Generative cover art

We are behind schedule in launching our new Apple subscription, in part because we have to upload a thousand or more files manually. Apple has an API that podcast host providers can tap into, but the feature isn’t on by default with ours, and they seem just about impossible to deal with, so here we are.

One of the pain points we are trying to address is how hard it is to listen to serial fiction in a date-based feed. If you want to listen to any of the chapter stories we have produced, you have to scroll down to where the beginning is and start from there. And you need to do that each and every time.

To address this, we have created several new “shows” with these stories in serial format so you can listen to them as intended without scrolling.

We are ready to launch four of these right away, but we are waiting for cover art. I’ve contacted three separate artists to illustrate these covers, and the process is excruciatingly slow and expensive.

I had a meeting over coffee with a local author this week about a project. She showed me how she creates her covers using Canva Pro, a tool that everyone seems to have migrated to. Her process was incredibly slick and effective.

I haven’t had much luck using AI to create art of any kind—it always has that glossy sheen and bad lighting. But this time, the results were consistently different.

These images contain errors, but the quality seems quite astounding, especially considering how little effort I put into the prompt.

The problem with using generative tools is that you can say, “Please remove the red flower, but keep everything else the same,” and it will fail.

While I strive to maintain consistency in requests for recreations, the exact reproduction of an image from request to request can vary slightly due to the generative nature of the AI model I use. Each time an image is generated, even with the same prompt, there might be minor differences in details due to the stochastic elements of the image generation process.

I have mixed feelings. I still can’t shake the feeling that using tools like this is somehow wrong.