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Postcards From the Future

AI artist Ryan Taylor fantastical, dream-world images are captivating a growing fanbase

By: Rose Frosek

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Ryan Taylor

"Is ‘surreal-documentary-absurd-whimsical-fantasy’ an aesthetic?” jokes Ryan Taylor. Kidding aside, the hyphenate descriptor is quite apt. The Toronto, Canada-based designer’s AI-generated art occupies a retro-futurist alternate universe. Impossibly large Dire Wolf-like dogs and immense puffball cats hold court with the high cheek-boned denizens of a beautiful yet vaguely dystopian dream world.

Taylor’s foray into Artificial Intelligence-generated artwork happened by chance. He began using AI for work reasons, to generate background scenes—Taylor designs his own line of furniture/lighting/home accessories under the brand Object/ Interface—but “spiralled down this rabbit hole” as he puts it.



He characterizes the resultant images as “vintage photographs from the future, as described to a microchip.” The vignettes—combining visuals, writing, and music into dream-like cinematic stills—are presented under the banner The Brigadoon Dispatch, a creative outlet for his visual storytelling. 

Pets—usually dog or cat-like creatures—are central to a lot of the images. “They tend to create these strange emotional dynamics,” says Taylor. “I usually give the animals embellished characteristics or capabilities which also add some mystic, but frankly, it’s simply because who doesn’t like cats and dogs?!”



The work is somehow simultaneously nostalgia-inducing and futuristic, conjuring a specific mood that’s hard to put one’s finger on.

“I want the images to look real like it’s something that actually happened, but just subtle and strange enough that it is obviously fictional fantasy,” he says.

The old-timey atmosphere is in part owing to Taylor’s interest in grainy documentary photography. “I spent a lot of time in the darkroom before digital cameras became mainstream, long before smartphones were invented, let alone AI,” he owns. “I presume some of that shows through in the work…it makes the atmosphere a bit more magical.”



His process is rooted in writing. Prompts are written descriptions, precisely written with a mix of artfulness and technical commands. “It’s essentially a précis writing exercise—the input needs to be evocative yet concise to conjure the right results,” Taylor says. “It’s a mix of high-level control and whimsical luck for what you may get. Some prompts are more controlled than others, producing images that I expect, but a lot of the time I get completely new things that I hadn’t imagined.”

Though he started doing this for personal enjoyment, the project has quickly taken on a life of its own. His Instagram account @The_Brigadoon_Dispatch has already amassed over 75,000 followers.

“Each one seems to touch people in different ways,” he says. “I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I think it’s the cinematic nature of the images combined with a nostalgia for some bygone era that never existed that draws people into them for a tiny moment of escape.” 


This article originally appeared in the award-winning Modern Dog magazine. Subscribe today!


Last Updated:

By: Rose Frosek
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