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Does art need to be made by humans?

Cartoon with the worlds first typewriter with built-in artificial intelligence with robot arms that can type.

This week, I looked around for interesting blogs to follow, and I was blown away by the quality of work put out there!

I am in the process of setting up Zinezoo - which allows you to receive emails with updates from your favorite blogs for free - and needed blogs to test this new website.

Now I am starting this blog, and I wanted to study other blogs to see what works and what doesn't. I've learned that if you're going to learn a new craft, it is a good idea to study the masters, and the masters, in this case, are the bloggers who are already putting great thought-provoking articles out there.

The two primary forms of blogging I see that seem to work are 1) blogs that give some helpful advice and 2) blogs that showcase the incredible work done by others. Which makes sense that they are useful because they help the reader in some way.

The helpful advice blogs are often slightly dull to me as I tend to know most things they say unless it is a blog post with original new insights. Then it can blow my mind.

Showcasing amazing work by others tends to result in more original posts that are a joy to read. And so I thought I should try to do that here as I discover all these fantastic blogs.

Beautiful Art

To start with some beautiful art, see

Reverting to Type 2020: an exhibition of contemporary letterpress protest posters

That article shows how protest posters can use typography to deliver a message in a visually arresting way. It was something to think about for me this week. If you have something to say, you can also use eccentric typography and even draw it yourself.

That post dovetails nicely with this one.

Restricted Frequency #166

The art in that post also delivers a message; the message of love, as an Arabic character designed as a heart.

Drawing typography is one of the drawing exercises on “Practice Drawing This.”

Drawing Exercise - Copy Typography

Drawing typography teaches you a lot about elements of good design: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity - or C.R.A.P. And drawing typography is fun and meditative!

And this leads me to show Austin Kleon's fantastic post this week.

Mary Ruefle's Madness Rack and Honey

As an artist, your work is a response to the information you consume.

Look at the book cover designs; they are flat colors with typography on the cover, again titles delivering a message. In his blog, Austin Kleon highlights unique insights by Mary Ruefle, too many to mention here. For example, why didn't I know about commonplace books! Commonplace books are notebooks that creators fill with ideas and notes, things they see, hear or come up with themselves. I like that idea.

Please read the blog post; it is quite inspiring!

Cartoon with robot reading the newspaper.

Can Artificial Intelligence Create Art?

Do blog posts have to be written by humans? Does art need to be made by humans? Many creators have voiced fears that computers can take over. Many companies are releasing software that can produce art pieces that superficially look as if humans made them.

I think art needs to be made by humans. Art is a metaphor for life. It is or can be, how humans convey and share life experiences. Artificial Intelligence can only rehash existing work in a semi-arbitrary way. The result has no meaning.

However.

Then in this interview, Joanna Penn had with Yudhanjaya Wijeratne.

Co-writing With Artificial Intelligence With Yudhanjaya Wijeratne

They talk about co-writing with Artificial Intelligence, and they had some interesting thoughts on that! They talk about using A.I. to generate world designs, character designs, and weather conditions. I thought that was clever. I can see that working as a sophisticated form of writing prompt.

Still, I think an artwork is the most powerful when designed by a human. In a story, the world can be a character too, and when the writer did a good job, there is a central theme to the story, a conflict, and the various characters represent various angles of that theme, multiple sides of that conflict. When done well, writing is tight, and everything about it is carefully designed and not randomly generated by a computer.

A creator should not choose locations, characters, and weather conditions randomly, but instead, carefully design these to help support the story's telling.

As a programmer myself, I know the idea of having a computer program do part of the work for you is compelling. Still, it is probably a better idea for an artist or a writer to go out into the world and observe locations.

What do you see, hear, smell?

And observe people. How do they move, behave, talk?

And then draw and write down your notes in your commonplace book - see above. And then, use these notes in your next creative piece.

Life has way more intricate detail to it than we can remember off the top of our heads, or imagine, or have a computer generate for us. Go out there and observe life and make copious notes.

The interview did give me food for thought. I found it an original idea.

One of the things I am struck by as I study amazing blogs is how positive they are. Very little negativity. Posts that make you happy. It's a strong contrast with social media, where you see a lot of anger and hate because drama does well on social media - people respond to it, and the algorithm spreads it more.

I am falling in love with reading thought-provoking blog posts instead. Related to this, Austin Kleon presented a fascinating insight this week.

Disgust with civilization

Find the things that disgust you, find and publish the opposite of that. It is the polar opposite of an opinion piece or editorial cartoon that rages about a subject: write or draw about the opposite instead!

Because that is what I noticed with Editorial Cartoonists when I studied them a while back - study the masters: they would all, en masse, read the newspaper in the morning, and then respond to that with a cartoon. And they would all respond to the same events, sometimes even with the same joke.

As an artist, your work is a response to the information you consume. In this interview with James Clear this week - behind a paywall but very much worth a read.

The Profile: The kings of shaving and the Bitcoin millionaires locked out of their fortunes

He says as much when he says that he chooses books he allows to surround him. The information he consumes determines his output, as it is a response to that input.

It's why I try to stay away from the news. I don't want to respond to that. And it's why I am so enamored with blogs right now! They are fun! Quirky! Positive! Thought-provoking!

Should you let randomness from Artificial Intelligence be the input to your creativity? I'm not so sure. I'll stake my bets on great books and articles written by humans and by observing the world myself.

I'm not bashing that blog post, by the way! It forced me to think about this subject and form my own opinion of it, which I think is valuable! I don't have to agree with it to be happy I read it. Someone has to try it.

Let's all try to crawl our way out of the echo chambers which artificial intelligence algorithms have created around us.

My blog posts could be lists of links to thought-provoking new articles by others that I think are worth reading, with my thoughts on the subject.

And what I want to do at the moment is draw illustrations, preferably humorous ones. Maybe that is all this blog has to be?

As I write this article, I haven't drawn the illustrations yet. I hope I come around to that before the Sunday newsletter goes out.

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