The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Student Spotlight | Graphic design student wants to keep art human

Leila Arnaut’s graphic design Bachelor of Fine Arts exhibit displayed robots going to art school.
Sara Stumpff
Leila Arnaut poses for a portrait next to one of her pieces of art during her BFA Exhibition “Byte the Dust” in the Visual Arts Building on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.

University of Iowa graphic design student Leila Arnaut wants to keep her art real amid  the growing use of artificial intelligence.

AI Image generators, such as DALL-E and Lensa, use machine learning to produce fake pieces of art. However, those fake art pieces usually mix several pieces of real art with no credit to the original artists. Arnaut’s recent exhibit, “Byte The Dust,” humorously displays this machine-learning process.

Opened in the visual arts building from Nov. 6-11, “Byte The Dust” was a collection of posters designed in the software Clip Studio Paint and Adobe Illustrator. With a cute and chunky art style, the posters told the story of robots going to art school.

“Art is something by humans, for humans, and should be enjoyed by humans,” Arnaut said.  “It’s not that I’m not open to change, because that’s not the case. It’s a workers’ rights issue.”

Arnaut’s parents immigrated from Bosnia to Waterloo, Iowa, in 1997 as refugees. She is the only person in her extended family to pursue art as a career but learned the basics from watching her mother paint.

Arnaut graduates this winter, and even though she isn’t entirely sure what her future holds, she will continue pursuing her dream of becoming a video game illustrator by fighting AI.

In her exhibit, the first poster displayed adorable robots wiping an artist’s signature off a window, referencing the ethics behind AI using pre-existing works. Each poster had the same color scheme of muted pastel blues, pinks, and purples.

The next poster depicted an eight-bit style self-portrait of Arnaut doodling in an unfinished bedroom. The art style was reminiscent of Sanrio, a brand of well-known cartoon characters like Hello Kitty. The room was isolated in the frame with a deep blue filling up the rest of the background to display the unfinished nature of AI-generated art.

“I don’t mind if people are using AI to help them decipher colors or something small like that, but if you’re just typing prompts and then just getting and going with something, it’s not really fair,” Arnaut said.

The next few posters showed the robot characters drawing, painting, and going to art school lectures, referencing classic pieces of art, similar to what AI generators do.

“I thought it would be funny if I made them visibly upset about the fact that they can’t get it right,” Arnaut said. “I’m referencing other artworks like the Creation of Adam in my art because it’s important to include humans in the conversation.”

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About the Contributors
Zhenya Loughney
Zhenya Loughney, Arts Reporter
Zhenya is a fourth year theatre design and journalism double major at UI. They are passionate about artistry and creativity. They are from Lebanon, KY.
Sara Stumpff
Sara Stumpff, Photojournalist
Sara is a third year UI student who transfered from Kirkwood. She is a "non traditional" student who will hopefully obtain her BFA in Photography and BA in Spanish.