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Interview with AI artist Julie Wieland

Julie Wieland is a graphic designer who has developed into a promising AI artist. Her first collection of AI artworks were sold as NFTs titled Temporary

1. You started out as a multidisciplinary graphic designer. Now you just launched a successful collection of NFTs called Temporary with 100 post-photographic images produced with an AI text-to-image generator. Describe your journey to becoming an AI artist.

Julie Wieland: My career as a graphic designer is hugely influenced by the love of photography I developed when I was 14 years old and self-taught Photoshop to create new worlds beyond the raw pictures I took. Now, over 15 years later, I feel like I have come full circle – but instead of using a physical camera, I can now use a virtual camera that makes it possible to create everything my mind is capable of putting into words.

My journey into generative art started last summer in July/August 2022, when I got access to Dalle-2 and later on in November adding Midjourney to the toolbox. After playing around with it and including it into my daily workflows as a graphic designer, I quickly realized how powerful AI can and will become in all creative fields.

2. How did you come up with the idea for Temporary. The images are beautiful but a bit haunting, fitting for the theme of grief. 

Julie Wieland: Everybody knows that sometimes in life you have to go through hardships, but it all depends on what you “do” with those feelings and emotions. For me personally, it’s really freeing to transform those feelings into some form of art, that’s how I coped with it for the majority of my life – and that’s also how and why my thought-provoking collection “Temporary” came to life.

With my collection “Temporary” portraying the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), I hope that I can guide a few people through some hard times in their lives – I aim to encourage and inspire individuals to connect with their own emotions and seek comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone on their journey.

3. What was your creative process for Temporary? How long did it take to come up with the images you wanted? How did you mint them as NFTs?  

Julie Wieland: I started with delving into the emotional journey of grief, outlaying a story for each stage of grief and trying to express each stage through visual storytelling and a carefully crafted use of color (f.ex. Denial = Yellow/Orange expresses insecurity and naivety, Anger = Red/Pink expresses violence and danger). I generated over 1500 images to curate the final 100 images that now made the collection – this roughly took me over 20 days to curate and edit the final post-photographic images.

4. You appear to spend a lot of time now on Midjourney and sharing your knowledge on Twitter. Do you plan on becoming a fulltime AI artist? 

Julie Wieland: I guess “never say never”, but not “as such” in the foreseeable future. I love learning new tools and sharing my knowledge online for somebody else to follow along and spark new ideas. For me personally, my AI artworks wouldn’t be able exist in this form without my years of knowledge I gathered as a graphic designer, so the two will always work in tandem.

5. Have you received any backlash for experimenting with AI image generators? Some traditional artists have criticized them for a variety of reasons (e.g., alleged copyright infringement, soulless, potential job displacement). Of course, some artists have wholeheartedly embraced these new AI tools, but artists appear to be divided. 

Julie Wieland: Yes, of course, absolutely. As with everything new in the world, there’s gonna be people that love it and people that hate it – AI-tools are no exception. The concerns about alleged copyright infringements are all valuable reasons to look into the processes of how these tools work. We went from paintings, to analog cameras, to digital cameras, to now have virtual cameras! You can’t stop progress from happening and I do believe that in the near future AI image generators will find there fix place in our daily lives as creatives.

AI won’t replace humans, but humans with AI will potentially replace humans without AI.

6. Who are your artistic and creative inspirations, past or present?

Julie Wieland: I feel hugely inspired by movie directors with a distinctive cinematic look, like Wes Anderson or Wong Kar Wai. But I’m also profoundly rooted in artists I learned about in art history while still in school, like Cindy Sherman and Marina Abramovic.

Creative inspirations can be found in everyday moments, and thanks to AI it’s now easier to bring new work to life, as it doesn’t require you to transport yourself to anywhere else in the world or time – you can revisit the past or go deep into the future.

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