Wand.app, an AI-powered creative tool that gives artists the ability to manually customize and visualize their ideas, has raised $4.2 million in seed funding led by O’Shaughnessy Ventures. Unlike AI-powered creative tools that provide limited control over the content they generate, which can be alienating to artists who have specific visions for what they want to create, Wand tries to bridge this gap with a combination of visual tools and personalization.
Founded in December 2021, Wand is the brainchild of CEO and founder Grant Davis. Although there are many tools that allow users to create complex images with text prompts, the last thing Wand.app wants to do is use AI to replace human creativity and imagination, Davis told TechCrunch.
“We should strive towards an ideal where if an artist already has a specific visual in mind, they can use this tech to bring that exact vision to life without making any compromises,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, since words are too ambiguous to convey the details of visual forms, compromises are inevitable when you can only guide these models with text prompts. Wand addresses this with an illustration tool that takes your sketches (whether it’s a brand new drawing or a visual edit to an existing image) and turns them into fleshed out suggestions.”
Wand allows artists to teach a personal AI their own style in order to receive results that look consistent with the specific aesthetic that they are seeking. The editing process all lies within a freeform art board where individuals or groups can work on iterating on their work.
The tool is currently being tested with a small group of beta testers. The company plans to launch Wand publicly in the coming months.
“Wand caters more to artists and illustrators compared to other creative AI tools because of how it rewards visual art skills,” Davis said. “The most ideal users are folks whose work involves a lot of prototyping, iteration, mood-boarding, or world-building with clients, teams, and/or creative directors. Some examples include game studios, concept artists, branding firms and architects. That being said, Wand is ultimately simple enough to be used by anyone, so I expect our user base to be a blend of professionals and hobbyists.”
For the time being, Wand has an in-app credit system in order to pay for the company’s GPU costs. Longer term, Wand will consider subscription models. The pricing will be similar to other creative AI products like Dalle2, Midjourney and Dream Studio.
Davis says Wand differentiates itself from other AI-powered creative tools by running on mobile, tablet and soon, on desktop. He notes that this allows the editing process to feel more fluid and allows the company to support more graphical tooling. Plus, artists can use the Apple Pencil for Wand’s illustration tools.
“Most other AI tools are more web focused,” Davis said. “Generally speaking, Wand focuses more than other products on catering specifically to artists, and their illustration skills let us provide greater degrees of visual control without surfacing technical concepts or complex UIs.”
As for the new funding, Wand plans to use it to build out collaborative team features, along with new creative tooling that will extend to desktop. Wand is also doing research on improving foundation model architectures and fine-tuning techniques.
The funding round included participation from Betaworks, Charge Ventures, Long Journey, Notation Capital, Twelve Below, and BDMI. Angel investors include Amy Wu, Eden Chen, Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci.
In terms of the future, Wand is interested in exploring methods for artists to share or sell models they’ve fine tuned on their work. Given the controversy around large foundation models being trained by scraping the web and including the work of artists who did not consent to their work being used, Wand believes that a feature like this would be a starting point for artists to be recognized and compensated for their work.
However, Wand is not rushing into building such a feature just yet, because it wants to ensure that the marketplace is able to prevent malicious actors who would either try to steal the work of others or share harmful content.
Wand is also interested in exploring applications to 3D modeling, as the company believes that there will come a point in which one can design something in 2D and have an AI automatically turn it into a 3D model. Davis believes Wand would be the perfect medium for this because its existing toolset naturally could extend to 3D.