A.I. Is Exploding the Illustration World. Here’s How Artists Are Racing to Catch Up

Screenshot of a Twitch stream by @ato1004fd from October 12, 2022, showing the artist Drawing a character from the video game Genshin Impact.

It’s a scenario that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

Earlier this month, a popular Korean-language artist who goes by @ato1004fd on Twitch livestreamed an 11-hour sketch session, letting their 22,000 followers watch as they built up an image of a popular character from the video game Genshin Impact.

But by the time @ato1004fd had completed the digital painting, a rogue viewer had already grabbed a picture of the work in process from the stream, used A.I. to “complete” it, and posted their own version to social media—before turning around and accusing @ato1004fd of being the copycat.

“Bro, when you ask your fans to cry about art stealing, [be] reasonable,” the forger wrote. “So you took as reference an AI image but at least admit it.”

A backlash ensued on Twitter where users accused the imposter of gaslighting the original artist. Eventually, the forger deleted their account.

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Digital Art Entrepreneur May Xue Tells Us About Her Routines for Success and the Artists She Thinks Are Set to Break Big

Ian Cheng, 3FACE, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

So much of the art world orbits around questions of value, not only in term of appraisals and price tags, but also the more fundamental question: What is even worthy of your time, energy, and attention at all?

What is the personal math that you do to determine something’s meaning and worth? What moves you? What enriches your life? In this new series, we’re asking individuals from the art world and beyond about the valuations that they make at a personal level, in art and in life.

For May Xue—the co-founder of the digital art platform Outland (she is also its artistic director for Asia) as well as the co-founder and chief executive director of Horizon, a Los Angeles-based residency for early- to mid-career artists from the U.S. and abroad—such questions come down to an appreciation for exploring the unknown (and a rigid daily workout routine).

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Felipe Pantone’s manipulable works reflect on digital revolution at gallery common in Tokyo


‘Manipulable’ is a word that has its roots in the Latin manus (hand) and refers to ‘something that can be moved or operated using the hands; something that can be managed, controlled, or molded’. Similarly, the exhibition features a series of interactive artworks that visitors can interact with, and modify. In his works, Pantone, who has a background as a graffiti artist and fine arts graduate, combines his experience on the street with his academic knowledge to create a vibrant, distinctive language. The works in the exhibition question the way we consume visual information, especially in our digital age.

‘Nowadays, everything is manipulable– we don’t listen to the radio, we curate our own playlists; we don’t watch TV, we choose which shows to stream. The Internet has made information itself configurable.’ the artist shares. ‘Light, motion, and color define everything I do, and adding the element of touch brings everyone closer to the work. For the first time, all of my works for an exhibition have been made to be configured by the viewer. I believe it’s very contemporary that an audience can interact with what they’re consuming, and I wanted to create artworks that can respond to today’s world of self-curation.’

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How I Made This: Jubilee’s Pixel Art

Forget the low-res Mario of the 16-bit era, or the first renderings of Pokémon from the early chapters of that 25-year-old franchise. Today, pixel art (dotto kei in Japanese), the staple of indie video games, has gone far beyond gaming. Thanks to Tumblr and its more successful cousins, Instagram and Twitter, pixel art is a fully legitimate genre for digital artists.

One such pixel enthusiast is Pacific Northwest-based artist Jubilee, who goes professionally by her first name only. Though she’s best known for her serene landscapes, their clouds reflecting magical sunsets and moonlight, I came to her work through her Instagrammed “tea studies,” artworks depicting beverages in mugs, cups, or tumblers. “I honestly started [making them] because I saw the original photographs online, and thought they just felt so warm,” says Jubilee, with whom I spoke recently by phone. “I really like making people feel things whenever they look at my art.”

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