Thursday, December 15, 2022

Resources for Artists Against Unethical AI Development



Who knew that 2022 would be the year artists would be having the discussion of whether or not they would be replaced by Artificial Intelligence?  But here we are in a very normal looking dystopian future!  Rather than re-hash what other more eloquent folks who have already stated, I wanted to put together this article to gather educational resources and advocacy efforts that I hope will be helpful to the art community.  I'll try to keep it updated as and when I can.  Feel free to suggest more resources in the comments!

Image Source: Pixabay
TL;DR for the folks who don't already know.  AI image generators like Stable Diffusion, MidJourney, Dall-E, and others have trained their technology on data that has been scraped from copyrighted sources without the permission of the owners of those images, including not only artists, but even the medical records of unwitting individuals as well.  To make matter worse, this tech was irresponsibly proliferated via Open Source code before regulation was even considered for its potential for copyright abuse.

We should not promote and condone any positive uses of this tech until the unethical side of it is regulated first, no matter what its helpful potential might be.  It is too harmful to the rights of creators and the creative field, in general, until regulation occurs.  Whether ethical or not, this tech was created to replace the need for artists and that will change how art and professional industries evolve over the next few years, for better or for worse.

And now on to the resource links!


For General Education

  • The Unethical Origins of AI - A thorough and well-researched thread on the unethical elements of AI generation with a breakdown of common defenses of the tech and accompanying explanations.  Complete with links to further research. (Facebook mirror link of this thread in case Twitter goes down).

  • Why AI Models are not inspired like humans. - An article by Karla Ortiz, a respected artist in the entertainment and illustration industry who has done her homework on this tech and also links to outside experts in the field.  This article explains an important distinction between how artists and machines learn, a common defense in letting AI tech go unchecked.

  • Invasive Diffusion: How one unwilling illustrator found herself turned into an AI model - An article discussing how an artist was targeted for her popular style and a model built on her art, which was then released for Open Source use, causing direct harm to the artist's livelihood and brand recognition.  It also discusses the potential for fraud and security issues with AI's power to simulate convincing photos of anyone after training on just a handful of photos of one's face.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Review - Emily Jeffords' Making Art Work 2021



It's been a wild ride navigating the waters of COVID and my evolving career as an artist for the past 2 (going on 3) years.  2020 was a rough year for many artists who relied on convention income, including myself.  The crushing pressure of this situation made it more evident to me as an artist that I needed to get my online marketing game up!

After 2020, I desperately wanted more direction for how I could organize my scattered business and become more regimented about my online marketing practices.  Rather than go for a personalized mentorship, I opted for something I felt was more affordable for my budget, but still covered my needs for fundamental and advanced marketing info - Emily Jeffords' art marketing class, Making Art Work.

Making Art Work aims to educate artists on the fundamentals of marketing, while encouraging them to plan for their success and sustainability.  This class is self-directed with live Q&A sessions held weekly to supplement each module.

This review only covers my experience as a 2021 student, so keep that in mind for the purposes of this review, as things may change in future courses.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review and was written without any incentives being offered to me.

The TL;DR

Emily Jeffords' Making Art Work offers an info-packed review of the basics of marketing primarily geared towards fine artists, with actionable advice, introductions to various income streams through guest experts, and suggested paths for building future marketing strategies.  This class relies on Facebook, which may cut non-FB users out unless they're willing to join up to the platform.

If you are hoping to learn more about licensing, wholesale, etc. this course only scratches the surface of these topics so you may want to seek further education from individual courses dedicated to these topics.  Aside from a few inefficient apps used for extracurricular communication, the class material presented through Kajabi was easy to follow and allows for tracking of your progress.

For more advanced entrepreneurs, this course offers a great review of the fundamentals with actionable strategies for assessing your business and best practices for planning for the future.


Things to Know:

  • Cost: $1000 (after an email coupon) + Approx. $30 for the peer group add-on
  • How Long is this Course?  12 weeks
  • Apps Utilized: Telegram, Voxer, Facebook, Zoom
  • Access to modules is not forever, but only for 2 years after sign-up.  A method to mass download all of the module worksheets was made available at the end of the course.
  • Class was previously held annually and seems to have changed to an every other year schedule

Free Preview Material: 
Emily offers a free sampling of her teaching methods via a week-long Share the Work event which is usually held shortly before Making Art Work launches, so keep an eye out for it so you can see if you like her methods!  Going through the Share the Work material convinced me to join MAW.  You can read about my experience with Share the Work here.


Who is this class for?

This class is mainly aimed at creative entrepreneurs who wish to sell their work through galleries, wholesale, merch, licensing, their own educational material, and other avenues.  While I am not primarily a Fine Artist, I still found the material relevant for assessing strategies for my own art biz, which currently focuses on independently selling my illustrative merch directly to my fans and through crowdfunding.

Emily's course very much also takes the approach that an artist should be striving for sustainability through diversification, rather than killing themselves to focus solely on the sales of paintings.  So if you're looking primarily for instruction on working directly with galleries, for example, a more in-depth course on building relationships with galleries may be more to your liking.  However, if you're seeking a breakdown of the basics and strategies for diversification and refining your marketing techniques, this class has you covered and does cover the basics of licensing, wholesale, gallery sales, etc by bringing in guest experts for each topic for short introductory segments.

A glimpse at what the Making Art Work modules were in 2021. The mix of basic & advanced marketing techniques sold me on this class.  I needed a refresher, as well as guidance for how to evolve!