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IPFS News Link • Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Is AI Ruining Etsy? Loosening Definition of 'Handmade' Frustrates Artists, Buyers

•, By Emily Dreibelbis

Etsy's reputation as a haven for small, independent creators has come into question as tools like Midjourney have made it easy to list art without disclosing that it's been AI-generated, and shoppers are not happy.

"The fact that it's AI isn't listed anywhere," says one Reddit user who purchased a stock photo on Etsy that seemed suspiciously low cost with glowing reviews. "I was so mad at myself for not noticing it was AI before purchasing."

The seller of the photo, CanArtStudio, lists no information on the "About" section of its shop, beyond that it's based in "Europe." It makes mockups for online businesses, specifically images of nondescript people wearing blank T-shirts. T-shirt sellers, like the Reddit user, then edit the photo and add their designs before listing the product for sale online. CanArtStudio sells them for just $3, or currently $1.50 with a 50% off sale, an ultra-low price for "photography."

"Being avid user of Etsy, I really enjoy supporting small businesses and the talent that goes into their work," the buyer tells PCMag in a private message. "Shops such as we discussed selling massive amounts of AI-generated images take away from genuine sellers who put hours into perfecting their craft."

Others agree. "YES!!!! I run into this frequently! Sometimes I'm in a hurry and don't look closely enough at every detail of the image, until I try to use the mockup and find half a fork, or a baby with 6 fingers," someone else wrote on Reddit. (Hands are notoriously difficult for image generators to reproduce accurately.)

Watercolor art—some of which is sold as digital downloads—has especially fallen prey to cheap, AI-generated listings. "All the watercolor art on Etsy is practically AI and they sell a lot," says one watercolor artist.