Artists Stage Mass Online Protest Against AI Image Generators

Screenshot from the ArtStation website.

Artists have staged a mass online protest against image-sharing site ArtStation after artificial intelligence (AI) generated art appeared on the site.

In early December, AI-generated images began appearing on the homepage of ArtStation, a website that is considered to be one of the most important online platforms for professional artists, especially those working in media, film, and video games.

On Tuesday, members of ArtStation’s online community began widely revolting against the platform by uploading a “No AI Art” image in their portfolios.

In the image, a large red “no” sign covers the word “AI” and is accompanied by a caption that reads “NO TO AI GENERATED IMAGES.”

By Wednesday, ArtStation’s trending page was flooded with this protest image after thousands of users posted it to their portfolios.

Artists condemned the presence of AI-generated images on ArtStation, saying it undermines the skill and effort that goes into making their art.

Many ArtStation members have also criticized how AI image generators are trained on images by real artists without their permission — effectively “stealing” from them.

‘You’re Not Listening’

Due to the protest image dominating the site, ArtStation were forced to publish a FAQ called “Use of AI Software on ArtStation” where it defended the inclusion of AI-generated art on its platform.

According to Vice, the company stated that its “content guidelines do not prohibit the use of AI in the process of artwork being posted.”

However, it says: “users’ portfolios should only feature artwork that they create, and we encourage users to be transparent in the process.”

ArtStation claims it does not want to “become a gatekeeper with site terms that stifle AI research and commercialization when it respects artists’ choices and copyright law.”

Users were angered by ArtStation’s FAQ and continued posting their protests, some with the addendum “Round Two, You’re Not Listening.”

‘We Won’t Give Up’

By December 16, ArtStation was forced to update its AI-focused FAQ page.

The online portfolio platform announced it had added at “NoAI” tag that purportedly allows artists to stop their work from being included in AI systems like DALL-E.

Although this may outwardly seem like a win for the protesting artists, ArtNet reports that users are still not appeased.

Firstly, the platform has made opting-in its default position. Secondly, users are required to apply “NoAI” tags one-by-one to their artworks.

Consequently, artists are continuing to protest against ArtStation — posting the same “No AI Art” image in their portfolios alongside the captions “Stop Hiding” and “We won’t give up.”

Some ArtStation users have even threatened to remove their work from the site altogether.

The ethical debate around AI art has intensified since the recent popularity of apps like Lensa AI.

Getty Images and Shutterstock have both been praised for banning AI-generated images on their sites.

However, earlier this month, Adobe Stock announced it would allow contributors to sell AI-generated artwork on its site