Creative Industry Report: Robbie Barrat

Robbie Barrat is a French new media artist who inspires me. He works with machine learning and AI in his projects.


Robbie started experimenting with AI art at the age of 17, and he is now 19.  He is a self taught artist from France who people have been calling an AI prodigy. Most well known for is his development of the open source code at 17, that a French art collective, Obvious, ripped off to create the AI portrait that sold for $432,500 US dollars at Christie’s, an auction house in New York. The image, using his code, was conceived through generative adversarial network training (GAN). A computer network would produce new portraits after being fed hundreds and thousands of images of portraits. Another computer would then look at the generated portrait and discriminate if it was convincing enough to be considered a new piece of work. He did mention that the collective took advantage of the open source project that he put up on his page.


One of his works that I really enjoy is Infinite Skulls. It is a collaborative project with french painter Ronan Barrot. Ronan paints skulls when he has extra paint from when he’s doing his main painting and ends up with a few thousand painted skulls which Robbie used in training his generative adversarial networks to produce new skulls created through machine learning, ending up with a series of Infinite Skulls.

I am intrigued by this project because he recycles the work that the painter did not intend to show and gives the skulls a whole other life, sort of like breeding new paintings. The art that he creates is not the new images of the paintings per say, but the artwork is rather, the generative network that has been trained. By pushing the boundaries of the traditional ideal of a painting, Robbie also provides other artists and viewers with this sense of openness in art creation, which is really inspiring.


Robbie is now working on other art projects that use AI as a tool. The thing about him is that he is not trained in art, he does not have the technical skills to paint or draw masterfully but he has a strong grasp on machine learning and he uses that to step into the world of art-making. I find him very inspiring as an artist because he is constantly working on new ways to explore technology as a tool and this spirit of experimentation and redefining ideals is what I hope to embody when I work on my projects too.


Landscape draft 2 Colour / Compositional Exploration

For my second painting, the evening image draft, I decided to layer white gouache over a darker background to highlight the lighter parts.

For the final image, I think I can work on getting more hard edges for the building structure and balancing out the saturation of colour within the light source and how it spills onto the opposing wall.

Landscape draft 1 Colour / Compositional Exploration

I explored with two colour schemes and compositional methods for this image:

In the first colour test, I tried to stick to the colours in the actual image but I wasn’t getting very dynamic tones. I took your advice for the second image and skewed the houses a bit, much like how Frank Webb does, and used colours similar to his paintings that would give the overall painting more contrast.

I think I can work on shifting more hues with the second draft and being neater with the shapes so as to give the houses more structure. I think I can increase the saturation of the colours used as well to make the painting more vibrant. Do let me know what else I can do to achieve better tone and saturation overall. Thanks!

Drafts for final project

I studied the compositions and tones of Frank Webb’s paintings of houses and I plan to do 2 landscapes from trips during my exchange programme:

a. A cluster of houses I saw when I was in the Faroe Islands

b. A snowy blue toned evening in Iceland with singular light source

Here are the studies of tone for Frank Webb’s paintings:

Here are the tonal and compositional drafts I did and photo references:

a. A cluster of houses I saw when I was in the Faroe Islands

b. A snowy blue toned evening in Iceland with singular light source