If you’ve not heard, there are these things called NFTs. I think they’re simultaneously the future of digital signaling and currently mostly hype. But whatever—that’s not what this post is about.
Most NFTs rotate around a piece of collectible art in a baseball card-like format. So you look at something like the Bored Ape Yacht Club, and it’s a bunch of personalized apes with stylization.
So the art is a big piece of it. You still need to hype it, get people to believe in its value, etc. But the art is the starting point, and many artists are finding new life in creating these art collections.
So I’ve been playing with DALL-E 2 for a few weeks now—which is an AI project from OpenAI that generates customized art based on prompts. I’ve been telling everyone who’ll listen about how this is the clearest example we’ve ever seen of AI cutting into a previously-human domain of creativity. It’s one thing to do spreadsheets faster, but DALL·E 2 can make you multiple examples of “A Synthwave Dog Riding a Rocket Skateboard” in a matter of seconds.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about how this will directly affect human jobs in the artistic space, but I was just jostled awake by an idea of telling DALL·E 2 to make NFT art. Like, specifically NFT art.
So I started with:
an nft of an 80’s giraffe wearing headphones, digital art
Which was decent:
The trick is prompt it with the text you would likely read in the caption describing it.
But within a couple of iterations I got to this:
an nft of a steampunk giraffe wearing headphones, digital art
At a glance those look identical to high-quality NFT art. Importantly, they’ve captured the “NFT-ness” element to the artwork, which you would have trouble even trying to describe. I’m guessing it has something to do with the gradient background combined with a type of quasi-reality.
Anyway, the point is—that’s precisely what DALL·E 2 figures out and does effortlessly! It figures out the Je Ne Sais Quoi of NFT-ness—whatever that is—and applies it to content prompt you give it. Let’s try robots with a similar prompt:
an nft of a steampunk robot wearing a turtleneck and an eye patch, digital art
The ‘digital art’ prompt at the end is key to the realistic look and feel.
Here’s another pass at something similar:
an nft of a steampunk robot with an eye patch, digital art
I’m not an expert in the space, but I have to think you could crank through a few iterations (I’ve spent like 6 minutes doing this so far) and come up with some truly stunning results.
So I think the short version of this is that—yes—DALL·E 2 can already generate pretty convincing NFT art. And that feels weird.
You have this moment with NFTs where quirky artists suddenly have a spotlight shown on them. And out of nowhere DALL·E can suddenly—and casually—do a lot of what they can do.
Some think we’re in an AI winter still, but I feel it’s more like outer space where a piece of metal facing the sun will be super-heated, while the backside is deeply frozen.
GPT-3, DALL·E, and Google’s Gato represent the sunlight where the theory collides with practicality. Exciting for sure—but in a scary way.
Anyway, if you find any prompts that create even better NFTs, let me know.
- There’s one aspect of DALL·E where humans still have an advantage for things like NFT collections, and that’s in making a full set of related art. The problem with DALL·E is that if you iterate 20 times you’ll get widely different results, and it won’t be easy to sell the idea that they’re part of the same collection.