A couple of months ago I started a new web serial, called Necroepilogos. I commissioned an artist to make a front cover: makuros011. He did an incredible job, it looks great, it’s on the front page of the site and the cover art on Royal Road and Scribblehub. Go check out his other work as well!
But I also wanted some banner art, just for fun. Something to catch the eye and help set the tone for the story.
I used an AI art generator; I’ll explain why in a moment. I don’t recall which one I used. I plugged in something like “anime girl wearing a gas mask and and a long coat, dark, creepy,” and then did that several times until I had some good images. I cropped them, uploaded them to the site, and set them to a random rotation.
Here they are, all together in one place so you don’t have to keep refreshing the site to see all of them.
I explained my reasons in the FAQ:
“I decided to include rotating AI art for the banners because they look so deeply wrong. A machine-memory of what a person or a landscape is meant to look like, pieced together and reanimated by an algorithm which cannot understand the nature of what it is creating, unmediated by true consciousness or anything we might recognise as intention. Something looks back at you, something like a person trying to emerge from a pattern; is your mind creating meaning, or is there a being in there? This is deeply relevant to the themes of the story. I couldn’t resist. “
I’m not comfortable with this anymore!
The discussion surrounding AI art has changed and advanced very rapidly over the last few months, and I’ve changed my mind as well. The bottom line is that I’ve used these images for what is essentially a commercial purpose, and I am no longer comfortable with that choice. No matter how perfectly the images capture the intention of the story and no matter how small I am in the grand scheme of creative work, I do not wish to contribute to the normalisation of AI art.
I want to replace these images.
I still believe in the aesthetic and thematic statement I made above; the reason I used AI art in the first place is to create images that were obviously not made by a human being. I’m not looking for somebody to redraw those images in a more naturalistic style; I want to retain the otherness, the strangeness, the incompleteness of the human figures and faces.
The problem I have right now is that I don’t have a lot of time. For personal reasons that I won’t go into here, I find commissioning artwork incredibly stressful and difficult — this has nothing to do with the artists I’ve worked with, they’re all wonderful and have done absolutely incredible work, it’s merely a personal issue. I’m painfully aware that if I tried to do this now, it would impact all my other work and probably threaten weekly chapters for both my stories.
So! I am turning to my audience for help.
If you know (or know of) an artist (or artists) who’s style would be appropriate for the aesthetic considerations, and who would be willing to redraw/reimagine/rework one (or more) of the banner images, then please get in contact with me.
I will pay real commercial rates for commissions, I am not looking for free work here! I cannot promise I will commission work from every artist recommended to me, or that this will be done soon, (like I said, I’m short on time lately). Please, whatever you do, do not go ahead and do a redraw without asking me; the absolute last thing I want to do is exploit free fan labour. That would arguably be worse.
Thank you very much for reading all this. I realise it’s an awkward topic. Hopefully I’ll have new/different art in a few months!