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e621 bans "explicit young human and human-like content"

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Mostly-furry imageboard e621 has banned explicit art of human and essentially human children:

Due to challenges stemming from changes in the political and legal environment, both offline and online, we have had to adjust our content guidelines to preserve access to our site. As a result, any content featuring young human or humanoid characters in explicit situations is now prohibited and will be deleted. This change also applies retroactively, and we have already removed all existing submissions featuring such content.

Administrator NotMeNotYou later clarified that "busineses partners" had demanded the change, which related to their ability to make money, and that on-site adverts were not the issue:

There is no single law we can point to as the tipping point, and while we were sitting pretty unaffected by most things, the same can't be said to a bunch of our business partners who did not appreciate the heat we attract. And since we can't function in a vacuum we have had to adjust.

Things change, they were okay with it previously and now they aren't. They want to continue making money and we're stuck with the consequences. And no we can't just stop business with them, there's no way in hell we would be able to cover the gap that would cause, be it donations or otherwise.

Guess what put pressure on some of our partners? That's right, governments.

Guess who would like to continue doing business in places where those governments are? That's right, our business partners.

romaniaglory said:
The last thing you ever wanted to admit was censoring your website to appease advertisers.

Nah, all our ads are handled directly by us and as far as I am aware none of them had any issue with the contents we host.

Meow on the Menu

Michele Light has spent years working to become one of the most recognizable furry artists working today. Now she’s turned her attention to a special project: Creating a series of sexy feline acrylic standees. Meet the Kitty Cat Cafe. “All my standees are solid acrylic, with an upright two-sided image secured to a thick base, which is custom fit to that particular image. All the artworks are my original creations, the actual standee production is handled by a third party in the UK. They have produced all my standees so far, and their work has been exemplary. All of the art for the initial five standees in this campaign have been submitted and proofed and are ready for production.” From now through June 21st, there’s a Kickstarter campaign to get the initial run created. It’s already (far!) surpassed its goal, but take a look to see what designs are available.


image c. 2024 by Michele Light

Scroll Out the Furries

Another artist we met at Furry Weekend Atlanta works in an altogether different media: Carved wood puzzles. Scrolling Fantasy creates intricate wooden puzzles in a wide variety of designs — animals and otherwise. They proudly proclaim that their creations a made using a scroll-saw and staining — no computers or laser cutters involved. Their designs come from in house and every corner of the globe. Look at their web site to see what we mean.


image c. 2024 by Scrolling Fantasy

World of Color

Katy Lipscomb is an artist we met at Furry Weekend Atlanta. We were immediately impressed with her use of color while working in a variety of media. “Whether finding color in the most unexpected places or finding magic in the smallest of moments, Katy has always had an artistic eye for the world around her. Now, acting as the head of her own design firm, Katy shares the creatures she creates on almost every platform imaginable, from Children’s Books to Augmented Reality.” Her web site includes a store with lots of her art available in prints, on stickers, and as a very wide variety of illustrated bookmarks.


image c. 2024 by Katy Lipscomb

Where’s Kuzco When You Need Him?

It’s always fun to come across a skilled artist with a unique and readily identifiable style. Sita Cardenas (or Retronerd as they call themselves) certainly fits that bill. We met them at WonderCon last month. Their specialty is fan art of gaming, anime, and comic book characters drawn in a distinctive style based on classical Aztec art. You’ve never seen the like! Look at their web site to see what we mean. They offer their art on pins, stickers, coffee mugs, and other cool items — not to mention they sell originals too.


image c. 2024 by Sita Cardenas

Mary E. Lowd defrocked as Furlandia guest of honor for embracing AI art

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Furlandia logo by Kitsumi Furlandia announced on February 23 that Ursa Major Award-winning furry author Mary E. Lowd was removed as a guest of honor, citing her use of artificial intelligence to create her work’s cover art and the ensuing backlash.

Despite the strong response to her use of AI, the announcement’s second paragraph seemed to suggest that Furlandia is neutral on AI art itself:

Dear Furlandia Community,

Earlier this week we made the difficult decision to remove our Writing Guest of Honor for 2024, Mary E. Lowd. This is a decision we do not make lightly, and is all the more difficult for us as they have been a long time supporter of Furlandia. So why have we done this? It comes down to their decision to use AI-generated art as a tool in the creation of things such as book covers, the professional backlash that has accompanied it, and the general attitude towards this topic in the fandom.

Undoubtedly the topic of AI-generated art is incredibly divisive and controversial in our fandom at this time, and a lot of people have very strong opinions about it. We’ve made this decision not to push a particular opinion, but because our goal is to bring people together to celebrate the furry fandom, of which artists are the undeniable backbone. Continuing with Mary as a [Guest of Honor] would have made the people understandably uncomfortable and that’s not something we want. This is not an easy thing for any convention to have to do and we hope anyone who’s disappointed will understand.

Thank you,
Furlandia Executive Staff

Tagging and filtering as an alternative to content bans

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A meme picture about tagging shielding people from annoying interests.It was one of those strange coincidences that makes one think that, if there were a god, he must have a strange sense of humour. Salman Rushdie, who was the target of a 1989 fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini that called for his death due to his novel The Satanic Verses and who lost sight in one of his eyes after being stabbed on stage in the US last year, warned that never in his lifetime had freedom of expression been under such a threat in the West. Less than a week later, Fur Affinity announced a new rule banning adult artwork of characters with childlike proportions, later calling out specific pokémon and digimon. I have already written about the importance of free speech for the furry fandom, so here I would like to discuss how increasing authoritarianism is restricting free expression and a simple way to help safeguard it.

Fur Affinity expands rules against "youthful appearing" characters in adult works to Pokemon and Digimon characters

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On May 19th Fur Affinity had announced that it will expand the rules toward banning portrayals of youthful appearing characters, even if the character is addressed as being older in universe, engaging in sexual situations to include digimon and pokemon characters. While situations that portrayed actual young anthro characters in sex (known colloquially as cub porn) had been banned 13 years ago, there were elements of gray area on characters that are determined as mature in age, but younger in appearance that were later expanded upon. This update is a furthering of that expansion.

In the announcement Fur Affinity had noted that there is a method for artists who have posted works that may be in this gray area to discover how they would be handled by submitting trouble tickets against it.

If you have questions as to whether this may apply to your content, please feel free to open a ticket under “NSFW Underage Content” with links to the content in question, and we can verify if the content is in violation or not.

Artists have been informed that the amendment will start to be enforced on July 1st.

AI Art Part 2: What kind of world do we want?

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In the second part of this piece, we will consider the rise of AI-generated art from a more subjective point of view, focusing on its ethical and societal implications. In the first part found here, we went over why AI models do not store and reproduce exact copies of the artworks they have been trained on.

Thank you to 'Yote, who has a PhD in computational biology, for providing feedback and fact-checking for this article.

AI Art Part 1: How it works

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If you have any involvement with the furry fandom – and if you're reading this, you probably do – you will have seen a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the past few weeks/months, particularly about AI-generated art. What you'll also have seen is that most of this talk has been characterised by fear and anger. Several furry websites and organisations, such as Inkbunny, Fur Affinity and the Furry Writers' Guild, have all issued statements or updated their policies to ban AI-generated content or aspects thereof.

As a largely artistic community and given that AI-generated content threatens the status quo, this is completely understandable. The objections to AI art have been numerous; some rely on nebulous and abstract concepts such as AI art being emotionless, some consider it unfair to artists who have put effort into learning their skills and others have chosen to focus on the economic aspects of competing against AI. Anti-AI sentiment has grown in the art community and spilled off of the internet in the form of legal challenges against several companies involved in providing AI art services.

It would be out of scope of this text to address every single argument for or against AI. Instead, I would like to focus on two aspects of the debate; one which is objective and one which is subjective. The first, objective, aspect is what AI is and how it works. This is important because it's difficult to have a proper discussion about the technology when it is misunderstood – and I think that most discussion around AI fundamentally misunderstands how it works. The second, subjective, aspect involves copyright and the ethics of training AI. This is a question about the sort of world in which we wish to live and how we should treat one another. I feel that these two questions are the most important ones for deciding how AI will fit into our world. Hopefully, I can correct some misconceptions about how AI works and put forward a view of the world which others will find appealing as well.

Due to the length of this article, it has been split in two. The second part will address the social and ethical aspects of AI-generated art.

Thank you to 'Yote, who has a PhD in computational biology, for providing feedback and fact-checking for this article.

Furries and Fungus

Recently we made a trip to this year’s Lightbox animation industry trade-show in Pasadena, California. We met a lot of very cool and talented artists, including Shawn E. Russell. Here’s how her web site describes her: “Shawn is a wildlife and imaginative realism artist specializing in creating detailed depictions of animals melded with plants and fungi in symbiotic relationships… Shawn has worked with independent board game creators, food & beverage packaging, & private art collectors. She offers her personal work for sale online and at art fairs, comic/anime conventions across the US where she enjoys connecting with fans, collectors, and clients in person.” As you can see, the artist works a lot in highly detailed black-and-white. If you happen to find yourself in Terre Haute, Indiana, make sure to visit their personal gallery called Seek.


image c. 2022 by Shawn E. Russell

Fur Affinity bans artworks generated by artificial intelligence programs

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On September 5th, Fur Affinity announced it will not be accepting art works that are generated by artificial intelligence programs. Recently computer algorithm generated artwork has come under much discussion as machine learning applications such as DALL-E have shown the ability to take obscure prompts and create art pieces based on them.

Content created by artificial intelligence is not allowed on Fur Affinity.

AI and machine learning applications (DALL-E, Craiyon) sample other artists' work to create content. That content generated can reference hundreds, even thousands of pieces of work from other artists to create derivative images.

Our goal is to support artists and their content. We don’t believe it’s in our community’s best interests to allow AI generated content on the site.

Dragoneer indicated in a Twitter statement on how blatant these programs are in assimilating the pieces of other artists as their own. He pointed to an example of a signature placed on a piece giving evidence of those that the program sampled from.

We made the decision to ban AI generated content on FA. I know a lot of people are asking, "but what about..."

Look, the AI-generated "art" is openly copying the signatures of the artists and teams it's sampling from. Maybe even from somebody you know. It's too much. - Dragoneer

Interview with Niic the Singing Dog - New album, Escape, on the way!

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With a new album on the way, I had an opportunity to speak with a furry musician who has been creating musical content for the furry fandom for nearly a decade. Below is an interview I had with NIIC the Singing Dog, and his upcoming collection.

Thank you for interviewing with us! Who are you and what do you do? Describe yourself in a few sentences.

Hey hey! My name is Kyle McCarthy, but I'm wayyy better know as NIIC, or NIIC the Singing Dog. I am a furry singer-songwriter-producer from New York City, and my genre is a pop-hybrid of electronic and folk. I write and perform songs, collaborate with other awesome furry artists, and make my own album art and photography when I can!

'Shine', 'Awoo!' take 2021 Ursa Major Awards by landslides; K. Garrison wins three

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The results of the 2021 Ursa Major Awards were announced this Sunday, with motivated fan-bases driving decisive voting in certain categories, while others were finely balanced.

Littlefur/adult baby slice-of-life comic Shine by UK artist Star ran off with Best Graphic Story; coming second was a remake of Found, another of her works under the name Toddlergirl. Both had seen strong support in last years' Ursa Major Awards.

'Awoo!: Volume 1' Likewise, AC Stuart's Awoo!: Volume 1 (on Amazon) stormed the opposition for Best Other Literary Work, with four more first-preference votes than the other four nominees put together.

Netting twice the points of the next nominee for Dramatic Short Work was Frank Behring's "Nobody Does It Better", derived from Best Comic Strip Carry On. Artist Kathy Kellogg (KD Nightstar) also took Best Published Illustration for "A World of Our Own" — beating all other nominees by 50%.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale - Heartful, Artful, and another anthro 2021 Game that's wonderful

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Chicory.jpgWhile 2021 was a pretty crappy year overall, for anthro gaming titles it was certainly a renaissance. It also did an excellent job curb stomping my 2018 statements that visual novels seem to be the genre of choice for anthro game developers. In 2021 we had a Metroid-vania mixed with a brawler in Ursa Nominated FIST. We had an isometric top-down combat adventure in Ursa Nominated Death’s Door. Now we have a game that is a narrative and art focused 2D grid exploration and creativity game in Chircoy: A Colorful Tale. Unfortunately this one didn’t get a nomination, because I would not have complained if it did.

This game is interestingly one I would recommend to furries who are artists more than gamers. While it doesn’t require being an artist by any means, and traditional gamers would be able to complete the story just fine, the narrative has more reflection on the power of being a creative type and the stress of societal expectations that comes with artistic pursuits. Imposter syndrome, having people demand things from you for exposure, and other such tropes in the artist world are addressed through your character’s trials.

There is a full world to explore and color to your heart’s content and it's more about the journey than the conflict. But there is no art without some struggle. While your character named after your favorite dish may have started their adventure wanting to wield the magic brush of this world, heavy is the hand who wields.

To avoid spoilers stop reading at Art within the Art