Highlights –

  • DALL-E can assist an artist in coming up with creative concept, much like how an artist would look at other works of art for inspiration.
  • OpenAI noted that a variety of artists are already employing DALL-E for many projects.

Over one million users will now have paid subscription access to the beta version of DALL-E 2; the powerful image-generating AI solution that OpenAI launched last week. Additionally, it gave those users complete permission to monetize the photographs they produce with DALL-E, including the ability to reproduce, sell, and merchandize their creations.

The news caused a stir in the IT community, but most of the excitement was limited to happy Twitter feeds overflowing with responses to errant DALL-E prompts. But there seem to be a lot of unanswered questions that keep popping up.

Using OpenAI for commercial DALL-E

The most important question is:  What does this commercial exploitation of DALL-AI-powered E’s photography imply for the creative sectors and their employees? This includes graphic designers, video producers, PR companies, ad agencies, and marketing groups. Should this be considered the illustrator’s complete disappearance?

OpenAI says the answer is no. A spokesperson from the company described DALL-E as a tool that “enhances and extends the creative process.” DALL-E can assist an artist in coming up with a creative concept, much like how an artist would look at other works of art for inspiration.

“What we’ve heard from artists and users to date is that it takes the human direction to generate a good representation of the idea,” the spokesperson said.

But how can someone who uses DALL-E-2 to create an image attest that it is their own work? After all, the person using DALL-E-2 is simply entering a prompt. How can the results of that prompt be their own? If they are allowed to sell those works commercially, are they really the artist?

However, how can someone claim ownership of their work if they used DALL-E-2 to make the image? After all, each DALL-E-2 user is just typing in a prompt. The outcomes of that prompt cannot possibly be their own. Are they really the artist only because they are permitted to sell these pieces for a profit?

Like how we learn as children, DALL-E 2 has mastered the relationship between images and the text used to explain them, according to OpenAI, which argues that DALL-E generates original visuals. DALL-E, for instance, can discover the appearance of the city of Paris using images of Paris, which include the Eiffel Tower and the Seine River. DALL-E 2 will produce a distinctive, original vision of Paris based on what it has discovered about the city if you give it the word “Paris.”

Creatives react to OpenAI’s expanded accessibility

Overall, the creatives appear to be embracing DALL-E’s arrival on the scene and investigating the tool’s potential to increase productivity and efficiency as well as benefit from its creative support.

“For enterprise clients, this technology can provide a vehicle to get from idea to concept and then help to refine the concept much faster,” said Andy Martinus, global head of innovation at London-based public relations firm Team Lewis.

He highlighted that, unlike what some people would think, it could not take the role of a creative director’s ideas.

“For artists and marketers, while there might be skepticism initially, there is also an opportunity,” he added. “Creators can use the tool to build out their initial ideas and to create variations of an existing design or idea, [which] provides a greater level of creative control.”

According to Meghan Goetz, director of marketing at the digital agency Crowd Favorite, the in-house marketing and design team is frequently required by corporate brand clients because of their stringent brand guidelines and user personas. “For these teams, DALL-E can be utilized to create new, unique, or custom stock media, which could be great for campaigns that require specific design styles,” she said. “It could be a great tool for prototyping or inspiration for design assets while modifying and editing images can be a great way to utilize these tools to save time and money.”

Designers now have a chance to modernize their work processes because of the increased accessibility of DALL-E, according to Juan Pablo Madrid, senior director of design innovation at New Orleans-based Online Optimism. He claimed that he found it similar to the commonly used AI-driven algorithms that have accelerated image processing in tools like Adobe Photoshop.

“Some examples I have seen from other designers are using DALL-E 2 to create photorealistic mockups of brand materials or creating original blog post images,” he added.

The use of DALL-E might lead to more competition!

However, Baruch Labunski, CEO of Rank Secure, noted that while the commercial usage of DALL-E 2 may boost innovation and provide artists more alternatives for establishing and extending their markets, it may also increase rivalry in the creative field.

“There is going to be a flood of creative work stemming from this, which can be good or bad, depending on your agency and your location,” he said.

He went on to say that the benefit was for small marketing agencies or businesses who could, with the subscription, produce professional images, increasing their ability to compete with more prominent companies or businesses while minimizing costs. Additionally, since they could compete, freelancers would have more opportunities.

The drawbacks, however, include heightened competitiveness in the creative sector, which could result in lower costs for marketing and creative work, particularly in more populous urban regions where there is already fierce competition.

“I don’t see it limiting jobs in the space,” he said. “I see it as creating more jobs and that will also mean more competition.

Ownership issues with DALL-E imagery

The spokesman for OpenAI claims that full usage rights are what creators prefer based on user feedback. The original image is still retained by OpenAI, though, “primarily so that we may more effectively enforce our content policy.”

Unfortunately, creative workers still find understanding ownership and copyright issues challenging. “Commercially, there are questions to be answered around ownership of the imagery that tools like DALL-E 2 create – is the image owned by DALL-E 2 or by the creative that directed it?” said Martinus. “If [OpenAI] owns it, do you buy the usage rights, and can others use the image as well, as with stock images? Could this be a longer-term alternative to stock imagery?”

Asserting that when it comes to working for specific brands, “they tend to avoid any uncertainty when it comes to image and design asset licenses,” Goetz concurs that ownership rights appear to be “a bit hazy.”

Considering that users do not have exclusive copyright to any picture generations and cannot, therefore, transfer it to a customer, Madrid said he would be hesitant to employ tools like DALL-E 2 for high-value client work. So, unless ad companies are ready for potential legal disputes over created work, I wouldn’t urge them to think about firing their designers.

He does, however, advise them to reconsider their expensive stock photo memberships.

“The price-point and ability to create virtually any image from a text prompt is pretty attractive,” he said.

Future with artists in mind, according to OpenAI

OpenAI notes that various artists are already employing DALL-E for many projects.

“Our hope is that DALL-E can be used by artists, designers and photographers as a tool to help with the creative process,” the OpenAI spokesperson said. “We have seen AI be a good tool for people in the creative space. For example, as photo editing software has become more powerful and accessible, it has allowed more people to enter the photography field. In recent years, we’ve also seen artists use AI to create new kinds of art.”

Martinus stressed that the creative industry should not be viewed as being threatened by DALL-E 2 and other tools. He said, “People tend to ‘hack’ tools and use them for tasks beyond their original intention. I expect the same with DALL-E 2. People will use it, but differently than we expect.”

Goetz concluded that she is not yet seeing the complete adoption of these technologies.

“Many clients and projects demand the expertise and experience of the human aspect when it comes to final production,” she said.