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Photo by Mahdis Mousavi on Unsplash

Cultivating Creativity in the Shadow of Generative AI

A Call for a Renaissance of Humanistic Art and Design


As a veteran design leader in the tech industry and a practicing artist myself, I’ve watched with fascination (and growing unease) as artificial intelligence makes rapid inroads into the creative domain. The rise of generative AI capable of producing art, music, writing, and film prompts existential questions about the very nature of creativity and originality and what it means to be an artist in the age of intelligent machines.

The End of Artistic Authenticity in the Age of AI

Make no mistake, the developments in AI creativity are stunning and exhilarating. As someone passionate about the intersection of art, design, and technology, I’m in awe of AI’s generative capabilities. Neural networks trained on massive datasets can now produce shockingly compelling visual art, music, poetry, and prose that mimics human-level creativity. In some cases, AI output can even be superior, at least by certain technical measures. An AI that ingests and learns from thousands of great novels can generate new stories with “perfect” grammar, structure, and pacing. AI artists can endlessly prompt engineer vivid, unexpected imagery.

But as I marvel at AI’s creative breakthroughs, I can’t shake a deep sense of disquiet. The tension I feel stems from a core belief: that human creativity emerges from a fundamentally different place than AI-generated content. Our creative impulse arises from lived, sensory experience—from our subconscious, our memories, from the unique way each human brain is wired. When we create, we’re transmuting the raw material of the self and the soul into an external representation. It’s deeply personal and one of the most profound things that makes us human.

AI, on the other hand, creates through brute-force computation, scouring vast datasets identifying patterns and rules it can recombine into new permutations. It has no “self” to express, no real stake in what it creates. It’s a very different kind of creativity, one that to me feels a mile wide but an inch deep.

Here’s an example that illustrates the difference: Imagine an AI ingests thousands of hit songs and uses that training data to generate a new catchy pop song. Now imagine a human artist channeling a searing breakup into a raw, vulnerable ballad. The AI song may be pleasant enough, but it can never match the visceral power of music written from direct human experience. Even if the AI track is more technically “perfect,” I believe most people would find the human effort more meaningful, relatable, and authentic — because of its origin, author, and source material.

That’s not to totally discount the value of AI-generated content. Human/AI collaboration is already leading to incredible new forms of creative expression. I actually believe, AI can be a powerful tool for artists: a collaborator to riff with and bounce ideas off of. There are already fascinating examples of this, like when AI helped complete Beethoven’s unfinished 10th Symphony, or the many visual artists using tools like DALL-E as part of their creative process.

But I wonder about a future where we start to prefer the optimized perfection of AI-generated music, art, and writing, and it supplants more idiosyncratic, deeply human creations. Already, AI-generated visuals are all over our feeds, digital ads, and corporate branding. Stock photo sites are filling up with AI imagery. Advertising jingles and video game scores are largely assembled from modular AI elements. It’s just more efficient and cheaper than commissioning human artists.

This trend has troubling implications, and not just for those who make a living from creative pursuits. What kind of culture will we have if our art and entertainment is increasingly the insipid regurgitation of algorithms mining the past for what’s worked before? I suspect the result will be a certain flattening and homogenization of the creative landscape that’s technically dazzling but feels completely soulless.

There’s also the question of what mass-generated AI content will do to our creative literacy and aesthetic discernment as a society. In a world awash in synthetic content algorithmically tweaked to demand our attention, will we still seek out and appreciate more evocative, challenging, experiential human-made creations? Or will our tastes atrophy as we’re spoon-fed pleasing, but synthetic gruel? I worry about an Wall-E-esque future where we passively consume AI “art” that’s essentially meaningless, while flesh-and-blood artists struggle to have their voices heard. When artificial intelligence becomes a dominant force in producing what we traditionally consider “art,” do we not risk a fundamental shift in the very fabric of our cultural expression and the societal values it reflects? I can’t help but also question the broader cultural implications….

Art has always been a mirror held up to society, a way to reflect back our complexities, our beauty, and our flaws. It pushes boundaries, challenges norms, and sparks the kind of dialogue that pushes our buttons, our thinking, our limits. But when the creation of art is largely delegated to algorithms designed to optimize for engagement or mimic past successes, we risk a kind of cultural stagnation—a creative landscape dominated by synthetic productions that endlessly rehash what’s come before.

The AI that generates a painting or composes a symphony does so without the consciousness or context that human artists bring to the table. And while the end result may be technically impressive or superficially pleasing, it lacks the deeper resonance that comes from a creation grounded in living.

If our culture becomes saturated with this kind of simulacrum — a machine’s best guess at what we want based on what we’ve liked before—then where does that leave room for the copy-transform-combine kind of remix at the heart of innovation? Where’s the space for the kind of critical commentary and fresh perspectives that drive society forward? Moreover, as AI-generated art becomes the norm and we’re continuously exposed to art that’s been optimized by algorithm, will we start to lose our appreciation for the subtleties and imperfections that give human-made art its distinctive texture and power? Will our ability to connect with art on a deep, emotional level start to atrophy?

To be clear: this is not me trying to preserve some romantic ideal of the struggling artist toiling away in their garret. It’s about ensuring the art and artifacts we surround ourselves with continue to reflect the full spectrum of life on earth. It’s about understanding that the value of art, music, poetry, film, writing, performance, etc. lies not just in the end product, but in the very human process of creation—with all its struggles, epiphanies, and happy accidents. If we want art to remain a vibrant, vital force in our society—a mirror and catalyst for challenging and changing each other—then we need to be hyper intentional about how we integrate AI into our creative processes and extra vigilant against the copies of the copies.

Photo by Mahdis Mousavi on Unsplash

A Vision for Embodied Creativity in the Age of AI

As I contemplate the future of creativity in a world increasingly shaped by artificial intelligence, I find myself drawn to a vision that’s perhaps unconventional, even contrarian. It’s a vision where we react to the rise of AI-generated content by swinging the pendulum hard in the opposite direction: towards embodied, experiential, and performance-based creativity.

Imagine a near future where the most celebrated and sought-after creative works aren’t digital artifacts that can be endlessly reproduced and optimized by algorithms, but ephemeral performances and experiences that you had to be there to witness. A world where creativity is less about producing perfect, polished objects, and more about the raw, spontaneous energy of live creation in the moment.

In this future, we see a resurgence of something akin to the “Happenings” art movement of the 1950s and 60s. Artists stage elaborate, immersive experiences that engage all the senses, where the audience is not a passive consumer but an active participant. Think of it as the creative equivalent of the slow food movement—a rebellion against the fast-food culture of bite-sized, disposable digital content.

Picture a music festival where the main attractions are not pre-recorded sets played over massive sound systems, but intimate, improvisational jam sessions where musicians riff off each other and the energy of the crowd, creating a one-time-only auditory experience. Or an art exhibition that’s less about hanging paintings on a wall, and more about choreographing an interactive journey—blending installation, performance, and multi-sensory participatory elements.

In this world, the most successful creators are not those who can generate the most content to feed the insatiable maw of our social media feeds, but those who can captivate an audience in the here and now, who can spin a mesmerizing tale around a bonfire, who can devise an unforgettable immersive adventure. The skills of long-form storytelling, oral tradition, and crafting sensory-rich experiences are once again highly valued.

This is a future where we reclaim our collective attention span from the fragmenting forces of digital distraction. We learn to savor rich, slowly-unfolding creative works that require our full presence and engagement (not while wearing a VR headset). And we rediscover the joy of being swept up in an epic narrative that takes hours or days to unfold, rather than seconds.

Of course, this doesn’t mean completely rejecting digital tools or AI. But in this vision, technology is used more as a staging ground for real-world creative experiences. Digital art becomes less about the final product, and more about the process — live-streaming the creation of a mural, a song, a story, with all the imperfections and happy accidents included. Blockchain is used not just for proving provenance and ownership, but as a way to validate and celebrate the “liveness” and uniqueness of a creative performance.

Is this dream out of touch with (virtual) reality? Maybe. But I believe this kind of embodied, experiential creativity will become increasingly valuable and vital as a counterweight to the rise of AI-generated content. In a world where algorithms can generate endless variations of digital content optimized for our fleeting attention, the truly scarce and precious creative works will be those that anchor us back in our physical bodies, our sensory experiences, our shared moments of full, immersive presence.

It’s a future where we prize creativity not as some abstract quality that can be simulated, automated, and optimized, but as the most vivid expression of the lived human experience—in all its messy, improvisational glory. A future where we don’t just passively consume art and culture, but actively participate in its real-time unfolding.

That’s the kind of creativity I want to champion in the age of AI. One that doesn’t just spark our minds with quick hits of dopamine, but ignites all our senses and makes us feel ablaze with life. One that celebrates the embodied, spontaneous, unrepeatable wonder of the human experience. It’s a vision requiring a radical re-orientation of our creative culture, but one I believe will become increasingly necessary and powerful as we chart our course through an AI-dominated world.

Let’s imagine a creative future that doesn’t just react to technology, but proactively shapes it towards more embodied, immersive, and participatory ends. Let’s never lose sight of the fact that the most transformative creative acts are those that happen in real-time, in the messy, iterative space between artist, art, and audience—in the improvised unfolding of the moment. That’s where the real magic lives. ✨



Antonio García • executive design leader

designer, illustrator, podcaster, maker, educator, advisor, marathoner, beat selector, Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer at TXI and founder of Dadwell & Co.