Outcry from artists over AI-generated images on ArtStation is intensifying after the site's owner, Epic Games, issued a statement saying it won't ban AI images.
Concerns from artists over the legal and ethical implications of AI-created art, which has recently appeared in waves on the homepage of ArtStation in place of original work, swelled to a fever pitch on Tuesday, culminating in widespread complaints (opens in new tab) from artists across industries, including many who work in games. Specifically, protests spurred in large part by illustrator Nicholas Kole (opens in new tab) and costume designer Imogen Chayes (opens in new tab) saw artists spamming their ArtStation portfolios with an image decrying AI art in an effort to cover the homepage with the message.
A screenshot shared by Kotaku (opens in new tab) shows ArtStation's homepage almost entirely consumed by the 'No AI art' badge, and screens we grabbed today reveal a slightly lighter, but still very prominent message from artists on the site. Keep in mind that these screenshots were taken several hours apart, which goes to show the protest is very much ongoing. People are even putting their own spin on the badge with high-def renditions.
Epic has since issued a statement (opens in new tab) offering little in the way of a remedy for these concerns, and even prolonging if not igniting more protest.
"ArtStation’s content guidelines do not prohibit the use of AI in the process of artwork being posted," the statement reads. "ArtStation is a portfolio platform designed to elevate and celebrate originality powered by a community of artists. The works on your portfolio should be work that you created and we encourage you to be transparent in the process. Please only publish work that either you own or that you have permission to publish."
Epic won't outright take down or prohibit AI art, but it does go on to say that it's looking into measures to give artists "even more control" in how their work is used. It also suggests that AI which scrapes original content as learning material may be an "infringement on the rights of ArtStation users," so as part of its response, it's planning to add tags to allow or disallow art to be used to train commercial or non-commercial AI.
The thing is, there's no such thing as original AI art; it's an oxymoron of the highest order. This stuff is created by analyzing the collective work of actual artists and generating a charitably described 'new image' directly based on those references and whatever descriptors are provided.
AI is already scraping art from countless portfolios to make these kinds of images, and it seems doubtful that some new tags are going to suddenly stop the art bots that have been spreading like locusts for a while, especially when they're empowered by a presence on one of the most important art hubs on the internet. And thus far, Epic has issued only the vaguest of promises that it will someday take some form of action, which is what's gotten folks whose careers depend on original art – and being credited for it – understandably upset.
pic.twitter.com/2TAevB9h5oDecember 14, 2022
should change your domain to ai$tation.com to properly reflect what you truly care about :) https://t.co/h4oScRuZpZDecember 14, 2022
Hugely disappointing. This statement after a site-wide protest against AI art on the platform says they don't care about their (living) artists. https://t.co/dbpoCPPgKODecember 14, 2022
L for ArtStation! Going against their own policy that everything is supposed to be ORIGINAL, also they can’t spell apparently despite being a professional website. 🙄 https://t.co/JKEps3xJoN pic.twitter.com/RI3YsKDu9sDecember 14, 2022
Last year we published a list of the best video game art books out there, and it's still very much worth checking out (especially if you're looking for a Christmas present for a gamer.)