Does AI Art Dream of Artificial Sheep?

AI art is a current topic that dominates much of the art discussion on the internet. Thanks to websites such as and Artbreeder the greater public conscience has become aware of its existence. It’s widespread enough that rapper Yung Lean used AI art to generate the cover for his singles “Lazy Summer Day” and “Chinese Restaurant.”

AI art works by allowing users to put in a text prompt, and then the AI will attempt to generate an image based on those inputs. Of course, this relies on AI learning various aesthetics from already existing art as well, which is a source of controversy. A lot of the discussion surrounding AI art discuss whether it’s ethical and whether AI Artists are “real” artists.

Digital artist bobbamilk touched on some of the common sentiments regarding some artists’ thoughts on AI art.

“I think that it’s {AI Art} all really generic and boring and I see a lot of people prefer it over real art,” she said. “It feels bad that art isn’t as valued by people as it should be and people like me are in danger because of AIs.”

She also mentions the problems with art theft, referencing an incident where a Twitch streamer had their in-progress sketch stolen and subsequently “finished” by putting it through one of the AI art generators. Furthermore, most AI art requires existing art to study and reference to generate its artificial art, which in itself could be said to be art theft. A recent CNN article discussed how Stable Diffusion used artists like Tara McPherson’s work without her knowledge to create references for art. While not nearly as blatant as the Twitch streamer incident, one must wonder whether this isn’t just the world’s most expansive plagiarism effort.

With a slightly more positive take, artist Grace Bishop discussed the merits of AI art.

It’s a cool medium but it lacks the intentionality that a human would inject into art,” she said. “But, AI art is just another vehicle for artists to consider.”

Of course, there is the question that everyone is probably wondering: does it look good? Looking up AI Art on Twitter, it seems to mostly just be anime-style drawings of women broken up by the occasional landscape drawing. In fact, there are so many drawings of anime-style women that there’s an entirely separate hashtag on Twitter for it. Generally, there are some dead giveaways of the art being AI generated, such as the malformed hands with extra or missing fingers, but the art style is relatively consistent. It’s hard to say whether AI art looks boring compared to man-made art, but a comparison between a stolen AI art drawing and the one finished by the artist makes the shortcomings of AI art much more apparent.

AI art brings a ton of new questions to the field of whether it’s just blatant thievery or innovations in the field. As AI continues to get better and better, eventually society will have to reckon with the potential ethical and legal issues it brings if AI Aart becomes indistinguishable from human art.