[0:02] BW: All right, welcome back to pixels and paint. We’re wrapping up Season One with glitch artist Jarid Scott. Jarid, could you introduce yourself to our listeners?
[0:19] JS: Of course, thanks for having me. I’m Jarid Scott, a digital and glitch artist since 2016. My journey started similarly to Beeple with everydays, which led me to creating more art. I’m heavily inspired by Nine Inch Nails. Rob Sheridan, former director of Nine Inch Nails, is both a close friend and a big inspiration. My visual art reflects that influence.
[1:01] BW: As a side note, Rob Sheridan was on episode three of this podcast. After this, you might want to listen to that one.
[1:11] JS: Yes, I’d recommend that.
[1:14] BW: So you’re primarily a glitch artist. What art did you create before glitch? And how did you perceive yourself artistically?
[1:27] JS: It’s been quite the journey. From a young age, I felt an urge to create. Perhaps driven by the fear of being forgotten. I loved cartoons and aspired to be a cartoonist. However, despite years of trying, drawing wasn’t my strength.
Later in high school, I explored photography, especially when point and shoot cameras became affordable. I delved into darkroom photography, processing my own film. But that wasn’t quite fulfilling. This led to my interest in photo editing and eventually, glitch art. I’ve also dabbled in abstract poetry and had a music discussion podcast. But it was photo editing that resonated the most with me.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2012, there was a four-year stretch where I lacked inspiration. I then saw the everyday art challenge and was inspired to rekindle my creative spirit, editing a photo every day. This challenge steered me to where I am today.
[5:01] BW: You’ve moved into AI over the last year. I’m curious, with glitch, what points of frustration did you face? What is AI providing you creatively that glitch wasn’t?
[5:25] JS: Glitch has always been tied to debates similar to remix culture, particularly around ownership and rights. With glitch art, you transform an existing piece of media, making it something new. The question is always about the source. Did you shoot it yourself or was it another’s creation?
Personally, I find freedom in working with media I didn’t create. I’m less about executing a specific concept and more about experimenting. I thrive on the unpredictability of the glitch process. When the source is foreign to me, it’s exciting to transform it and imprint my style onto it. However, many glitch artists face the challenge of sourcing material. During the 2010s, many of us relied on sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels. While these platforms were generous, it meant multiple artists often used the same images. This redundancy was noticeable.
AI stepped in for me at this point. It creates source material for me while also injecting a degree of chaos. If I have a vague concept in mind, AI can merge that with randomness. It’s expedited my creative process, and despite the current controversies surrounding AI, it has been empowering for me, opening creative doors I hadn’t realized were shut.
[9:51] BW: Digging deeper into the idea of AI as a creative partner and collaborator, some say it’s just a tool. I find that unsatisfying. We’re dealing with just the tip of the spear with this “tool.” I’d like to discuss it as a creative partner. How has AI influenced your creative direction in the past six months?
[10:45] JS: That’s a valid point. Labeling it simply as a tool is misleading. It’s easy to argue, “You didn’t make that, the AI did.” Then one might counter, “It’s just like Photoshop or a camera.” But it’s more than that. Calling it just a tool simplifies this intricate addition to the creative process. “Collaborator” feels more accurate.
While it’s not human, this intelligence generates something new in the workflow. Previously, my process involved editing someone else’s photograph. Perhaps those were collaborations too. AI interprets my command but adds its own touch. There’s much debate about the ethics surrounding AI, but I do feel like I’m collaborating with it. In the past six months, it has led me to explore topics I hadn’t considered.
My upcoming drop on MakersPlace, for instance, departs from my usual style. It’s more painterly, like splatter oil paintings. Despite admiring this art, my past failed attempts and the high costs of materials kept me away. But with AI, I can quickly create art that might’ve taken days, weeks, or even months. It’s transformative. I now have a collection I’m eager to share, all thanks to AI’s influence.
[14:46] BW: Regarding your upcoming drop, over the last six months, I’ve noticed AI everywhere, from my Twitter feed to MakersPlace. At first, I was excited about AI, but as I saw so many AI-like creations, my excitement waned. Your drop, however, doesn’t feel like typical AI output. It seems like there wasn’t much post-process on it. Let’s discuss this drop, titled Sacred & Terrible Air. What inspired this series? I know we’ve touched on this before, but I’m curious about your process. Your work seems to be about discovery and iteration, so what led you to this subject?
[16:27] JS: That’s quite a question. Before diving in, I’d like to address the first part. A year or so ago, AI was thrilling, with many fearing it would replace visual art, writing, and even movies. Yet, now it’s easy to spot something that came straight from a platform like MidJourney or a paragraph written by ChatGPT.
[17:29] BW: Exactly. I often tell people that typical outputs, like “enter the world of” or “dive into the realm of,” are clear signs of Chat GPT. It’s a telltale signature.
[17:58] JS: Absolutely. And I believe we humans excel at pattern recognition, making it easier to spot these signatures. There’s a famous saying: “I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it.” The same applies here. I might not articulate why a piece looks like it’s from MidJourney, but I can certainly identify it.
[18:32] BW: Right! And to anyone listening, if your output begins with those telltale phrases, I can guarantee it’s from Chat GPT. But go on.
[18:58] JS: I appreciate the interjections; a conversation is more engaging than a monologue. To your earlier point, my work aims to not resemble direct AI outputs. The challenge now is discerning between those riding the AI trend and those elevating their work through AI. For instance, I did an exercise where I made cyberpunk-influenced AI portraits of MakersPlace staff.
When I used ChatGPT to write a cyberpunk-themed haiku, it kept inserting the term “cyberpunk.” To refine it, I’d ask the AI to omit that term. Crafting the right prompt is essential—it should allow for control, exhibit a distinct style, and be something you would make yourself. It’s a balancing act.
[21:04] BW: And there’s also a kind of window into who’s actually driving the bus. We talked about AI as a collaborator and a creative partner. But in cases where I feel I can spot it right away, it doesn’t necessarily mean the human is the lesser part in the partnership. However, it often shows who’s going into it with an actual vision and aesthetic. Look at Jenni Pasanen’s work. Nobody thinks that looks like AI output.
[21:57] JS: That looks like Jenni’s work. She’s been doing it much longer. To go back to an older question about how this has impacted my workflow in the past six months, before AI, I wouldn’t say I struggled over pieces for days. However, I was sharing almost everything I made. Now, with AI aiding the creation process, I’m only sharing about 10% of what I make. It’s a good problem to have, forcing me to elevate my work and be more conscientious about what I share.
[23:10] BW: Let’s return to the second half of my previous question. What were you exploring when you stumbled into this project?
[23:27] JS: If anyone is slightly familiar with me, my description for years has been digital artist, glitch artist, nerd, mostly water. I’m a huge nerd and love video games. Last summer, I played a game called Disco Elysium by an art collective from Estonia called ZA/UM. It’s an unconventional story-driven game written by the author Robert Kurvitz.
The game follows a detective with amnesia trying to solve a murder case. Without realizing, I found that a lot of art I was making was highly inspired by this game. It’s the first time a game influenced my creative realm this way. Alexander Rostov, the art director, created emotive oil paintings for the game. Specifically, he made 24 personified attributes, or voices in the character’s head.
I found myself unintentionally creating images reminiscent of these portraits using AI software. This inspired me to explore these personified internal dialogues further in my own unique style.
[28:54] BW: What were those pieces? Because you weren’t consciously making this series at first. Were you exploring styles, characters, or what were you looking for when you stumbled on this?
[29:13] JS: It’s a great question. I’ve gotten close with, well, I don’t have a good name for them yet, but I keep thinking of the young British artists movement, like the Damien Hirst’s of the world. There’s this new cohort of AI artists in the space that are exploding. Folks like DVK the artist, Deltasauce, 0009, charles.ai, Laurence Fuller, and others on BLAC.ai. It’s this group who are really pushing the boundaries of AI art.
When I see a Deltasauce piece, it’s distinctively a Deltasauce piece. And with BLAC.ai, I call him Dark goth Dali. His work looks to me like what if Salvador Dali got into Hot Topic goth aesthetics. Admiring them, many of them elicit these painterly aesthetics, each in a distinct way.
Initially, I was using AI for glitch, creating source images and glitching it. But inspired by these artists, I thought, why limit myself to a style I already do? This tool should be for creating things I couldn’t create on my own. It came from wanting to create painterly things.
I love the deconstructionism and breaking down. I love Jackson Pollock, but I also wanted the human form in my work. While playing this game in the background, I started making variations with AI on interesting prompts. The rabbit holes I found myself in were ones that reminded me of the portraits from Disco Elysium. That’s when the two came together. I thought, if I’m more intentional about this, I could make something cool. And that’s how it became a project instead of just weird AI experiments.
[32:56] BW: Yeah, definitely looks like what a glitch artist might paint. I talked to BLAC.ai yesterday on a Twitter space, and he brought up this interesting point of view: style is simply a container when you work with AI. It’s no longer your artistic identity. What you bring is a strong perspective and a strong thematic overtone, which can manifest in various styles.
Especially looking at your work from three or four years ago, compared to this drop using a very different process, it’s unmistakably from the same point of view.
I’m curious about the 24 skills or attributes. They remind me of Buddhist teachings, which I’ve studied, though I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist. The way Buddhism systematizes and numbers things, it gives me that vibe. Did working on this give you mindfulness about these attributes? Are there any specific ones you particularly identified with, similar to how one might identify with some of the seven deadly sins?
[35:08] JS: That’s a great point. I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist either, but I’m very intrigued by that belief system. I like things fitting neatly into number containers. I’ve set rules for myself when working with AI to avoid endless variations. I’ve become more aware of different voices in my head when working on this project. It’s made me more intentional in my communication.
Ironically, the ones I relate to most aren’t featured in this upcoming drop. The 24 attributes are divided into four categories with six skills each: physique, intelligence, psychology, and motorics. This drop focuses on physique. The six skills here are physical instrument, half-light, shivers, endurance, electrochemistry, and pain threshold.
Of these, electrochemistry resonates with me the most, dealing with a character’s urge for mood-altering substances. I don’t consider myself dependent on substances, but there are times when I question my choices. Shivers, a skill that’s about sensing the vibe of the city, is another fascinating one. I don’t know if I relate to it directly, but it’s intriguing. I believe I’ll resonate more with skills in future drops focused on intelligence or psychology.
[42:38] BW: What about the structure of the drop? It’s in 4 parts, right?
[42:49] JS: Yes, this first drop, which comes out next week on the 13th, focuses on the physique attributes. I made hundreds of these but I picked six, each one representing one of the six skills I mentioned earlier. There’s a thematic connection based on one’s physicality, and an aesthetic through line of heavy uses of the color red. They are more violent, slightly bloody, and darker than most of my work. There’s a bodily aspect to them because it’s about physicality.
I haven’t finalized the order for the remaining, but I’ve prepared them. For each skill, there are six unique pieces. Conceptually, I’m seeing this as disc one of a four-disc album. There’s an A side and a B side to each disc, like an LP. The A sides will be available for public sale, but each has a hidden B side. During a hidden pre-sale, anyone who buys an A side will automatically get its associated B side as a bonus. If they don’t sell during the pre-sale, there’s a backup plan for the B sides which will be announced later in the four-series drop.
[45:30] BW: Sorry about that. Moving on, there’s something interesting about this drop. You mentioned Jackson Pollock, but another painter who comes to mind is Francis Bacon. There are three pieces where they’re all very smudgy and abstract, and the only sharply defined feature are the teeth. It really reminds me of Francis Bacon – that expressive abandon combined with close attention to specific details.
[47:34] JS: Yeah, that’s a really good comparison. I should talk about Francis Bacon more when discussing my work. He entered my life later in my art career than other artists. The character you play in Disco Elysium, well, since it’s an RPG, you determine who he becomes after waking up. But before that, he’s predetermined, and he’s a complete mess. Drawing a parallel between him and artists like Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon, who had their own personal issues, is fascinating. Especially the focus on body parts. Francis Bacon’s work is so impactful, haunting even. It’s those images like the teeth in the black void or the smudgy, screaming face.
[49:27] BW: Pivoting from that, I wanted to discuss another work of yours, a more recent one. It’s not long since your first AI drop, Jellyfoods. It’s been about eight months. Can you give an update on it? Are you planning a second season?
[50:15] JS: Yes. We’re using waves for that. Wave one and wave two, playing on the nautical theme. For those unfamiliar, Jellyfoods was my first venture into an NFT collection, a small batch collection. Last summer, I was creating jellyfish food art, which is very different from what I’ve been doing lately.
[51:05] BW: Speaking of consistency, Jellyfoods doesn’t seem linear.
[51:13] JS: It isn’t. My fascination with jellyfish stems from childhood. Their weird translucent forms always intrigued me. The idea for Jellyfoods came from playing around with my partner. Using a subscription tool, we created a taco jellyfish, and from there, I kept making more of these jellyfish foods. The collection launched around Christmas last year with 100 pieces, each a different food in jellyfish form. For fans of Jellyfoods, I’m working on wave two, aiming for a one-year anniversary release. But, producing it is time-consuming due to keeping the same aesthetic from the initial version. It has to feel just right.
[55:24] BW: The size to do in the style of the two.
[55:28] JS: That’s really interesting, training a newer version on an older model. The meta of having MIT journey do that, I gotta try that now.
[55:46] BW: In my interview or just a conversation with Empress Trash, she talks about rushing to work on those early versions of mid journey because she saw it as something that would soon be retro. You saw it as this opportunity. I’m pleased to hear that the second wave will also be V two.
[56:18] JS: I completely agree with Empress. Right now, we’re seeing a big boom with 90s aesthetics and even early 2000s aesthetics with Gen Z fashion. College kids in Salt Lake City dress exactly like I did back in middle school, with the big Junko jeans and old band shirts. It’s interesting to see that everything always comes back, but it’s happening quicker in the digital space. I wouldn’t be surprised if, all of a sudden, mid journey v2 is considered vintage just a year after it was the most recent version. I also think we’ll start seeing that in the greater web3 space. We’re already seeing vintage NFTs like, “Oh, this one was minted in 2018.” It’s a rare vintage NFT before and after the rise of NFTs.
[57:32] BW: Speaking of which, maybe we can talk about the Jarid Scott Type Beat series.
[57:42] JS: Yes, that’s a good one. I went all in on AI for a few months, to the point where I almost exclusively used it. Around my ruminations drop on makers place, I realized I was veering away from glitch art. People started unfollowing me on Instagram, wanting more of the glitch art I was known for. This was a way for me to merge my love for glitch and the new possibilities with AI. The name is a play off of a JPEG mafia song. He’s known for his glitchy hip-hop style, and when he changed his style, there was backlash from fans. He made a song called “JPEG mafia Type Beat”, which was a nod to his original style. Similarly, I wanted to make art that was self-referential, a Jarid Scott Type Beat. The series is heavily into glitch, and the subject matter is very me – pixelated art filled with skulls and dark themes. The consistent thing was using AI as the source image for all the material.
[1:01:23] BW: I saw that and was curious. It seemed like an interesting departure because you’re using AI to create those source images, which is evident from the text on it. I wanted to know where that direction came from.
[1:01:51] JS: One of my obsessions with AI is its peculiar use of language. I love the weird gibberish it produces, and I almost hope it never learns language properly. Without revealing too much, the prompts I used to generate those images were phrases like “punk rock concert posters” and “propaganda posters” paired with “glitch hell”. So, many of the works have multiple H’s, E’s, and L’s, but they aren’t arranged to spell “hell”. Instead, it might show something like “HTML”. I adore this bizarre use of the English language by AI. It unintentionally creates a unique world-building element where these propaganda concert posters exist, suggesting a distinct language and lore. This accidental world is being birthed just by the artwork I create.
[1:03:53] BW: I haven’t released any AI work I’ve done, but I have experimented with it. I particularly enjoy generating book covers and pages, creating an archive of its whimsical language.
[1:04:15] JS: Think about how simple it would be to have an AI, like Runway, create an alphabet. You could then use another AI tool to create languages and subsequently write books in that language. There’s potential to introduce a decoder, allowing someone to translate and read it in English. The possibility of unintentionally creating something spectacular is exciting.
[1:04:56] BW: There’s a French author I can’t recall, who wrote a book entirely in a made-up language. It’s very experimental, and you had to study the language before you could read it. It reminds me of specialized books like “Finnegans Wake” that people discuss but often avoid reading.
[1:05:31] JS: It reminds me of “A Clockwork Orange” and all its slang. Fans have created encyclopedias explaining it, even though it was intended for readers to understand through context. It’s a fascinating experiment.
[1:06:00] BW: Much of that slang is anglicized Russian.
[1:06:04] JS: I didn’t know that.
[1:06:09] BW: Many are real words and phrases. “droogs” is an anglicized version of ‘friend’ in Russian and “moloko” means milk. I know this because my wife is Russian.
[1:06:25] JS: That’s fascinating. It changes everything.
[1:06:32] BW: I’d like to move on to general questions that could provide insight or advice for other artists. How do you manage everything? You work at Makerspace, create art prolifically, manage several Discords, and are active on Twitter. I struggle just to check Discord.
[1:07:18] JS: Being constantly online since a young age has helped. For me, the challenge is disconnecting. Many of these activities are habitual. Though I’m not as connected as before, being involved in different platforms is beneficial for networking. I collaborate with various teams, ensuring I’m never doing things alone. Creating art is my relaxation and, over the years, I’ve conditioned myself to work on it daily. While I admire those who make art full-time, I enjoy the balance of my day job at Makerspace and my artistic pursuits. They’re interconnected, with each aspect fueling my primary goal of being a renowned artist.
[1:11:21] BW: One probe a little bit in…you mentioned earlier, looping in your partner on a couple of projects working on the jelly taco, and later, maybe other Jellyfoods. Roping her in to talk about which pieces from your Elysium disco series would be the best. He’s just getting that second set of eyes. How do you incorporate your art into your relationship? If it’s your unwind time and considering I have two small kids, once I clock out, it’s full-on family time. If I had that time to focus on my own work, incorporating my partner into what I’m doing would be important. So, what’s that dynamic like?
[1:12:41] JS: It’s a balancing act. I don’t want all our free time to be about my art. We’ve found a flow where I know when to involve her, typically around the middle or end of the process. We’ve learned to unwind in our own ways, like when she’s reading or we’re watching a show. That’s a good time for me to work on art, but we’re still together. I’ll often ask for her input. Since college, when we ran a photo studio together, we’ve been creative partners. Now, creation is more of a hobby for her than a career goal, but she enjoys these creative moments. I’m really appreciative of her willingness.
[1:15:00] BW: How do you maintain creative momentum when you work every day? What do you do when nothing’s clicking?
[1:15:11] JS: That’s a good question. This ties back to the structure and rules I impose on myself. For example, with the Jarid Scott Type Beat project and a new project I’m working on—combining the black rooms from Twin Peaks with the liminal spaces meme—I set rules. Like using the same prompt in AI or the same color gradient in Photoshop. By following these rules, I often discover something new or different. I force myself to create something and eventually, I find inspiration in it. My goal is often just to create something visually appealing, which can then evolve into something more conceptual later on.
[1:17:17] BW: Could you point to one great use case for AI? Even if you have no interest in putting out into the world a piece of AI-generated or assisted content, just using it when you’re feeling stuck. Say you’re a writer, painter, or film director and you’re feeling uninspired. Just using AI to get something going, in my opinion, would be a game changer for jogging any sluggish creative instinct.
[1:18:07] JS: Exactly. I understand this comes from a place of privilege because I know these programs cost money. I’m fortunate to afford unlimited mid-journey prompts, allowing me to generate ideas over and over. I don’t want to suggest that everyone needs the most expensive subscriptions to be creative. Still, there’s truth to the idea that even if you don’t want to use AI, or buy AI art, it can be an excellent tool for brainstorming. Every creative person should consider using it in some capacity because it can expedite the creative process. It’s one of the best remedies for creative block.
[1:19:30] BW: It’s like a quick sketch tool. Moving to my last question, inspired by a question I’ve heard from both Trent Reznor and Brian Eno: What is art for? What does it do for humans? There’s no culture that lacks artistic practice or aesthetics. Why is this? What do we gain from art?
[1:20:45] JS: That’s a profound question. I remember discussing this with my father, a cell biologist and a very logical man. Contrary to what people might think, he’s always supported my artistic endeavors, even if he didn’t always understand them. He once told me that while scientists aim to understand the world, artists interpret the human place within it. Art tells the story of how humans interact with existence.
Every culture, regardless of its isolation or development, engages in artistic practices. There seems to be an innate human need to express and ensure that future generations remember us. We have this urge to communicate ideas, and when words fail, we turn to other mediums, be it painting, poetry, or now, even AI prompts. Art is about communication, connection, and networking. While it might not seem as immediately crucial as other domains like medicine, it’s essential in its own right, a different facet of communication.