How Does AI Work as a Creative Tool?

Any artist will have a particular style, sometimes inspired by someone else. For example manga comics use big eyes, and that is a style that was copied from Disney animals, but applied to different content (the “base”). AI can also copy a style, and transfer it to a different base. You can train AI, for example, on van Gough’s style, and apply it to a picture of your grandmother. Since this process works like the neurons in your brain, it is called “Neural Style Transfer” (NST).

Daune Smith is a textile artist in Detroit who works with traditional African fabrics. But now she wants to up her game by creating a mash-up between traditional arts and other styles. She contacted artists in Africa to make sure they are OK with this, and even arranged ways they can benefit for their stores (that’s the most important “keep it real” part here). Now she needs your help!

First you will need to pick the “style” (sort of like painting with a texture) that the AI learns from. Then you will need to pick the “base” that it modifies with the style.

Experiment with this a bit. Was the African cloth the base or the style? What happens when you switch it up?

Adire cloth Kente Cloth Mud Cloth Adinkra Cloth Kuba Cloth

Adire Cloth

Kente Cloth

Mud Cloth

Adinkra Cloth

Kuba Cloth

Here are some base image samples. You can also upload an image of your own choosing.

American Flag Frederick Douglass Rhianna Mona Lisa Mae Jemison

The Statue of Liberty

Frederick Douglass


The Mona Lisa

Mae Jemison

So how does this work? What we are doing is called style transfer in which the style and coloring of one image is transferred to the presentation of another image to create a unique rendition of the two images together.

Start AI for African Arts