ArtStation is probably the most important website on the entire internet for professional artists, especially those working in entertainment fields such as video games (most of us Fine art links refer to it, for example). That’s why the site’s continued permission for AI-generated images has become a bone of contention with its users.
The technology, which is rotten to the core, is of particular concern to a community that makes a living making art, and as such should also be of concern to the companies responsible for owning and hosting that community. But starting today ArtStation has no policy that directly restricts the hosting or display of AI-generated images on the site, which has led to repeated instances of images created by computers, not humans, rising to the top of from ArtStation “Explore” section, the most popular way to showcase artists’ work.
That is understandable piss off a lot of people. In fact, in the past 24 hours, so many artists have become so outraged by the site’s admission of AI-generated imagery that they’ve started spamming their portfolios, with an outcry sparked by illustrator Nicholas Kole and costume designer Imogen Chayes resulting in from ArtStation front page looks like this at the time of writing:
It’s just the same image, with the text “No to AI-generated images”, pasted over and over by hundreds of artists:
These artists are right to be upset! The rapidly encroaching practice of AI-generated imagery will wipe out websites of all kinds, but to allow it on a site designed specifically to showcase the work of talented human artists is particularly bad.
“ArtStation’s content guidelines do not prohibit the use of AI tools in creating artwork that will be shared with the community,” said a spokesperson for Epic Games, the owners of ArtStationnarrate Kotaku. “That being said, ArtStation is a portfolio platform designed to take and celebrate originality to the next level, powered by a community of artists. Users’ portfolios should only contain artwork they create, and we encourage users to be transparent in the process. Our content guidelines are here.”
While that’s an expected response given the prevalence of AI-generated imagery currently on the site, and the apparent lack of moderation to keep them up, Epic also says they “don’t enter into agreements with companies that would allow them to post content on our site can scrape. website. If AI companies do this without permission and go beyond purely academic use (where copyright fair use may apply), they may be violating the rights of the creators of ArtStation.”
Epic also says they’re “working on giving ArtStation users more control over how their work is shared and tagged, and we’ll provide more details in the near future.”
While that veiled legal threat may be a sign that Epic isn’t as cool with the practice as it seems, and the message that user controls are coming in the “near future” is promising to some extent, that doesn’t change the fact that ArtStation users’ portfolios have already been fueled by these AIs, and that it won’t do anything any time soon to prevent AI-generated images from encroaching on a website that’s supposed to showcase the best in human art.
For now, the best way to detect and ignore AI-generated images (or even better, to report it) is the same as in recent months: always ask to see the fingers.