Developer(s)Midjourney, Inc.
Initial releaseJuly 12, 2022; 13 months ago (2022-07-12) (open beta)
A "mechanical dove" created with the V5 iteration of Midjourney's algorithm

Midjourney is a generative artificial intelligence program and service created and hosted by San Francisco-based independent research lab Midjourney, Inc. Midjourney generates images from natural language descriptions, called "prompts", similar to OpenAI's DALL-E and Stable Diffusion.[1][2]

The tool is currently in open beta, which it entered on July 12, 2022.[3] The Midjourney team is led by David Holz, who co-founded Leap Motion.[4] Holz told The Register in August 2022 that the company was already profitable.[5] Users create artwork with Midjourney using Discord bot commands.[6]


Midjourney, Inc. was founded in San Francisco, California by David Holz,[7] previously co-founder of Leap Motion.[8] The Midjourney image generation platform first entered open beta on July 12, 2022.[3] However, on March 14, 2022, the Discord server launched with a request to post high-quality photographs to Twitter/Reddit for system's training.

Model versions

The company has been working on improving its algorithms, releasing new model versions every few months. Version 2 of their algorithm was launched in April 2022[9] and version 3 on July 25.[10] On November 5, 2022, the alpha iteration of version 4 was released to users[11][12] and on March 15, 2023, the alpha iteration of version 5 was released.[13] The 5.1 model is more 'opinionated' than version 5, applying more of its own stylization to images, while the 5.1 RAW model adds improvement while working better with more literal prompts. After version 5.2 is released with a increasingly better image quality.

Regular models
Version Release date
V1 February 2022[14]
V2 April 12, 2022[9]
V3 July 25, 2022[10]
V4 November 5, 2022 (alpha)[11]
V5 March 15, 2023 (alpha)[13]
V5.1 May 3, 2023[15]
V5.2 June 22, 2023[16]
Other models
Version Release date Notes
--beta August 22, 2022
test/testp August 28, 2022
Niji December 20, 2022 Collaboration between Midjourney and Spellbrush
tuned to produce anime and illustrative styles
Niji 5 April 2, 2023


Midjourney is currently only accessible through a Discord bot on their official Discord server, by direct messaging the bot, or by inviting the bot to a third party server. To generate images, users use the /imagine command and type in a prompt;[17] the bot then returns a set of four images. Users may then choose which images they want to upscale. Midjourney is also working on a web interface.[citation needed]


Founder David Holz says he sees artists as customers, not competitors of Midjourney. Holz told The Register that artists use Midjourney for rapid prototyping of artistic concepts to show to clients before starting work themselves.[5] Some artists have accused Midjourney of devaluing original creative work by using it in the training set;[18] Midjourney's terms of service includes a DMCA takedown policy, allowing artists to request their work to be removed from the set if they believe copyright infringement to be evident.[19]

The advertising industry has been quick to embrace AI tools such as Midjourney, DALL-E, and Stable Diffusion, among others. The tools, which enable advertisers to create original content and brainstorm ideas quickly are providing new opportunities such as "custom ads created for individuals, a new way to create special effects, or even making e-commerce advertising more efficient", according to Ad Age.[20]

Architects have described using the software to generate mood boards for the early stages of projects, as an alternative to searching Google Images.[21]

Notable usage and controversy

Théâtre d'Opéra Spatial, a Midjourney image that won first prize in a digital art competition
Image from Alice and Sparkle, a children's book illustrated by Midjourney. TIME describes this image as "showing the limits of the AI-powered technology. The illustration has several apparent flaws, including the character appearing to have claws."[22]
A Midjourney-created image of Donald Trump being arrested that went viral in March 2023[23]

The program was used by the British magazine The Economist to create the front cover for an issue in June 2022.[24][25] In Italy, the leading newspaper Corriere della Sera published a comic created with Midjourney by writer Vanni Santoni in August 2022.[26] Charlie Warzel used Midjourney to generate two images of Alex Jones for Warzel's newsletter in The Atlantic. The use of an AI-generated cover was criticised by people who felt it was taking jobs from artists. Warzel called his action a "mistake" in an article about his decision to use generated images.[27] Last Week Tonight with John Oliver included a 10-minute segment on Midjourney in an episode broadcast in August 2022.[28][29]

A Midjourney image called Théâtre d'Opéra Spatial won first place in the digital art competition at the 2022 Colorado State Fair. Jason Allen, who wrote the prompt that led Midjourney to generate the image, printed the image onto a canvas and entered it into the competition using the name "Jason M. Allen via Midjourney". Other digital artists were upset by the news.[18] Allen was unapologetic, insisting that he followed the competition's rules. The two category judges were unaware that Midjourney used AI to generate images, although they later said that had they known this, they would have awarded Allen the top prize anyway.[30]

In December 2022, Midjourney was used to create the images in an AI-generated children's book in the span of a weekend. Titled Alice and Sparkle, the book features a young girl who builds a robot that becomes self-aware. The creator, Ammaar Reeshi, spent hours tweaking Midjourney prompts, rejecting hundreds of generated results to ultimately choose 13 illustrations for the book.[31] Both the product and process drew criticism: "the main problem... is that it was trained off of artists’ work. It’s our creations, our distinct styles that we created, that we did not consent to being used," one artist wrote.[32]

In 2023, the realism of AI-based text-to-image generators, such as Midjourney, DALL-E, or Stable Diffusion,[33][34] reached such a high level that it led to a significant wave of viral AI-generated photos. Widespread attention was gained by a Midjourney-generated photo of Pope Francis wearing a white puffer coat,[35][36] the fictional arrest of Donald Trump,[37] and a hoax of an attack on the Pentagon,[38] as well as the usage in professional creative arts.[39][40]

Research has suggested that the images Midjourney generates can be biased.[41] For example, even "neutral" prompts in one study returned unequal results on the aspects of gender, skin color, and location.

Content moderation and censorship in Midjourney

Prior to May 2023, Midjourney implemented a moderation mechanism predicated on a "banned words" system. This method prohibited the use of language associated with explicit content, such as sexual or pornographic themes, as well as extreme violence. Moreover, the system also banned certain individual words including religious and political figures such as "Allah" or "Xi Jinping". This practice occasionally stirred controversy due to perceived instances of censorship within the Midjourney platform.[42][43]

Commencing in May 2023, with subsequent updates post version 5, Midjourney transitioned to an "AI-powered" content moderation system. This advanced mechanism allowed for a more nuanced interpretation of user prompts by analyzing them in their entirety. It consequently facilitated the context-dependent use of words that had previously been prohibited. For instance, users can now prompt the AI to generate a portrait of "Xi Jinping". However, the system will prevent the generation of contentious images, such as depictions of global leaders, including Xi Jinping, in situations of arrest.[44]


On January 13, 2023, three artists – Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz – filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt, claiming that these companies have infringed the rights of millions of artists, by training AI tools on five billion images scraped from the web, without the consent of the original artists.[45]

The legal action was initiated in San Francisco by attorney Matthew Butterick in partnership with the Joseph Saveri Law Firm, the same team challenging Microsoft, GitHub, and OpenAI (developer of ChatGPT and DALL-E 2) in court.

In July 2023, U.S. District Judge William Orrick inclined to dismiss most of the lawsuit filed by Andersen, McKernan, and Ortiz but allowed them to file a new complaint.[46]

Subscription service

Midjourney had three subscription tiers which included a trial good for 25 image generations, but the company withdrew it citing high demand and misuse.[47] Currently Midjourney costs between $10 and $60 per month, depending on the plan.[48]

See also


  1. ^ "Huge "foundation models" are turbo-charging AI progress". The Economist. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  2. ^ Hertzmann, Aaron. "Give this AI a few words of description and it produces a stunning image – but is it art?". The Conversation. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  3. ^ a b @midjourney (July 12, 2022). "We're officially moving to open-beta! Join now at discord.gg/midjourney. **Please read our directions carefully** or check out our detailed how-to guides here: midjourney.gitbook.io/docs. Most importantly, have fun!" (Tweet). Retrieved August 31, 2022 – via Twitter.
  4. ^ Rose, Janus (July 18, 2022). "Inside Midjourney, The Generative Art AI That Rivals DALL-E". Vice.
  5. ^ a b Claburn, Thomas (August 1, 2022). "Holz, founder of AI art service Midjourney, on future images". The Register. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  6. ^ Hachman, Mark (July 26, 2022). "Midjourney's enthralling AI art generator goes live for everyone". PCWorld. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  7. ^ Salkowitz, Rob (2022-09-16). "Midjourney Founder David Holz On The Impact Of AI On Art, Imagination And The Creative Economy". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  8. ^ Vincent, James (2022-08-02). ""An engine for the imagination": an interview with David Holz, CEO of AI image generator Midjourney". The Verge. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  9. ^ a b @midjourney (2022-04-18). "We recently started testing a V2 algorithm, it's much better with characters and animals" (Tweet). Retrieved 2023-03-19 – via Twitter.
  10. ^ a b @midjourney (2022-07-25). "Today we're starting to test our V3 image generation algorithms" (Tweet). Retrieved 2023-03-19 – via Twitter.
  11. ^ a b "David Holz on the official Midjourney Discord server". Discord. 2022-11-05. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  12. ^ "Midjourney v4 greatly improves the award-winning image creation AI". TechSpot. Retrieved 2022-11-17.
  13. ^ a b "Midjourney V5 Creates Better Images, Fewer Nightmare Hands". HowToGeek. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
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  15. ^ Collins, Barry (2023-05-03). "Midjourney 5.1 Arrives - And It's Another Leap Forward For AI Art". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-05-05.
  16. ^ Edwards, Benj (23 June 2023). ""Stunning"—Midjourney update wows AI artists with camera-like feature". Ars Technica. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  17. ^ Becker, Isaac Stanley (March 30, 2023). "How a tiny company with few rules is making fake images go mainstream". The Washington Post. ((cite web)): |first2= missing |last2= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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  22. ^ "He Made A Children's Book Using AI. Artists Are Not Happy". Time. 2022-12-14. Retrieved 2023-08-19.
  23. ^ Photos créées par des IA : une bascule vertigineuse et dangereuse, Jonathan Bouchet-Petersen, 31 March 2023, Libération.
  24. ^ "How a computer designed this week's cover". The Economist. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  25. ^ Liu, Gloria (21 June 2022). "DALL-E 2 Made Its First Magazine Cover". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  26. ^ Bozzi, Ida (2022-08-26). "Su "La Lettura", Highsmith inedita e le città che mutano". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  27. ^ "I Went Viral in the Bad Way". Galaxy Brain. 2022-08-17. Retrieved 2022-08-31.
  28. ^ SFGATE, Dan Gentile (August 16, 2022). "John Oliver is weirdly popular on this SF-based AI image app". SFGATE. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  29. ^ Brathwaite, Lester Fabian (August 29, 2022). "John Oliver marries a cabbage in ceremony officiated by Steve Buscemi on 'Last Week Tonight'". EW.com. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  30. ^ Roose, Kevin (September 2, 2022). "An A.I.-Generated Picture Won an Art Prize. Artists Aren't Happy". The New York Times. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
  31. ^ Stokel-Walker, Chris (13 December 2022). "A Tech Worker Is Selling A Children's Book He Made Using AI. Professional Illustrators Are Pissed". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  32. ^ Popli, Nic (14 December 2022). "He Used AI to Publish a Children's Book in a Weekend. Artists Are Not Happy About It". Time. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  33. ^ Verma, Pranshu; Schaul, Kevin. "See why AI like ChatGPT has gotten so good, so fast". Washington Post. Retrieved 2023-05-28.
  34. ^ "Will AI-generated images create a new crisis for fact-checkers? Experts are not so sure". Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. 2023-04-11. Retrieved 2023-05-28.
  35. ^ Novak, Matt. "That Viral Image Of Pope Francis Wearing A White Puffer Coat Is Totally Fake". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-05-28.
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  38. ^ Oremus, Will; Harwell, Drew; Armus, Teo (2023-05-22). "A tweet about a Pentagon explosion was fake. It still went viral". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-05-28.
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  43. ^ McFadden, Christopher (2023-04-03). "Midjourney will no longer let you generate images of Xi Jinping". interestingengineering.com. Retrieved 2023-05-21.
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  48. ^ "Midjourney Pricing". midjourneyaiapp.org. Retrieved 2023-06-26.