Thursday, August 18, 2011



Fanart is simple. It's a drawing of an existing character done by someone who is a fan of that property. Nothing more, nothing less. Everyday, I see a lot of fanart - A LOT of fanart - posted by amateurs and professionals alike. In fact, many people have made their reputations, even careers, essentially on fanart.


I don't really have one. I do it from time to time myself. My problem is the absolute pervasiveness of it. When I log in to Twitter, or Tumblr or any of those, all I seem to see is fanart. People post or link to drawings from Adventure Time, Avatar, video games, or any number of webcomics which I have no earthly clue about. Many (nay, most) of these artists have such tremendous skill and design sense and much of what they post can be downright beautiful or even a jazzy remix that highlights something new about the property.


As artists, we put ourselves out there and place our guts on the page hoping for a positive reaction. What better way to do that than cook a meal that we KNOW is our diner's favorite food? Fanart is a crutch. For many, the recognition is addictive. It validates them. But I really feel that it can be a false validation. It's not a recognition of someone's skill or heart, but merely the statement "Hey! You made a burger! I love burgers!" I have two larger problems with this. For one, I think the constant barrage of fanart will only stunt someone's growth as a creator. It's a fantastic way to start and a great way to learn. Most art school REQUIRE students to copy existing works as a matter of course. But one has to move beyond that at some point and flex their wings and discover what they truly have that's original to offer up. Why keep yourself confined to a limited box?
My second problem is with the world of art and entertainment in general. I always hear the phrase "Hollywood is out of ideas", and I feel it's absolutely true. But can you blame Hollywood? Can you blame publishers? As consumers, haven't we just continued that trend by supporting the latest remake of a forgotten 70's tv show and let our disinterest in a new, original storyline allow it to fall into obscurity? I can't help but feel that fanart is symptomatic of this same thing and in a "butterfly's wing starting a tsunami" sort of way, a contributor to the state of stagnant creativity in a lot of our media.


I don't want anyone to stop creating or posting the things that make them happy! Here's what I DO want. I want FAN ART FREE WEEK. For one week (five business days) I want everyone to ONLY post or link to original art. It can be their own, or someone else's. I think taking a week to challenge ourselves to create original stuff is absolutely okay, don't you? I want to see what you can do that springs from your mind! I want to see the images you really enjoy, and not merely because they are from your favorite show! I want just one week where I am exposed to original art by the original creators. That's all. You can hold off on posting your Thundercats until next week, can't you?


Here's what I'm doing, and I would love it if you joined me! Every day next week (August 22-26) I'm going to post at least an image a day of something original I've done, or something original a fellow artist has done. I'll even be marking everything with the tag FAFW (Fan Art Free Week). If a lot of us do this, think of what new and cool stuff we might discover! And think about who might even see YOUR originality and enjoy it.

Who knows, maybe they'll even *gasp* create fanart of it later!


  1. I love this, I think it's great. GOOD IDEA. It's also actually quite funny for me as I've only ever really drawn my own stuff, but the last two drawings I posted on my blog were 'fan' art (not that I'm a Doc Strange fan, it just looked cool to draw).

    The original idea behind my sketchblog was to do a character drawing every day. My own characters and designs. I get way too busy with work so can't keep to the daily schedule. But it is certainly far more rewarding and fun to come up with your own ideas on a regular basis. It can also be hard sometimes, but that's fun as well, a challenge.

    I hope a lot of people listen to this and do it next week, I would LOVE to see what people come up with.

    All the best,

  2. It bothers me that so many people seem to take issue with fan art. For the mostpart, I see it displayed as a form of art snobbery, and it annoys me.

    Who cares if people draw pictures or whatever of something they're a fan of? Some people seem to have this attitude that someone's fanart work is somehow less good than original stuff, simply because it's fan art. I really feel these people need to get over themselves.

    As Austin Kleon said:

    "We make art because we like art.

    All fiction [or art], in fact, is fan fiction [or fan art]."

    That's right -- no matter WHAT sort of art people make, no matter how original they're trying to be, they're never going to be making it in a vacuum; people will always be making art using their artistic influences and the influences of their life experience, pulling out things they like from these to make art. Always! Even if you're painting a person that you loathe, or a human act that you detest, you're still going to be painting it with the influence of the people's artwork that came before you that you liked (or be consciously trying to stay away from it at best), in which case the influence of what you like is still there.

    All art is fan art. So why does fan art sometimes get a bad rap? Why are some people so quick to turn their nose up at it because it's not original?...

    And on the flip side, how many of the people making "original" stuff will have styles and themes influenced (many of them even, quite obviously) by other artists? Ever single one of them. From cave paintings, to Michelangelo, to Van Gogh, to Frazetta, to Disney, to Tezuka, to Kirby, and beyond, all of those original pieces of art will be influenced by others, just like those artist were influenced by other artists, be they ones that came before them or their contemporaries. Even their best, most original stuff was fan art.

    Be happy that people are making art at all, and (hopefully) enjoying themselves. If and when they want to, maybe after they've had their fun blatantly showing their love for something or other (and maybe have improved their skills while they're at it), they'll move on to something else that you happen to enjoy more. Some of it, to you, may even appear original.

  3. I think you're totally missing the point, ozwalled. Zack pointed out already that he has no problem with fan art. Everything you pointed out in your comment is probably fairly obvious to most people, especially creative people who are always more than happy to list their influences. What is being said is for people to do their best to draw only unique creations for one week. In other words not to draw an image of someone elses character but to draw your own. It's not about trying to be 100% original but about flexing your own creativity. It's easy to draw an existing character, you don't need to think about the design, the character, how they dress etc etc. But it's a bit more difficult to think of something different (I'll avoid using 'original' here).

    It's a fun excercise, not an official damning of fan art.

  4. Not that I have a problem with fanart, but it is hard to filter out in tumblr.. at least I have more control with what I want to see on deviantart, you know?