Ways to Use AI to Inspire Product Design

Reading time: 4 minutes

Publication date: May 4th, 2023

Disclaimer: Though this article mentions Midjourney, ChatGPT, TinEye and Discord, we are not affiliated with any of those platforms. 

Does the idea of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) for your Etsy products make you uneasy? On the other hand, we all struggle sometimes from the pressure to generate new and original ideas. So, what if there were some way to prompt your own creative mind? By using AI to stimulate product design ideas, you can do just that. In this post, we’ll share some tips for using an AI software called Midjourney.

What is Midjourney?

Midjourney is an AI tool designed to take “prompts” – descriptive word phrases – and convert them into unique images. Midjourney scours exabytes (that’s one billion billion bytes) of internet image data for design cues. Then it uses them to generate brand-new images. It’s a bit like how your own imagination works when you read or hear a story. The words prompt your imagination, and you see it in your mind. What you see there is based on all the related things you’ve ever seen.

Currently, Midjourney runs as an app within Discord. (More about Discord in just a bit.) Discord serves as an interface. Through it, you send prompts to the Midjourney bot. Your prompt will yield a set of options. Choose from those or ask the AI to provide others. Once you are happy with the results, you can refine them and download the image file.

How do you get started?

First, sign up for a free Discord account. Discord is a messaging application that was made popular in the gaming community but has since found its way into other communities. Discord has desktop-, phone-, and web-based app options.

Once you are set up with Discord, head over to midjourney.com. In the lower right of the screen, you will see a button labeled “Join the Beta.” Choose “Continue to Discord” and you will be taken to the Midjourney Discord page to get started.

The Midjourney home page.

How can Midjourney help creatives?

Imagine that you’ve been racking your brain all week for a new design. You know what type of item you want to make. But you just can’t visualize a fresh way to spin your materials into gold. This is where Midjourney excels!

Let’s say you want to create a new lamp design for your lamp making business. You enter the prompt: “lamp ideas with wooden base” and see what Midjourney generates for you. The AI will give you four versions. From here you may choose any of the four as a starting point for further refinement.

Set of four lamp ideas generated with Midjourney AI

If none are helpful, you can opt to “regenerate.” That is, hit the re-roll🔄 button to have Midjourney run your prompt again. Once you have a set you like, click any of the “V” buttons arrayed below them to get variations. And so on and so on down the rabbit hole you go. Often, the journey itself may serve as the muse you need to jump start your own imagination. But what about using an image Midjourney gives you, exactly as is, to make your item?  ges that result from your prompt?

According to Midjourney, the short answer is that you have commercial rights to use the generated images. The long answer is: it’s complicated, and far from being conclusively settled. The AI is pulling from quintillions of source images to generate its results. It is possible a result could be deemed too much like one of its source works.

For this reason, before you get too invested in your new product, do a comprehensive reverse image search. Use a tool like TinEye to check whether the image might be too close a copy. And despite this due diligence, it might still encroach on someone’s intellectual property. Or be enough to invite claims lodged against you. Those are a pain. This is why we recommend limiting AI-generated product to serving as prompts themselves to kickstart your own ideas.

What’s next?

Who knows! These AI tools are advancing at a rapid pace. We will be publishing more articles here about AI tools. (And here’s a recent one on ChatGPT.) If you can, we encourage you to play with these tools yourself. And keep an eye out for developments, legal and technical.

What are your thoughts on AI tools? Share them over on our eRank Facebook group.