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Artists Furious After AI-Generated Artwork Comes In First Place At Colorado State Fair Competition

Artists Furious After AI-Generated Artwork Comes In First Place At Colorado State Fair Competition

A controversial first place winner in the Colorado State Fair’s fine arts competition has the internet debating the nature of art itself.

Jason Allen, the Colorado-based owner of a tabletop gaming company, Incarnate Games, decided to enter the digital art competition with a piece generated by an artificial intelligence system. The artwork, titled Théâtre D'opéra Spatial, came in first place at the fair.

But not everyone is thrilled with the idea.


In the above Tweet, artist Genel Jumalon shared a screenshot of Allen’s post on Discord talking about his win. Allen, going by the name Sincarnate on the chat app, explains how he used Midjourney, an artificial intelligence image generator, by fine tuning settings and a special prompt to generate hundreds of images.

He then curated the selection down to three images and submitted them to the competition.

According to Jumalon:

“Yeah that’s pretty f**king sh**ty.”

A lot of artists were not thrilled with the idea of competing against AI generated images.

Allen posted in the Discord channel for users of the Midjourney AI software. According to him, he fully expected the pushback from his win.

He said:

“I knew this would be controversial. How interesting is it to see how all these people on Twitter who are against AI-generated art are the first ones to throw the human under the bus by discrediting the human element!”

Allen insists that the human element is essential, as he spent so much time shaping and curating the resulting images generated by Midjourney.

The situation led to debate online about the validity of Allen’s art win.

Allen labeled his piece with the notation that he created it with Midjourney, but the judges didn’t know what that meant. Cal Duran, one of the judges, says that after learning the process, still thinks the piece deserves the win.

“I think this art, it had a voice, you know. I think the artist that made it had a voice creating it.”

As time moves on, art submissions and competitions will have to decide how they want to handle AI-generated art. The most commonly suggested solution will be for it to have its own category.