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Helen Todd is co-founder and CEO of Sociality Squared and the human behind Creativity Squared.
Chad Nelson Creativity Squared Cover Art
Chad Nelson is an award-winning creative director and creative collaborator with OpenAI whose work has appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia.

Ep3. Chad Nelson: A.I. Art Superpowers

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Chad Nelson Creativity Squared Cover Art

Ep3. A.I. Art Superpowers: Discover Chad Nelson’s Collab with OpenAI DALL·E on the First-Ever A.I. Animated Short Film & Vogue Cover

In episode three, we talk with Chad Nelson, an award-winning creative director and technology strategist with over 25 years of expertise in designing cutting-edge interactive experiences and entertainment. His portfolio includes industry-leading video games, TV shows (both traditional and interactive), mobile apps, and 3D tools for digital artists. As co-founder of the technology start-ups Eight Cylinder Studios and WGT Media, Chad has collaborated with Fortune 100 companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Sony, and Virgin. Chad also serves as a creative collaborator with OpenAI.

“A.I. tools aren’t replacing me — they’re giving me superpowers.”

Chad Nelson

In April 2023, Chad released CRITTERZ, the first animated short film that is 100% designed using A.I.-generated visuals with DALL·E. The short was also released on the OpenAI DALL·E Instagram channel. It was created as a collaboration with Native Foreign to celebrate the one-year anniversary of DALL·E and showcases how human creativity can adopt and push A.I. tools. 

His A.I. work recently appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia’s May 2023 edition with cover model Bella Hadid! Vogue Italia partnered with Carlijn Jacobs to shoot Bella Hadid at an empty studio in New York City. From there, Chad and Carlijn utilized DALL·E to ideate, visualize, and generate the backgrounds and extend the fashion.

In our conversation with Chad, you’ll get to hear all about his creative process, what questions he’s thinking about related to A.I., how he approaches prompts, the making of CRITTERZ, and much more!

“a red furry monster looks in wonder at a burning candle” Source: @dailydall.e

Discovering DALL·E

When Chad first heard about DALL·E, he was right away interested in experimenting with the technology and tried to find a way in! It was through an Instagram Live he watched where he was able to connect with someone from OpenAI and receive access to an early beta for artists. 

It became the start of what turned into an amazing, unexpected year of just creativity and discovery.

Chad Nelson

He sees his work as “before DALL·E” and “after DALL·E.” When he first got access to DALL·E there were a lot of guardrails about depicting people and celebrities. So he turned to his old animation days and typed in “A furry monster looks in wonder at a burning candle.” He was immediately blown away and knew A.I. had the ability to create something people could emotionally connect with. That day he produced more than in a single day than ever before in his life at a high-quality. So much work, he was inspired to set up the Instagram account @dailydall.e. He shot off an email to OpenAI with some images to thank them, and around, he posted the image of the furry monster looking in wonder at a burning candle on his new Instagram account and then went to bed.


Chad started to build these “muppet-type/Jim Henson/Pixar” characters, and OpenAI’s researchers couldn’t believe that DALL·E had fully made the images without Photoshop. Chad wanted to push the technology and see if it could tell a story, and pitched the idea to OpenAI to collaborate on a film together. CRITTERZ was born! 

The whole point of this is to share information so that people can see how A.I. actually can empower them.

Chad Nelson

The short film is a David Attenborough-style documentary that collides with a Monty Python sketch. It explores themes of identity issues and is a societal reflection through the characters. Chad worked with NativeForeign to animate the film and bring it to life with voice. CRITTERZ was released on April 6, 2023, on Chad and OpenAI’s Instagram channels to celebrate the one-year anniversary of DALL·E. 

For Chad, it’s about being open with the process, and he’s not doing this in a closed bubble. He wants people to see how A.I. can allow them to succeed in realizing their dreams and visions as opposed to just feeling they have no outlet. 

The DALL·E Difference with Inpainting and Outpainting

Why DALL·E is Chad’s tool of choice is informed by DALL·E’s inpainting and outpainting capabilities which sets it apart in the space. DALL·E is an AI model created by OpenAI that generates images from textual input. Inpainting and outpainting are two techniques that DALL-E uses to create these images.

Inpainting is the process of filling in missing or damaged parts of an image. DALL-E uses inpainting to generate images that contain missing or obscured elements based on the textual input it receives. For example, if the input is “an armchair with a torn cushion,” DALL·E can generate an image of an armchair with a visible tear in the cushion.

Outpainting, on the other hand, is the process of generating an image that extends beyond the boundaries of the input. DALL·E uses outpainting to create images that are larger than the input it receives. For example, if the input is “a penguin standing on an iceberg,” DALL·E can generate an image of a larger landscape with the iceberg and penguin as a small element within the image.

These techniques allow DALL-E to create more complex and detailed images that go beyond the limits of traditional image generators. By combining inpainting and outpainting with other image generation techniques, DALL·E can create a wide range of images that closely match the input provided to it. And in Chad’s case, bring his story for CRITTERZ to life larger than a square image for Instagram.

“A striped hairy monster shakes it’s hips dancing underneath a disco ball” Source: @dailydall.e

The Implications of A.I. for Artists

But does all this mean Chad will eventually be out of a job? No. He steers the ship. He did ask himself if he was training a model to do his job and he would become extinct. However, he realized he was a curator or ultimately the art director. DALL·E can produce these images but can’t tell if they are great or terrible.

Let’s work through these things together, and really build the future that we all dream of that we all want. And that at the end of the day is empowering to humans.

Chad Nelson

A.I. is really just enhancing his work and making him think through his ideas much faster than before. In that moment, his thoughts went from fear to empowerment. At the end of the day, A.I. is supercharging his art and he’s always in the driver’s seat.

Chad does realize there are many implications when it comes to A.I. and copyright and protecting artists. Technology will always move faster than the law. He believes in asking questions and figuring out the answers together. Since the law is behind, companies have to take a more responsible stance and take the more ethical approach over the capitalistic approach.

As a collaborator with OpenAI, he has found it to truly be a two-way street with the researchers. The conversation is open about what DALL·E can and cannot do, and he’s encouraged how much the company listens to artists like himself.

Source: @dailydall.e

Chad’s Approach To Prompts

As we’ve said previously, 2023 is the year of the prompts! We were eager to hear how Chad uses them for his work. He likes to begin with a simple, conversational statement, and then build on it by describing the setting, characters, atmosphere, and aesthetics. Chad likens it to writing a screenplay and suggests that prompts should be logically structured and easy for the computer to understand. Some artists take a more poetic approach to their prompts and that can result in amazing art that Chad compares to a visual slot machine. Try what works for you! 

It’s almost like more of a visual slot machine, you don’t even know what you’re gonna get back.

Chad Nelson

He also has found that DALL·E has knowledge gaps as it’s still learning. When he can’t push the images any further, he calls it the DALL·E dead end!

Image credit: Vogue Italia

From CRITTERZ to a Vogue Cover

Conde Nast partnered with OpenAI and Chad for the Vogue Italia’s May 2023 cover featuring Bella Hadid, and we were lucky enough to talk with Chad about the project before it hit newsstands.

“The age of A.I. is here… and this is only the beginning.”

Chad Nelson

The vision for this project was to meld traditional high-end fashion photography with A.I.generative visuals. Vogue Italia partnered with fashion photographer Carlijn Jacobs and supermodel Bella Hadid to make it happen. Bella was photographed in an empty space, and Chad used DALL·E to create surrealistic backgrounds and extended fashion to create imagery that couldn’t be achieved through normal photography.  Chad shared:

“Within each photo (15 in total, including the 2-page foldout cover), we generated hundreds of images to get DALL·E to match Bella’s lighting and camera perspective so that we could build the wardrobe extensions and surrounding environments. The images range from realistic to surreal as we wanted to showcase the extent of Dall.E’s visual capabilities.”

When Chad first started DALL·E, he could have never imagined the doors being opened and the opportunities being presented. He told us that never in his life did he expect that his work would be on a Vogue Cover.

Image credit: Vogue Italia

A.I. Opportunities

Tools and technologies are making it easier for anyone to create artwork. You don’t have to afford art school or walk into the Louvre to pursue a career. Chad believes A.I. tools will open up doors and allow artists to explore new ideas at a rate that has never been possible before. Plus, you don’t have to stay in your lane. You don’t have to only pick graphic design or animation or editor. In his own career, Chad has exciting opportunities that he didn’t know were possible in his “after DALL·E” chapter and has connected with artists to build a community. 

Chad believes in having important conversations around A.I. and asking the tough questions about how it will affect artists and the world. However, he sees more optimism ahead than pessimism. In one year, A.I. has allowed him to produce more art and push himself creatively more than he has in his entire life. He has used it as fuel and truly believes that A.I. can empower humans.

Additional Links Mentioned in the Podcast

Connect with Chad on Instagram
Connect with DALL·E on Instagram 
Try DALL·E 2 for yourself
Native Foreign, collaborator on CRITTERZ
Washington Post article on Hollywood filmmaking and A.I.
Connect with Karen X on Instagram
Connect with Don Allen Stevenson III on Instagram
Bella Hadid on the Cover of Vogue Italia: When Photography Plays with Artificial Intelligence

Continue the Conversation

Chad Nelson Creativity Squared Premium Member NFT

Chad, thank you for being our guest on Creativity Squared! 

This show is produced and made possible by the team at PLAY Audio Agency: https://playaudioagency.com

Creativity Squared is brought to you by Sociality Squared, a social media agency who understands the magic of bringing people together around what they value and love: http://socialitysquared.com.

Because it’s important to support artists, 10% of all revenue Creativity Squared generates will go to ArtsWave, a nationally recognized non-profit that supports over 100 arts organizations.

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