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Hi all, it’s Ezra here once again. A professional indepentent character designer, illustrator & contemporary artist. I have a very special art business topic for my fellow artist & creators today, so let’s dive into it.

The Art of Protection: Why Digital and Traditional Artists Should Have a Service Level Agreement in Place

In the world of art, where creativity knows no bounds, the last thing on an artist’s mind may be the need for a contract. After all, art is about passion and expression, not legalities, right? While that may be true to some extent, it’s essential for both digital and traditional artists to protect themselves and their work by having a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place. Let’s delve into why.

Source: Ace Attorney

1. Clear Expectations:
An SLA sets clear expectations for both the artist and the client. It outlines project details, deadlines, revisions, and payment terms. Having a well-defined agreement ensures that both parties are on the same page from the beginning, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings and disputes down the road.

2. Protecting Your Artistic Vision:
Your art is an extension of yourself. Whether you’re a digital artist creating stunning graphics or a traditional painter crafting masterpieces, your work reflects your unique style and vision. An SLA helps protect your artistic integrity by specifying how your work will be used, displayed, or modified. This can prevent clients from making changes that compromise your artistic vision without your consent.

3. Payment Assurance:
Artists deserve fair compensation for their time and talent. An SLA defines the payment structure, ensuring that you get paid for your work as agreed. It can include details on upfront deposits, milestone payments, or final payments upon project completion. This not only protects your income but also sets the client’s expectations regarding payment schedules.

4. Scope Control:
Scope creep can be a nightmare for artists. Clients may request additional work or changes beyond the original agreement, potentially leading to burnout and missed deadlines. An SLA can clearly define the scope of the project, outlining what is and isn’t included. If the client wants extra work, it can be addressed with a separate agreement or amendment, protecting your time and energy.

5. Legal Recourse:
While we hope it never comes to this, having an SLA in place provides a legal framework to resolve disputes. In case of non-payment, copyright infringement, or breach of contract, you have a documented agreement to fall back on. This can be crucial if you need to seek legal remedies to protect your rights and work.

6. Professionalism and Trust:
Having an SLA demonstrates professionalism to your clients. It shows that you take your work seriously and are committed to delivering a quality product. It also builds trust because clients can see that you are transparent and accountable.

7. Peace of Mind:
Perhaps most importantly, an SLA offers peace of mind. It allows you to focus on your art without constantly worrying about the terms and conditions of your work. Knowing that you have a legally binding agreement in place can free your mind to create more freely and passionately.

In conclusion, while art may be driven by passion and creativity, it’s also a business. Digital and traditional artists invest time, effort, and emotion into their work, and they deserve to be protected. A Service Level Agreement is a simple yet effective way to safeguard your artistic vision, income, and professional relationships. So, before you dive into your next project, consider the value of having an SLA in place—it’s a brushstroke of protection that every artist should embrace.

This is an example of an SLA (Service Level Agreement) I use myself when I work on any projects. You are more than welcome to use this as an example to write your own SLA… however I do highly advice that you contact your local lawyer to make sure everything is according to your needs. When you do write a SLA make sure the following points are included: Intellectual Property, Term of Service (Duration), Expectation, Client & Artist Requirements, Terms & Conditions and lastly Payment Structure.

Legal advice is definetely recommended. If you are in South Africa I am able to recommend Steyn Ip to assist you on a SLA and on any other agreements.

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I’m a small artist and I’m pro Ai art and  I’m against it. I sound like a hypocrite but hear me out. Yes, the controversy around Ai Art has been crazy from artists work being used as data to learn the ai algorithm without their approval, their work getting stolen and artists being attacked by internet users as “being too sensitive to the subject “ But even after mentioning some serious pointers, for me as an artist to still be pro AI , why?

Look as it currently stands  yes their is ethical situations around the fact that our work gets used without consent,  and there needs to be a middle ground between artist’s and the companies behind creating this Ai stuff like Mid Journey and Stable Diffusion so both parties can end up enjoying the benefits that this brings.

Before we go further. What the fuck is AI Art

Ai art isn’t Artificial Intelligence at all. It really is a image generation builder. Meaning that humans need to feed data to this algorithm in order for the “ AI “ to create an artwork or image based billions of images in it’s database, breaking them apart and recreating a new artwork.

How does it work?

Let’s break it down to the easiest factor. The AI art algorithm crawls the web and collects data “Images” such as artworks,  photos ect. It then gets fed into the database. But in order to create a new artwork you need an external factor ( that is the person that types in a prompt )  to command the Ai to create an artwork using the words that you’ve added. It’s text to image basically.

What is the problem Artists have with this?

It is their style, their art that are used to build the AI algorithm without their consent and they feel violated of their rights of ownership.

Sam Yang from Sam Does Art is an unfortunate example of his stylized work that has been used and fed into the these programs without his permission,  and people started posting Ai generated art in his style on twitter and some even saying it was their own work.

Why Artists are Fed Up with Ai Art – Sam Does Art

And when Sam said something about this, he got back lash from so many people saying that he is over sensitive. I mean, what the fuck? How would you like if someone takes your years of hard work on something and suddenly says it’s theirs. That’s bullshit, you worked for it. Any case, I highly recommend you check out the video “Why Artists are Fed Up with Ai Art” on Sam’s Youtube channel.

With all said and done, we shouldn’t really stress too much about this. Artist, relax… everything will be fine, Ai will not replace our work. Until it can think and act on it’s own we are fine.

Besides it’s not the program that we are scared of it’s the users that has no ethical standards. So if you’ve played with these prompts to create an artwork, used a specific artists name to render it in their style and posted it as your own , then you’re toxic and should be cancelled.  And I said what I said. Because the problem doesn’t come just from this generator, it comes from the user that thinks they can ride on the back of artists success and get away with it. And that is what exactly happened to this twitch stream artist

In another instance of art theft using AI, artist AT @haruno_intro was live stream drawing Genshin Impact fan art on Twitch and one of the stream’s viewers took the unfinished work and finished it using AI, then posted it onto Twitter as a finished work as if it was theirs. What’s worse, when AT finally posted their original finished piece, the person demanded they get credited.

After the individual promptly got bullied off of Twitter by enraged onlookers, AT then received to get over 400,000 likes on the original finished piece.Extract from https://scadconnector.com/2023/01/05/ai-art-and-the-ethics-of-automating-artistic-skill/

Image: AI left vs Artist Original Artwork https://twitter.com/haruno_intro/status/1580217941697888256

Yeah, so who was to blame there. It was the viewer that took unethical advantage against an artist, it was not Ai’s fault in particular.  Because it is merely a tool, and if unethical users use it we will see unethical results

The bright side of AI – Artists using it to it’s innate potential

Yes, There are short comings with this, but again Artists don’t stress too much and don’t be against AI generated art either. Although there are major problems, there are just as many opportunities to this. You as an artist yourself can make use of it and create new works of art you where never able to create on your own. And I think for one that’s fantastic, it’s just another terrific tool to add to our digital tool kit.

It’s not all bad news. And if you don’t believe me, here are two great examples of artists that has successfully used AI to create their own unique work of art.

@NekroXIII on Twitter, who creates these beautifully complex art pieces using photobashing, a technique involving merging and blending images and even 3D assets into one final composition. A common practice in the concept art industry to streamline workflow and convey realistic textures better, Nekro embraces AI in an amazing fashion, generating their own assets to photobash their pieces together.

Another example is Jason M. Allen from West Colo. That entered his AI generated artwork called “Théâtre D’opéra Spacial into the Colorado State Fairs Annual art competition in 2022 and ended up walking away with the blue ribbon for emerging digital artists.

And while we are at it, I too used Midjourney to help me create an artwork. However I ended up using it more as a reference sheet for myself to help determine how I wanted to create this character inspired by the snow leopard. And yes here is the prompt I used.  So the opportunities are there to my fellow artists.

In Conclusion

The fact still remains that artist are being taken advantage of, however as it currently stands, a group of artists have set in motion a class action copyright lawsuit against popular Ai companies as per an article from Technollama. In my opinion, with time regulations will be set on AI as it was with 3d printing back then. Ai art is still new, and the change happened incredibly fast for us as artists, but I believe once these Ai companies hopefully realize that they are mistreating us as artists and realize that artists could be their biggest client base, I’m sure we’ll see some kinks fixed in the coming months.  

In part 2 of this AI madness  I’ll be having a discussion with my friend Christiaan Steyn from Steyn Ip ( A copyright and Ip lawyer)  about the legal aspects of Ai generated art and what we as artists should know. Don’t miss out on that.

NEW EVOLUTION OF ART

Image source from www.history.com

In the end realise this. Ai Art is the next evolution of creating art since photography was invented in 1839. Ai Art is the evolution of digital art as was digital art the evolution of traditional art and photography the evolution of portraiture. It is a new era of art, instead of being stubborn and unwilling to adapt… rather embrace and learn the new tool that has been created.

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