@lilyillo Published April 21, 2023

What’s your background and how did you get into AI art?

I was always creating as a young child, drawing, painting and making crafts. I grew up learning how to paint with oils and watercolour paint, how to draw, making clay forms, learning to sew & knit, and began taking lifedrawing classes at age 13 and attended them for the rest of my teenage years.

I went to university to study a Bachelor of Art Theory and a Masters in Arts Administration & Curatorial Studies, and also completed my MFA majoring in drawing. I approached the act of drawing in the broad sense of mark-making. My work prior to AI has been a mixture of mediums encompassing drawing, installation, watercolour and digital portraiture.

I began to explore with AI tools at the beginning of 2022 when we saw more accessible tools like Midjourney, Dalle2 and Stable Diffusion/DreamStudio offering beta testing etc, and I just could not look away and began in research mode, just playing to see what was possible. I was really interested in whether these tools could be used to find a personal style, because at the time, AI outputs were so similar from tools like MidJourney and Artbreeder, and I wondered if I could train the models or become so good at prompting them that I might be able to push more towards my own drawing style and aesthetic.

“Winter Women #012” by lilyillo, a pre AI piece from the “Winter Women” series on Opensea

Do you have a specific project you’re currently working on? What is it?

I’m working on a new collection for Foundation called Woodside, which centres around ideas of craftsmanship, making and ultimately the destruction of one’s creations.

The series explores personal memories of my childhood home, which was built on a street called ‘Woodside Avenue’. I was only a young child there, and my dad, who trained as a carpenter and architect, was renovating our wooden house. He had built out new rooms, a kitchen and a living space there. Yet, he would wake in the night to hear termites eating at the wooden home, and eventually we had to knock the house down and move on.

My dad now has dementia, he just turned 80 last week, and as his memory is going, I imagine tiny termites in his mind, eating away at his memories, as fast as I try to gather them. So, I find myself talking with him about his past and his life. It has been so wonderful to connect like this, and to fuel a creative output from this has been wonderful thing to do. I gather new ideas for prompts as he tells me about different woods, or tools he used, different carpentry techniques and stories from his life. There is some therapy in this process.

Personally, the series is intrinsically linked to the act of creating within the context of these new tools of AI. I am always aware of the concerns from traditional artists while also embracing the new technology and what it has to offer us. To iterate quickly and create with these tools. And also the destruction and decay. I am drawing metaphors to the role of maker when it comes to creating with AI, some of the concerns around AI as a tool for creation and/or destruction.

“Farewell to everything tangible” by lilyillo, not minted yet but will be a part of Woodside collection

What drives you to create?

I am always creating in an attempt to find some beauty, and I create as a means to process thoughts and feelings, bit by bit claiming ground, towards the goal of slowly understanding or embodying knowledge, as sense of self or a closeness to a subject.

What does your workflow look like?

Inspiration comes in seasons, as it should, and shouldn’t be forced. It usually centres around something that I have been wrestling with for a while, consciously or unconsciously. The personal is special and very important to me. I am constantly thinking about family, relationships, life, doing life – this is the way of the introvert. And what is beautiful is that I feel more and more when working with AI that initial inspiration can be built on, and the speed of iterations can help you to reach deeper much faster. When searching our own personal history, our relationships and our identity, and when we bring these things to the tools, there is so much possibility for growth and understanding.

Technically I work in various ways, sometimes using initial image prompting or drawing sketches for posing purposes etc, and then working across different AI models including Stable Diffusion, Dalle2 and Midjourney. I usually jump back and forth between AI models for inpainting & out painting as well as using Photoshop for touching up, and upscaling using Topaz.

“He knew how to knit” by lilyillo

What is your favourite prompt when creating art?

I am not sure I have a favourite prompt to be honest. I am very flexible as to how I prompt and I like to experiment often, so I think my favourite thing might be seeing how the prompt will be interpreted and then refining based on feedback.

My happiest approach, that I find leads to the most interesting interpretations, is to write my prompts in a haphazard way, using lots of commas, with reference to textures, patterns, and different materials like cherrywood wood grain or sassafras marquetry. In the work ‘Holes in my home’ I referenced the spots, dots, termite holes, tracks that creep out and around him and I really like to describe what the subject of a portrait if feeling his head hung in the delicate sorrow of loss and remorse.

“Holes in my home” by lilyillo

How do you imagine AI (art) will be impacting society in the near future?

There is so much that is possible and so much possibly unimaginable, that sometimes I just think I want to be here now, otherwise I might just get overwhelmed. I am someone who looks backwards in order to move forward, not often looking forward too far.

Who is your favourite artist?

Okay, so there are so many artists in the AI space whom inspire and whom I would consider my contemporaries. Claire Silver, Anna Condo, Holly Herndon, Graphica, Moey P Wellington, Pale Kirill, Viola Rama, Yuma Sogo, 0009, Georgina Hooper, there are so, so, many who inspire me daily in our beautiful global artist studio.

But for outside of this immediate space, I love the work of contemporary artists including Australian painters Jordy Kerwick, Noel McKenna and Mitch Cairns, the paintings of Pakistani painter Salman Toor, illustrators Clover Robin who does beautiful paper cut collages, Aris Moore who has this beautiful naive style of drawing these charming characters. German artist Κiriakos Tompolidis – such beautiful portraits in this flattened style with beautiful patterns in a naïve style, Painter Ben Crase California artist working with imagery of American West, Swedish painter Karin Mamma Andersson.

the nap” by Moey P Wellington

Anything else you would like to share?

There is something so special about the global artist studio in which we are creating and growing within everyday here. I appreciate you taking the time to get to know my practice some more. Thanks!

“Barefoot and better off” by lilyillo

by @dreamingtulpa