AI IRL: Why Studios Like Wonderkind Are on the Hunt for Prompt Generators
by Chloe Gordon on 11/21/2023 | 4 Minute Read
Career-wise, the future always feels a bit daunting, but maybe more so in the creative industry with the arrival of AI and its promise of helping designers ideate (and save some valuable time).
Sure, we're still putting pens to paper and pushing pixels, but humans are no longer the sole driver behind art; now, generative AI can, at the very least, serve as a helpful assistant. The pros and cons are numerous, and it's necessary to understand the full implications of AI and what it will mean to the future of design. Will it shrink the job market? Will it leave creatives and dry? Will it rid the world of soulful art? Or are these just a new suite of tools for the extremely mind-numbing tasks designers carry out daily?
It isn't all that hard to lean into the negative. However, some agencies are leaning into what's possible and incorporating these tools into their workflow. That's why we want to talk to some of the best creative studios in the industry not only about how they're using these elements in their work but how they feel about the future and the impact AI will have on the design industry and branding. And we're going to be doing just that with our new series, AI IRL.
And what better way to kick things off than with Wonderkind, the Austin-based design, photography, and social media agency. Like many other studios, they're using AI to brainstorm and visualize new ideas, but, just like a lot of other studios right now, they're looking to bring an AI Image Generator on board. We were intrigued by how this hire would aid the team (now consisting of 45 immensely creative humans), so I spoke with Co-Founder Elle De Freitas to learn more about the new role and her take on AI.
Even though AI has been in the orbit of designers for a minute now, 2023 definitely feels like the year AI exploded. What are your general thoughts on AI, and how has the studio been experimenting with it?
Not being overly educated on, or frankly interested in, what makes an AI-driven tool fundamentally different from other software we all know and love, my general thought is that our tools improved again in 2023 like they do every year. But they improved at a pace not seen since maybe 1994 with the introduction of layers in Photoshop 3.0.
At Wonderkind, we create content for social media, studio and lifestyle photography, and a lot of branding and design. We’ve been experimenting with AI across all teams in brainstorming ideas, conceptualizing, visualizing, communicating styles with clients (a picture paints a thousand words), retouching photos, and video editing.
With that experimentation, what has stood out to you?
While the retouching tools are great, they’re all things a retoucher can do anyway, just a little quicker, so I only see that as an incremental gain. The rapid image generation, however, to aid conversations with clients as they try to explain their visions (without a formal education in design or photography) is not something that could have taken place before. So, I see it as a more transformative tool.
How do you envision AI becoming more commonplace in our jobs in the future? Specifically creative workspaces.
Again, I see AI-driven tools as an extension of the tools we already know and love, only better. We’ll use them in all the ways we use our current tools—and perhaps in a few new ways that the old tools couldn’t help us with. With the AI functions now becoming embedded in the creative tools we use every day, we’ll be using them without a material change in our workflow.
How has AI influenced the studio’s work? Is it making an appearance in any of your projects?
We mostly use it in the onboarding and ideation stages of a project. But it has appeared in the final work of a few TikTok and Photography campaigns.
Wonderkind is actually in the process of hiring an AI Image Generator. How do you see this person working in tandem with the studio? What kinds of projects will they work on?
We’re excited about this hire, and while I’m sure we’ll learn about many more incredibly valuable applications once they start, our initial excitement is in two areas. The photo team spends more time ideating than in the actual execution stage.
That's because a heavily styled scene (particularly with food) takes a long time to set up. You might want to try five or even ten ideas before landing on the one you like. If you can do that with generative AI, that’ll save a lot of time in the ideation stage as you can test and abandon ideas in minutes, not hours, leaving you with lots more time for the actual execution of the photo. On the social media team, we create all sorts of amazing content, including stills, reels, graphics, stop motions, UGC, TikTok-style videos, etc. I hope this new hire will be able to add another realm of content to our social media feeds while enhancing the categories we already excel in.
AI is a thorny issue for many creatives right now—it’s supposed to free us up from tedious tasks, but a lot of folks are also worried about losing their jobs. Where do you land on the issue?
I’m very much in the camp that any tools that make us better and more efficient empower us to become more intrinsically valuable. Tangibly, that means that if, as content creators, designers, and photographers, we can produce more, higher quality work in the same amount of time, the value of our time has increased. I think the last ten years have shown us there's an insatiable demand for content, so if these tools help us satisfy more of that demand than we could before, we, and the purchasers of that demand, are the better for it.
The only thorny issue around AI should be energy consumption, and we should do what we can to encourage that to come from affordable and sustainable sources.