Artists upset after Wacom uses AI art to market artist gear

Who needs a Wacom Intuos or Cintiq when you can have Midjourney crank it out? Well, you can use them to edit out the AI's hallucinations, mistakes and do compositing and type, right? Not a great look, Wacom!

Wacom deleted the images without explanation, fueling speculation that an industry-standard brand for artists was using tools widely criticized for replacing them. And it wasn't the only AI controversy this weekend. Wizards of the Coast (WotC), the publisher behind Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, also issued an apology on Sunday for using an ad with AI-generated elements. The controversies have escalated mistrust around an already complicated question: how can creatives, and the companies that work with them, navigate a flood of images that are easy to create and hard to conclusively detect?

WotC had earlier insisted its ad, reproduced below, was made entirely by human hands, even though it clearly is not. From its explanation—"AI components that are now popping up in industry standard tools like Photoshop crept into our marketing creative, even if a human did the work to create the overall image"—exposes a contemporary hazard where artists can say "100% made in Photoshop!" and their publishers and clients lack the skill and familiarity to know better. I'm familiar with these tools and it's not really possible to use them by mistake (i.e. whoever made those images maybe lied to WoTC) but things like AI inking brushes and fills are coming and with it a generation of artists who don't even know how AI-enhanced their work is.

Wacom promoting artist's tools with AI art has a very weird quality to it, too. The ad for the product implies in an uncanny contextual way that the product is obsolete. Part technological disemployment, part market cannibalization, part not dogfooding. The Verge found the Adobe stock art that Wacom surely used.

WoTC's ad.

Conversely to all this, false accusations of AI use are becoming a thing on social media. Everyone thinks they can tell by the turds.