Charlesai is a French artist who has been using AI to create NFTs since the summer of 2021. With this new medium of expression, he has been able to overcome the limitations of his technical abilities and bring his artistic vision to life.
In a short amount of time, he has already exhibited his works at several galleries and auctions in France and Europe, including the MoCa Gallery, IHAM art gallery, and Fauve auction house. He even co-organized the first European physical AI art exhibit in Nice, France with Diapo Gallery and a 100% AI physical exhibition in Rome with his AI artist collective, AI Infused Art.
Charlesai’s work has also been featured in several publications and interviews, including a feature in the 2022 Beaux Arts magazine and an interview with BFMTV, the largest French news media. He has also sold his pieces in physical charity auctions and counts Cozomo as one of his collectors on SuperRare.
Recently, Charlesai’s work has been used to teach art students about AI art in several art schools worldwide, including Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad), NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and the University of the Arts London. His work was also exhibited in the Medici exhibition in Milan.
Brady Walker: Can you walk me through your creative process? For instance, what was the seed of The Architect, and what did you do to get to the finished piece?
Charlesai: Most of my creative process happens in my mind. I spend my days thinking about new pieces, with composition, colors, styles, etc., and trying to find a way to best convert it into words. Once I have a good idea of the piece in mind and a general idea of how to prompt it, only then will I start trying prompts out.
It usually takes some time to get the prompt to work the way you want it to since weights matter so much. The placement of each word in the prompt and how they are placed relative to one another really matter. So it’s just trial and error until you get where you want to be.
Once I found the right prompt, I would then iterate hundreds of times until I get the piece I had in mind originally. I don’t use post-processing at all; all my work is 100% raw AI art. I find there is purity in the AI impurities (the most notable are the AI hands) that must be preserved since it’s what makes this medium so distinguishable from others.
As for the exact seed for The Architect, I don’t like to disclose how I got there since AI art is the closest to pure ideas there is. So I prefer to keep my ideas to myself.
Brady Walker: Can you tell me about the process behind your Museum series? How long did the full series take?
Charlesai: I followed the same process with the Museum series and it took me several weeks to finish it and about two months to find the right prompt.
Brady Walker: What do you think common criticisms of AI art get wrong?
Charlesai: I’m not going to address the classic statement of ‘AI art isn’t art’ because I believe we have proven those critiques wrong numerous times in the past few months.
I do frequently hear another criticism that AI art is easy, that it’s just a few words typed and ‘voila!’ But the reality is, if you have a very precise idea in mind, it’s definitely not easy to achieve. To bring that idea to fruition, you need to possess the necessary knowledge to translate the image in your mind into words. The expression ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ takes on a whole new meaning here.
Personally, the prompts I come up with have required me hours of research in art history to be able to transform the ideas in my mind into art. The countless collectors who have purchased my work are a testament to this difficulty. Many of them have tried creating AI art themselves and have returned to me admitting they had no idea how challenging it actually was, and have a newfound appreciation for the value of the work I produce.
Brady Walker: What do you think common defenses of AI get wrong? Is there a middle ground between the two extremes?
Charlesai: I don’t really have an example for that as most AI artists I interact with are very open-minded and level-headed with their opinions on our craft. Most agree we should disclose that we use AI for our art, most agree that if an artist asks to not be included in the dataset, we should refrain from using their name, and most agree to act ethically and responsibly with these new tools. Sure, there are some people who decide to lie about using AI or copy other artists’ works with these tools, but it’s a minority and it definitely doesn’t define this movement.
Brady Walker: As an artist who works with AI, how do you go about developing a personal style? Do you have any tips for people who want to build a body of work and develop a personal style with AI tools?
Charlesai: To build your own personal style, you just need to look at as much art as possible to gather inspiration and then experiment as much as possible. I like to call AI ‘Augmented Imagination’ as it allows you to try out new creative ideas at a speed never before seen.
For the time it would take a painter to make a single piece, an AI artist can explore thousands of ideas and iterate on them hundreds of times. From the sheer number of ideas explored, gems will arise. And once you’ve found this new, distinctive style that perfectly fits your aesthetic and the message you want to convey, then focus on staying down that road as much as possible because it’s very easy to get distracted with AI art.
I like to imagine these very specific styles as a camera lens we point towards a very specific point of the latent space map, and your art is basically you sharing this remote part of the multiverse with the world, in all its facets.
Brady Walker: Do you have a personal definition of capital-a Art? If so, what is it?
Charlesai: For me, Art is how you intentionally and creatively convey an idea, your own perspective of reality, whatever the medium is.
Brady Walker: What kind of art would you be making without AI?
Charlesai: I’d be painting. I love spending hours trying to meticulously apply the colors in the right spot, with each small stroke building up the bigger picture. It’s a really great form of meditation for me.
Brady Walker: How does frustration manifest in your creative practice, and what do you do to clear creative blocks?
Charlesai: I don’t really have creative blocks. Creative blocks, for me, are when you want to make art with no ideas to convey, no intent. This is the wrong way to go about art in my opinion, since its purpose is to convey an idea in the first place. If you don’t have an idea to convey, why try to force it? Wait for it to come to you naturally.
My frustration stems from the overall state of the world. That’s what I’m depicting and evaluating through my art, but art and the creative practice don’t frustrate me one bit. Art is fun, art is meditation, art is expression. There’s no place for frustration in the creative process; each step of the process must be enjoyed for what it is.
Brady Walker: Being a digital artist, do you ever work with analog tools (pencil, ink, paint, etc.)?
Charlesai: No, I pride myself on only using AI to make my works with pure prompts. Sometimes I use base images from my previous works.
Brady Walker: What do you hope to accomplish with your art? What do you want viewers to take away from the experience?
Charlesai: The initial purpose of my art was to change my mind from my very stressful days working in the ER during COVID. It served that purpose pretty well. Now I’m more focused on expressing my perspective of reality and trying to push AI art into the mainstream by exhibiting in as many galleries as possible, helping out fellow AI artists, meeting new collectors, and onboarding artists who are new to AI.