Both professional and amateur artists were gathered yesterday in protest against ArtStationthe field’s largest portfolio site, for its apparent inaction against a rising tide of AI-generated images washing up on its front page.
It was very easy to understand their frustrations. ArtStation is a very important place for artists and many had used it under the assumption that the owners (Epic Games) cared about the community since… it’s a community site. It is for artists only, and is a place where they can not only share their work, but comment and follow the creations of their peers. It’s almost as much a social network as it is a portfolio site.
Much of that goodwill has turned to dust in the last 24 hours, but only over the first protest – where many of the first anti-AI images were taken down ArtStation moderators – and now in the aftermath, following the publication of an AI-generated FAQ about images by the site’s team.
FAQ, which you can read heresays much of the same Epic said in its statements yesterday. But it then branches out into territory that is flat more mealy-mouthed, and in an incredible paragraph it says that it is as important to consider the sentiments of “AI research and commercialization” as the sentiments of … their own active, human user base.
How does ArtStation handle questions about artist permissions and AI art generators?
We believe artists should be free to decide how their art will be used, and at the same time we don’t want to become a gatekeeper with site terms that stifle AI research and commercialization when it respects artists’ choices and copyright law. So here are our current plans:
We welcome feedback on this rapidly evolving topic.
That feedback has been coming thick and fast from users disgusted by the site’s response. That was bad enough ArtStation dragged his heels long enough for this to blow up to the extent it has. Then responding with something like that is seen as a slap in the face to a community that helped the site grow from humble beginnings (as an alternative to the industry’s previous go-to site, CGHub, which itself melted down in 2014) to something Epic Games thought was worth buying back in 2021.
“Well any hopes I had of ArtStation taking off as the next best platform for artists to build a community are now gone,” it reads one reply to the site’s announcement tweet. “How are you more concerned about not upsetting the tech bros than protecting the work of real artists on your platform.”
“God, they can just get screwed for this one,” said another, while several other responses, some from very prominent artists working in video games and film, shared screenshots of them deleting their accounts.
What effect the cancellations and continued protest have on the site’s operators and owners remains to be seen, but for now, over 24 hours after the protest started, ArtStations the front page still looks like this (many of the images that look like they are AI generated images are actually protest illustrations)