Introduction to the Visual Arts

AI Zines

Let’s make another Zine this week. Only this time, let’s use Generative AI to help us write and illustrate our zine!


AI is New?

AI isn’t really new. A quarter of a century ago, in 1999, the AI “Deep Blue” defeated the human world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Around that same time AI X-Ray reading machines surpassed human MD’s with 10 years of radiography experience at diagnosing x-rays. And from predictive text to spell check to the newsfeed on Facebook and other platforms there are many ways that AI algorithms try to make us “better”.

Still, we all know that in late 2022 and here in 2023 Generative AI “trained on” (“stealing”) massive amounts of human produced online data suddenly exploded onto the scene with impressive abilities.

The Future

AI might pose an existential threat to human beings. SciFi movies sure like to think about that. Maybe they’ll wipe us out one day. Or maybe they’ll just take our jobs. Or maybe they’ll make our jobs easier. Maybe it will be a golden age with shorter work weeks and universal basic income (UBI). Or maybe the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

One thing we can probably say for sure: AI is here and growing fast.

So… let’s make some art with it!

Making an AI-assisted Zine

Your Story

Come up with a story. It could be the same or a similar story as your previous, physical zine. Or something completely different. Try different prompts to ask a Text-based AI like ChatGPT to write a story with you. Tell it how many panels or pages your zine will have and that you’d like 1 sentence, or whatever you want, for each panel/page.

Try variations to get your AI to express what you want to express.

Your Art

For your images for each page, ask an Image-based AI like Midjourney to create the images you want. Try specifying different parameters: “watercolor painting”, “sketch”, “photographic”, “black and white”, “primary colors”, “pastels”, “cartoon style” or “in the style of” a particular artist.

Try variations to get your AI to express what you want to express.


Use any Free AI’s you can find. Here are a few:

Text-based AI’s

Image-based AI’s

Your Canvas Post

Presenting your zine

You may, but don’t have to, print a physical version of your zine. Show photos or a video of it.

Or you can show images of pages and their text in your Canvas post.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think of AI?
  2. Do you feel more threatened, or more empowered, by the possibilities of AI?
  3. Before 150 years ago or so, if you wanted to document something, that was painting’s job. If Napoleon conquered some new land, a painter had to paint a canvas of Napoleon on a horse. Then Photography came in and largely took over the documentary function. That took work away from painting and painters. But it also freed painting to explore abstraction and the non-objective. Could a parallel thing happen for Photography and AI? Before 2023, marketing folks hired photographers to create persuasive images to sell stuff and advance capitalism and consumer culture. Today AI is starting to take over that work. That could be a loss of work for commercial photographers. But could it also be freeing for photography? Could it lead to photography becoming less about “fake” marketing images and more about “real” human moments?
  4. Generative AI “trains” on (“steals”) work from human beings. How should this be handled? Should AI train/steal on whatever it wants, end of story? Or should AI pay astronomical copyright fees for the human-created culture is absorbs? Or should we have Copyright Reform that establishes a middle path that allows AI to use training data, and also to pay the creators it uses?
  5. If AI takes human work away, how should we deal with that? Let the “surplus population” be unemployed and without health care? Let the rich get richer? Ask the technological advancements to benefit all people? Use the benefits of AI to have a shorter work week? Instead of 40 hours, maybe 30 or 20 hours a week? Create UBI (Universal Basic Income) so that everyone can survive in a world where AI has taken many of their jobs?
  6. If an AI can write a “better” or faster college paper than you can, what should you do with that? Give AI your college class prompts and let it do your homework for you? Ignore AI and do the work yourself? Use AI for part of the work like writing an outline, but craft individual sentences yourself? If AI can write a good college paper what does that mean? That the work in that class is obsolete? Should we put that class on the scrap heap and study something else? Is learning to write effective AI Prompts more important in 2023 than learning to write compelling essays? Or is the writing of an essay a form of training your mind to think? And even if AI is better, it’s important for you to exercise your mind? If I want to experience “good” basketball, I can watch Breanna Stewart or LeBron James play. But that does nothing for my actual body and coordination. Is it better to watch Breanna or LeBron do great things? Or to hobble around on my driveway learning to dribble a basketball myself?
  7. How do you feel about your new AI Zine vs the Handmade Zine you made a few weeks ago? Is one better? Is one more satisfying? Does one feel more or less tactile and personal?