Art vs Content

The problem with "content" creation.

I hate the modern use of the word “content”.

“Content”, in this context, is something designed solely to fill a social media feed, primarily to the benefit of the platform and the advertisers it serves.

Using the term to describe artwork, that people have often poured their heart and soul into, simply devalues that work.

The social media companies have, however, managed to convince users that their artwork is indeed content and that they should be producing it at ever faster rates in order to be seen on these platforms.

This is a situation which can only ever harm what you are creating.

A common trap

I have fallen into this trap in the past myself.

When I first started sharing my art on Instagram I was uploading a new illustration each week. I enjoyed the process, and the connections I was making, but I was also surrounded by others who were posting daily and growing their followings rapidly.

Often these people were able to produce their work at a faster pace because their style was simpler. For a time, I toyed with the idea of adjusting my own style to increase my speed before I realised just how absurd this was.

I liked the work I was making and others did too. Changing what I was creating to please the algorithms simply didn’t make any sense.

Shortly after, Instagram switched focus to video. Despite initial protests, everyone started creating reels as the only way to gain an audience for their artwork.

At this point, rather than bowing down to the latest whim of the platform, I simply stopped posting my work. My feed was now full of meaningless “content” created by people I hadn’t followed.

Instagram was no longer a place I wanted to be.

Meta’s AI scraping

In a final display of their contempt for artists, Meta have now announced that they will be scraping everyone’s Facebook and Instagram posts to train their AI models. In the US, this is happening already, whilst it is due to start in the UK and EU on 26th June 2024.

Due to GDPR laws, it’s possible to object and opt-out within the UK or EU, but Meta have made it extremely difficult to do so.

This latest action has led to a mass exodus of artists from Instagram to Cara, a platform specifically designed to protect users artwork from AI.

Whilst Cara looks good, it’s still in it’s infancy and, obviously, this is not the first time that artists have claimed to be jumping ship on-mass so it remains to be seen if it will last.

The risk of creating “content”

This latest move by Meta only highlights a growing threat.

By continuing to focus on chasing algorithms, either by following trends or creating quick, low-quality content, people are only facing a losing battle.

However much you simplify your work and streamline your processes, you simply cannot compete with the rate that AI can be used to produce “content”.

What’s the alternative?

In a world where AI tools are becoming widespread, I feel it’s more important than ever to be creating high-quality, meaningful, artwork.

This may take more time, but it has the ability to resonate with a human audience in a way that low-quality content simply doesn’t.

This is why my YouTube videos have been so infrequent.

I’m well aware that the easiest way to grow on YouTube is to regularly create “content”. Ideally, I should be producing one or two videos a week.

This would be easy enough to do if I was willing to sacrifice on the quality of what I was creating, or the value it might provide to the audience, but I’m not.

There are already far too many superficial videos on YouTube and I’d rather stand out by creating something different, even if it reduces my audience.

The Worlds Divide

One person who has clearly bucked the trend of focussing on content creation is Denver Jackson. He recently posted a video in which he breaks down his 10 year process of creating The Worlds Divide, a feature length animated film, written, directed, and animated, entirely by himself.

That would be a pretty mind bending feat in itself but, as he explains in his video, during that 10 year period he didn’t simply create one feature film. Instead, he has created two feature films, an hour long web series, and multiple short films!

Almost everything for these projects was created solo, with just a few collaborators to help out with some modelling, sound and music.

I highly recommend watching the video if you want to see what can be achieved by one person with a clear focus.

It’s time to change

I find it sad that, with the hold that social media companies have on us, people now aspire to become content creators rather than artists, illustrators, photographers, animators, or filmmakers.

Clearly, Denver Jackson has a crazy work ethic but his story shows just what can be accomplished when we focus on larger, and more meaningful projects, rather than chasing likes on social media.

With the rise of AI, we need to re-focus on making art in a way that can’t be easily replicated.

Each of us has our own unique tastes and viewpoints. Artwork with a genuine, human, point of view is something which has the potential to forge a deeper connection with an audience than any piece of disposable content ever will. It just takes more time to create.

So, I say, it’s time to leave the content creation to the AI robots and, instead, focus on creating art.


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