?