Creative Business Wrap – November 2023

Lately, I’ve had cause to drive between the Illawarra and the Shoalhaven a number of times. As you go past Gerringong and through Foxground, you get a beautiful view of the mountain range to the west, covered in greenery. Except at this time of year, it’s not all green – it’s peppered with the red foliage of the Illawarra Flame Tree. And occasionally, you’ll see one next to a Jacaranda, bringing its contrasting purple to the mix. It’s a bit tricky and a bit illegal to take a photo while driving, so I experimented with Bing’s new image creator tool to give an AI impression. The resulting hybrid might not be realistic, but it’s an approximation of nature’s reminder that the year is drawing to a close. 

Synthetic data is becoming very real

Here’s an article about the benefits of using AI to create perceptual maps for marketing. “Er, what?” you might say. Typically creating a perceptual map – a visual representation of how brands are perceived by customers in relation to each other – would involve surveys of actual humans. That takes time and money. Mark Ritson in Marketing Week comments on a study that used GPT4 to trawl the internet collecting brand attributes produced perceptual maps that are 90% similar to data generated from primary human sources. He predicts that the marketing industry will be using “synthetic data” to cut lead times and costs and go beyond market research to automate the complete process of creating a marketing strategy. He points out that for many in the industry who can’t afford to access primary data, the advent of synthetic data is truly revolutionary.

€325 a week? Yes thanks! 

I wrote about Ireland’s Basic Income for the Arts (BIA) scheme when it was first announced and undoubtedly many artists around the world are looking with interest at this 3-year pilot project. 2,000 creative workers who met the eligibility criteria were chosen randomly to receive €325 per week to support their practice. Another 1,000 got a kind of consolation prize of €650 a year to be the control group who can be compared to the lucky BIA recipients. This article in the Irish Times profiles a grateful artist who eloquently explained the benefits: “That ‘Jesus Christ, what am I going to do?’ moment isn’t as bad now because I think: ‘Okay, I have this money coming in this month, and next month.’ I can plan now.”

Women are dominating the book business

Women write more than 50% of published books and the average female author sells more books than the average male author. Compare this to the screen industry, where less than 20% of movies are directed by women. According to this article, women’s participation and success in the publishing industry took off in the US from 1970, in line with the feminist movement and economic and political advances for women. Women are driving the demand for books, as women are more likely to read fiction than men and are more likely to read books written by women.

So why is this trend not seen in other creative industries? Unfortunately, there is a downside: Author and publisher Jess Gaynor suggests that the work of writing may be managed around the caregiving responsibilities that still fall disproportionately to women. But it is also, for most writers, a low-paying field compared to other creative roles, and, she posits, women may be more willing to work in a low-paying field at the early stages of a career.

Fighting back with poisoned data

I’ve written previously about artists and writers protesting their work being used to train AI.  Dilan Thampapillai’s article in The Conversation questions if copyright is relevant to protecting the rights of content creators because copyright depends on human actions of copying a book, not AI trawling the internet and analysing the contents of a work. It’s a complex issue and I wouldn’t attempt to give advice about it but this article and its related links offer useful perspectives.
I was also intrigued to read that some artists are fighting back with a new open-source tool called Nightshade that lets them add invisible changes to the pixels in the artwork before it is uploaded. If it is later “scraped” into an AI training set, this poisoned data causes the resulting model to change in chaotic and unpredictable ways. For example, images of hats turn into cakes or handbags into toasters. Something for visual artists to experiment with.


  • Using social media to promote your creative business is a free webinar run by Creative Exchange co-produced by ArtsHub and Creative Victoria, on November 30 at 11am. Register Here . You can watch past webinars here too.
  • MVP Ventures is the NSW Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade’s program supporting startups and innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the product lifecycle between early-stage research and mature investment opportunities. The minimum grant amount is $25,000 and the maximum grant amount is $50,000. Key dates Applications Round 1 Opens: 4 December 2023 Closes: 30 April 2024

Things to do this month

  • The end of the year beckons, and December/January is often a quiet time for service businesses. Time to schedule some internal work on the business – those tasks you’ve been meaning to tackle – and delegate them.
  • What ideal Christmas gift can your business offer? Are you tapping into all the cultural holidays in your community?
  • Which process didn’t go smoothly either for your team or your customers this year? Spend some time on developing a better solution for the new year.

Found a great article on the business of creativity that is worth sharing or
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