AI is definitely a threat to artists. But it’s also not going to go away.
People who are using AI instead of hiring an artist are the kind of folks who wouldn’t have been willing to pay your prices anyway. They would have looked for discounts, for free work, for whatever it takes to spend as little as possible to get the best quality they can. In a way, it can separate the wheat from the chaff.
I do find that there are people out there who prefer to hire human artists because they like what that human artist already does. They don’t care for the unpredictable results of an AI engine. They want something specific and they’re willing to buy it. It might be their specific style or design sensibility or use of color.
That said, there’s no reason to cast a huge blanket of negativity over those who see some positives in AI image creation, artists or otherwise. I’m personally against it for characters and all that, but I might also see myself using it to conceptualize a backdrop for an illustration because I’m not great at backgrounds. Is that any different than using a manipulated photo nabbed from a Google search or a stock photo site?
But if it quiets the folks who want to have an image of themselves made for some kind of logo, you’re probably better off leaving it to the AI anyway.
I’m no expert on the subject, but I would say this comes down to the same discussion about machines replacing jobs like cashiers. It might be time to focus on developing more skills and creating more products that a machine can’t replicate (yet).
Can AI create a good comic book without a decent writer? Can it write a non-formulaic story for a novel that won’t require so much editing you might as well have written it yourself? Can it develop a fully-featured, quality video game? Can it do a fully animated 2D or 3D scene? Can it model a fully-rigged 3D character that doesn’t look photorealistic, but stylized?
There’s more to art than painterly portraits. We as creators have to keep an open mind.
And if you want something original created by a human artist, one who will work with you to make sure you get exactly what you want in a style that doesn’t look like it was cranked out by an AI engine, I’m your guy.