Discover more from Humans of Generative Art
Meet Cat Lady Kat
“I've been all over but have spent the greater part of my life in the green hills of southern Appalachia,” Kat says. “I'm just an oddball cat lady on the surface, introverted and socially dorky, but inside I feel deeply connected to everyone I meet in real life or online.”
“I wonder what each life is like and I care about their deep-down stuff like dreams and ponderings and creative instincts. I feel we’re all here for — and as — something bigger than ourselves and connecting with each other is what brings that to life,” she says.
The art, and the art of post-processing
“I stumbled upon generative art in 2021 via Artbreeder and then VQGAN. Now I primarily use Midjourney and Photoshop. With generative art my longtime computer workflow has shifted to the iPad where touchscreen and Apple pencil make a huge difference for me. I enjoy post-processing even more now, as a relaxing therapeutic thing,” Kat says.
“At first I would carefully post-process most things by overpainting, retouching, stacking, etc. Polishing images is something I still really enjoy—it feels like painting and gets me into a chill space. But more and more I find I like to leave some AI quirks present, so I post-process a little less often now and usually with a lighter touch, although it’s still possible for me to immerse in an image for a long time.”
The depths of her joy
Sharing her home with a couple dozen rescue cats and rabbits over the last several years, Kat’s life has revolved around animals, so it’s no wonder that her creations feature cat ladies.
“I started making cat ladies as a happy experiment in generative art styles, but came to find the sometimes silly, sometimes magical images bring others joy so I started posting them on Instagram,” she says.
When asked what brings her joy, Kat enthuses about life itself:
“The wonder of transformation brings me joy,” Kat says. “From the tiniest miracle of nature to the hard-won treasures that form in our inner depths. No matter how messed up the world may seem or how difficult the challenges are, life here is so awe-inspiring to me on a daily basis.”
“Beauty also brings me great joy,” she says. “Nourishing myself with nature, art, soul, and creating it in any way possible. Seeing the beauty of who others are and what they create.”
“And zen,” she continues. “Choosing the slow lane, allowing life to happen, observation, contemplation, simplicity, kindness.”
“On the day-to-day level, I feel so much joy in Midjourney as art therapy. My partner has joked for years that I don't play enough, but now suddenly with gen art I've been able to find that missing piece in my life. It’s so meaningful to have an outlet for creating beauty of all kinds—even strange beauty that our minds are unused to seeing and yet it is beautiful and somehow transformative.”
She remarks, “On a more cosmic level of meaning, I feel gen art is teaching us by experience how to imagine and build a better world…”
“…and practice for using replicators!” Kat jokes.
Thoughts on generative art
“For me, generative art-making feels like a portal to a better reality. I never thought I'd hear myself saying that about anything labeled “artificial intelligence,” because I'm not interested in the dystopian cyborg world that shows up so often in collective imagination. I don't really want to upload my life into some corporate metaverse,” she adds.
“What I am interested in is how our organic, biological existence is going to evolve into more and more light, less density, at which point the materiality of this hologram we call life also lightens and becomes even more beautiful, more fluid, and consciously created. Generating images feels like a glimpse of that,” Kat says.
She adds, “For me, using Midjourney feels like a training ground for when we will live as heart-driven creators of a world that is even more beautiful and wild and free than the places our imaginations take us via these nascent technologies.”
There’s learning ahead
When asked what she’d like to learn next, Kat shares:
“I feel like pouring all my learning-curve time and energy into prompt craft. Beyond that, I've learned so much new tech in the past year, that what pops up now is a desire to improve my photography or learn permaculture, pottery, or hang drum.”
And there’s learning within
“It's been such a trip so far,” Kat says. “I’m a simple-life homebody yet I marvel at how growth experiences find me despite that. The learning experiences and opportunities to stretch show up even while I’m just quietly creating.”
“I get to explore the squirmy feelings that come from ‘being seen’ as I put creations out there on social media, and I’m pushed into letting go of my perfectionism. I’m gradually learning to experiment, play, flow, to let creative messes happen.
”And as I create within the context of this amazing community, I encounter further growth points like how might I be more open, more free, less fearful, more generous, authentic and flowing? Thankfully, these lessons are usually in the form of watching fellow creators be shining examples of these qualities.”
How generative art has impacted her life
“It’s a multi-layered impact that is still unfolding,” Kat says.
“When young, I was constantly creating. Paper arts, jewelry, decorating, sewing, drawing—anything and everything I could get my hands on. In midlife, by the time I realized I dearly wanted to master oils or watercolor, chronic illness had taken hold, bringing increasing physical and neurological sensitivities and a focus on survival.”
“I'm a joyful soul and yet I felt like my life was closing in around me. Artistic passions most often took a back seat to what seemed like a necessary asceticism. Meanwhile my soul yearned to make art. Every couple of years I would recommit to trying to put in the hours of practice so that someday I'd be able to make beautiful paintings. Each time, this would fizzle because the physical logistics of it got in the way.”
“I missed the fulfillment art brings and painting was always a ‘someday’ thing that seemed to be slipping away. Then came generative art. I tinkered with it at first only due to my interest in technology and as tool to aid in composing someday paintings. I observed how it affected my brain/neuroplasticity in interesting ways. I enjoyed making abstract beauty in pre-coherent/pre-stable models and then began making creatures and characters in Midjourney v3,” Kat says.
“I also watched media begin to stoke fear about AI, yet I felt compelled to form a close relationship with generative art anyway because I intuited a strong a sense of what this technology is and is not,” she adds. “But I wasn't hearing anyone describe it accurately or share what I felt to be the super-positive, far-reaching aspects of art generators. Then Midjourney’s v4 alpha came along and my creative world was forever changed by generative art’s expanded capabilities.”
“Around the same time, I began listening to Midjourney Office Hours and was blown away to finally hear someone (David Holz) speak the same positive vision that had been unfolding within me about generative art technology, imagination, and the upliftment of humanity. These experiences coalesced into a refreshed sense of creative purpose. And then I began to meet the bright community springing up around AI art and I felt like I had found my tribe.”
“It is amazing to me how such a tribe of beautiful human beings has congregated around generative art and the connections are about so much more than sharing images. It feels like a movement, like something that is going to hugely influence the future. I feel so much joy and purpose being a part of it in this connected way,” Kat says.
The serendipity of prompting
“Each piece I create is just a split moment in a dance,” she says.
“Just as has always been the case with my photography, I get lost in the magic of seeing, lost in wonder and serendipity and surprise. So, whether camera or generative art, I don't easily retain all the nitty gritty technical specs of the craft or the presence of mind to use them masterfully in a given moment,” she adds.
“I call myself a lazy prompter because I'm often caught up in the magic and spontaneity so I might not sit down and scientifically craft a prompt from start to finish like a mathematical formula to generate precise results,” Kat explains. “My prompts may be long or short, but I'm more (gently) chaotic with the process, tossing ideas in and seeing what pops out, and occasionally ending up hot on the trail of something specific as a result of that.”
Kat adds, “I love playing with prompts like sculpting clay, beginning with broad and simple then homing in on detail and coherence in synergy with the bot. I also enjoy mashing things together in interesting ways to see what shows up.”
“The vast array of styles we can generate is something that appeals to me greatly, so rather than refine a specific look that is ‘my’ style, for my Instagram I stick with a theme as a container in which to play with styles,” she notes.
“Generative art feels like such a miracle, really. Think of how many years it would take to develop a particular way of painting, and then the time it would take to evolve that into a different style when you want a refresh. With Midjourney's "image dust" I can be an oil painter one day, a watercolorist on a different day ...a botanical illustrator, a street photographer, paper artist, clay, yarn... or even something never seen before,” she says.
Do you have a piece that speaks to your soul?
“This piece below resonates with something deep within me that is looking toward a bright ‘unimaginable future’ as David Holz aptly describes it, and is aware of the potentially bumpy ride to get there as we all must embrace change, overcome fears, and be incredibly patient with the process even while things will also seem to be moving very fast. This cat lady seems to express a sense of the ‘midjourney’ we are currently navigating. She also reminds me of the strength card in tarot.”
A blend of two worlds
“Although generating images has given me a creative outlet beyond measure, I still have a lifelong craving to master traditional art for the sake of the embodied experience of it,” she says.
“I would love to attend painting workshops or pottery classes and come to feel what it's like to know those crafts so well that I get out of my own way and can enter a zen space of dancing with organic art-making,” Kat says. “I'm a nature girl and feel it's important to keep my hands in the dirt, so to speak.”
“The complex iridescence of a flower petal and the glow of earth minerals still somehow surpass even our most glorious generative art, although it's such an enlivening wonder to have both, to generate brand new outrageous beauty.
I feel each of these worlds informs the other. The slow masterful practice of applying mineral pigments and the quick light of prompt thought and pixel expression can balance each other as we straddle worlds in this era of change.”
“I began by seeing potential for generated images to serve as painting inspiration and reference, yet as things unfold, I see how dancing with the bot is teaching me to see even more, discern further and paint better. And with such a quick medium, imagination increases and ideas pour forth where I used to feel stuck. I'm sure new neural pathways are developing in me too, not just in the machine,” Kat says.
“And all this without becoming a cyborg,” she jokes.
Walking into a bright future
“When I first found generative art, my partner and I spent months building a unique product with AI tools and lots of Photoshop, only to have newer tech make the idea instantly obsolete the same week we launched,” she says. “As I let that fall away, I did some soul-searching and realized that I truly want to focus on a bigger vision than trying to put food on the table with my creations.
”It feels like generative art is too ubiquitous now and too rapidly changing for me to pin future livelihood on it. But a future where none of us has to be in fear or worry and the world is made beautiful by our imaginings? Let me put my energy behind that,” Kat says.
”I wish to have the spaciousness, physical stability and confidence to be there with positive vision for people as art and design (and the world) are poised to change dramatically. To help creators see and express their amazing light and beauty. To walk hand in hand with everyone into what I believe is going to be an amazing future.”
Kat’s Blending Bonanza
Kat is an avid fan of Midjourney’s blend mode, and often gets results we’ve been blown away by! She was kind enough to outline some of her tips and tricks for maximizing potential with /blend.
Getting good blends can be by technical design or pure serendipity. Experiment with both!
Try to match resolution quality and sharpness when you blend.
It can help to pre-sharpen images you intend to blend.
Choose different mediums: a photo and a drawing for example.
Think in opposites: blend a larger subject with small bits or intricate details.
Rough + smooth can give a nice fine texture. e.g., canvas painting + photograph.
Blending luminescent images or ones with too similar a style sometimes gives poor results.
If you are getting an unwanted soft, smeary or lo-fi look, reconsider your source images.
If you love a result but it's a little soft, sharpen in a photo app to bring it up to par.
Slot machine blending can be fun. Close your eyes and pick your images without looking.
Make blending part of your creative vision by creating two images for the purpose of blending them. This can be a beautiful way to get extra dynamic movement, rich textures or add coherence to complex themes as you plan your prompts.
Blending is a great way to recycle imperfect or incoherent creations. MJ will usually read the subjects and styles without bringing across pre-existing errors.
Follow Kat’s journey on Instagram.