“When I was a little kid,” said Curio, a non-binary artist and web developer from Pennsylvania, “I literally had the most expansive, vivid dreams of a device that I could put on my head and it would just take the images and put them on paper.

Curio, who is in his 20s and asked to remain anonymous, has a form of autoimmune arthritis that makes even the smallest physical actions, such as holding a pencil, extremely painful. But when a friend introduced them to AI text-to-image generators like Stable diffusion and Dall-E, last year changed everything. Curio began producing images of anything they could imagine – from Joe Biden rips apart a deer with his bare hands to gorillas playing Dungeons and Dragons— and then sell their creations on a user-generated shopping site Redbubble.

For Curio, the Generative AI software is right “out of my childhood fantasies.” Now, for the first time in their lives, they can say these words with confidence: “I am an artist.” Unfortunately, not everyone in the art world agrees with this point of view.