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  • Hal Hefner


Updated: Sep 9, 2022

The rise of Midjourney and other AI art generation engines has started a big debate in the Solarpunk community about AI art. A lot of the questions I see are...

Does the art have a soul?

Will it take away the job of the artist?

What will it do in the future?

What are the ethics of it?

What are the copyright laws now and in the future?

These are lots of hard questions we all are asking.

But let's be real. Midjourney is just another tool. Back in the day Illustrator and Photoshop also stoked the same carnal fires of fear for artists. This is no different in some ways but it could be in many others.

As someone who painstakingly creates digital and physical art I can definitely see why there is some resentment for Midjourney generated images. However, I view it as just another tool for artists to use.

For example, I've found a way to use it as almost a "sketch" to function as an under-layer or conceptual idea. Below are some images that I was exploring to create a Solarpunk farmer wearing a technologically advanced hat.

The first three images I generated were a great start but needed to be cleaned up and rendered in my style to accomplish more of what I had in mind.

While there were a lot of great things in the art generated, I needed something very specific. So here is the final piece of art that I took and changed.

So even for artists who can draw it certainly has value. It also has practical uses for those that can't draw. While the evolution of the AI generated art movement continues who knows where it will lead. But from a Solarpunk perspective there is no harm in generating positive images of a Utopian future so this bashing of it just seems counterproductive.

We must remember that Solarpunk is a pro-technology movement that is all about making life more efficient. Technology specifically in Solarpunk is the utilization of scientific knowledge/advancements for practical purposes. This technology in all of its forms, is needed to create a better future for people. This does apply to the arts as well.

So the future of artistry will change, no doubt. Some people can't draw and will use this to generate art while some will hire artists. Others will use AI then hire artists to clean it up. I can also see the people who become masters of the AI prompts to become sought after as well for ad agencies and other creative organizations. These are the new adjustments we must now adapt to. Either way there is no harm if the idea is to generate a better future.

If curious about this topic even further, here is a great town hall hosted by the amazing artist Karla Ortiz and the Concept Art Association.

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