FANART, YOU SAY?
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.
SO WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM WITH 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.
SO WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, THEN? PEOPLE CAN POST WHATEVER THEY WANT!
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.
OK, SO FANART IS THE DECLINE OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT. BUT I'M NOT GOING TO STOP POSTING MY FAVORITE HOMESTUCK OR ANIME FANART. SO WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?
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?
YEAH, OKAY. SO NOW WHAT?
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!