AI: Redefining Creativity

Lianna McCurdy

April 24, 2024 | 5 min read

AI is now impossible to ignore. You’ve heard the buzz, and—surprise—we’re here to add to it. That’s because the exponential growth and development of AI tools has presented us with a nagging philosophical dilemma. So let’s get to thinkin’!

Tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney, and ElevenLabs are challenging conventions.

We’re used to creating with our heads, hands, and hardware alone. That means sitting in a room for hours to imagine a single concept. Spending weeks coding a site. Building a set and designing a scene with selective props. Curating the perfect lighting for a product shot. Traveling to a location with a camera crew in tow. But those processes are growing more obsolete every day.

Now, large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT act as research assistants, quickly summarizing new subjects in absorbable formats. They can assist writers in drafting copy, and even help programmers code and debug sites.

Midjourney and Sora generate detailed images and stunning video from textual descriptions, encapsulating moody lighting, camera settings, and dreamy locations with ease. Voice synthesis technology like ElevenLabs is making leaps and bounds in text-to-speech, producing uncannily human voiceovers from written scripts.

These tools take conceptualization and visualization to a new level for designers, producers, video editors, animators, and writers alike. And as we adopt them in our workflows, it’s easy to see they’re more than just a way to automate.

However, the difference between C and A+ output is still the human touch.

For all they can do, these tools have limitations. AI-generated content lacks the context, depth, and—truly—the emotion that only comes from being human. For instance, an LLM might write a technically sound story, but it’s not advanced enough to capture the voice, flow, and nuanced style a human writer could weave into the narrative. If it gets close, the output is a result of hours and hours of human work—guided (really sculpted) by tailored prompts, personal insights, and thoughtful editing.

It’s the same for generative AI images and video: A crafted prompt still delivers an imperfect result. As an example, we often have to use Photoshop to elevate AI-generated images—whether that’s to infuse them with brand identity or cultural nuance.

In short, it takes more than a machine to create a compelling story.

These exercises with technology are making us work in more creative ways. And making us think hard about our definition of creativity.

The concept of “creativity” shows up in variants that not only characterize our work, but reference what we produce, and our identities—in the industry, and as people who are rewarded by creative acts. (We “are creative,” we “make creative,” we “are creatives.”)

Creativity is subjective in its interpretation, yet central to our value. So, the practice of questioning and reserving time to “just think about it” allows us to ground ourselves amidst rapid technological advancements.

Although AI tools can provide shortcuts to new ways of thinking, visualizing, and communicating, and add ease to processes that would typically take (at least) twice as long, they don’t quite yet have the autonomous capacity for creativity—the connective tissue required for genuine engagement and audience resonance.

Creativity in practice. (The practice of being human.)

It’s multifaceted and manifests in everything we do—including, and especially, when working with AI tools. And to simplify things here, we reflect on four keys: problem solving, communication, collaboration, and play.

1. Problem solving.

Where our creativity begins—analysis, ideation, and implementation. We’re like puzzle makers, assessing every campaign or project from a wide view, then working with a juxtaposition of people, tools, and methods to solve it. And since the path isn’t always clear from the start, we combine unconventional angles, imagination, critical thinking, and practicality along the way. There’s always space for novelty—and surprise.

2. Communication.

To exercise creativity is to express—to skillfully craft and deliver engaging and informative messages as creative output. This means storytelling, engaging, just gripping people with work that resonates. Creativity is embodied in every discipline—an artist painting their canvas, a scientist discovering a new species, or an engineer sending rockets into space. Through it all, the aim is to present a new potential, a new line of thought. And hopefully start a conversation.

3. Collaboration.

Cross-pollination. Nurturing. Refinement. Creativity must have perspective. It combines research, experience, and skill to foster something new (a new insight, concept, or way to execute). It doesn’t happen in a silo. By sharing knowledge and expertise, inspiration strikes harder and synergy flows faster. A strength exists in the collective brainpower of strategists, writers, designers, filmmakers, and project managers—and provides a necessary push and pull through processes to achieve a more potent result.

4. Play.

Play—the result of natural curiosity—is inherently creative. It’s an act of divergence, of envisioning, all without fear of consequence. It’s like wandering your neighborhood with intuition as your guide. Maybe you’ll discover a hidden side street, notice that tiny purple flower sprouting from the sidewalk, or hear a mysterious birdsong. Play is the space where you breathe and grow—and that’s where inspiration comes from.

These counterparts of creativity are more than a machine. Humans aren’t going anywhere (at least for a minute). The synergy between human and technology pushes us to redefine what’s possible—and propels our creativity forward.