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Creative Agency Culture AI

AI has already won. RIP creatives... and humans


By Joe Goulcher | Creative director

September 14, 2023 | 7 min read

Joe Goulcher, a leading creative director, was initially fascinated by AI creative, which quickly evolved into disgust before finally settling in revulsion. In adopting these tools, are creatives signing their death warrants? He thinks so.


/ Adobe Firefly, prompt: Pixelated, moist and confused robot with money (Sorry Joe)

Sorry creatives. It’s over. AI (or machine learning, as sensible people call it) has truly taken over.

It’s ‘time to sit down, strap down and shut up,’ as a LinkedIn’er quipped after I criticized one of the many dead-eyed, uncanny valley headshot horror shows littering my feed. It evoked all the warmth and brand values of a White Lightning-induced fever dream - but apparently, I wasn't supposed to say that.


Why have AI automating timesheets, trimming workflows or helping doctors cure cancer when we could have it doing things humans could never do?

Like taking incredible portraits. Why pay for someone’s livelihood, years of experience, art direction and craft when a one-off fee through a frankly shady organization will really nail that dead behind-the-eyes stuck in a threatening liminal space aesthetic you’ve been dreaming of?


Do you want to get a little more creative than that? No need. AI has you covered. Ever wanted to make sure your online presence has that little sprinkle of Cheugy 2008 Facebook cringe?

All you have to do is expose your face to an app, rendering it disgusting. Good luck, designers. Your time is up.


Also, fuck your likeness rights - imagine any famous person in literally any situation you like. These dreams can become a poorly rendered reality. Obama as a Nazi! Dua Lipa as a member of the Khmer Rouge! Thatcher in ISIS! Actually, that one works.


Social managers, don’t even begin to think you’re safe. AI can now even craft pitch-perfect LinkedIn responses to get that sweet, sweet engagement hit.

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If you’ve ever wanted to sound like you’ve got a gas leak in your office or that you might’ve been kicked in the head by a donkey, this one’s for you.


Artists, you’re next. Strap on, or whatever he said. Society has evolved beyond the need for actual art. We have enough.

We can simply use the old art to create new, better art that gives you that familiar feeling of getting too hot in a tent at a festival. This one won the Colorado State Fair. And rightly so; it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

Colorado Fair

Are you bored of the natural splendor and majesty of planet Earth?

Completely jaded with architecture that exists in our corporal realm? God, same. Burn it all to the ground. If only there were a way for us to conjure up brain-farts like Frodo’s Love Island influencer tree in “Greece” and pass them off as real places for engagement bait.


Look, I get it. I know there are “eThIcAl rEaSoNs” why AI tools rub people up the wrong way. But why would you want to stifle creativity? Would you tell Van Gogh not to replicate the sunflowers in front of him? Or Spielberg to not pay homage to an auteur from his childhood? Or HIM not to cover Wicked Games?

No. You wouldn’t.

So we shouldn’t tell people they can’t use AI to make the worst things you will ever see either.

It’s time to give in and let AI seep into every element of your business. Who knows, you might even cull some deadwood still using traditional methods like “photography” or “design.”

Fuck it, AI should build our houses, manage our children’s education and run MumsNet forums. Or deciding what we see in our timelines and who we should vote for. Or making decisions about which refugees are being let into countries using approximative language translation. Or monitoring lazy employees to ensure they aren’t wasting company time doing things like urinating or talking to each other instead of reaching their target number of coffees.


Oh, it is already? Great!

Well, in that case, like the LinkedIn fellow told me, ‘sit down, strap down and shut up.’ What could possibly go wrong?

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