AI will replace you
Yes, AI will replace designers, writers, illustrators, filmmakers, and all the functional roles we consider professional in the creative services realm.
It could happen quickly. It may take a while. But in any case, don’t buy the bull about AI not having feelings, so it can’t do deep-feeling work. And don’t buy the “work by real human hands will increase in value” story either.
There are still a few wooden wagon wheel makers charging a premium to wagon collectors. But nothing like the thousands that made wood wheels before there were cars.
And once AI gets access to publisher archives and the full range of human emotions described there, feelings will be just another touchstone for the robots.
I’m sure every soon-to-be out-of-work craftsperson throughout history has felt the same total panic when machines replaced them. It’s tough to earn a living as a creative already. It always has been.
What to do
You will still be you with your passions and skills as a creative. But how will you make a living?
First, use AI in every way possible so you are familiar with it. AI will change the way you work.
My clients are using AI to speed up the writing and strategy process. They also use AI to create package designs and iterate variations. A film client is using AI to storyboard and edit. I’m using AI to do roughs of my drawings, and I expect I’ll soon use it to do finished art. We’ve all seen illustrations by AI.
Some of my clients have combined roles like writing and design, using AI in a supporting role.
I suspect AI could help writers become proficient in design and illustration. And help designers become better writers. Who knows how it will expand the role of film makers, but in any case, these existing categories could become less distinctive going forward.
More on what to do after the following….
Scary stuff happening now
Yes, shareholder value drives business decisions. And unsurprisingly, corporations are cutting costs by replacing people with AI.
Writers: Self-publishing is inundated with AI-created books. 7500 new books uploaded to Amazon daily. Amazon now limits uploads to 3 books per author per day.
Illustrators: AI copies the style of top fantasy/sci-fi illustrator threating or perhaps eliminating his income.
Designers: AI websites created for free. There are all kinds of sites offering this AI-backed service.
Filmmakers: Deep fakes and characters replaced. Full scenes created from prompts are only the beginning.
Journalists: Major news outlets continue cutting staff and using AI-generated articles. The layoffs that started with the loss of advertising to Facebook, Google, and Amazon continue with AI.
Put your bet on people
For profits to happen, people must buy stuff. And the people in corporations need people they trust to help them sell the goods and services. And because corporate jobs are endangered too, our clients need people on the outside to help them look good and perhaps a bridge to safety if they too are displaced by AI.
AI is not a person and can’t interact with us in live person-to-person relationships. Shaking hands, fist bumps, sharing a hug or telling a story in person will never be replaced.
So, what to do? focus on being with people. Real, back-and-forth connections with people. Remember, personal relationships can last a lifetime and provide good stuff over and over. I recently reconnected with my 5th-grade class. It’s been awkward and wonderful at the same time. One of them referred a client to me.
Nurture connections with fellow creative professionals who you can help and can help you. Get as much in-person time as you can with each other. Stay in touch through social. Share work when you can. Celebrate a bit of work you’ve done or comment on theirs.
Develop your interpersonal skills. Especially story sharing. Learn how to gain the trust of others. Learn to really listen. Don’t interrupt. Ask follow-up questions.
When clients want to work with you, that is a beautiful moment. Be with them. Listen to them and be listened to in return.
Vulnerability and empathy lead. Listen and reinforce others. Ask, don’t tell. When they do ask, tell the story behind what you create. I now routinely tell my adoption story and what I’m learning through psychodrama.
Yes, maintain your personal boundaries, but open up the real you more than you’ve done in the past.
It’s personal, that’s where your power is
Continue to improve your work. Keep your community posted on what you are doing. Focus on those who need your expertise the most. They are the most likely buyers. Look for opportunities where the money is: corporations and wealthy people.
I have a client who has worked for the same very wealthy couple for over ten years. Most of my clients are supported by corporate work.
Explore opportunities that could be possible futures for you. Writing, film, and art could develop into a source of personal income beyond the corporate world. I have two clients doing that right now, transitioning from traditional corporate clients to selling to communities with common interests.
Remember, they can’t get you––and what you do––from anyone else but you.