Fan art or fanart are artworks created by fans of a work of fiction (generally visual media such as comics, movies, television shows, or video games) and derived from a character or other aspect of that work. As fan labor, fan art refers to artworks that are neither created nor (normally) commissioned or endorsed by the creators of the work from which the fan art derives. (source: wikipedia)
If you’re an artist, chances are you have done fan art in some way or another, for most of us that is how and why we got interested in art in the first place! So, just to make it clear—fan art is good! And there’s no shame in expressing your love for something by creating its fan art. I do it all the time, because I’m a fanboy!
So, if it’s all fine and dandy, what’s the problem?
Well, we’ll get to that but let’s not talk about fan art for a moment, instead let’s talk about art thefts! (Trust me, it is to explain the context, and to rant over, a bit.)
Art theft is not a new thing, people have been forging art for a long, long time; oh, btw, this happened recently.
Anyway, so if you’re an artist or if you follow other artists on social media, you must have heard them screaming about their work being stolen or printed or copied by someone without their consent. It’s wrong, but with the internet and the ease of printing media, art theft is becoming super easy thing to do.
In fact, you don’t have to paint anything now, you can just print and sell! And you can even claim it as reproductions, like this site. But in the past few years many artists have complained that this site is stealing their work.
And if you’ve been to comic cons, every comic convention have at least one person behind the booth who’s selling a LOT of art prints in various art styles and subject matters, and is clearly not the artist. So, that guy, that’s an art thief.
But then there are some who genuinely don’t know if it is legal or illegal to do that, people think they can download a photo from the internet and print it and sell it, it’s that simple!
And that somehow tangentially brings me back to fan art! Fan art is a complex subject, copyright laws are even more complex-er! #intensity
In a nutshell, you’re stealing art when you take photos from the internet and print that (with or without any superficial manipulation) and sell them without giving credits to AND without permission from the original artist.
This is wrong and you will get into trouble, unless you are some sleazy businessman selling stolen shit in the guise of art and your last name rhymes with Thirst.
Fan art, if follows the above pattern, is also stealing art. In most cases, fan art is created from scratch by an artist who genuinely loves that subject, which does in a way make it their own artwork, because they made it; however, you own the art, you still do not own the thing that is depicted in the art. So technically, this is still stealing. But it’s not this simple, is it?
In another nutshell, all fan art is illegal. But it is not. Or maybe? Like I said, it’s complicated.
But I guess we will all agree that fan art is the single most quickest way to get traction, especially if you’re new, or do not have your own IP established. Plus, it is such a joy to create fan art! It helps us share our love and appreciation for a specific character, or creator, or story.
But let’s focus on the cons, I mean, the cons of doing fan art and not the cons where we sell fan art.
Anyway, the main reason most artists do fan art is to get their name out. That is okay, we all do that. We need people to love our art; we like to show off. It is all good. However, it is possibly not a great idea to invest in fan art, only because of this one reason. I’d say, do it no more! Just because.
I once had a chat with some guy who shared his Doctor Who artwork:
Me: So, another Whovian?
Guy: Na man! Never watched it, doing this for the views and likes.
Me: Like, to get a following?
Guy: Yup, following is important. Getting what’m saying? Ya see, there ain’t many who know me yet.
Me: So you plan to do this like, forever?
Guy: I do this and people know I exist. Not that I want to do it forever, I have my own thing in mind, just not ready yet.
This bad transcript still has some good points:
1. Don’t do it just for the likes.
If you wanna justify, don’t bother; I get it; we want people to see our work, fine. But if you’re doing it just for the likes, you’re not doing it right. I am a DW fanboy, and that guy pissed me off when he said just doing it for the likes. It was an artist-to-artist conversation, yes, I know.
Most fans don’t get this information, but you know, it shows. If you love something, you will be excited to talk about it.
I am a fanboy of many things, and I do a lot of fan art. But I never painted any Game Of Throne stuff, because even if it would get me a lot of views and likes, I know I cannot connect with the fans. Because I haven’t seen Game Of Thrones, or Stranger Things, or even Breaking Bad. I am so behind!
Speaking of GOT, this is the only #sketch I’ve done of that show, but in fact this is not from the show itself. It was from a hilarious gag reel, which I absolutely loved! And who doesn’t love Dinklage, right?
2. A following is important.
Obviously, you need fans. Your fans are your prospective customers. Every business needs customers, and you’re a business. But the thing is, not everyone is your customer. So, yeah, a following is important, but try to get the right kind of following.
Broadly speaking, if you are interested in creating futuristic sci-fi comics, and you want a following, then do not do Game Of Thrones’ fanart if you don’t love it!
Because understand this, most of your new followers will then follow you because they love Game Of Thrones. So unless you keep making Game Of Thrones art, or similar high fantasy stuff, you are good.
Or you may start watching it, so that you start loving it as well. But if it not something you enjoy, then avoid it.
3. Do it forever.
Yes, I know, I am advocating fan art now. Well, I am advocating the right kind of fan art.
See, once a fanboy/fangirl always a fanboy/fangirl. You cannot un-love your fandom. So if you are into this, you are into this for life. And that’s great! It means others are also in it forever. Yeah, people lose interest in stuff but they won’t start hating things.
So, it goes back to that chat. If you’re drawing the Doctor because you love Doctor Who (which you should anyway), then please keep doing it. Because then you will always be excited about drawing the Doctor, and it will show. And people will follow you, because you actually share similar interests. And they might also like your futuristic sci-fi comics.
In short, you have much greater chances of converting a fan into a client, if you are true to your fandom.
Now let’s end this abruptly.
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