a painting of a baby elephant dancing ballet


The intersection of AI and creativity is talked about a lot in the tech world, especially with the release of OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language. While DALL-E 2 has a waitlist and is not publicly usable yet, Huggingface released a model called Craiyon that’s based on the same research paper. Craiyon is a much smaller and less effective model, but it still works great.

For Day 7 of 30 Days of Summer, I want to talk about my experience showing Craiyon to my 10-year old niece. To start, she wanted to create an image of a dog, so we worked together to come up with our first prompt. After trying a few different prompts, she understood pretty quickly how we could use specificity of language to impact the resulting image. We typed:

illustrated sitting golden retriever puppy on a full moon in space with stars


After seeing the output image, she changed the sentence structure from ‘sitting puppy on a moon’ to the more correct ‘puppy sitting on a moon’ and re-ran the model, almost realizing that the computer might not, like a human, understand that we literally wanted the puppy above the moon, not just overlapping it. But the computer still didn’t generate the image as we wanted.

After iterating on the dog concept a few times, she remarked, "I have another idea”, and proceeded to type, all by herself:

painting of a wildflower field with a pinkish sunset in the background


Craiyon generates 9 different images for each prompt you enter, and looking at the 9 wildflower fields in front us, she said, “I like how they show you different options”. It felt like the AI was our intern and we were the art directors, and we’d send off the AI to explore different options. And when it came back, we’d think, I like this one, let’s explore this direction a bit further, and change the prompt accordingly.

Just then, her dad walked into the room, and she immediately called to him, saying “papa, I want to show you something”, and made him come up with a prompt. He proceeded to type:

grizzly bear playing with a blue butterfly in the meadow


We continued to experiment with different ideas, and just as I was adding the word ‘abstract’ to yet another prompt, she looked at me and said, “I think you like abstract drawings a lot”. Then her mother walked into the room, and wondering what was going on, came and sat with us. Interacting with the AI had become a family event.

As the evening continued, I showed my niece a bunch of other stuff I thought was cool. But whenever I looked away, she would return to playing with Craiyon. And to some extent, I can relate to what she felt; I’m pretty obsessed with it myself. But it was something else to experience it through the eyes of a child.