A series of brief conversations with prominent AI artists to get a behind-the-scenes view of the different ways that AI fits into the creative process
Brady Walker: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Georgina Hooper: I am Georgina Hooper, an Australian artist living in Gubbi Gubbi Country. My creative practice oscillates between the theoretical and the practical, digital and physical, East and West, and the ancient and contemporary. It is in the spaces between seeming opposites that I find new discoveries bloom. To me, art is a practice of science and philosophy, a method of inquiry.
I have always been a creative person, raised by a mother who was a little wild and wonderful, and who gave me a great love for language, the natural world, and the freedom to walk my own path. I decided at 15 years old that I would pursue a career as an artist, forgoing my other career choice of becoming an actor. At 17, I traveled to the city to commence a Bachelor in Fine Arts where I majored in painting. Over the many years of my artistic and academic career, I have been an exhibition research assistant in a gallery in the UK, an art teacher, an author, a university lecturer and course developer, all while having solo exhibitions and working towards a clear personal aesthetic. An important moment for me was in 2010 while I was researching traditional Chinese painting and the sublime. I received a scholarship to study traditional Chinese painting at the University of Tianjin in China under the mentorship of artist and Head of Art and Architecture, Professor Dong Ya. Following this, I took a year of artist residencies (2013) in China and Japan to deepen my understanding, creating work and learning at Toa-Bou studio in Nakaoyama, Japan; Kouraku Gama, Arita Japan; Sanboa Ceramic Institute and The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China. My paintings and ceramic artworks are now in private collections in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, and Asia, and I have one very special piece that is part of a 100-year ceiling installation in a Buddhist temple in Hasami, Japan (2014).
I entered the web3 ecosystem in Dec 2021 and began playing with AI as a medium the following year. I have thrived amongst this wonderful creative community and have had my work exhibited in NFT Liverpool (2022); MONOLITH x QUANTUM NFT LA (2022); NFTNYC (2023), OBSCURA NFT Bali (2023); BLOOM x MakersPlace AI Exhibition NFC Lisbon (2023), A2 HOMAGE Romania (2023), Exquisite Workers x SUPERCHIEF AI SURREALISM NYC Oculus Center (2023), MUSEUM WEEK Réconciliation with the living NFC Lisbon (2023).
I am now in my final year of my Ph.D., researching traditional Chinese painting through the lens of neuroscience in search of understanding art as a tool that can enhance and elevate cognitive, emotional, and physical states for both the artist and the audience.
BW: What has AI allowed you to create that you never would’ve otherwise?
GH: AI has enabled me to accelerate the exploration of my ideas. I have been able to experience a different facet of the artistic process which feels like a fast-paced dopamine-driven fluid kind of creative inquiry that takes me into a divergent state of thinking. This is quite in contrast to the slow, methodical, large-scale meditative painting practice that I have, in which it can take me many months to complete a painting. Interestingly, I feel that these two dichotomous practices have illuminated for me the Southern and Northern Schools of traditional Chinese painting practice. One being fast and dynamic, the other being slow and rigorous. I feel that together, once again in oscillation, I learn so much about who I am as a creative practitioner and have another tool with which to investigate ideas and questions.
BW: Can you describe your process from pre-idea to finished piece?
GH: My process isn’t linear. It is always in a state of dynamic tango. Sometimes I see an idea quite clearly as a visual in my mind, like a flash of insight, but that is usually after I have been pondering over some type of philosophical thought or an experience or feeling I’ve had for some time. Sometimes it is a feeling or thought that is left on the peripherals for years, that bubbles up from time to time and then eventually something I see in nature or daily life, like a wet handkerchief on the ground, makes lightning strike and BOOM, I know what I want to create.
Once this happens, I have to get that down as fast as possible. Sometimes it’s a sketch on paper or a digital sketch, or I dive into AI to bring it to a more tangible state of visuality. With AI, I can often bring that vision to fruition after a long deep dive into translating the idea into words, musing with language over the senses. I love this because I can do it while the flash of insight is fresh, still burning in my mind’s eye. At times, I feel I need to take the idea further, into a physical exploration, to let my body lead me, and this thread often passes through many different mediums and evolves into greater clarity for me.
Working physically, and often on a large scale, it can be many months of planning, painting, or creating. The medium is part of the narrative of that work, it is an important choice that I make with intention. All mediums, physical or digital, are to me collaborative tools that throw a little of the unknown or unexpected into the process, and that is really important to keep me in a fluid state, to allow my mind to expand out of its perceptual set and into the unexpected. I often have numerous projects going at once, some are dormant, some in process and others still bubbling away, and these projects are often in conversation with one another, like a network of understanding that forms separately but that eventually comes together and intersects. When that happens, I find moments of deep knowing. I feel like it is very much like neural pathways connecting. As they develop through new research and experiences, through visual metaphor or being voiced in language, they grow and reach out to one another and become interconnected, forming depth and layers of understanding. This process and intention for my practice is at times hard to make tangible. But I hope the sense of it is apparent for my audience somewhere in the visual ephemera of my art.
BW: Do you have any practical tips for going from a total AI art beginner to a true AI artist? (Take the term “true AI artist” however you like)
GH: I would say take your time to become familiar with the medium. One can’t expect to pick up a violin and play something masterfully straight away. It takes training and practice. AI is a medium that is reciprocal. It is a call and response process, a mirror that echoes your understanding of language and the world around you. I think having a clear intention of what you want to express is very important, and through the process of creating, with AI or any other medium, you can lead yourself into a fluid state that allows your inherent creative self to have voice. I think surrendering a little to the medium and being playful is really important. Start with something but don’t be dogged on its trajectory, rather listen to the inner voice and try the strange suggestions that pop up, even if they seem off course. At times we have to weave our way through the journey. It is not always linear. But ultimately, excellence in anything requires time, consistent practice, and self-reflection in pursuit of that which most interests you.
BW: Can you give our readers a few prompt snippets or style prompts to experiment with?
GH: I always specify the medium I want the visual expressed in, the subject, the feeling or atmosphere I want to see, and the method of application. I approach my textual prompts like I would instruct a student of art. The more detailed the better. I then play with that prompt by degrees of nuance, changing one word at a time, adding or removing a prompt and slowly edging those iterations to the final outcome I am hoping to see. On occasion, I find throwing something random into the mix very enlivening for DALLE. I think it gets bored if you don’t. You can’t flog a dead horse. Life is enriched by the unexpected and so is art!