Dark Life Art Interview

The name Dark Life Art may not be well known yet, but once you see these artworks, it can immediately become attractive! What do we need to know about the process of creating these images? In which way is it different from creating traditional artwork?

I’m happy if others enjoy these images.

I don’t think there’s that much difference between the way I create pictures and the way others do. It’s the tool I use that’s different from what is generally used, because I don’t use a pencil, a brush or a digital drawing board. These images are based on artificial intelligence – but it’s not the algorithm that invents what to create: it’s me who invents it. I subsequently manipulate the images with various image editing programs until I get the final result that I envisioned. It’s a bit like photography: you capture a good moment, shoot a nice picture, then edit it.

Perhaps we can approach it from two different angles. One possible perspective is that of a graphic artist’s, who may consider it a worthless crap, because it’s not something that he created. But from the other perspective – we could say it – this is the future, and these artificial intelligence-based pictures are capable to express absolutely hair-raising, breathtaking things! What kind of reactions do you feel to be predominant?

The whole thing is still very much in its infancy, and the opinions are very divided. I think there are many people who criticize the production of such images, despite their lack of knowledge on how artificial intelligence works. On the other hand, they do not do research on the subject themselves, but rather take over the information and generalized opinions of others. I think these people are simply afraid of novelty. There exist reasonable critics who point out that this technology has suddenly exploded into the public area with no (legal) regulation or education behind it.

Nevertheless, I think that the reception of these images is mostly positive. Many people are not interested in the way they are done, but only in the final result: they enjoy an oil painting as much as an AI-based image. More and more graphic designers and artists recognize the potential in the usage of artificial intelligence and apply it in their creative process. In my view, this is absolutely the future. I don’t believe that traditional art will disappear: it didn’t disappear with the advent of digital drawing tools either – it’s just that the possibilities to create something beautiful are expanding.

Do you think that those who want an album cover should really care about the applied technique or is it just the final result that matters?

Based on my experience so far, the metal scene is absolutely open to new things. It’s important for the musicians that the cover art reflects them, their music, the album – and of course that the fans like it. There is a saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” – but I tell you as a lover of books and music that cover art does make a difference! Obviously, it’s not the reason why someone puts the CD back on the shelf, but a good picture can go a long way to attract attention and sales.

If I (the customer) tell you in a few sentences what I have on my mind and give you the right parameters, will I get a result quite similar to what I have previously envisioned? To what extent are there limits, difficulties?

It’s always a very interesting, inspiring and challenging process, because if you have a specific image in your head – a concept, shapes, forms and colors –, then… well, it’s tricky, but not impossible to render it with AI. The platform I use is under continuous development, which means that the developers made at least a dozen minor or major changes in less than a year, and new versions have been released to give you a more accurate visual representation. But this also means that you must continuously keep learning how to use it, and to keep track of what has changed, because parameters and expressions that worked well up to now may produce completely different results henceforth. Fortunately, there are many communities and groups – both inside and outside the platform –, where we help each other to overcome the obstacles and learn from each other. So, I don’t think there are limits, or at least I haven’t reached them yet. Difficulties can and do arise, but it’s the solving of them, the overcoming of problems that gives the beauty to everything. It’s what makes it worthwhile to do anything, isn’t it?

Do you retouch your images manually or with the help of artificial intelligence? How much room is there left for changes if I don’t like something? How long does it take for an image to reach its final form?

It all depends on what’s wrong with the image, and what needs to be changed. For example, the representation of the human hand with occasionally 6-10 fingers was one of the “children’s ilnesses” of AI for a long time… There is no point of doing further modifications with AI on an image that meets the expectations in every other aspects. In such cases, a well-established image editing program can be used. Incidentally, these programs also increasingly use AI-based technologies, making them both easier and more complex to use.

I believe that this method provides much more possibilities for changes and shaping. As a client, you will check the finished image and tell me, what you don’t like or what do you envision in a different way. You don’t have to start from scratch – you just have to go back to a version of the image that can be adjusted either with AI or manually to better suit your ideas.

Time is an interesting question. I can’t really tell it exactly: mostly it depends on how specific the client’s ideas are. It only takes approximately 1 minute for the AI to create the image, which I use to work on – even 4 versions straight away that I can further customize, one by one. So, creating the image itself doesn’t take days or weeks: the negotiations and the adjustment to the specific ideas is what can take a longer time.

Can you create the same thing twice? I ask it, because mostly it’s done by the artificial intelligence, which can generate something different – let’s say – in 1 year from the same parameters. Or… am I wrong?

I don’t think you can do the same thing twice. Of course, a good mathematician could surely determine the probability of the exact same image being created twice by the AI out of millions – if not billions – of possible faces, shapes, patterns and colors. However, I don’t think we’d get a very high odds ratio. Artificial intelligence, after all, creates images from words or – with recent improvements – pictures. If two or three of us enter the same words, none of us will get the same images: most of the times not even similar ones.

When did you start to take interest in it? What did you like about it? How qualified do you consider yourself to be in this field at the moment?

I’m not a graphic designer – for me it’s a hobby: relaxation after a long and stressful day. Art itself has been part of my life for a long time, but the last time I studied it in the traditional sense of the word was when I graduated in the secondary school from Drawing and Visual Arts. Ha-ha…

I’ve been drawing pretty much ever since, but I never really got into painting, which I regret. I never had enough time or opportunity to practice it. Then, over the last few years, more and more fascinating images have been popping up in social media that I first thought were digitally created (on a digital drawing board, with a drawing program). Then, just under a year ago, I saw a short educational film about images created with artificial intelligence. As soon as the film was over, I sat down by the computer to try it out, and I was immediately hooked on that. Well, what did I like about it? Everything really… on the one hand it’s great to get the final result without having spent hours or days by the drawing board, and on the other hand I got to learn new things using both the AI and the image editing programs. Apart from that, there is the world of imagery. Amazing and incredible things can be created!

When do you feel a picture is right for you – even to the extent that you sit back and look at it contentedly?

Many times I sit down with no specific image in front of me and I just know the subject. Other times I have a specific imagery. When I have a definite idea, I am satisfied only if the result is in line with it. If I just know the subject, I prefer to experiment, try new things, new expressions, new parameters – and if I like the result, I keep the image.

What kind of images predominate in your imagination, which theme stands closest to you?

One of my colleagues once jokingly said that he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to know what was going on in my soul. I actually like all kinds of subjects that’s weird and dark, and then within that, everything may appear from sci-fi, through fantasy stuff to mythology. That’s the reason, why the name of the site became Dark Life Art. But if I want to highlight a specific theme, my favorites are angels and demons.

Are those who approach you allowed to ask you for a completely different style of image, or do you just stick to something that’s close to you?

I like to challenge myself and push myself out of my comfort zone, so for sure! For example, recently I did a cover art for Detox, which was not at all inspired by dark themes, and it was really exciting to create an image that was softer, lighter and thematically out of the general mood of Dark Life Art.

In which extent does music influence your creativity? What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Music, books, movies, different situations in life – you can get inspiration from everything. But yes, music constitutes a very big percentage of my life. My husband owns a remarkable CD collection, and there is something playing pretty much all day. We also go to concerts whenever we can. My musical taste is quite hectic, ranging on a quite wide scale from classical music through military songs and Hungarian hits from the 30’s and 40’s even to neofolk. The same goes for metal, which I consume on a daily basis. I don’t have a particular favorite band or genre: I listen to deathcore, death metal, black metal and grindcore – the only difference is the amount. Lately, I often spin the records of those bands from abroad like Lorna Shore, Thy Art is Murder, Behemoth, Groza, Keitzer, Zørormr, Ingested, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Ex Deo, Dark Funeral, Decapitated, Mgła, Batushka, Nazghor, Marduk, Belphegor, Haggard, but the list could go on and on. Among Hungarian bands, Ossian, Thy Catafalque, Mhorai, Witcher, Frost, Angerseed, Christian Epidemic, Exodicon, Atomic, Kylfingar, Paediatrician and Beneath The Void are the ones that appear in larger quantities on my playlist.

Artificial intelligence will be used for more and more things in the future. Do you think the time will come when humans will be second class? Could the world change a lot in the future because of this?

I think this fear comes up again and again every time humanity are on the verge of a major technological breakthrough. And let’s face it: considering the speed with which science and technology advances, we are in for some very big steps and changes.

I think the same kind of anxious voices have been heard throughout the 4 industrial revolutions so far. The lessons of history show us that not only the economy and industry changed with the development of technology, but changes in the society went hand in hand with it. And I believe that this time it will be no different. Human resources will always be needed – only in different places and in different forms. Professions and occupations, as we know them today will be transformed – for example there are already signs of a need for legal regulation on the uses of artificial intelligence. Consequently, there is already a gap to fill among professions, to which no proper education exists yet – which adds another new opportunity. Not to mention the fact that the development, shaping and research of artificial intelligence also requires additional professionals.

I don’t want to bring political views into my answer, but I think that’s why it’s a mistake to continue running the country’s economy on the basis of assembly plants, without investing proper resources in education, when so many great scientists come from here. So, I just hope that this will change one day!

What is required from those who would like you to create a cover art for their publication? How can they contact you?

If I receive a message on the Dark Life Art Facebook page or the contact details given there, or if someone contacts me directly, then I just need to know what are the ideas. If I don’t have a specific idea for the look of the cover, i.e. I’m given a free hand, then maybe the lyrics of the album’s title track or the already recorded song can help a lot. But it’s important that I always make it clear beforehand how the images will be created (although no one has protested against this and only valued the finished work).

Thank you for your replies – I will follow your creations! I don’t even think that I really need to do so, because I will anyway see and hear which covers are made by Dark Life Art! This is the future!

I look forward to contributing to the metal scene in the future! Thank you for the opportunity! I’ve been a reader of Kronos Mortus for quite some time, and I find it exciting that other approaches are being explored on the site.

Ildikó Megyesi Turbuczné (Dark Life Art) answered the questions.




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