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Your painting style in an alternate universe

September 29, 2022
By Richard Robinson
Your painting style in an alternate universe logo

Image: Jason Allen. Théâtre D’opéra Spatial. Made with AI.

A funny thing happened the other day. I was exploring the uses of Artificial Intelligence for artists when I came across a little known website that allows you to check if your artworks have been used to train an AI in generating art.

You see, these clever AI programs that coders have been creating lately are very much like their human artist predecessors in that they need to be trained. They don't spring forth from the computer as fully formed da vinci's. No, they have to be trained, and trained well.

Their makers teach them how to create art by feeding them thousands of artworks created by flesh and blood artists like yourself. If you have added images of your art to the internet (and which artist hasn't?) then your artwork may have inadvertantly been 'scraped' and added to a massive database of imagery that the AI uses to teach itself art.

Wait, you didn't give permission for that when you uploaded your artwork? No. No one did of course because it simply wasn't a thing. But now it is, and companies are making money by charging people for the use of their AI art generators that were freely trained by unsuspecting artists like yourself.

Personally I don't mind that one bit, but for some artists who are being targeted by these companies for their popular art styles, it's a problem, it's potentially affecting their livelihood, though of course all of this is so new, it's hard to tell what the longer repercussions will be for artists.

In the mid term I expect their to be some legal battles fought and eventually I would hope that the AI companies profitting from artists would see their way to paying them in some way for their input, and perhaps allowing artists the option to opt out of the AI databases.

Meanwhile, I wondered if any of my own artwork has been used to train an AI, and how could I discover if it had? After a quick search I found this website which you can use to see if your own work has been used to train AI:

Before you rush off and check for yourself....

What I found REALLY interesting about this site is that if you upload a photo of your own work it will show you hundreds of images that are stylistically very similar to yours. It's quite bizarre actually when you see it.

All the art looks so familiar! It felt to me that I'd taken a glimpse into alternate realities where my painting would have been more dramatic if I'd done this, or more subtle if I tried that, and all the hundreds of variations in between. Soooo interesting!

So, in an effort to provide a tool to checking whether or not you helped train an AI, they've built an AI that gives you pricelss hints at different techniques and ideas you might like to try in your next painting - ideas that are so close to your own art that it's only a short step from where you are now, to a style you'll be much more excited about.

Give it a try!



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