This AI-generated advertising is creeping me out

Paintings of chickens created by AI
(Image credit: 10 Days)

The use of AI to create digital art is becoming a worrisome hot topic for many professional artists. The rise of AI that can create incredible and creative paintings could put artists out of work; that's the fear. But AI art isn't yet taking over, in fact some of it is absolutely horrific. Seriously, these images would give Salvador Dalí nightmares.

We've seen big tech brands enter the AI art space and some, such as DALL-E 2 and Google's Imagen, are certainly impressive, though I'd question if they can truly replicate human expression. 

The new advertising project from London agency 10 Days (opens in new tab) saw the AI platform Midjourney create a series of campaigns around famous 10 famous brands, including Nespresso, KFC, Gucci, British Airways and Ray-Ban. Frankly, I find the results horrifying. Not because it could replace artists, that's bad, naturally, but because the art is creeping me out.

A painting of shark people by AI

This AI art for an experimental Gymshark campaign is perhaps far too literal. (Image credit: 10 Days)

Midjourney's results are downright frightening, and include a painting of a chicken eating fried chicken, a Gucci-coloured slug on a tongue and a human-shark mashup – it's mechanical Abstract Expressionism and I find it unsettling.

The art was created by feeding six genre-based words into the algorithm, such as 'sci-fi,' 'noir,' and 'cinematic,' alongside the required brand names. It took Midjourney minutes to create 24 unique images per brand. 10 Days believes the use of AI in this way isn't designed to replace creatives but to draft iterations on a theme that artists can then work up and embellish – and improve upon.

AI art created for an imagined Ray-Ban advert

A three-eyed, erm, fleshy blob wears Ray-Ban sunglasses (Image credit: 10 Days)

There would definitely need some tweaks too, if Midjourney were ever to be let loose on a real-world ad campaign. The AI may be able to render abstract and uncomfortable artwork, but it's not yet found a spellchecker – we're not sure 'KFFC', 'Ubber' and 'Wumbldoon' would impress the clients.

While we can smirk at the mistakes found in Midjourney's approach we shouldn't overlook the fact that the AI art generation is rising in use and become more powerful. As far back as 2016 AI has been creating doodles into fine art and there are some useful features in some of the best AI photo editing software, but we can't help but feel human interaction, expression and talent will always be needed.

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Ian Dean is Digital Arts & Design Editor at Creative Bloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his love to bring the latest news on NFTs, video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Corel Painter, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5.