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A.I: Artistic Imitation

By Gwen Carroll November 10, 2022

For as long as computers have existed, robots driving humans out of jobs was always a concern. Before, the worry was confined to manual labor; now, technology is coming for an unexpected field—illustration.

Art generated using artificial intelligence (AI) has been rapidly increasing in popularity since the 2022 Colorado State Fair. Hosted from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, the Colorado Department of Agriculture held their annual art competition, in which the first prize in the digital art/digitally manipulated photography category was awarded to Jason M. Allen’s “Théâtre D’Opéra Spatial”. Much controversy has arisen from the fact that Allen did not draw his entry himself. Instead, he used Midjourney—an AI trained to use a text input to generate an image—to create the base. Then he touched it up in Photoshop and used Gigapixel AI to increase the resolution before printing the final image on a canvas.

Inseo Kim Art

Allen has defended his submission by claiming his image fits the contest’s criteria, as the rules for the digital art division fully permit AI-generated work. He also stated that he had spent around 80 hours determining what text inputs would lead Midjourney to create the result he wanted and spent more time touching up the generated image in Photoshop. Despite his

arguments, “Théâtre D’Opéra Spatial”, while it is art, does not belong to Allen.

“Allen did not break any rules, but to allow AI-generated submissions in a general digital art category is insane. The big difference between AI generated art and art created by humans is the number of creative decisions the artist must make. Plugging some text into an AI does not make the typist the artist,” Stacy Rapoport, Visual Performing Arts Department, said.

Rapoport added that the amount of time spent on an art piece is not important to determining the quality of the finished piece, countering Allen’s argument about spending hours learning to use Midjourney. However, the judges disagree, claiming that although they did not know that the piece was AI generated at the time, they would have still given him first place had they been informed.

Supporters of AI art insist that because of the creativity required to choose text to input, AI-generated art is the typist’s art. However, art skills, the ability to visualize an image and transcribe imagination to the real world, are also necessary. To rely on the crutch of AI in this crucial step undermines true artistry.

“Artists employ years of practice and hours of work to create an illustration. Compared to the amount of effort artists invest, typing words into an AI art generator does not require much skill. To call the result ‘art’ implies that an artist’s skills are insignificant,” Senior Felix Xiang said.

The ethics surrounding the training of AI art generators are also dubious. AI art generators are trained based on online images from massive searches, often returning with art from human artists. When an AI generator uses this art without the initial artist’s consent, it is stealing.

Inseo Kim Art

AI art generators also endanger artists’ jobs. People are disincentivized to commission artists when it is much easier and cheaper to enter a prompt into an AI art generator themselves and receive a result in a matter of minutes. As efficient as it sounds, this attitude is damaging to artists.

Another argument in support of AI generated art

is that it makes art easily accessible to people without artistic skills. However, no person is owed custom art, be it from their own artistic abilities or someone else’s commission.

Although time does not affect the quality of a commission as Rapoport said, it does have an impact on its monetary value. One must treasure the effort it takes for an artist to hone their skills the same way a chef or woodworker would. Nevertheless, supporters insist that AI art benefits the greater good because it makes art more affordable. However, this mindset overlooks the many digital artists who rely on selling commissions as a source of income.

AI art supporters cite expensive commission prices, but high prices are only fair payment for skilled labor. Artists already horrifically undercharge for their work, barely charging over minimum wage—and sometimes under—despite the years required to hone their skills. Therefore, to use AI-generated art to avoid paying artists a fraction of what they deserve is merely entitled behavior by people who cannot wrap their heads around the fact that others deserve compensation for their efforts.

“AI-generated art does not require technique nor effort. It lacks the thought artists put into their work. Art is derived from an emotion or a message, and AI-generated art is not this personal,” Sophomore Gwen McKenna said.

AI-generated art has the potential to be an incredible tool, but it has plagued hardworking artists. As the medium gains more traction, it becomes more important than ever to remember that a true artist does not rely on a text box.


About the Contributors

Gwen Carroll

Staff Writer

Gwen Carroll is a sophomore at LelandHigh School. She enjoys writing, both as a hobby and academically, and in her free time, likes to cook and study psychology.

Inseo Kim


Inseo Kim is a junior currently working as an Artist and a Page Editor for Feature World. In her free time, Inseo enjoys doodling and crocheting. She also has a mildly impressive collection of stickers that continues to grow but is rarely used.

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