Aitana, 25, a pink-haired woman from Barcelona, receives weekly private messages from celebrities asking her out. But this model is not real.
Aitana, the first Spanish model created by artificial intelligence (AI), was born in the middle of a difficult period.
Rubén Cruz, her designer and founder of the agency The Clueless, was going through a rough patch because he didn’t have many clients.
“We started analysing how we were working and realised that many projects were being put on hold or cancelled due to problems beyond our control. Often it was the fault of the influencer or model and not due to design issues,” Cruz told Euronews.
So, they decided to create their own influencer to use as a model for the brands that approached them.
They created Aitana, an exuberant 25-year-old pink-haired woman from Barcelona whose physical appearance is close to perfection. The virtual model can earn up to €10,000 a month, according to her creator, but the average is around € 3,000.
“We did it so that we could make a better living and not be dependent on other people who have egos, who have manias, or who just want to make a lot of money by posing,” said Cruz.
Aitana’s income is quite scattered.
She earns just over €1,000 per advert, and has recently become the face of Big, a sports supplement company, and as if that weren’t enough, she uploads photos of herself in lingerie to Fanvue, a platform similar to OnlyFans.
In just a few months, she has managed to gain more than 121,000 followers on Instagram and her photos get thousands of views and reactions. She even receives private messages from celebrities who are unaware that she is not an actual person.
“One day, a well-known Latin American actor texted to ask her out. This actor has about 5 million followers and some of our team watched his TV series when they were kids,” said Cruz.
“He had no idea Aitana didn’t exist,” he added.
How do you bring an AI to life?
Every week the agency team has a meeting to create Aitana’s life. They decide what she will do during the week, which places she will visit, and which photos will be uploaded to feed the followers who want to know about her.
But there are no photo shoots, no wardrobe changes, just a mix of artificial intelligence and design experts who use Photoshop to make it possible for the model to spend the weekend in Madrid, for example.
“In the first month, we realised that people follow lives, not images. Since she is not alive, we had to give her a bit of reality so that people could relate to her in some way. We had to tell a story,” says the graphic designer.
That’s why Aitana, unlike traditional models whose personalities are usually not revealed so that they can be a ‘blank canvas’ for designers, has a very distinct ‘personality’.
She was created as a fitness enthusiast, determined and with a complex character. On her website she defines herself as outgoing and caring.
“A lot of thought has gone into Aitana. We created her based on what society likes most. We thought about the tastes, hobbies and niches that have been trending in recent years,” explained Cruz.
After analysing trends, they realised that oriental culture had become very Europeanised in recent years, so they tried to capture this in her pink hair and gamer side.
Aitana has been such a success that her designers have already created a second virtual model called Maia, “a little more shy”.
The names were not chosen at random either, both contain the acronym for artificial intelligence (AI).
Democratising the use of models?
The agency has been inundated with requests from brands wanting their own personalised model.
“They want to have an image that is not a real person and that represents their brand values, so that there are no continuity problems if they have to fire someone or can no longer count on them,” said Cruz.
There are also cost savings. When the agency, which used to work with real influencers, realised what they were earning, they found it “anomalous”.
“Kim Kardashian makes a million euros for an Instagram photo and she doesn’t cure cancer. Nobody earns a million euros for uploading a photo to a social network, it seems absurd to me,” he said.
The agency believes this could help bring down market prices and give a boost to small companies that cannot afford big advertising campaigns.
However, the initiative is not without its critics. Many are concerned that the unrealistic perfection of the models could influence the younger generation to become obsessed with achieving such perfection.
There is also criticism of the highly sexualised image of the models created. To which the agency responds that they are simply following the aesthetic already created by the real influencers and brands themselves.
“If we don’t follow this aesthetic, brands won’t be interested. To change this system, you have to change the vision of the brands. The world in general is sexualised.