Deep Style

Neural networks are no stranger to the art world. These networks are used in works such as Ralf Baeker’s, “Rechnender Raum (Computing Space) (1) or SymbioticA’s “MEART – The Semi-Living Artist”. (2)  Neural networks are essentially programs that mimic the human brain when it comes to problem-solving. In other words, it’s a system or network that learns from its mistakes. Deep style uses neural networks a little differently by creating rather than solving a complex problem. Deep style is a free-to-use or “open sourced” program that has been trained to not only recognize objects and textures but also paintings, painting styles, and the artists associated with those styles. It acts as a filter for photos and this filter essentially turns your photos into paintings in the style of the famous artist. (3)


This works by uploading a photo to a deep style generator and uploading a painting that you want the photo to be styled in, the program takes these two images and re-creates the photo as a painting that is styled based on the reference painting. (4) This algorithm is advertised as an expressionistic tool for people and artists alike to create and share their digital paintings without requiring any painting skills or artistic skills. (5) However, could one consider this impressionistic program “cheating”?  The answer is yes, although this is no more “ cheating” than Photoshop. This takes a similar approach to editing photos as does Photoshop and takes it to another level by being an open sourced program that uses machine learning to create and edit. This algorithmic code has given rise to a community of Deep style creators all over the internet and it falls in line with the culture of communal art yet all works are individualized based on choices made by the participants.


Lastly, below are links if you’d like to create one yourself:

Create Your Own “Neural Paintings” with DeepStyle & Ubuntu


1. Ciechowska, Zofia. “Rechnender Raum (Computing Space).” Art and Electronic Media, Edward Shanken, 24 Mar. 2010,

2. Smeddinck, Jan. “MEART – SymbioticA’s Fish & Chips.” Art and Electronic Media, Edward Shanken, 17 July 2009,

3. 1. French, Aslan. “How Artists Can Use Neural Networks to Make Art.” ART + Marketing, ART + Marketing, 7 Mar. 2017,

4. Gatys, Leon, et al. “A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style.” Journal of Vision, vol. 16, no. 12, 2016, p. 326., doi:10.1167/16.12.326

5. Gatys, Leon, et al. “About.” Become a Digital Artist, 2017,

6. Infante, Andre. “Create Your Own ‘Neural Paintings’ with DeepStyle & Ubuntu.” MakeUseOf, MakeUseOf, 16 Sept. 2015,