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Professional artist spends 100 hours working on book cover image only to be accused of using AI

Ali Condon

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Professional artist spends 100 hours working on book cover image only to be accused of using AI

Featured Image Credit: Ben Moran

An artist who worked for weeks on a piece of art for the cover of a fantasy fiction book has been accused of using AI to create it.

When Minh Anh Nguyen Hoang - who uses the name Ben Moran for their art - was commissioned to design the cover of a book for author Selkie Myth, they got straight to work, producing the finished product, 'A Muse In Warzone', a few months after.

A little while later, Moran decided to show off their work to a greater audience, posting it to r/Art on Reddit.

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But almost as soon as they posted their work, Moran was banned from the subreddit on suspicion of using AI to create their design, which is against the moderator's rules.

Ben was accused of using AI to create the piece of art.  Credit: Ben Moran
Ben was accused of using AI to create the piece of art. Credit: Ben Moran

Confused by the ban, Moran, who is the lead artist at Vietnam's Kart Studio, got in touch with the moderators of the subreddit - which boasts over 22 million members - to let them know that there had been a mistake.

"I can give you guys the process or the PSD file of that painting," they offered.

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"I'm not using any AI [support] and punishment is not right," added Moran, before linking their portfolio so moderators could look through some more of their work.

But moderators weren't interested.

"I don't believe you," one wrote. "Even if you did 'paint' it yourself, it's so obviously an AI-prompted design that it doesn't matter."

They continued: "If you really are a 'serious' artist, then you need to find a different style, because A) no one is going to believe when you say it's not AI and B) the AI can do better in seconds what might take you hours. Sorry, it's the way of the world."

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But before they could say anything back, Moran was muted by the group.

Unsure of what to do next, they took the case to the people of Twitter to ask for advice, where their dilemma quickly blew up.

"Reddit moderators will always have a bad name because of people like this," one disappointed user wrote.

"What the actual... At least I found a new awesome artist to follow!" tweeted another.

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"Imagine being so good other humans think you're a machine spirit and exclude you from the group," penned a third.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Moran explained that they had been drawing and painting since they were a child, taking inspiration from other fantasy artists like Ruan Jia, Huang Guangjian, and Piotr Jablonski.

Moderators weren't willing to hear out the artist. Credit: Twitter/@benmoran_artist
Moderators weren't willing to hear out the artist. Credit: Twitter/@benmoran_artist

After being asked to create the piece of art in July 2022, Moran created four options for the author, and produced the finished product by September, with the cover design ready to go in mid-October after some final adjustments.

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When they was accused of using AI to create their piece, Moran had some pretty mixed feelings: "I want to show my hard work to the community,” they said.

“And [it] being accused of being an AI artwork is just like telling me that I'm a random guy and all of my job is just typing some words to have a painting in one or two hours."

But on the other hand, Moran is pretty impressed that their art could be mistaken for an AI creation.

"AI art is learning from the best, but better and faster. Being compared with AI art means my work is kinda good."

While Moran may still be suspended from r/Art, their Reddit dilemma might have actually done them a favour, exposing Moran to a whole new group of fans and potential clients.

You can check out more of Moran's work here.

Topics: Community, Art, Reddit

Ali Condon

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