When thinking about the future, I often consider these words from design legend, Brian Collins.
“Future-proofing is silly. It’s like waterproofing. Why would you protect against the future? Don’t talk about future-proofing, talk about future-making.”
At Elevation, we imagine the future through a similar lens, one where we follow our mantra to “outdare gravity.” Gravity is our antagonist. It represents the things that get us down or hold us back—antiquated ideas, fear of uncertainty or the “just get it done” attitude. Our purpose is not to eliminate or detach from gravity, but it is instead to outdare it – to tilt the balance a little towards the side of creative freedom, adventure and lightness of spirit.
With this in mind, we at Elevation have encountered some recent concerns in the artistic world over the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). So we thought it was worth discussing, and to explain why we, as a creative company, see AI as an extension of our ever-growing curiosity, and all of the ways it can enhance our and our clients’ creative experiences.
AI has been subtly influencing our creative work for years through technical tools such as automated photo retouching. But this is different. A new generation of AI text-to-image generators has arrived with two platforms – DALL•E and Midjourney – recently getting a lot of attention. They’ve been making headlines for the rather convincing and often artistic images they produce.
It’s understandable that some artists have raised concerns over the quality of images generated through text prompts. But, just as cameras disrupted traditional painting and smartphones disrupted traditional photography, these tools serve to elevate how we create and to unlock new ideas that we previously couldn’t fathom. They aren’t today, and never will be, replacements for our most fundamentally creative tool: the human brain.
Video didn’t really kill the radio star
Technology, by definition, is innovation. It isn’t malicious by nature, and its goal isn’t to “come for your job.” Technology is merely the reflection of the improvement that is desired in experiences and productivity. Is anyone (besides the loyal disk jockeys of yore) really upset that MTV emerged to give a more visceral experience to music? Did it change an industry? Certainly! Now, visual creators and pixel-slingers like us are facing similar industry-changing advancements.
The truth is, the fundamentals of good design and storytelling don’t change, but the tools we use often do. We can’t avoid it or hide from it. We have to take a giant leap, embrace the new world, and bring as many curious people along with us as we can. That’s how we grow, collectively, as creators and agents of innovation.
We’ve been here before
When Elevation opened its doors in 1996, the tools needed to produce professional work were expensive and hard to learn. Naturally, we had to evolve when a big part of that same work could suddenly be created with a well-dressed iMac and a license for Adobe Creative Suite. But did we cling to our Flame Suites and hide? Of course not! We used the opportunity to better our workforce – to work faster, smarter and leaner! It even improved the experience for our clients, because now, as work-for-hire, we could supply editable toolkits for internal use, using software that was more attainable for all.
Exploring new flight paths
More recently, we’ve seen a genuine movement towards Web3 adoption, with a range of brands looking to plug in. Web3, and the eventual metaverse, will likely have a profound effect on all forms of media and entertainment before the end of the decade.
So, of course, we jumped in!
Our team of adventurers explored every aspect of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), virtual worlds and the future of brand-building in order to be ready for what’s around the corner. And, we’ve shared everything we’ve learned so far with our clients in order to help them outdare gravity with us.
Here’s a secret: It’s way more interesting to learn new things together. The best creativity is born in partnership.
The art of ‘future-making’
So, now it’s AI, and it’s really something. From our perspective, AI text-to-image generators will have a place in our creative suite as rapid ideation tools, moodboard generators and even for individual asset creation in the right circumstances. They’ll let us explore fresh and unorthodox ideas without breaking budgets or threatening deadlines. These tools are, as Midjourney bills itself, “imagination engines” that expand rather than limit what is possible.
AI text-to-music generators will be here soon, and video and animation models are sure to follow. Personally, we can’t wait to see what new ideas they help bring to light both for us and for our clients.
Brett Rakestraw is the director of strategy at Elevation.