One fascinating thing about coming from a non-visual creative discipline (copywriting) and growing into a visual one (creative direction) is that the way your taste level and eye develops is almost exactly the same.
It’s pattern-spotting, mostly.
You notice small details of course (“oof that transition was clunky”/“ouch that lighting really took the bite out of that shot”) but most of all, you notice what repeats over and over again, and where people are leaning on the expected vs. taking risks and trying something new.
So we (the creatives) get bored with the patterns quickly, because we’re immersed in our work every single day.
Which brings me to the great frustration of it all:
Humans Love Familiarity
Realizing that for the most part in any creative endeavor, the things your discernment identifies as “expected and overplayed” usually… work anyway.
It’s DEEPLY annoying, but it’s true.
That’s why you’ll hear creatives crowing about how they can spot AI from 50 paces (we can) but unfortunately that doesn’t really make a blip in how it functions in the market (as an AI-generated visual, or email, say).
The casual consumer just won’t see it, because they don’t know how to look for it, and they don’t really care.
So why are we all still so mad about it???
Because the desire to take a risk to do something new, or push that envelope, or pull an unexpected thread from the zeitgeist, has to come from the creative directly because frankly, the masses just don’t really care the way we want them too.
And creatives have to want it BAD, btw, because doing something fresh is fucking difficult and frankly a little painful.
Is a Bit of Discomfort the Secret Sauce to Genuine Creativity?
That’s what concerns me a lot about AI.
It’s not really that AI-generated stuff all looks and sounds the same because frankly, everything kind of already did, and has for a long time.
(And I don’t say that to be snobby it’s just true — for me, and for you. Humans and consumers like familiarity, it’s part of our genetic makeup).
It’s the fact AI is basically one giant pattern-regurgitating machine, which means one insidious potential side effect is a shrinking population of envelope-pushers, and a fading away of people willing to sit with the doubt and the discomfort to push something out that really cuts through to people, and shapes something new.
It’s rare enough as it is… and I worry about it becoming even more so.
I’ve heard AI can be a great brainstorm buddy, and I’ve tried it, but all it does is feed my most beginner-level ideas that I’ve already nixed back to me.
I’m sure that could improve with time, but also — I don’t WANNA give my brain away to the big pattern machine!!
I Write to Figure Out What I Think
I direct to bring ideas in my head out into the real because even when the result is damn close to what I visualize, amazing serendipity always appears in the messy act of creation that just makes the whole thing so much better.
Maybe this is short sightedness but I’ll say it:
- I don’t WANT my creative process to be easier!
- I don’t WANT it to hurt less!
- I don’t WANT the general patterns of all humanity identified, distilled and then explained to me at a 5th grade reading level by some omnipotent robot!
I wanna bitch and sweat and suffer and have an amazing time doing so because this is the work, and this is the process of creating something great.
I wanna doubt and dare and worry about whether you guys will like it and do it anyway because god damnit I believe in it and if you don’t like it that’s y’all’s problem ohgodohgodpleaselikeit.
Don’t take away the challenge, robots!
The challenge is whole the point!
… Isn’t it?
Feature image created by Krista Willmorth using Midjourney.