While studying, artist Sunday Becomes aspired to work in the animation industry to create concept art. Hence, she trained herself to work primarily with digital mediums to create art at the fast pace that the industry often required. However, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated art, which can create digital art quickly and at a low cost that no human artist could match, made Sunday reconsider her career. 

Photograph of Sunday Becomes at work with traditional art mediums. Image courtesy of @sundaybecomes/Instagram.

Combined with her concerns over her mental health, Sunday saw that quickly churned digital art was a task that was increasingly being relegated to AI. Then, the most logical thing for her to do was to return to traditional art mediums such as charcoal, graphite and watercolour. These mediums allowed Sunday to work slowly, to take care of her mental health and to affirm that there is still space for human artists in the art system. This aligns her work with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Good Health and Well-Being and Decent Work And Economic Growth.

Sunday Becomes shares her process on social media. Image courtesy of @sundaybecomes/Instagram.

Sunday’s fears of competing with AI as an emerging artist are far from baseless. A 2023 survey by CVL Economics that was co-commissioned by the Animation Guild IATSE Local 839 found that an estimated 204,000 entertainment industry jobs will be affected by AI in the next 3 years. On top of that, 99 percent of surveyed entertainment companies plan to use AI tools in their productions and 25 percent of the total have already employed AI tools. This reality shows why Sunday’s example is relevant, as it speaks of how emerging artists can make it in today’s AI-using industry.

After returning to traditional art mediums, especially charcoal, Sunday found her art style became increasingly simpler or, in her own words, more “ugly.” When she first started her career, she focused on crafting meticulous hyper-realistic paintings to showcase her technical prowess, but nowadays, her style could easily be equated to folk art, composed of simple lines that formed quirky beings.

Reflecting on this journey, Sunday shared that this was her way of affirming her humanity in an art industry where emerging artists, much like herself, competed with artificial intelligence. For her, realism was now “[…] a kind of art that can be very easily replicated by AI technology.” 

Great Pig of Abundance by Sunday Becomes. Image courtesy of @sundaybecomes/Instagram.

Aside from this, creating “ugly” art also liberated her from the desire to please and wow audiences with her technical prowess. Practicing slow traditional mediums allowed Sunday to create art that truly spoke to her, art that conveyed genuine emotions and appreciation for her craft. This gave her the space to ground her thoughts and create kinder narratives of herself and her work. “They (her pieces) represent a return to the fundamentals, a call to reconnect with nature,” summarized Sunday.

Piece inspired by Matisse’s Dance by Sunday Becomes. Image courtesy of @sundaybecomes/Instagram.

Despite this, Sunday has also shared that her path to a career in the arts may not be for everyone. She encourages those aspiring to become artists to find their own way of coexisting with AI in the industry. For Sunday, this means rejecting digital art altogether and returning to slow, traditional ways of art making—a move that is both good for her mental health and helps her distinguish herself from AI art.

The Impossible Lovers by Sunday Becomes. Image courtesy of @sundaybecomes/Instagram.

Find out more about Sunday Becomes’ charcoal works and their other pieces by checking their Instagram @sundaybecomes.

You've successfully subscribed to Arts Help
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Great! You've successfully signed up.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.