Pro wrestling artists have spoken candidly about AEW using perceived AI-generated shirt designs.
Despite much of the news headlines about the company centering on new television deals and ticket sales, All Elite Wrestling has become known for their merchandising.
The company’s widely popular t-shirt designs resulted in some fans and critics saying “they’re just a t-shirt company.”
On April 26, AEW released three new shirts as part of their internal AEW Games brand that led to various artists and fans calling out the designs for appearing to have been created with an AI art generator.
Some of these pro wrestling artists recently spoke with Paste Magazine to discuss AEW’s decision. Angie, also known as Twilight Palms on social media and known for creating designs for AEW World Champion MJF, stated:
“AI art is cheap looking and shady. The art that trained those models is stolen from thousands of artists— and most industries blacklist anyone who tries to get by with it,”
“AEW has some of the most iconic merch in the game today because of the money wrestlers invest into real artists. Ofooro, for example, makes the majority of the Best Friends’ merch. You can’t go to a show without seeing his work! People love it!”
Jacob, also known as JCP of JCP Designs, is another independent artist and designer that has worked directly with All Elite Wrestling in the past. Emphasizing how disappointing that AEW is using AI-generated designs, Jacob said:
“I’ve been interested in AEW since their very first press conference and have been a loyal fan since their first show.”
“As I’ve been designing artwork for shirts for a few years now, it’s been a personal goal of mine as an artist to work on shirts for their talent, and I have been lucky enough to have been afforded that opportunity a few times.”
“As an artist who has had very positive experiences working with individuals there, I am honestly very disappointed to see several designs that appear to be AI-generated for some of their major talents.”
“Many AEW talents have graciously worked with incredible fan artists within their own fan community, something that separates them from much of their competition. Using AI-generated art feels like a betrayal of that on some level.”
Meanwhile, merchandise designer and illustrator RNKF spoke about concerns of their own artwork being stolen without her knowledge or consent to train AI art models, saying:
“As impressive as the capabilities of the technology are, the data they’re trained on is unethically obtained from artists globally and then incompetently recycled into soulless pixel soup that may, if for just a glance’s worth of time, resemble a piece of handmade art,”
“The immediate concern for myself as a freelance designer in this same field, is that why would somebody pay me to create something for them, if they could type the request into a text prompt window for free, and maybe even get away with it?”
“I hope the answer is that they would receive such a magnitude of pushback to retire the idea, and the key to the success of that is the general public educating themselves on the characteristics of AI-generated artwork and their (I hope) willingness to call it out.”
When asked for clarification on the genesis of their recent AEW Games merchandise, AEW declined to comment at this time.
Here are full results from the May 10 episode of AEW Dynamite:
Claudio Castagnoli def. Rey Fenix
Miro returned and walked into Tony Khan’s office
An MJF video package mentioned CM Punk – the first time Punk has been mentioned on AEW TV since All Out
Mark Briscoe announced as the special guest referee for FTR vs Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett at Double Or Nothing
Thunder Rosa returned and, like Miro, walked into Tony Khan’s office
Tony Khan says he has a huge announcement next week
Orange Cassidy def. Daniel Garcia to retain the AEW International Championship
Julia Hart def. Anna Jay in a No Holds Barred match
House of Black def. Best Friends & Bandido to retain the AEW World Trios Championship
Jon Moxley def. Kenny Omega in a Steel Cage match after Don Callis turned on Omega and attacked him with a screwdriver
Level up your game with our #AEWgames shirts!
Now Available ➤ https://t.co/4cMAtj8Nq5@AEW @ShopAEW pic.twitter.com/JF8VODzv1x
— AEW Games (@AEWGames) April 26, 2023
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