(EDIT: Artist list already added to!)
AI art arrives, and is the apple of everyone’s eye. Well, not quite everyone.
There is no question that 2022 has been the year of the arrival of AI art (#aiart), or image synthesis (#imagesynthesis), or AI infused art (#aiia), or any of several other hashtags that have come to denote this new art form.
Mini-mini history lesson
There has been excitement, confusion, exploration, astonishment, advancement, rancor, scandal, and lots of dopamine. We barreled into 2022 riding the crest of Disco Diffusion mostly through Google Colab notebooks, which itself piggybacked on VQGAN through the fall and winter of 2021. And then all craziness broke loose in March 2022 with the arrival of DALL-E 2 which blew the doors off of everyone’s expectations of what diffusion based models would be capable of so quickly. And almost simultaneously, we saw an explosion in popularity of the Discord-based MidJourney and it’s novel take on diffusion, which took “beauty in AI art” to new levels. But DALL-E 2 was stealing all the air out of the room until August with the arrival of Stable Diffusion. Stable took everything we new about the possibilities of AI art, put it in a little box, and the blew the roof off the house with its open model.
A month later in September 2002, Stable diffusion had been integrated into Photoshop via 3rd party plugins, Canva, multiple Colab notebooks, and DreamStudio from Stability.AI, the maker of Stable Diffusion. Stable Diffusion as of writing this, is going everywhere all at once.
A move towards Stability
Huge advancements and innovations in inpainting, originally pioneered by DALL-E 2, have poured into Stable Diffusion from every direction. Since SD was released as open source, as well as making SD available through API for integration into any project anyone wanted to come up with, the pace of invention is currently speeding up and mushrooming throughout all the digital tools in art workflows across the planet.
A temporary controversy
As what I hope becomes a simple footnote in the history of AI art (a simple, short, boring one), there was a bit of controversy as to whether or not AI art is even art, whether or not it’s able to be copyrighted, and whether or not it will devour art jobs across the planet. The was controversy with some well-established artists, and controversy at the Colorado State Fair, and every major tech magazine has now published something on the topic. But hopefully everyone will have outgrown their Luddite-like proclivities by the end of the year (it’s already happening). That seems all but inevitable. The cat is out of the bag, the horse has fled the barn, and the train has left the station. Even the feathers from the pillow have been scattered into the winds. All at the same time. There is no going back.
This was the big year
It looks like 2022 will be (already is) the biggest watershed period in history since the invention of Photography. And nobody knows what is next, though some have some inklings about the possibilities.
Let’s name names
But, what about the artists?
This article was not supposed to be a mini history lesson, but it turned out that way as much as I wanted to just list some artists and be done with it. We need just a little bit of context to understand exactly what is happening.
So what I’d like to do now is simply list artists who have established and maintained an active presence on Twitter, which seems to be the main place the earlier movers congregated, and where they post their art. A few AI art subreddits have also been very popular, but in a different way than Twitter. The twitter experience has been one of visuals, thought leadership, debate, argument, passion, beauty, ugliness, cliche, and plenty of ad hominem. The reddit communities have been more focused on the images, and less about the artists themselves, and brand building for those artists.
But that said, let’s get to brass tacks.
On July 28th, 2022 the Twitter user Surrealabs posted a serious (with a pinch of humor) take on the current lay of the AI artist landscape. Basically, they took all of the Twitter AI artists they were following and mapped them in a quadrant grid according to how they handled their prompts. The vectors were between creation methods: prompt-driven or process-driven, and then prompt privacy: secrecy or transparency. Here is that quadrant chart:
But without the twitter handles, the original chart is a little less interesting. Enter Bokar N’Diaye and a lot of leg work to attach Twitter accounts to all the handle images. So as of a few months ago, here are all those labels in the next image:
Personally, I like to think of this “snapshot” of names and places collected by one artists among many, to be kind of a candid Polaroid shot at a big party. Now it’s permanently attached by a large magnet to the refrigerator in the big kitchen of the Internet, forever!
Surrealabs has gone on to say that they are surprised that something created as a bit of fun and bit of a meme has grown such long legs!
I love that a meme I made that basically just showcases a mishmash of people I follow(ed) is somehow still a fixture in the community
— surea.i (@sureailabs) October 12, 2022
The big list of links
And for fun, I’ve added direct links to the Twitter accounts. Not all these accounts may still be active. Some might be deactivated or taking a break, so your mileage may vary. But, here they are, for better or for worse, for posterity. Starting from the top left as best I can:
- https://twitter.com/dbonneville (yours truly)
And here is a space just for the other artists who were in nearby latent space, just not in frame when the polaroid was taken:
That’s it. That’s the list.
If you are reading this, I mean, if you read this far, you are seriously dedicated. I mean, I’m impressed. So kudos to you.
But, I want to say here, that if you know of any mistakes, omissions, exceptions, or anything else interesting to add of fact check, pu-lease let me know. You can get me at @dbonneville on Twitter, or add a comment to the tweet that brought you here so that others can see it too.
Thanks for reading!
Oh, BTW: AI Art is…
I spent <10 min on the new art for this post.