AI and the Artist’s Process
In 2013, Adobe began inviting artists from different corners of the creative world to reimagine the company’s logo in their own style. In the years since, dozens of artists have joined the remix program to offer their own take on the iconic “A”. There have been gravity-defying installations, working clocks, delicate illustrations, and more.
The style-transfer process analyzes the elements of one image and applies them to a different image. It may sound like a filter, but it’s more of a starting point than an end result. The AI looks at what the artist is doing—their color palette, how they apply strokes, and so on—and translates those elements to another image more quickly than the artist could on their own.
For his remix, Katro wanted to bring together the physical and digital world and show them merging with AI. He started by painting with acrylics, creating abstract swirls of color that he photographed and brought into Adobe Photoshop CC to refine. He used those images as source material for the style transfer, combining them with black-and-white images and a Van Gogh painting to make the patterns more abstract with each pass.
“Before, I would have done the same thing in Photoshop,” he points out, “but it would have taken me a long time. This created a really nice texture right away.”
Katro then moved to 3D software to turn his new textures into planet-like spheres. He also shot video of the colors from his style-transfer experiments being reflected through a real-world prism. The goal, he says, was to merge the physical, digital, and AI elements so seamlessly, you can’t tell what is recorded with video and what is artificially created.
“For me, it’s about the process. The video shows how things flow and merge together until there is only this one logo that represents everything. This is a story. Adobe is a journey of creativity.”
For Katro, experimenting with style transfer and Adobe Sensei, without a clear idea of where it would lead him, was a natural part of the artistic process. “It’s not fun if I don’t challenge myself. If I know how to do it and I have a clear path about it, it’s sort of boring to me,” he says. “But if I’m playing around with something I’ve never done before, I’m learning while I do it.”
Two and a half years ago, that same ethos led him to set himself another challenge: create a new poster every day for a year. The results offer a glimpse into the creative process itself. Scrolling through the posters, you watch as visual concepts are refined, remixed, and discarded with each iteration. The goal isn’t perfection, it’s exploration.
“The idea was to challenge myself to learn new stuff and come up with something new every day,” he says. “If I weren’t doing that, I’d probably be working once a week on something and I would get bored. But making a commitment and knowing I have a deadline every day keeps me excited. I feel like I’m still 15, when I was just playing around with Photoshop.”
Katro knows that some artists feel uncomfortable with the idea of handing over a part of their process to AI. When he asked his Instagram followers what they thought of using AI, some worried it would take over their jobs. Most, however, welcomed it.
“I see it is as a tool that I can use for different stuff,” Katro says. “It’s not like it does only this one thing. It’s something you can integrate into your own workflow, the same as the Pen tool or Liquify tool in Photoshop. AI is just going to help us with tedious tasks that were stopping our creativity.”
He also points out that, like any tool, the results you get are only as good as the input you give it. And that remains the place for the artist’s vision.
“Infinite things are possible,” says Katro.
October 30, 2018