Case Study
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How uses Salad to reduce cloud costs and fund artists

Image generation interface in

Using AI to fund artists

If you've spent any time on the internet in the last few months, two things will be everywhere.

  1. ChatGPT and how it's automating knowledge-based work
  2. Stable Diffusion and how it's automating creative-based work

As with any new technology, there will always be affected parties. In Stable Diffusion's case, it directly impacts artists by generating (incredible) art faster than the human hand can ever create. 

Does this mean artists will go away? Definitely not. The AI models are still trained on human-generated art (ex, image, video, voice, music, etc). There will always be a market for original art. But make no mistake - Stable Diffusion generated art will replace a big chunk of human-generated art.

Now Shawn Rushefsky,'s founder, has set out to bridge this gap and give back to the community that's both helped train Stable Diffusion (SD) models and is being affected by it: Artists.

In founder Shawn's words, "We are funneling money from this new controversial industry into the population that's being affected by it". In this interview, Shawn talks about, their use of the Salad GPU Cloud, his motivation behind starting the company and more.

Salad: What is DreamUp and what was your motivation to start DreamUp?

Shawn: "DreamUp is a Stable Diffusion powered image-generation application that's quickly racked up 2k+ users in 15+ countries. It originally started as just a way to make art. But soon we realized that there are so many similar platforms and we were just being one of them"

Salad: That's true. There's a new stable diffusion platform coming out every week. So what makes DreamUp different from others?

Shawn: "We recently became a non-profit organization. 30% of our revenue goes to a different public art fund every month. In Feb, it was Tone Memphis, a Black Artists Collective. In March, we are donating to the National Association of Women in Arts. Our difference is our mission - to give money back to the artistic community through Stable Diffusion. We also want to make art more accessible - and affordable - to people with conditions like Aphantasia and arthritis"

An image generated in using GPUs on Salad Cloud
An image generated in running on Salad Container Engine (SCE)

Salad: We see that DreamUp offers unlimited image generation today. Can you elaborate on that decision?

Shawn: Sure. It's mostly just to make this technology easily accessible. Today, most of the SD tools use a credit model. To me, micro-transactions aren't the right way to make art accessible to people. Every single time you have to top-up credits, it disincentivizes you from learning. That's why we offer unlimited generation, now and forever.

Salad: How is Salad helping in bringing unlimited AI-generated art to the masses?

Shawn: "Your team reached out to me on Discord asking if I wanted to lower my cloud bills. Every generative AI developer today wants to, as these services can be very expensive to operate. Salad's GPU pricing is much better than everywhere else. The next best option was not even close. That's the real winner for me. Salad affords us to keep DreamUp free and unlimited".

Salad: That's always music to our ears. What models are you running on Salad?

Shawn: Every time there's a new model, we work to bring it into DreamUp. Stable Diffusion is standard but there are so many new ones - like Nitro Diffusion, Foto Assisted Diffusion, wooletize where every image is made of yarn, etc. Salad makes it more realistic to keep up with deploying these new models. We might never deploy most of them if we had to pay AWS cost for them"

An image generated in running on Salad Cloud is able to incorporate new & specialized models easily thanks to Salad Cloud's low GPU prices.

Salad: Anything else you like or we can improve upon?

Shawn: Of course. The team is extremely responsive on your Discord. The Beta version is missing some production-readiness features like observability today. But for how much we save on cost on Salad, we're happy to run on Salad in its current state knowing new features are coming in the next few weeks. 

Salad: You mentioned Recipes of popular models. As an open-source developer yourself, what's your take on that?

Shawn: Every developer I know wishes they could spend more time on Open Source Development (OSD). The entire modern world is built on it. But open source devs not getting paid is definitely a problem. It would be good to have more decentralized methods of funding OSD, versus relying on large corporate sponsors as in projects like React. I think your model of paying open source devs whenever their code gets deployed on Salad Cloud is pretty cool. It would definitely make open source development a viable way of living.

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About is a project by the Foundation for Technology in the Arts, and we believe that AI-generated art is art, pure and simple. And we believe all artists should have access to the tools they need to create it. Our mission is to make Generative AI accessible to all, so everyone can unleash their creativity and bring more art into the world. We're a nonprofit that operates on a pay-what-you-want basis, and we donate 30% of our proceeds to charities that support the arts.