 Restrict AI Illustration from Publishing:
An Open Letter

Published May 2, 2023

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Since the earliest days of print journalism, illustration has been used to elucidate and add perspective to stories. Even with the advent of photography in the 19th century, hand-drawn illustrations continued to have their place, both as a synthesis of the artist’s vision and the writer’s meaning. The illustrator’s art still speaks to something not just intimately connected to the news, but intrinsically human about story itself.

With the advent of generative-image AI technology, that unique interpretive and narrative confluence of art and text, of human writer and human illustrator, is at risk of extinction.

Based on text prompts, these generative tools can churn out polished, detailed simulacra of what previously would have been illustrations drawn by the human hand. They do so for a few pennies or for free, and they are faster than any human can ever be. Because no human illustrator can work quickly enough or cheaply enough to compete with these robot replacements, we know that if this technology is left unchecked, it will radically reshape the field of journalism. The result will be that only a tiny elite of artists can remain in business, their work selling as a kind of luxury status symbol. 

AI-art generators are trained on enormous datasets, containing millions upon millions of copyrighted images, harvested without their creator’s knowledge, let alone compensation or consent. This is effectively the greatest art heist in history. Perpetrated by respectable-seeming corporate entities backed by Silicon Valley venture capital. It’s daylight robbery.

If you think this sounds alarmist, consider that  AI-generated work has already been used for book covers and as editorial illustration, displacing illustrators from their livelihood. As a result artists and illustrators have already started suing certain creators of AI art generators for copyright infringement.

Why, beyond the immediate effect on individual artists, does this matter? AI purports to have the capability to create art, but it will never be able to do so satisfactorily because its algorithms can only create variations of art that already exists. It creates only ersatz versions of illustrations having no actual insight, wit, or originality. Generative AI art is vampirical, feasting on past generations of artwork even as it sucks the lifeblood from living artists. Over time, this will impoverish our visual culture. Consumers will be trained to accept this art-looking art, but the ingenuity, the personal vision, the individual sensibility, the humanity will be missing.

This is also an economic choice for society. While illustrators’ careers are set to be decimated by generative-AI art, the companies developing the technology are making fortunes. Silicon Valley is betting against the wages of living, breathing artists through its investment in AI.

Generative-art AI is just beginning. If illustrators want to stay illustrators, the time to fight is now. Molly Crabapple and the Center for Artistic Inquiry and Reporting call on artists, publishers, journalists, editors, and journalism union leaders to take a pledge for human values against the use of generative-AI images to replace human-made art.

Media publishing takes intellectual property rights very seriously. Its business would not exist without upholding the laws and values that protect such rights. If newsrooms aim to resist corporate theft, they must commit to supporting editorial art made by people, not server farms.  

*To sign the open letter please use the form below. Be sure to scroll down within the box to fill out all of the fields and submit. 

Signatories List

V (Formerly Eve Ensler), Writer
Naomi Klein,
Associate Professor, University of British Columbia, Canada
Chris Hayes, Journalist, USA
Nermeen Shaikh, Co-Host, Democracy Now!
John Cusack, Actor
Mike Duncan, Author/Podcaster
Jake Hanrahan, Reporter, Popular Front
Maaza Mengiste, Writer
Rula Jebreal, Journalist, Author and Visiting Professor, University of Miami
Raghu Karnad, Editor, The Wire, India
Spencer Ackerman, Columnist, The Nation, United States
Lizzy Ratner, Senior Editor, The Nation Magazine, USA
Sarah Leonard, Editor-in-Chief, Lux Magazine, USA
Noah McCormack, Publisher, The Baffler
Matt Huynh, Artist & Film Producer, Cabramatta
Marco Werman, Journalist, WGBH
Lighthouse Reports
Ari Bloomekatz, Executive Editor, In These Times
Rana Ayyub, Journalist, India
Jessica Bruder, Writer
Sophie Fiennes, Film Director
Mary Cuddehe, Knight Wallace Fellow, Knight Wallace Center for Journalists, USA
Laszlo Jakab Orsos, VP of Arts and Culture, Brooklyn Public Library
Khalid Albaih, Political Cartoonist
Molly Crabapple, Artist and Journalist
Marisa Mazria Katz, Journalist and Executive Director, CAIR
Jake Charles Rees, Executive Producer, CAIR
Simon Ostrovsky, Journalist, USA
Ben Taub, Writer
Lucy Jakub, Online Editor, The New York Review of Books, USA
David Weigel, Reporter, Semafor, USA
Douglas Rushkoff, Professor of Media Studies, Queens College, City University of New York
Flynn Murray, Publisher, Lux Magazine
Serena Danna, Deputy Editor, Journalist, Italy
Ganzeer جنزير, Artist
Rasha Al Aqeedi, Middle East Deputy Editor, New Lines Mag, USA
Eli Valley, Artist/Writer
Omar Robert Hamilton, Writer
James Bridle, Writer and Artist, Greece
Mike Giglio
Josh Marshall, Founder/Owner/Editor-in-Chief, TPM Media, USA
Kareem Chehayeb, Reporter, Associated Press, Lebanon
Natasha Lennard, Associate Director, The New School, USA
Laura Raicovich, Editor, writer, curator, USA
Jonathan M. Katz, Author, Journalist, USA
Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept
Aida Alami,
Reporter, Morocco
Rozina Ali
May Jeong, Journalist
Lucy Lippard, freelance writer
Tansy Hoskins, Author and Journalist, UK
Eric Gottesman, Artist and Co-founder, For Freedoms
Kyle Webster, Artist and Author
Grace Lavery, Writer and Academic, USA
Karl Wenclas, Editor, New Pop Lit
Ifeoma Ajunwa, Law Professor, UNC School of Law, AI-DR program  
Patrick Hilsman, Journalist/Researcher
Rachel Dooley, Creative Director, In These Times
Elizabeth Scheltens, Senior Producer, Vox
Miriam Elder, Writer/Editor
Leela Corman, Painter, cartoonist, graphic novel creator, Rhode Island School of Design; Sequential Artists Workshop
Jaleen Grove, Associate Professor, Rhode Island School of Design
Christopher Shay, Editor, The Nation
Karen Green, Curator for Comics and Cartoons, Columbia University
Ben Applegate, Director of Publishing Services, Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Steve Cup, Illustrator
Tom Garcia, Comic Book Artist and Illustrator, Comiconart.com
Sarah Lopez, Worker-Owner, Radix Media
Amy Rose Spiegel
Jaya Saxena, Correspondent, Eater/Vox Media

Aja Romano, Culture Writer, Vox
Sarah Jaffe, Journalist, USA
John Leavitt, Illustrator
David Scanavino, Artist, USA
Tim Lowery, Cartoonist
Carolyn Raship, Illustrator
Peter Rostovsky, Artist/Part Time Assistant Professor, The New School
Terrell  Starr,
Founder, Black Diplomats, USA
Eleanor Saitta, Security Consultant, Finland
C. Spike Trotman,
Owner/Founder Iron Circus Comics
Robin van Lierop,
3D artist
Daniel Söler de la Prada, Voice Artist / Voice Pedagogue / Musician / Investigator, Professor, Universidad de los Andes / President, OVU
Tim Seeley,
Creator, Hack/Slash Inc
Emily Gaskill, Artist, Specialist Housewares
Jake Price, Filmmaker, photographer, educator
Esteban Balzano Elmer,
Tai Ma
Pedro Ferreira
Wilfred Hildonen,
Editorial cartoonist, illustrator, artist, Freelance, Sweden
Luc Vernimmen,
Freelance Illustrator, Belgium
Jeremy Wyatt,
Designer, United Kingdom
Guido Kühn,
Professor of 2D Art and Animation, University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm, Germany
Jessica Stoya
Steven Stahlberg,
Senior Artist, Sweden
Tom Speelman, Writer/Editor, USA
Daniel Hertzberg,
Illustrator, USA
Idar Bøyum, Norway
Brett Castle
Yuetao Hou, PhD Candidate, Cornell University, USA
Miguel  Almeida, Brasil
Sue Rissberger
Erin Middendorf
, Game Artist
Zoe Hansen, Illustrator, USA
Eric Rodriguez, Illustrator/ Art Director, USA
Rachel Meinerding,
Co-Founder, Concept Art Association, USA
Noah Salibi,
Wildlife Biologist, Equestrian, University of Guelph, Canada
Tom Randal,
Graphic Design student, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA
Remmelt Ellen,
Program Coordinator, AI Safety Camp, Netherlands
Kathryn Wingate,
Artist, USA
Anne Temmink,
Artist, USA
Langa Nxele, Graphic design trainnee, South Africa
Laura Wilson,
Freelance Illustrator, USA

Loryn Harrison, USA
Ian Factor,
Founder, Director and Lead Instructor of Factor Fine Art / Bend Academy of Art
Jess Walters, Artist, USA

Jonathan Krohn, Essayist and Journalist, Mexico
Derek Beecham,
Production Designer & Photographer, USA
Vadim Spiridonov,
3D Artist
David Silva,
Concept Artist, Cubo, Brasil
Ismael Jiménez, Illustrator, Spain
Marlene Huntte,
Senior Fashion Consultant, Versace, Canada
Angela Samuel,
Lawyer and Realtor, Columbia University/Columbia Law School, USA
Fethennour Ali,
Student Artist, France
Kseniya Filippova,
Illustrator, Manga artist, Russian Federation
Tim O’Brien,
Illustrator/Educator, USA
Robby Garner,
CEO, Institute of Mimetic Sciences, Inc., USA
Spiridon Giannakis,
Designer/Publisher, Germany
Katie Rhody
Álvaro Cordeiro,
Digital Artist, Portugal
Nigell Isley,
Freelance Artist, USA
Anoushka Mohindra
Xanat Meza
Eva Toorenent,
Illustrator and Artist, Netherlands
Alexandra Avram,
Game Art student, Romania
Mihaela Voicu,
Artist, Freelance, Romania
Catherine Lazo,
Game Art Student, USA
Sylvester Lazarus,
Art Student, Hungary
Christina Barton,
Game Artist and Illustrator, Sweden and USA
Benita Amadea,
Freelancer, Indonesia
Green Linzerd,
Freelance Illustrator, England
Mada R, Artist,
Abhishikta Dutta,
Freelance Illustrator, India
Lebrandon Tucker
Oxy Tail,
Freelance Artist
José De la Vega,
Artist, México
Rick Gned,
Social services and aspiring author, Australia
Marge Nelk,
Artist, Estonia
Erika Zarate,
Concept artist, Mexico
A Giroux,
Art Director / Senior Illustrator, Canada
Nicole Salamone,
Teller, United States
Sonja Conayne,
Freelance Animator, Diurnal Studios, New Zealand
David Poe,
Songwriter, USA
Ryan Fletcher,
PR Director / Director, Dr. Bronner's / Movement Media, USA
T Carter, Illustrator, United Kingdom
Carlos Herrera,
Graphic Designer, México
Anna Gordon,
United States
Jon Lee,
Steven Zapta,
Illustrator, USA
Samuel Griffin,
Novelist, United Kingdom
Claudia Patricia Valenzuela Aceves,
Designer and Illustrator, Mexico
Mar Mai,
Artist, writer, USA
Pavni Mittal,
Journalist, Freelance, USA/India
Mkey Krasser,
Graphic Design Student, HTBLVA Graz-Ortweinschule Bautechnik, Kunst & Design, Australia
Marie Vaugondy
, writer and artist, France
Chris Alford,
Materials Management Officer, NHS, United Kingdom
Daniel Norberto,
Independent artist, Fine Arts student, Faculdade de Belas Artes - Universidade do Porto, Portugal
Gabriel CAMPAGNOLO, Illustrator, France
Anne Jørgensen,
Multimedia designer, Denmark
Judah Samuel,
Pilot, Photographer, Qatar Airways/Air Canada, Canada
Dominic Vallente,
PHD Candidate at York University, Musician, York University, Canada
Pablo Pérez,
Graphic Designer & Aspirational Illustrator, México
Filipe Ferreira,
2D/3D Artist
Pierre Couillaud,
Biology Masters, Freelance translator, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France
Kasai Izzard
Paul Strang,
Software Developer Student, Germany
Alex Martinez,
Illustrator, USA
Gigi White, 3D Digital Artist / Costume Design, The Row House 3D, United Kingdom
Luca Tuminski
James Silverberg,
CEO, American Society for Collective Rights Licensing, USA
Paris Wood,
Electrical wirer, USA
James Smith,
Graphic designer/illustrator
Jake Zetter,
Concept Artist
Paolo Magtira,
Illustrator, Philippines
Illustrator - Graphic Designer, Freelancer, France
Marquis Petty,
Freelance Character Designer, USA
Daniel Cubillo,
Voice Over
Katherine Trent,
Vanessa Veselka,
Writer, USA
Luis Santiago,
Collage Artist, USA
Myo Pyae Sone
Abigail Lis-Perlis
Annelies Vermeulen,
Ruth Anne Burke,
Illustrator and graphic designer, USA
Linda Mäki-Sulkava,
Dariusz Smolinski,
Business Intelligence Specialist, Poland
Panagiotis Anastasiou,
Freelance Concept Designer, Fullstack Web Developer, Greece
Peter Money,
Poet, Novelist, Author, Actor, Painter, Musician, Playwright, Actors Equity Association, Los Lorcas, Graywolf Press, Harbor Mountain Press, Indie, Oberlin, Brooklyn College
Elena Grossman,
Independent artist, USA
Danie Drankwalter,
Illustrator, USA
Kim Boekbinder,
Director/Producer, Sharp As Knives, USA
Emily Neyhard,
Freelance Artist, USA
Sally Szwed,
Arts Organizer, USA
Atilio Gambedotti,
Illustrator, Comic artist, España
Cecilia La Rosa,
Illustrator, Argentina
Ali Qushair,
3D Artist, Australia
F T,
Jessica Thornton,
Illustrator/Artist, USA
Andrew  Morales,
Auto mechanic, USA
Chris Russell,
Freelance Illustrator, USA
Vinayak Varma,
Illustrator / Writer, India
Jason Seiler,
Illustrator, USA
Michael  Butler, Design Director, USA
Julián Medina,
Filmmaker/Artist, Arte es Ética/UTADEO, Colombia
Esther Sitver,
Illustrator, USA
Natchapol Mugtiya,
Freelance Artist, Thailand
Cassandra Mullins,
Author, USA
Diflatte Art, Student,
freelance illustrator, France
Santiago CARUSO,
Illustrator, Arte es Ética, Argentina
Alistair Zeelie,
Student, South Africa
Ricardo Sosa, Writer,
Alberto Gonzalez,
UX developer and Illustrator, Costa Rica
Alexander Chee,
Professor of English and Creative Writing, Dartmouth College, USA
Jonathan Guyer,
Writer, USA
Bonnie Katz,
Goth Ross,
Artist & Designer
Adam Korengold,
Analytics Lead/Part-time Faculty, National Institutes of Health/Maryland Institute College of Art, USA
Benjamin Aleshire,
Editorial Assistant, USA
Daniel Casanova,
Dubbing Actor, Spain
Paco Nieto García,
Locución, Spain
Jon Bishop,
Illustrator/owner, Scotland
Benjamin Harbakk,
Software Developer, Norway
Simona Blat,
Founding Editor, The Brazenhead Review, USA
Alex Hernández,
Fine arts student, Spain
Jean-Paul Bondy,
Product Design Director, USA
John Johnston
Drew Lewis
Lari Burgos,
Artist, Writer, France
Maciej Janik,
Freelane Illustrator, Luksemburg
Andy Barnham,
Photographer, United Kingdom
Hari Balakrishnan
, Professor of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, MIT, USA
Ann Jaeger,
Artist, Canada
Jeremias Bulanadi,
Software Engineer, Philippines
Sarah Samuel
, Journalist, Freelance, Canada
Nguyen Phong Hoang,
Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Chicago, USA
Charles Hubbard Jr
John Lee, Illustrator,
Grant Goodwine, Illustrator,
Jonathan Gray
Megan Lister, Freelance Artist,
Prakhar Gupta,
Senior Researcher, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Gordan Strmac,
Neil Turkewitz, President,
Turkewitz Consulting Group, USA
Thanassis Cambanis, Director,
Century International, USA
Yukimi Strasil,
Freelance Illustrator, USA
Couji Giannie,
Editor in Chief, Ubikwist magazine, USA
John Tomac,
Illustrator, USA
Christine Cavallomagno,
Agent, USA
Ryan Brondolo,
Illustrator, USA
Aiman Julkree,
Artist, Malaysia
Lee Rose,
Artist, America
Steven Thrasher,
Daniel Renberg Chair in Social Justice Reporting, Northwestern University, Medill School, USA
Ben Zhao,
Neubauer Professor of Computer Science, University of Chicago
Jose Tomás Agudo Rodríguez,
Dubbing Actor, Spain
Micheline Ryckman,
Artist, Author, Publisher, Whimsical Publishing and Illustration
Pedro Caban, Professor of Latin American and Latinx Studies, University at Albany, USA
Beatriz Peñas
Víctor González Fraile,
Voice Actor, Spain
Fahd Bahady,
Natalie Anaya Luna, Artist,
Puerto Rico
Meesha Goldberg, Artist,
Adriana Garcia,
Designer/ Illustrator
Emanuele Del Rosso,
Freelance cartoonist, Cartoon Movement, Netherlands
Janice Cable,
Writer, USA
Ruth Michaelson,
Reporter, United Kingdom
Esme Wang,
Writer, USA
Ben Batchelder
Peter Money,
Poet, Novelist, Author, Actor, Painter, Musician, Playwright, Actors Equity Association, Los Lorcas, Graywolf Press, Harbor Mountain Press, Indie, Oberlin, Brooklyn College, USA
Courtney Cheshire,
Graphic and Motion Designer
Olga Supinska,
Concept Artist, Poland
Nicole Katz,
Director, USA
Hannah Rogge,
Graphic Designer, USA
Jeremy Bauer,
Content Designer, USA
Ana Palencia,
Claire Graham
Jantien Schoenmaker,
Jose Tomás Agudo Rodríguez,
Dubbing Actor, Spain
Daniel Söler de la Prada,
Voice Artist / Voice Pedagogue / Musician / Investigator, Professor, Universidad de los Andes / President, OVU, Colombia
Ben Taub,
Omar Robert Hamilton,
Paco Nieto García,
Voiceover, Spain
Daniel Casanova,
Dubbing Actor, Spain
Tom Garcia,
Comic Book Artist and Illustrator, Brasil
Drew Lewis,
Jake Price,
Filmmaker, Photographer, Educator, USA
Noah McCormack,
Publisher, The Baffler, USA
Flynn Murray,
Publisher, Lux Magazine, USA
Jessica Bruder,
Writer, USA
Tim Lowery,
Cartoonist, USA
Anastasia D,
Illustrator, Artist, Germany
Justin Brown, Engineer,
Mitchell Smith,
Sunnie Rose
, Illustrator, USA
Vanessa Rasanen,  Author, USA
Sreoshi Sinha,
Illustrator, India
Leela Corman, Painter, Cartoonist, Graphic Novel Creator, Rhode Island School of Design; Sequential Artists Workshop, USA
Laszlo Jakab Orsos, VP of Arts and Culture, USA
Emily Gaskill, Artist, Housewares Specialist, USA
Sophie Crumb,
Artist, France
Liara Roux,
Author, Document Journal, France
Roberto Lovato,
Author, Unforgetting, Professor of English, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA
Yu-Ming Huang,
Illustrator, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Asad Dandia, NYC-based Community Organizer, USA
Richard Pace,
Artist/writer, Canada
Chris Anderson, Illustrator, USA
Steve Ellis, Illustrator, USA
Jamal Igle, Writer/Illustrator, USA

Fred Harper, Artist

Clayton Cubitt, Photographer, USA

Rafael Shimunov, Creative, Activist, Communications Director, The Athena Coalition, USA
Alina Spatz, Graphic Designer/Artist, Rhode Island School of Design
Joe Matunis, Director, Los Muralistas de El Puente, El Puente de WilliMsburg, USA

Rafael Monterrosa, USA
Nicola Black, Designer
Tyler Hefferon, Bookkeeper
Taslim van Hattum, Illustrator, USA
Noah Meihoff, Illustrator, USA
Jean Cooney
Alex Dimitropoulos, Technical Writer, USA

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