Artificial Intelligence, Real Artists: How To Build A Career In Art In The Age of AI

How To Build A Career In Art In The Age of AI
How To Build A Career In Art In The Age of AI

As technology continues to evolve, there is an increasing fear that artificial intelligence (AI) could replace human creativity. The big question for artists and designers has quickly started to centre around the idea of: how to build a career in art despite the rise of AI?

It’s Okay To Cry

The first step to building an AI-proof career in art is to embrace your feels. Think about – do I want to hate AI, or embrace it? The Montreal-based artist Adam Duff said it pretty well in the video embedded below: “It’s tempting to have a very quick emotional reaction to something shaking the very foundations of this skill that I have devoted my life to.”

Green with envy… or dollars?

If you can’t move past the frustration, then you probably didn’t click on this article. So, let’s assume you’re at least trying to figure out how to work with the new behemoth on the block.

The next step might be getting really comfortable with the idea that art and money are two different things. It is essential to understand that creating art for oneself is different from creating art to make money. Building a career in art is more about how the market works and the basic principles of economics than it is about creating good art. It is crucial to understand why someone is hiring an artist, what skills they are providing, how they create a product, and the economics behind the process.

Having a solid understanding of the basic principles of economics and how markets function is critical. It can help an artist identify where job opportunities lie and how they can stand out from their competition. Adapting to changing market conditions is key to building a successful career as an artist. So it is absolutely essential to develop both your artistic skill set and business acumen. Understanding market conditions, adapting to change, and positioning yourself to maximize earnings potential are all important factors in building a successful career in the arts. Take a business course, or at least ask ChatGPT for some business advice.


It’s now time to accept that there is a new and very easy-to-master visual form. Generative AI models like Dall-E 2, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney can create images that are difficult to distinguish from that created by human artists. While this has led to concerns about the future of human artistry, it also presents opportunities for artists keen to explore new creative avenues.

One way that artists can embrace AI is by incorporating it into their creative process. AI can be used to generate ideas, provide inspiration, or assist with the execution of artwork. For example, an artist can use an AI model to generate a variety of color schemes or compositions that they can then use as a starting point for their own artwork.

Traditional artist and comic legend Dave McKean recently spoke about his experiments in AI in the video below. In one sense, he questions if one can even define AI generated “art” as art: “Art for me has a very particular definition. It’s a human activity. I’ve had arguments with people about, you know, a beautiful sunset, that they’ve said ‘look at that extraordinary sunset, now to me that’s art’ That’s the other person talking. Now to me, it’s not art! It’s nature. If you make a painting of that, if you interpret that, through the human imagination then it can become art. If it’s good. Everything around you is not art! It’s not art until it’s gone through the process of being interpreted and understood and redefined as a as part of the creative process of being human.”

He also sees some value in programs like Midjourney, calling it “an extremely powerful tool.”

“I’ve used it for work and I’ve used it to generate material and incorporate it into my working method and that’s absolutely fine. I feel vaguely sick while I’m doing it um because it still feels like a fraud.”



It might be helpful to think of AI not as competition, but as a personal assistant. AI can be used to enhance an artist’s skills by developing new skills around prompt engineering. There are AI tools available that can help artists with sometimes-hated tasks such as image restoration, upscaling, or colorization. These tools can save artists time and improve the quality of their work, allowing them to focus more on the creative aspects of their art.

Another way that artists can embrace AI is by using it to create new forms of art. AI-generated art can be seen as a new art form that offers a unique perspective on the creative process. Many artists are already exploring this new medium, creating works of art that are generated entirely by AI models. This type of art offers a new way of thinking about creativity, and it opens up new possibilities for brainstorming concepts and techniques.

Focus On Your Strengths And Style

So, how can artists build an AI-proof career in art? One way is by focusing on their unique perspective and creative process. While AI can create impressive works of art, it cannot replicate the unique perspective and creative vision of a human artist. Artists who focus on their individuality and create work that is true to their own perspective are more likely to stand out in the marketplace.

Another way to build an AI-proof career is by embracing new technologies and incorporating them into your creative process. By staying up-to-date on new developments in technology, artists can find new opportunities to enhance their work and create new forms of art.

An artist can argue against it, protest its rise or ignore it altogether, but it seems clear that AI is here, and not likely to simply shuffle away. An artist could also choose to embrace it – to learn it’s features, wield it as a tool and monetize it to supplement income streams. Above all, for an artist to establish a new career or shore up an existing one, focusing on their unique perspective and creative process is the most sure route.


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