AI Generated Art + Tarot and Oracle Decks with AI

Back in December 2021 I covered the topic of AI generated art and what it might mean for the marketplace of tarot and oracle decks here (“How Do We Value Art? What AI art means for tarot and oracle deck publishing“) and here (“I Ching Oracle Cards with AI Generated Art“). But since then there have been new developments in this subject area so I thought I might revisit the topic.

Left: My illustration, by hand in pencil and ink. Right: NightCafe, art style: “Charcoal”
Some Personal Dabblings with AI Art

Above to the left is a sketch I did by hand, first in pencil, then outlined in ink. I started with the following prompt, text I typed out myself and stared at for a good five minutes before putting pencil to paper: Solitude. Contemplating. Maiden in a moment of self-questioning.

I copied some text written by Hildegard of Binden on the transcendental experience of God, to fill the blank space. What you see took me two hours. Uh, tbh, probably longer than two hours. I lose track of time when I’m doodling. (The barely-there blue grid lines was added digitally, because that’s just something I like to do when I share my doodles to the public.)

What you see to the above right was produced via NightCafe, an AI art generator, with the same exact text as the prompt: Solitude. Contemplating. Maiden in a moment of self-questioning. I selected the art style “Charcoal” to see how close to a pen and ink sketch it could go. The illustration to the right took the program two minutes.

Left: High school art by yours truly, from the 90s. Colored pencil. Right: AI generated art based on text description of illustration to the left, via Wombo

I’m fascinated by how similar the interpretations were, between me, a human, and AI tapping in to collective knowledge. In fact, in the past I’ve drawn illustrations in charcoal very similar to what the AI produced!

The pose, the facial expression, the way the hair falls, the vulnerability– if I rummage through my old art portfolio from high school, I can excavate a charcoal or pastel drawing that looks more or less the same with that!

“You Are the Journey” by @KaliYuga_ai via MidJourney (AI art)
Does AI Art Lack Soul?

I explored the question “does AI art lack soul” here in an earlier rumination on the subject. In that blog post, I talked about how this advent of AI generated art has shifted my former paradigm on the mind-soul relation.

This declaration you’ll hear oft repeated — AI art lacks soul; AI lacks soul — is one I’m most apprehensive about. Perhaps we can say we don’t understand the soul of AI, but to declare that AI art lacks soul… I dunno. It doesn’t sit right with me.

I’m not convinced that these works “lack soul.” If I’m getting all psychic and woo, I might say the impression of the soul that’s present feels different from a human sapient soul, just like an animal’s sentient soul or a tree’s soul feels different. You hear people critique the evident style or aesthetic consistent in AI generated art, but just because you don’t love an artist’s style or technical approach doesn’t mean that artist suddenly lacks soul.

So while I have many conflicting thoughts about AI art, the accusation that it lacks soul isn’t one of them. If anything, I wonder if the full body of AI generated art is mirroring back something deep within us collectively, for us to see.

Technomage Tarot by Lee Duncan in collaboration with AI, via Kickstarter campaign (last visited 2022 Sep. 30)
A Rising Popularity of AI Generated Art Decks

Oh, and to illustrate what the community has been buzzing about with regard to AI-generated tarot decks (or in collaboration with AI) coming on to the market, I’ll feature several throughout this commentary.

Continue reading “AI Generated Art + Tarot and Oracle Decks with AI”