NO TO AI generated images – Protest on Artstation

Recently, there’s been a huge protest going on in the art community saying no to AI art. What’s really going on and why is this happening?

I decided to visit some of the most popular FB art groups, ask a few questions, and look up some artists + hashtags on social media to see what artists have to say.

The issue

There are actually more issues with AI art that makes this topic so controversial. But here I want to cover briefly the main issue that prompted the “No to AI” protest.

Artists noticed that their artworks were used – without their permission and knowledge – as materials to train AI software. [ Anna’s comment: I also found my artwork being used to train AI, I never agreed to such use, and never was informed by any party/software about this.]

Even worse, some patients discovered their private medical record photos taken by their doctor, in dataset used for training AI image generators (more info on ArtMedica).

There were even cases when an AI user who stole artworks tried to mock the artists, from whom he stole (@zuyuancesar)

AI software earns money from selling subscriptions to users, and do not pay the artists from whom they stole/did not receive permission to use their artworks.

On the other hand, the AI users itself doesn’t seem to understand that the images they generate are based on stolen artworks and photos:

Artists discover that their art is stolen

Here are some posts of artists that discovered that their art was stolen for training AI.



The original artwork:

AI generated image:


The Protest

Seeing this happening, many artists started to publicly oppose the AI generated images, by posting a “No AI” image on their social media pages an the Artstation website.
In addition, artists are also canceling their Artstation subscriptions.

There were already 3 waves of “no to AI” images published on Artstation, and at the time I’m writing this post I see the first images of the 4th wave being already posted.


The result

As the result, publishing “no to AI” images apparently disrupted image generators. However in fact, these images were created on purpose to mess with and discredit artists.




NO TO AI on Artstation

I have also to explain here a few other issues with AI generated images. Many of them were posted on Artstation, a website that is used by artists to showcase their professional artworks:

“ArtStation provides you with a simple, yet powerful way to show your portfolio and be seen by the right people in the industry.”

In many cases, the AI generated images posted on Artstation weren’t described as “generated images”, but as “original artworks”, and ended up on Artstation’s “trending wall”. Therefore, a place for professional artists (presented even by many as CGhub’s successor), became a mess of professional artworks and stolen images.

*Let me remind you that Artstation doesn’t allow photography. At the same time, ArtStation’s content guidelines do not prohibit the use of AI in the process of artwork being posted.

Secondly, Artstation is often used as an image base (or as AI users say “Inspiration”) to train AI software. That happened without the artist’s knowledge and consent.


Artstation’s respose

As a response, Artstation’s team updated their Terms of service and introduced the “NoAI” meta tag.


Artstation’s Terms and Service update:

46. Artificial Intelligence
We care about protecting artists and providing the tools to protect their art. You are able to tag your projects containing Your Content with “NoAI” if you would like Your Content to be prohibited from use with AI. This tag will not be applied to your projects or Your Content by default; you must actively designate your projects containing Your Content for the “NoAI” tag to apply.

You understand and agree that you will not collect, aggregate, mine, scrape, or otherwise use content uploaded to the Site for the purposes of testing, inputting, or integrating such content with artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, or similar technologies (collectively, “AI”) where such content has been tagged, labeled, or otherwise marked “NoAI” by the content provider.


Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve the issue. The “Round 3” No to AI Protest on Artstation is mainly targeting this problem, and Artstation’s users request for the new opt-out feature to be on by default. (“Turn theft off by default!” is what they’re saying.)


Please let me know your thoughts on this situation in the comments. Did you join the “No to AI” protest?

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