How To Create Your Own Midjourney Style
Today I’m going to demonstrate how to create a customised artistic style to use in Midjourney using what I believe to be an ethically sound method.
Why is style important?
Having a (unique) artistic style sets you apart from other artists and helps you to develop your own identity. It allows you to express your own ideas and vision in a way that is distinctively yours. This originality can also help you to stand out in a crowded art market, increasing your chances of recognition and success. I put the word ‘unique’ inside brackets simply because it can be very difficult to develop something that is unarguably unique. My advice is not to sweat this too much, just focus on creating a style of art you enjoy.
AI Art Platforms Steal Artists Work, Right?
There is an ongoing debate around the ethics of generative ai art, and in particular, the use of artworks created by other artists and used without their permission to train the generative ai art systems. The outcry from artists has developed its own momentum, adding fuel to the fire of those opposed to AI art.
For what it’s worth, here’s my quick take on it…
I understand the sentiment, but the outcry from artists is somewhat confusing. Isn't the entire art industry built upon a foundation of creative theft? Artists drawing 'inspiration' from other artists? Don't art student in their formative years study the styles of other artists?
If you aren’t convinced about this take a look at these:
Roy Lichtenstein’s Bedroom at Arles, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles
Elmgreen & Dragset’s Han, inspired by Edvard Eriksen’s The Little Mermaid
Andy Warhol’s The Last Supper, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper
Claude Monet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, inspired by Édouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe
... and trust me, I could go on and on.
It’s also worth remembering that AI Art Generators don’t replicate other artists work, but they do create new work based on a style, or multiple styles. If I feed in an image of Willy Lott's cottage and ask MJ to reproduce it in the style of John Constable, it will not produce a fake Constable print!
Finally, as I understand it, and I am NOT a lawyer, whilst individual works of art can be copyright protected, art styles cannot. So for example, if I felt the urge, I could use the style of Van Gogh to create a painting of a camel. I could go further, by combining the painting style of Van Gogh with the surrealism of Dali, to produce a painting of a camel riding a bicycle near
So where do I sit on this? Well, I most definitely do not agree with simply naming artists in prompts, for example ‘a camel in the style of van Gough’. I do, however, support taking inspiration from other artists, just as students of art have done over the centuries.
Developing A Style for Midjourney v5
Midjourney version 5 has only been available for alpha testing for a few days, so everyone’s experience of it is limited. I gave the wheels a spin in terms of generating hands and eyes, two major problems with version 4, and found some solid improvements, but still with work to do.
As far as styles in version 5 go, there has been a big change.
In version 4, it was possible to create a short prompt asking for an image of a subject ‘in the style of <name an artist or multiple artists>, and Midjourney would oblige.
In version 5, Midjourney is much more responsive to descriptive prompts, but as a trade off, seems less responsive to short prompts. Create a short prompt that lacks a detailed description of what you want, and you are much more likely to get an image that lacks detail. It seems that Midjourney is no longer willing to use artistic license to fill in a nay gaps in the prompt.
Also, perhaps in a conscious strategy to move away from potential litigation from artists or IP owners, or perhaps just coincidentally, but ask Midjourney to create an image in the style of <artist>, you are likely to get something that either features a pseudo likeness of that artist in the image, or an image that only very loosely (or not at all) resembles their work. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.
In short, I believe that the focus of Midjourney images has shifted in version 5 to such an extent that it’s now essential to provide a detailed description of the style required (rather than being lazy and simply naming an artist.)
So, how do we go about creating a style for Midjourney version 5 that features a strong style description rather than named artists?
What follows is what I consider to be an ethically sound approach that can be used to engineer prompts with artistic style descriptions.