AI Art Unicorns Deliver Hype (and Some Hope)

Geoff Livingston
4 min readOct 12, 2022
Created on Prompt: ultradetailed satanic unicorn, emotional, sharp, colorful, but dark, surrounded by storm clouds, lightning bolts, pixie dust, renaissance look to the picture, 8k

Almost every newspaper and media outlet has published a story about the rise of AI art. This hype cycle is fueled by Silicon Valley AI unicorns like freemium applications Dall.E, Midjourney, and Most journalists paint a picture of technology arrived, but the output demonstrates a great deal of hype versus what is produced (this CNBC article is more grounded).

First, let’s not deny the strong work getting produced on these applications. There are some epic illustrations getting created, and in one well-reported case, award-winning art. While perhaps a proof of concept, the tools are not ready yet to become every person’s CGI tool or even a regular toolset for professional graphic designers.

Based on my own use of the applications as a content marketer and photographer, the technology is at least one or two generations away from meaningful everyday use. These image generators have to evolve for application in business and life. Right now, the generated images are often too clunky, and off-base.

Open AI: Evil unicorn based on an image after a total failure using the same prompt used to generate the opening image on Midjourney.

Frankly, the prompting inputs into AI are too primitive for widespread adoption. And it is likely the algorithms need much more rendering training, too. I suspect a vast majority of artists will find the Silicon Valley AI art tools can suggest possibilities but lack the refinement needed to achieve their vision.

The overhype reminds me of the promises of virtual reality. Hyped for more than 20 years in various incarnations, from virtual reality to the metaverse, we have only somewhat realized the promise. Tools like Oculus have yet to become part of mainstream consumer life.

Training the AI Art Unicorns version of the unicorn prompt. I gave up on this engine after 40 minutes.

AI Art apps are not ready for primetime because there are great challenges in training AI art apps to deliver strong outcomes. They lack the normal and expected capability that users need to refine art concepts, capabilities already established in graphic design and CGI software, for…