Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

The 'Creative Process' Powered by Artificial Intelligence

Advertising Agency
New York, USA
AKQA senior director Ryan Fox ponders on what Albert Einstein and Jimi Hendrix could have produced if they had the support of AI

What do Albert Einstein and Jimi Hendrix have in common? While it is true that Einstein was a musician (believe-it-or-not, he was actually a violinist), the correct answer is that they were both masters of their own creativity - one with the ability to theorize and solve some of the most complex mysteries of our universe and the other with the gift of unparalleled musical storytelling and expression. 

Now, imagine if these two historical figures had help, let’s say by Artificial Intelligence (AI), to produce the work that they are remembered for. Would it change your view of their accomplishments? 

The Importance of Creativity 

As humans, creativity is a gift that we all share. It’s the ability to transform our ideas, imagination, and dreams into reality - whether that be in the form of problem solving, personal expression, or self-actualization. It’s through creativity, we are able to advance human existence into new bounds, enabling generation after generation to evolve our definition of reality through new ideas. Every idea that has ever been created has gone through some form of what we know as the “Creative Process.”

The 'Creative Process'

The 'Creative Process' is the evolution of an idea into its final form through a progression of thoughts and actions. Graham Wallas, a social psychologist and co-founder of the London School of Economics, defined the stages of the creative process in his 1926 book on creativity called 'The Art of Thought':

1. Preparation: Gather a variety of ideas and information that would be helpful in solving the relevant problem or opportunity 

2. Incubation: Take a step back from actively thinking on your project to give the ideas and information space

3. Illumination: Let the “aha” moment strike, through which your ideas and information come together to form a solution 

4. Evaluation: Validate and test if the solution truly solves the problem or opportunity at hand

5. Verification: Create the final output of the solution and launch it into the world 

Graham Wallas was able to articulate a process that many of us do every day (in our personal lives and professions) without even realizing it. So with a process so inherently and fundamentally human, let’s revisit our question from earlier: should the “Creative Process” be influenced by external factors, such as AI?

Introducing a New Form of the “Creative Process” 

As the Colorado State Fair prizes were being given out, the audience was shocked when Jason Allen’s name was announced as the winner for the category of “Emerging Digital Artists.” The audience was surprised because Allen hadn’t made his entry like the rest of the contestants; he created it with Midjourney - an AI tool that turns words or strings of text into hyper-realistic graphics, sourcing and referencing all available images and information online / within the program’s database.  

The announcement of Jason Allen’s award at the Colorado State Fair sparked controversy in the creative community, with critics accusing him of having an unfair advantage. In Allen’s rebuttal, he advised that Midjourney did not produce the final output “magically" on command, and that there was still a “Creative Process” involved to shape the work into its final form. 

If we look at the 'Creative Process' through the lens of Allen, in 'Preparation', he had generated over 900 image combinations within Midjourney. Next “Incubation,” he considered what visual imagery best captured the expression he was aiming for. In “Illumination,” his “aha” moment was unlocked when he landed on 3 images that were the key to bringing to life the vision. “Evaluation” and “Verification” were likely blended together for Allen as he used Photoshop to combine these images, testing and refining them to determine if they would work as a cohesive piece of art. 

AI served Allen as a tool that furthered the possibilities of what his own human creativity could achieve - in a very similar way as did the invention of the camera or internet. While tools like Midjourney can enable everyday people without formal training to become “artists,” this only furthers the category by raising the benchmark for quality and generates more ideas and expression out into the world.

Activating AI within Digital Advertising, Marketing & Consulting

In an evolving landscape where technology and creativity come together to enable agency & consulting partners to create the future with their clients - all eyes are looking at the potential of AI. 

Imagine project briefings informed by Midjourney to align and help teams visualize the same direction. Or democratizing idea generation for rapid prototyping through using tools like Uizard, that convert rough sketches into high fidelity wireframes. Or enhancing the quality and speed of campaign or website copywriting through generation tools like Jasper. Or optimizing user experiences and bypassing long-winded A/B tests through predictive modeling tools like EyeQuant.   

Through using AI, there is massive potential for teams to work more efficiently, collaboratively, and intelligently across the lifecycle of a project. And above all, they are able to keep their “Creative Process” intact while functioning in advanced ways. In a world where clients need true strategic partners - those that are able to move the fastest, while delivering a vision and quality output, are the ones that will win. 

It makes you wonder, what could have Albert Einstein and Jimi Hendrix produced if they had the support of AI? A new law of physics? The best album ever recorded? That’s a question for another time.

Work from AKQA US