Wacom responds to artists’ outcry over AI use in ad

Jan 11, 2024

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

Wacom responds to artists’ outcry over AI use in ad

Jan 11, 2024

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Wacom responds to artists' outcry over AI use in ad

A few days ago Wacom published some advertisements for their pen and tablet products, which appeared to use AI-generated images. Of course, the artist community (AKA Wacom’s customers) were up in arms over this, feeling pretty betrayed by the whole thing. And rightly so.

Well, Wacom just responded to the allegations in an open letter that they posted on their social media accounts. To be honest, it’s pretty lame and doesn’t particularly address any of the concerns that artists and photographers have about losing work to AI.

Open letter

“We hear your concerns…we know you are upset,” the letter reads. “We want to assure you that using AI images was not our intent,” it continues.

It seems as though Wacom realised that they made a massive faux pas by betraying the very people who buy their products.

Image vetting

However, the reasons given for the slip are not particularly satisfactory. “We are now not sure how the images were created,” admits Wacom. They say that the images were purchased from a third-party vendor, presumably a stock site.

They also say that they “vetted the images through a few popular online tools.” Which tools would those be exactly? There are one or two that claim to be able to tell if images are AI or not. However, they are not 100 per cent accurate. One could argue that Wacom needs to be completely certain where it sources its images from.

Wacom responds to artists' outcry over AI use in ad

Passing the buck

Basically, this letter is a wordy version of saying, “the intern did it.” Well, it’s simply not good enough for a company the size of Wacom, and their reasoning and apology lack authenticity.

The company is essentially admitting to cutting costs and not commissioning work directly for their advertisements. For a brand such as Wacom, surely they should be ensuring that any art they use was created at the very least by using one of their own products, and preferably by a living, breathing artist. Not knowing is not an excuse.

Artist’s reactions

Members of the artist community have responded to the open letter with scepticism. “It was a cheap, fast and easy way for you guys to cut funds and thought it would slide,” says one comment. “We can’t afford Wacom,” says another, “but maybe Wacom can’t afford us!”

I find that sentiment somewhat unlikely. Wacom can definitely afford to commission and pay rights for original artwork, and it’s poor show to have used images with unknown origins. If there is AI work on stock sites, it needs to be labelled as such.

This is why so many camera brands are incorporating authenticity certificates into their software now. As AI tech moves rapidly forward, it is going to matter more and more whether images are made by humans or machines. We need to be able to verify images, and big brands cannot afford to make a misstep on this subject.

In a beautiful twist of irony, one person ran the letter through the Hive AI content detector. It seems that the apology letter most likely contains 90% AI-generated content.

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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