Children's Book Illustrator working with AI Robot

How AI is Disrupting the Illustration Industry

How AI is Disrupting the Illustration Industry: Concerns Over Job Losses

AI technology is both awe-inspiring and concerning, especially for professionals like Kelley Donner. As a children’s book author and illustrator based in Munich, Germany, Donner has witnessed first-hand how AI is wreaking havoc on the illustration industry, which has left her worried about the future of her profession. She believes that many people will lose their jobs due to the influx of aspiring illustrators who use AI to create art.

A Growing Problem for Book Illustrators

For book illustrators like Donner, AI poses a significant disruption to an industry that is already grappling with low profit margins and intense competition. The Association of Illustrators has even taken a firm stance against AI-generated artwork, stating that it does not endorse or consider AI-produced works for prestigious awards.

This sentiment against AI is shared by many members of a Facebook forum called “Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators: Publishing, Marketing, and Selling,” says Jay Miletsky, the group’s administrator.

According to Miletsky, the forum’s 65,000 members consistently express negative opinions about AI-related illustrations or manuscripts, fearing that AI will further deteriorate an already low-margin industry and make it more difficult to earn a living as an artist.

AI’s Impact on Various Professions

The concerns about AI aren’t limited to illustrators. Professionals across various white-collar industries share similar fears about AI’s potential to marginalize their roles. Kristin Tate, an analyst with Young Americans for Liberty, explains that the “laptop class,” including writers, human resource officers, lawyers, artists, and even coders, may increasingly face replacement by AI. Conversely, blue-collar workers may experience more job security.

The fears aren’t baseless; May data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas revealed that almost 4,000 jobs were lost due to AI. It was the first time that AI-related job losses were included in the report.

In its most-recent layoffs report, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said 3,900 people were laid off in May due to AI, marking its first time breaking out job cuts based on that factor. All of those cuts occurred in the tech sector, according to the firm. – Source

Businesses are actively adopting advanced AI technology to automate tasks, including creative and administrative work. A Goldman Sachs report published in March even predicts that AI could replace around 300 million full-time jobs.

According to a recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey, nearly a quarter of workers (24%) are concerned that AI will render their jobs obsolete, with workers of color, younger employees, and lower-salaried workers expressing the highest concerns. In specific industries like advertising, marketing, and business support, 46% of workers are worried about being displaced by AI.

As AI continues to grow into a trillion-dollar industry, workers may eventually have no choice but to adapt and learn how to use AI. Bloomberg Intelligence analysts have already highlighted the impact of OpenAI’s ChatGPT bot in this regard. However, the CNBC survey reveals that the majority of workers are not currently utilizing ChatGPT.

The Outlook for Creatives

While the concerns surrounding AI are valid, some book illustrators are more optimistic, and willing to explore both the advantages and disadvantages that AI will bring to their profession.

Book Illustrator and AI

Tita Berredo, a freelance children’s book illustrator based in the British Isles, draws a comparison to the advent of digital cameras. Many believed that photographers were cheating by using this new technology. However, as Berredo points out, a human still needs to aim and click the camera, emphasizing that there is a human touch behind the artwork. To her, AI is like a digital slave. She currently doesn’t feel threatened by AI but acknowledges that if a publisher chooses to use AI to replicate her work and style, she may face challenges.

Echoing this sentiment, illustrator Christian Darkin believes that fear is a natural initial reaction to the impending changes brought about by AI. However, Darkin urges fellow artists to embrace the excitement and understand that as creatives, they have the power to shape this transformative period.

The Future of AI and the Illustration Industry

While AI continues to disrupt the illustration industry, concerns over job losses persist among professionals. The debate surrounding AI’s impact on the labor market extends beyond illustrators and encompasses a wide range of white-collar occupations, including writers, lawyers, and artists. As AI advances and becomes a multi-trillion-dollar industry, workers may find themselves compelled to adapt and learn AI technologies. However, amidst the concerns, some illustrators remain hopeful, recognizing their role in shaping this evolution. Only time will tell how AI’s influence will shape the future of the illustration industry and other professions alike.

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