Top 10 Black A.I. Creators You Need to Know
In celebration of Black History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the remarkable Black creators in the artificial intelligence space. There are so many talented Black builders and creatives in the world of A.I. that it’s nearly impossible to narrow it down, but here are some of the innovators pushing the boundaries of art and GenAI. These artists each bring their own backgrounds, expertise, and creativity to their art, and are definitely worth following to see what they do next.
Don Allen III, a visionary XR and A.I. futurist. Known as the “Bob Ross” of the Metaverse, Don has carved out a unique niche in the intersection of art and technology, with a prowess leading him to prominent platforms like TED 2023, MIT, and Cannes Lions to share his insights on the future of creativity.
Don honed his skills and understanding of the industry working at DreamWorks Animation, and now collaborates with major tech and entertainment companies such as Meta, OpenAI, Universal, and more, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the digital realm. But it’s not all about technology— he’s a strong advocate for balancing health, finances, family, and community while living fully in accordance with core values and life goals. His values and pursuit of excellence are apparent in his work, and his passion for empowerment and creativity is truly inspiring.
Shaun Harrison, of SuperNerd, is a well-known art director based out of NYC. Harrison delved into A.I. when faced with the challenge of sourcing worthwhile stock imagery featuring Black and Brown individuals that aligned with his project requirements.
“Stock image sites have all too often missed the mark in covering the full diversity that comes with us, and so much time is wasted combing through thousands of images to try and find exactly what’s needed to sell a visual direction,” says Harrison. “AI has allowed me to level that playing field in such an amazing way. I have been able to forgo those barriers with AI and create the exact imagery I need for visions or selling a direction, and it’s been life-changing and a breath of fresh air. That’s one reason AI is important—we are able to put out into the world, visions of us as we know and see ourselves in areas we have been denied from for generations.”
Linda Dounia is a Senegalese artist and designer who combines generative adversarial networks, with old-fashioned materials like ink and pastel. Dounia has been training models in abstract painting based on her own works, as she describes it, “to explore the extent to which AI art can convey meaning and feel as spontaneous as analog art-making.”
Unique from other A.I. artists in that she rarely uses the well known, widely used models like DALL-E or Midjourney. She finds them to be inflexible, and too often aligned with biases that reinforce stereotypes or misconceptions, especially when it comes to images of the Global South.
Dr. Joy Buolamwini is the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League,an A.I. researcher, a leading activist, and an artist. She advises world leaders on preventing A.I. harm, and her MIT research on facial recognition technologies has transformed the field of A.I. auditing. Known as Poet of Code, she uses art and research to illuminate the social implications of A.I.
Founded by Buolamwini in 2016, AGL uses research and art to highlight the social impact and potential harms of AI. She is also the author of Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What Is Human in a World of Machines, which aims to show how racism, sexism, colorism, and ableism can result in many people being underrepresented and vulnerable to bias in the creation of algorithms.
Mimi Onuoha is a Nigerian-American A.I. creative, researcher, and educator, who explores data and artificial intelligence’s social and cultural implications. A primary focus for Onuoha is the friction between the fluid messiness of people, and the quantified, categorized state of our technological society.
“I am an eternal hybrid, drawn always to in-between spaces. My work deals with the tensions at the heart of the ‘Information Age’. I am fascinated by how metrified societies require the fluid, organic, messiness of people to be secured, tagged, categorized, and abstracted.” – Mimi Onuoha
While Onuoha is primarily known for her work as a data artist, her projects often intersect with A.I. and machine learning. Onuoha’s artistic practice seeks to explore the ways in which people are abstracted, represented, and classified through the biases and power dynamics embedded within data collection and AI systems
- Connect with Mimi on Instagram
Michael Coppage is a conceptual artist using an interdisciplinary, dialectical approach to address social issues. Coppage is the three-time recipient of Artswave’s Truth and Reconciliation grant, Ohio’s Pretrial Justice grant and Awesome Foundation grants in New York and Philadelphia. He is the recipient of the Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Artistic Excellence award and completed a TEDx Talk titled “Everybody’s Racist….and it’s O.K”. His most successful project “BLACK BOX,” a community impact project aimed at demystifying blackness, has impacted over 2 million people in 20 countries to date. Coppage has several public works set for completion in 2023.
“I’ve chosen to create the change that I’d like to see is to work with people who are alive and document their voices and their realities, and hopefully create a spectrum of stories from my community that shows the diversity within our community, and that being in opposition to popular narratives about who we are.”
Michael was also a 2023 ArtsWave Black and Brown Artists Program Grant Recipient and “Truth & Healing” Artist, which featured his project “Hands Behind Your Back!”
Silas Tibbs is a formally trained filmmaker, writer, and thespian who seeks to use the mesmerizing powers of the cinematic, theatrical, and visual arts to articulate the unutterable and deepest longings of every human. His work, though crossing many mediums, forms, and genres, seeks to remain deeply human.
“One of my goals with art and with cinema is to create those opportunities for one person to look at another person and just live in their universe for a while, and that might change your perspective and how you approach things.”
Silas was also a 2023 ArtsWave Black and Brown Artists Program Grant Recipient and “Truth & Healing” Artist, which featured his project “Attrition.”
- Connect with Silas on X
Heather Cooper is a recognized A.I. educator and consultant who’s core mission is to unleash creativity in others through the use of generative A.I. technologies, tools, and techniques.
With her expertise, she has developed resources and courses that have attracted an enthusiastic community of creators. As a trusted authority in the field, Heather has earned a reputation for her thoughtful analysis and practical guidance.
Cooper is also one of the talented artists for the Terminator Two Remake project, which is set to release soon.
- Connect with Heather on X
Stephanie Dinkins is a New York based transmedia artist who creates platforms for dialog about A.I. as it intersects race, gender, aging, and our future histories.
Dinkins is particularly focused on working with communities of color to co-create more inclusive, fair and ethical artificial intelligent ecosystems.
A.I.’s lack of ability to talk about race or discrimination, or to conjure culturally specific references, has been a driving focus for her through the years. To change the narrative and programming of A.I.s to realistically depict Black women, which she found they continuously fall short at.
Qai Qai, an animated doll replica of Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s daughter, is pushing the boundaries of storytelling in children’s content. People worldwide are trying to navigate this new, A.I-powered world, but we can’t ignore the effect that unleashing A.I. and all of its superpowers may have on our young minds and the content they are consuming. Quai Quai is creating a trustworthy, wholesome space for children that has guardrails in place that help eliminate the fear of the unknown for parents. A safe outlet for kids to learn, explore, and be creative, while not overstepping boundaries, is a creator worth being on our radars!