Nic's Picks: A Case For Craft

Nicki puts forward a case for craft in the face of AI art, starting in our own backyard with output from the unique human creative brains of artists including Alison Carmichael, Lebassis, Em Cooper and Pâté.

Monday 5 December 2022
By Nicki Field

Oooh this winter sun is gorge. I soaked myself in caffeine yesterday to ward off the greyness whilst taking a dive into the world of AI Art 😵‍💫. And you know what? The more I read, the more it sends me the other way. Firmly into valuing everything human. I am fascinated, curious, and all the rest of it with the tech, yet my main takeaway is that whatever else AI art can do, it doesn’t and probably will never, compete with a unique human creative brain.

This led me to thinking about the ever-present important conversations about ‘craft’ and its constant fight: for space, timings, budget, and respect. It is the good fight that we are all in together but when we can make it work, you know what, it works. I thought I might feed your eyes with some examples.

Chatting in the studio last week with Alison, we were talking about fonts and the standout hand-lettering can bring. Talking about how to articulate this wider Al wrote:

" ‘With the best will in the world, in a society that is deluged with information sharing, it is now really challenging for any brand to be unique, different and to stand out. Self-expression and uniqueness can do an excellent job of conveying each brand’s personality and ethos, so, whilst initially it may seem like a luxury that can be spared, it is actually a very strategic and important brand move.’"

Alison Charmichael

Alison is speaking towards custom brand fonts, yet it rings true for all we do. Overall, we’re all always striving for ourselves, our clients and their brands, to make everything we collectively output as ownable and distinctive as possible to compete for the audience’s attention.

We recently worked with Netflix and Lebassis for a title lock-up for Jordan Peele’s first animated feature Wendell & Wild. Being part of this project and being someone who watches far too much telly, I noticed how Netflix are embracing hand lettering across the majority of their shows. Each big release’s title is becoming a unique font or hand lettered in a bid to stand-out.

Another recent project that speaks to this is by Director Em Cooper, who we worked with to create an animated video for the remastered version of ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ by The Beatles. The sheer craft and human hand are present throughout the entirety; the film was made from over 1,300 hand painted frames and draw on Em’s memories of the song from her childhood. As a result of the beauty of its craft, within a month of release on The Beatles official YouTube channel, it’s had 3M views, over 100k likes and nearly 5,000 positive comments. The comments are as dreamy as the animation itself.

The record company said, ‘Stats are coming in on the video and the performance is incredible i.e. 100/100 SEO score for its popularity, based on engagements and views relative to other videos on YouTube. A stat we’ve actually never seen before.’ Watch it here.

And one thing that machine art absolutely cannot do yet - is the thinking part. Conceptually solving a brief. Thoughtfully mulling over how to best visually represent a complex content brief that needs to include a hierarchy of points or speak to the nuances of a brand message or capturing a campaign concept.

Pâté’s absolute passion for what he does comes from ‘condensing problems into simple, relevant, striking and original visuals that communicate clearly and elicit a smile in the mind. Also, I hate ambiguity, so I enjoy producing images that communicate clearly, it is therapeutic.’

He enjoys the client process and collaborating, borrowing from his experience as a Creative Director, answering the questions of: How are we going to crack this? And how are we going to do it together? This is the unique human brain part that is so important in the process.

So, I’ll leave you be and head back to the mince pies feeling confident that the machines aren’t going to take over. Not just yet...

Nicki Field

Joint MD & Head of Artist Management, Global