AI has already started to ruin the stock image world.
It may even be trying to steal your dog and your husband as we speak. *I* heard that it’s already taken jobs away from real live humans right here in own our small town. Ok well, maybe it’s not flipping your burgers quite yet but it is already making waves in the design pool…
One small sign is in the stock image inventories…
You see, many designers rely on stock images to produce their marketing content and branding collateral for their clients. These range from graphics needed for mockups, to actual marketing images for ads, as well as icon designs for user interfaces, and they need to be of a certain quality if you want your designs to look professional.
But whether it be through sites like iStock or Pixabay, if you’ve used any of these sites over the last year you’ve likely already seen a noticeable shift in the images you’ll find there. The search results are literally awash with illustrated style, smooth edged – and don’t get me wrong quite eye-catching – images that are not photo stock at all.
At best it makes it even harder to sift through thousands of potential images when you’re already limited on time. At worst it could already be the first signs of AI replacing human talent behind the lens and in front of the screen.
Dammit! I wanted the robots to take care of the jobs I don’t want to do, not take away the creative tasks I work to find time for myself!
A lot of people in the design world are upset about AI, and justly so in their own right. …But we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Best to make friends with it; learn to recognize it and use it as the potential gift that it could be. It’s already become the “hot new feature” on design sites like Canva, where it’s touted as being practically magic!
Should You Be Worried?
Yes. The robits are comin’ to take yer jobs!
But also no. At least that is, not quite yet. While AI is learning fast – and faster every day – it still largely requires some human input to be directed towards a focused goal or result. A loose cannon is still a freaking cannon! If you can learn to aim it, it can serve your purpose. If you don’t, well…yeah, be worried.
In case you are worried about supporting AI in your stock images there are a few things that can work to spot them, for now:
Overly smooth illustrated style. If it looks like video game concept art but it’s supposed to be an image of home appliance repair, that could be AI generated.
Odd hands. Look closely at the hands and fingers if there are people in the image. AI currently can still have trouble rendering hand and fingers correctly, so unless it’s been post-editing (good job human!) the digits can be a good way to tell.
Background “things”. You ever drink too much nyquil with your coffee? Yeah. Look at the background, man. At this time, AI will sometimes generate strange digital artifacts in the backgrounds of images. Swirls, eyes, too much lens flare – those kind of things in the background could indicate it’s been rendered by AI.
For now at least the best recommendation I can give is pay attention! Even if you’re adamantly against AI altogether, or just as a creative tool, it’s important to be aware of what changes it is bringing as it is the state of the design industry itself. If you’re not opposed to it, and what it could represent, start learning – and fast! There are definite benefits to having a helpful genie in your pocket, even if you’re already a highly skilled wizard.
If you’re looking to work with a wizard of the web, a digital docent to educate you on the mysterious ways of social media or SEO, Pickwick is more than qualified to help! Get in touch to share with me your visions of success so that we can work together to make them happen.