Spiting the AI

If you aren’t chronically online [like me], you may not have heard about all the issues with AI art. If you aren’t sure why it’s a bad thing, a quick synopsis is that for AI art to work, they have to steal artwork from human artists in order to mush things together to create what people are generating. It isn’t like they are taking from public domain works, and that is obscenely shitty, especially since of course corporations are cutting ties with human artists to use a machine that makes wonky ass hands and regurgitates soulless garbage made of art that was actually nice and had thought and composition behind it. It’s the art of equivalent of me writing a book by stealing good sentences from bestsellers. I mean, it’s a new book. Who cares where all the good sentences came from, especially if I changed the names, right? See how stupid it sounds when you change art to writing. We call that plagiarism. My advice for this is DO NOT FEED THE MACHINE. Don’t play with AI generators, don’t use those photo changer apps because they are AI also, and if you have Adobe or other art programs, double check that your settings are such that it isn’t stealing your data/files to feed to their AI machines.

As someone who values equity and the arts/humanities, supporting AI goes against everything I stand for, and using it, even casually, spits in the face of every artist who works hard on their craft and is trying to make a living and those who spend hours on their art as a hobbiest. Yes, I will fight people over this. Go use AI to make a machine that will do my taxes and leave the creative stuff to human beings.

Anyway, this is not meant to be a rant about how gross AI art is, though I could spend a lot of time doing so. The reason why I bring this up is because one of my goals for this year is to get back into art, drawing, and crafting. I crocheted like a machine in 2020 (though, ironically machines cannot crochet as it’s too difficult), but I sort of burnt myself out on it. Last year, I had intended to do more art, but I ended up focusing on getting back into writing and really didn’t do anything besides my bullet journal spreads/doodles. That isn’t to say that isn’t art, but it wasn’t what I had intended to do.

All through middle and high school, I took art classes, to the point that in my senior year, I was in Portfolio Art (senior year, you took all of the art classes class) and Arts and Crafts (which was like ceramics, plastic canvas, basket weaving, etc). Art has played a pivotal part in my life, and during college, I wasn’t able to take any art classes because the vast majority conflicted with my science labs. In the fourteen years since I graduated high school, I have lost that muscle memory for art that isn’t craft-focused. My hope is that I can do more little pieces, play with the supplies I have, and just enjoy art as a process. Aka, not cry over my lost muscle memory and rage quit when it doesn’t go well. At first, I know my art will look terrible, and that’s fine. The whole point of doing this is to reawaken that side of me, enjoy the process, and work toward improving in a very loose, fun way.

Something I want to put out into the universe is that I would love to sell planner stickers one day. I absolutely adore sticker sheets of cute but mundane things, and there are more niche stickers I would love to have that don’t exist in shops in the US. Maybe one day I can make some fossil stickers or ones of amphoras and Grecian urns. We’ll see.

At this point, I have Posca acrylic paint markers, needle felting kits, plastic canvas kits, and Himi gouache sitting in my basement waiting for me to use them. I don’t know how much I’ll post about my art journey this year or how far I’ll get, but I hope you will join me in recapturing the childlike glee of making art.


Feeding the Beast

This summer has been two months of experimentation regarding my writing and what I need in order to be productive. What I have found is that to continue to be productive creatively, you need to feed that creative beast.

Writing is an incredibly solitary activity. You sit in front of your computer or notebook for hours, constructing a world of your own. While it’s rewarding and you wouldn’t have it any other way, it’s hard to do day after day. Burning out is a constant threat, which leads to productivity problems, lack of motivation, and overall blah-ness. It sounded scientific up until that point, didn’t it? It’s true though. As much as we would like to pretend that writers and artists are limitless fonts of creativity, it’s very possible for the well to run dry, and it does, much to our dismay.

Typically my summers consist of me living a mole-like existence where I don’t leave my house unless I have to attend a university function or go to work. This year, I decided to try to get out more and actually do some fun things to boost my creativity. Here are some things I have found that feed that creative beast:

  1. Read! No seriously, read a book, one you actually want to read. Most writers are fairly avid readers, and I’ve noticed that when I am reading a book or series I enjoy, the words tend to flow more than they would if I was slogging through a book for grad school.birthday books3
  2. Color. Or draw or paint. Do something creative that is not your current project. For my birthday, I received one of those adult coloring books and a new box of colored pencils. It’s wonderful. While you’re utilizing someone else’s design, you’re choosing the colors and figuring out how you want it to work. The repetitive nature of coloring also tends to reduce stress and help you reach that zen-like state that is conducive to creative work.
  3. Get out of the house. Seriously, step away from your computer and go outside. It’s easy to fall into the trap where you sit for 10 hours at a clip staring at Microsoft Word wondering why the muses are being so cruel. Part of you says, “I can’t leave the house! What if I get my mojo back while I’m out?” More than likely, you’ll be enjoying what you’re doing out in the world, but bring a notebook just in case or use the notepad feature on your phone to jot down your idea on the fly. Go to the mall, go to the bookstore, go to the park. My favorite right now is going to the beach or to the water. Water is an incredibly grounding force. If you can, get to the water (lake, ocean, bay, whatever) and take off your shoe and socks. Let your feet soak in the water. I find the ebb and flow of the tide to be an incredibly grounding force. This summer I went on a 3 hour boat tour, and it was wonderful. I brought my notebook, but I was so busy enjoying the water that I didn’t even reach for it. When I got home, it was writing time.

    A little pic from the Jersey Shore.
  4. Watch a little TV. When I say this, I don’t mean an 8 hour binge of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. I mean, sit down and watch something you truly enjoy. Put away your laptop for an hour or two and just enjoy the show. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Project Runway or Poldark, just sit and watch for a little while. I tend to not advocate Netflix because the autostart the next show, and 1 episode turns into 10 in the blink of an eye.

Remember that your creativity is like a being all of its own. It needs to be nurtured and fed, and when you work it for weeks on end, it needs time to rest or recuperate. My suggestion is to do at least one of these things each day. Read before bed or during your lunch break, get out of the house on days off is possible. Take time to enjoy your work and feed your inner creative being with things that inspire you.