GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Artificial intelligence is not something new. You can use it to type, use your phone and now it can make art. 

However, there is a large debate in the Grand Rapids art community over the usage of AI when creating their pieces. Some artists believe that the technology is another tool, while others think AI generators steal other artists’ work for profit. 

“I think that some people would think that it’s almost like cheating or it’s like somehow this advanced crutch that you can use, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” Tyler Loftus, the founder of All Art Works, said. “In the hands of an artist, it can be another tool.”


There are many different kinds of AI image generators online, some are free and others are paid. One of the biggest platforms using AI is Microsoft Bing. Its image creator is free and all users need is a Microsoft account. Then you type in a prompt into its search bar and within a few seconds, an image is created. 

Microsoft said their system follows Responsible AI principles, which try to prevent the potential misuse of the image generator. The company partnered with OpenAI and “put controls in place that aim to limit the generation of harmful or unsafe images.”


With one of the biggest art competitions in the country happening in Grand Rapids, the organization said they do not allow AI art in the competition this year. Catlin Whitington, ArtPrize’s executive director, said in a statement that they only permit human-made art and that the competition is currently on an honor system, with a critical eye from their jurors and advisors. 

“ArtPrize is a celebration of human-made art and the amazing talent found across the globe. Our policy only permits human-made art, and we operate on an honor system at this time, with a critical eye from our jurors and advisors. With the recent emergence of readily accessible AI tools for the public, we are continuing to navigate best practices in this space and will continue to evolve in future years to ensure ArtPrize maintains supporting artists, while keeping with modern art standards,” Whitington said. 

Local artist Joseph Whitaker uses AI art to create new images with his old work. He said he understands why some artists are upset with the new medium, but that we should not let the negatives outweigh the positives. 

“In no way, shape or form do we allow the negative possibilities to impede our progress when it comes to using this,” Whitaker said.

Coleman Brook, the vice president of sales at All Art Works, sees different types of art every day. He said you can tell the differences between each piece and the time and effort that was put in. 

“I think intrinsically you can tell when something had blood, sweat and tears put into it and what didn’t,” Brook said. 

ArtPrize ends Oct. 1. Loftus said for future competitions, the topic of AI art, should be discussed by the community, on if it should be included as a category.