May 12, 2023


A while back we asked Mike Butler, Design Director, Wunderman Thompson, Toronto, to join our 2023 Applied Arts Design Awards jury and we were thrilled when he accepted. He lent us his expert eye and donated his time to score many award worthy entries! Something else about Mike, he also runs his own illustration and design studio, Cubby Hole Studio, and garnered a 2023 Applied Arts Illustration Awards for his piece The Art of Going Out in the public service/charity category. Congrats Mike! 

He recently submitted one of his favourite projects to our online news section, Remastered Memories, which won a 2023 Applied Arts Design Award in the Experimental Innovative category.

Remastered Memories:

The ask was to remind young Canadians of the sacrifices made by our soldiers overseas and to make their acts of service relevant to future generations. We used letters written by Canadian soldiers during World War I, World War II, Korea and Afghanistan and fed them in a generative image model. The resulting images have a haunting, ethereal quality that breathes vivid life into the words of these soldiers. These images were then 3D printed to replicate the feel of oil on canvas and will be displayed by The Local Gallery in Toronto on June 6th (the anniversary of D-Day), and ultimately auctioned off to support True Patriot Love Foundation.

I think the entire industry is reckoning with generative AI art and its potential to completely reshape how we work. I certainly have my own anxiety about the promised AI revolution. What I loved about this project is how thoughtfully it employed AI art through the synthesis of idea and execution. The image that is generated gets its power from the experiences and emotions captured by these soldiers. The resulting image is also unnervingly appropriate. There is an inhumanity - an incomprehensibility - to war on an industrial scale that is perfectly captured by the dream-like, contradictory visuals generated by the AI. They feel like a flashbulb memory, crystalized in time; warped and broken by the horrors of war. I can't help but to find something quite moving in marriage between something so achingly human and a technology that is so profoundly unknowable. As long as we hold onto that humanity, I say bring on the revolution.


Remaster memories remembrance day

Key words to remember, let's hold onto our humanity in light of the advancements, or rather the increasing encroachment of technology into our creative industry. Thank you Mike for participating in our blogpost!

Where to find Mike Butler: cubbyhole.studio IG: @cubbyhole.studio