Let’s talk creative disruption. Right now, a very economical tool exists to augment your creative work for your shop. It’s called Midjourney.
Are you using this yet?
You’ve probably noticed a post or two from me on my social feeds regarding AI. Maybe you’ve even wondered, “Geez, that guy is really worked up about Midjourney.”
Here’s why. Back in the early 1990s, I wasn’t in this industry at all. I was a student working on my master’s degree in architecture. I had a small t-shirt company that catered to fraternities and sororities. This was back when everything was built by hand. Each color plate for a design had to be constructed on a “camera ready” blue-line board as it was shot individually on a sofa-sized device called a “stat camera.” Each piece of film had to be developed using silver nitrate, like a photograph. This was then used to burn the screens for each plate.
Creating one design for a t-shirt involved a considerable length of time and was a very labor-intensive process. (frankly, it was a pain in the butt)
Until, of course, the Mac came out with the early version of Photoshop and a vector program called Freehand (which I still think is superior to Illustrator).
This dropped the hours it took to create and separate the art and saved 80%-90% of the time easily. During the holiday break at the end of 1992, I created a series of experiments where I simply recreated designs I made by hand previously. This helped teach me the basic methodology of using the software.
I was so blown away by the technology that I changed course and became the art director for the t-shirt shop that was printing my shirts. I left architecture school and never looked back. Zero regrets, by the way.
That technological leap is what I see in Midjourney and other AI-based tools right now.
Everything As You Know It Is About to Change
These new AI tools will make it amazingly easier to create and iterate designs for clients. What took hours to think up now takes a few moments.
Like it or not, the genie is out of the bottle, and it is not going back in.
If you haven’t landed on any of my social media posts to see what I’ve been experimenting with, here are a few examples. Look at these and ask yourself how long it would take you to design these images without the assistance of AI?
I’ve run a little over 2,800 of these experiments since March. Am I an expert? Uh, not hardly.
However, I’m farther down the road on this than most people. Each of the four images above took probably thirty seconds or so to create.
Midjourney is powerful. It’s unpredictable. And, it is far from perfect.
It is going to be a fantastic way to get started. If Midjourney were a football kickoff, it would be like catching the ball in your endzone and running it to the opposing team’s seven-yard line. Not quite a touchdown, and you’ll still need to do something to punch it in and score.
Wondering how it could work for your shop? Here’s a proposed workflow with an example.
Midjourney Workflow Example
Bill, one of your top customers, calls you and says that he would like to see some creative ideas for new veterinary clinic chain that he just signed as a client. He wants to take some ideas to them. They are still working up a logo, but for right now, they need some great looking dog images that would go on the back of a light blue t-shirt. They only want to use a few colors, so keep things simple.
You say, “No problem. Any particular breed, color, or style?,” you ask. Bill says, “Nope, you have complete freedom. I don’t know what I want. Impress me.” (Typical, right?)
Queue up Midjourney. Your new wonder tool.
You jump in and type /imagine to start the prompt sequence and type: Cute labradoodle puppies, isolated, flat color, duotone, thick black outlines, cel-shading, light blue background.
Midjourney uses those prompt words with the algorithm to produce a grid of four images. These are custom built from the combination of all of the words in the sequence, and billions of images and image-to-text pairs that exist on the internet. Even using the same words, the images will never repeat.
In less than thirty seconds you get this image back:
Nice. Let’s do a few more. In Midjourney, you can “reroll” the prompt sequence to produce more new images with the original prompt sequence. You click that.
Bingo. In under a minute we have eight images to show the client.
Those look great, but let’s change it up slightly and have the puppies playing or something. You change the prompt sequence slightly and use: Happy labradoodle puppies, playing, isolated, flat color, duotone, thick black outlines, cel-shading, light blue background.
Only a few word changes, but it makes a world of difference. Check it out.
Changing two words in the prompt sequence made the puppies more animated and friendly.
You’ve now spent about three minutes total on this project so far. That’s right. Three minutes, and you have produced twelve images for your client to choose from as the basis to get started on the project.
You save the images and attach them to an email. They love the image with the puppies leaping.
Fifteen minutes later after you set some type, you send this to the client for approval:
Completely custom. One of a kind. Not built from a template that other shops can use.
Less than twenty minutes of work.
This is Why
This is why you need to be playing around in this AI space. Like the introduction of the personal computer in the workflow back in the early 1990s, the disruption of AI generated art will have the same effect.
The time is now to learn how to wield the tool to your purposes.
Shameless Plug Time
This is also why I’ve started the Midjourney: Elevating Print Creativity Newsletter. My goal with the newsletter is to build a community of professionals using Midjourney. This is a weekly email that will be sent to your inbox every Monday.
At only $12 per month, this small fee covers ramping up on using the Midjourney tool for image creation. New ideas, prompts to try, examples, and tutorials will be shared weekly.
Want to sign up? Click here to start your subscription and get access to the print community using Midjourney professionally.
“Disruption is a process, not an event, and innovations can only be disruptive relative to something else.” – Clayton Christensen
“Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing.” – Warren Buffett
“Always do whatever’s next.” – George Carlin
Help Support This Blog
While I may be goofing around with AI for some projects, this blog and its contents have been created by me, Marshall Atkinson. Yes, I used Midjourney to create the art on this blog post. I also used OpenAI to help name the fictional veterinary shop in my example. Tools are meant to be used, and as a human being I can control them.
Why am I writing this? To remind you, dear reader, these words are backed by a real person. With experience, flaws, successes, and failures… That’s where growth and learning happen. By putting in the work.
If you are reading this and it is not on my website, it has been stolen without my permission by some autobot. Please report this to me and/or publicly out the website that hijacked it. And if you are trying to copy and use it without my permission, you are stealing. Didn’t your mama teach you better?
If you like this blog and would like to support it, you can:
- Buy a book.
- Share this blog on your social media.
- Join Shirt Lab Tribe.
- Subscribe to the Success Stories podcast.
- Watch and like an episode on the Jerzees Adventures in Apparel Decorating YouTube series.
- Get signed up for the new Production Tracker app.
- Subscribe to the Midjourney Elevating Print Creativity Newsletter
Also, my basic elevator pitch to you is that I help with “Clarifying effective change.” If you are dissatisfied with your business’s current results, maybe I can help.