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AI Generated Art vs Stock Photos: A Comprehensive Comparison for the Modern Creative

Picture this: you're working on a visually-driven project and need eye-catching, engaging imagery to bring your ideas to life. Where do you turn?

Stock photos have long been the trusty sidekick of creatives, but a new contender is stepping into the spotlight: artificially generated artwork. These cutting-edge visuals, powered by generative AI models, offer a fresh take on visual content.

So, which one is right for your masterpiece?

In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of AI-generated images and stock photos, helping you make an informed decision.

AI image generated in Jasper Art

The Evolution of Visual Content Sources

The Rise of AI-Generated Images

Like a painter with a palette of infinite colors, AI-generated art has emerged as an exciting frontier in the creative world.

Early generative AI technologies, such as Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), could generate photorealistic images from scratch.

With the advancement of machine learning algorithms, subsequent versions have enabled digital artists to create abstract and surreal visuals that weren't previously possible.

Thanks to breakthroughs in machine learning and neural networks, artificial intelligence image generators like DALL E, DALL E 2, Stable Diffusion, MidJourney and Jasper Art can transform simple text descriptions into stunning, one-of-a-kind visuals. With AI image generation, the possibilities are as limitless as your imagination.

AI generated images with Jasper Art

Some AI tools allow the user to train machine learning algorithms to produce art in the style of a particular artist, while others let you draw on generative creativity by combining pre-existing datasets.

Experienced artists and novices can benefit from AI-assisted tools that help make their visions come alive faster. There has been a flood of AI-generated images appearing on popular stock photo sites like Adobe Stock, where you'll find a whopping 798,075 results for the search term "AI-Generated". Adobe Stock was one of the pioneers in accepting AI-generated image submissions. They do have some guidelines in place to ensure legal and technical quality, but it's all designed to help you creators with showcasing and selling AI-generated art.

AI Generated Images on Adobe Stock

The Dominance of Stock Photos

Stock photos have been the trusty workhorses of the visual content world, like a well-stocked library with a book for every occasion.

Platforms like Depositphotos, Adobe Stock and Shutterstock offer vast collections of high-quality, professionally-shot images that have become staples for designers, marketers, and content creators. With easy access and clear licensing options, stock photos have remained a popular choice.

Benefits of AI-Generated Artwork

Using AI to generate photoshoot images is the perfect choice for those looking for a personal touch. It's like getting a bespoke suit tailored to your exact specifications; you can create something unique and customized according to your precise vision and preferences.

AI Artwork by Jasper Art.png

With AI images, the creative possibilities are virtually limitless - like an ever-evolving kaleidoscope of potential.

The reduced copyright concerns also make it easier for creators to focus on producing their own unique visuals rather than worrying about accidentally using protected material - avoiding potential legal landmines.

Cost-effectiveness is another deciding factor: AI images can often provide budget-friendly solutions without sacrificing quality in comparison to premium stock photo subscriptions.

By incorporating AI-generated images into your visual content strategy, you'll be giving yourself wings – unlocking a whole new world of creative possibilities!

Drawbacks of AI-Generated Art

While AI artwork has many benefits, it is essential to note some of the drawbacks as well.

For one thing, limited creative control may be an issue – it's almost like trying to steer a sailboat in a storm; you can guide it, but you won't necessarily have complete control over the end result. Not everybody has the time to learn the text prompts required by generative models. The creative process requires the input of a text description to produce high-quality generated photos.

Quality consistency is another factor to consider; AI images can be hit or miss, like a box of chocolates with a few surprising flavors mixed in. Facial features and hands prove a challenge for AI tools when generating an image of a real person.

Ai image generators struggle with human hands

Ethical considerations must also be taken into account since this type of technology raises questions about potential impacts on human creators. Keep in mind that there may be restrictions in place when it comes to licensing and usage rights – The legal landscape surrounding AI-generated art can be murky, making it essential to understand any limitations before using the content - so make sure you're up to speed before using any content generated by AI!

Despite these potential drawbacks, however, AI technology remains an invaluable tool for creatives and entrepreneurs around the world who are looking for an edge when it comes to developing visuals that really stand out!

Advantages of Royalty-free Images

Stock assets are a dream come true for those in need of visual content. Just imagine walking into an all-you-can-eat buffet - except instead of food, it has a vast library of visuals and images that cater to every taste and requirement.

Not only that but what you're getting is top-notch quality — think of it as a curated art gallery with beautiful, professionally shot photos.

Plus, with stock image platforms, obtaining the rights to use these images becomes very simple and straightforward - Stock photo platforms offer well-defined licensing options, simplifying the process of obtaining and using images legally - it's like having your own map to creative success!

It's like having an express lane for time and resource efficiency; you get ready-to-use content in just a few clicks – saving you both time and effort – so you can focus on achieving your creative vision!

Disadvantages of Stock Assets

Though they can be handy, it's important to remember and be aware of a few caveats that come with stock assets

For one thing, their use has become so pervasive that images can sometimes feel generic and overused; it's almost like you're hearing the same song again and again – making it difficult to truly stand out from the crowd. For example, this photo by Autin Distel, of the Jasper Art marketing team, which has been downloaded nearly 750,000 times from a stock photo site!

Stock Photo of the Jasper Art Team.png

Royalty-free image sites may come with hefty subscription fees – making them a costly choice for creatives on a budget.

Limited customization is another factor to consider – as it can be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole if you find that premade photos aren't quite up to your exact standards. It's also essential to tread carefully when it comes to intellectual property rights in order to avoid any legal trouble!

Despite these potential drawbacks, though, there are numerous reasons why using stock visuals continues to remain an attractive option for creatives all around the world.

Use Cases: When to Choose AI-Generated Art or Stock Photos

AI images and stock photos can be used for a variety of purposes. They can provide unique visuals for advertising campaigns, website design, logos, and even video games.

Marketing Campaigns

Using AI image generation in your marketing campaigns gives you the perfect opportunity to tailor visuals that uniquely align with your target audience. You'll get one-of-a-kind visuals that make a lasting impression on potential customers and help to convey exact messages. Ensure that your brand stands out from the crowd, compelling viewers to take action.

On the other hand, generic photos can be a tremendous time-efficient solution for campaigns that demand professional-quality images with minimal customization. By utilizing stock photo services, creatives and entrepreneurs can quickly and easily access high-resolution visuals that are tailored to their needs without having to invest in custom photography or artwork.

Generic photo platforms also offer a wide selection of images for any use case – making it straightforward to find the perfect visuals for your campaign.

Social Media

AI images are ideal for social media campaigns that need scroll-stopping visuals that are both eye-catching and engaging. The personalization options that AI-generated artwork offers can be extremely valuable for campaigns that seek to connect with users on a personal level. They can also go viral! In April 2023, Jim Nightingale created a fake business page on Facebook, featuring Bungee Jumping Babies. The purpose of the campaign was to reveal the truth about AI and visual literacy.

Meanwhile, stock photos can provide the perfect solution for social media campaigns that require ready-to-use visuals with minimal effort and investment.

Whether you're looking for a particular type of stock imagery or need something generic but nice to post on your feed, you can easily find what you're looking for with stock photo services.

Website Designs

Stock photos can provide a wide variety of options that fit the bill for website designs that require cohesive visuals or specific themes. By utilizing these licensable photos, creatives and entrepreneurs can quickly and easily access high-resolution visuals that are tailored to their exact needs without having to invest in custom photography or artwork.

These images can be used to create a consistent look and feel for your website, ensuring that users have a pleasant experience when browsing through the content.

AI photo creation can be used to create unique visuals for websites that require an extra level of customization. By utilizing this technology, creatives can achieve truly unique visuals – allowing their website to stand out from the competition.

Logo Design

Logos art generators are an attractive option due to their unique, personalized design options. AI technology allows creatives to create logos that are specifically tailored to the brand's needs, offering a level of customization that generic photos cannot match. AI algorithms can be used to generate hundreds of logo variations in minutes, allowing designers to find the perfect logo to represent their brand.

Stock imagery can still be a viable option for logo design if you need something quickly and don't have the time to generate AI art. Stock photo services offer a wide selection of visuals with various themes that can easily be customized to fit your needs.

Digital Art Pieces

For digital artists seeking to push the boundaries of their creativity, AI-generated content can offer a treasure trove of inspiration and experimentation. By utilizing AI algorithms and neural networks, creatives can produce unique visuals that could not be achieved through traditional methods.

AI technology is able to explore vast amounts of data and create stunning visuals based on these inputs. This allows digital artists to create art pieces that are truly unique – and the possibility to sell AI-generated art.

Royalty-free image libraries can still be helpful, providing a starting point or base for digital artists to build upon and modify as needed.

Video Games

Stock photos can be invaluable for creating immersive visual experiences in video games. Game designers can quickly and easily access high-resolution visuals with various moods and genres to fit their exact needs. From sci-fi scenes to fantasy landscapes and historical settings, there is a wide variety of images that can be used to create a truly engaging and unique gaming experience.

AI-generated imagery can also be used to create visuals for video games. This technology allows game designers to generate stunning visuals with an unprecedented level of detail – something that cannot be achieved with stock photos - providing an individualized experience that players will remember.

Print Materials

For print materials such as brochures, booklets and magazines, stock photos offer an excellent solution for time-pressed creatives. Licensed image portals provide access to high-resolution images with minimal effort and cost. They also offer a wide range of visuals with various themes and moods, allowing for easy customization according to the needs of the project.

Images generated with AI can be an excellent choice for creating visuals that are truly original and personalized. Through the use of artificial intelligence, art can be customized to fit a particular target audience or theme. This makes it easy to create visuals that are tailored specifically to the desired audience and brand identity.

Product Packaging

Stock photos can be an excellent choice for product packaging, offering a way to find the polished visuals you want with minimal effort and at an affordable price. Stock photography services provide access to high-resolution images of various themes, allowing designers to find the perfect image that suits their needs quickly. Additionally, they can be customized with text or other graphics to create a unique look for a product's packaging.

AI-generated art can also be used for product packaging, offering an individualized experience that is tailored specifically to the needs of the brand and its target audience. Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing how visuals are created, with unique details and textures that far outstrip stock photos.

AI image generators can also help bring products to life - creating designs that are memorable and visually appealing - and allowing brands to position their products in global settings without the additional cost of location photo shoots.

Editorial Content

For editorial content, stock photography can be used to provide visuals that accurately reflect the intended message by offering a wide selection of high-quality images with various themes and genres.

With such an extensive library of diverse photographs, creatives can easily find the perfect visual to help tell their story. Additionally, these collections are often all-inclusive and royalty-free, making them an affordable option for editorial content.

AI-generated images can also add a unique touch to editorial content, helping to draw readers in and engage them with a personalized experience. By using AI to generate visuals, editorial content can be given an individualized look that stands out from the crowd. Additionally, with the ever-evolving technology of generative AI, editorial content can benefit from the latest advances in visual design.

Hybrid Approaches: Combining AI-Generated Art and Stock Photos

Applications and Benefits

Why choose between AI-generated artwork and stock photos when you can have the best of both worlds? Combining these resources can yield unique, captivating visuals that cater to your specific needs.

For instance, you might use AI to generate a custom background and a stock image to add a realistic element or character. This can easily be achieved in applications such as Canva, where you can access stock photography and use AI tools to generate images in the same design. Or you use AI to enhance a stock photo to provide a more on-brand image.

Future Outlook: The Impact of Technology on Visual Content

The Evolution of AI-Generated Art Generators

As AI technology continues to advance, we can expect AI art to become even more refined, offering increasingly customizable and high-quality visuals. The creative possibilities will continue to expand, making AI tools as essential as human imagination in the creative toolbox.

The Transformation of Stock Photos

Stock photo platforms are also evolving, incorporating new technologies such as 3D rendering, virtual reality, and even AI-generated content. As the lines between AI art and photography begin to blur, we can anticipate a future where the distinction becomes less relevant and the focus shifts to creating the most compelling visual content possible.

Generative AI Content Guidelines

Some platforms require generative AI content to meet specific guidelines, such as not containing copyrighted material. This is in order to ensure that the content produced is original, and of a high quality.

Additionally, it's vital to use AI technology responsibly. The generated photos should be treated with the same respect as hand-crafted pieces – ensuring they are attributed correctly and give credit where it is due.


Deciding between AI images and stock assets can be a difficult choice - depending on your needs and preferences. The vibrant world of visual content is expanding rapidly, offering a wealth of creative options for modern artists, designers, and marketers.

By understanding the unique advantages and drawbacks of each, you can harness the full potential of these resources to create stunning, compelling visuals that elevate your projects to new heights.

Accepting AI art gives you the unique advantage of having custom visuals that are truly one-of-a-kind; plus, it's an option for those looking for something completely new and different.

On the other hand, using stock images is an excellent choice if you need visuals quickly – think of it like an all-you-can-eat buffet with high-quality images ready to be used whenever you need them.

Ultimately, which option to choose depends on your creative requirements; there's no wrong answer here, just like asking whether a hammer or a screwdriver is better for the job – it all depends on what you're trying to accomplish!

So, go ahead and let your creativity run wild – the sky's the limit!

If this article has raised questions, please join us in the Facebook group, where we dig deeper into art generators and the use of generated images in marketing.

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