I spent the morning un-following a bunch of very talented people on Tumblr.
That feels like a really weird thing to say. And it is.
It was nearly a dozen different artists in all, and they were all extremely talented. Part of what moved me to Follow them in the first place was their skill. In…
I agree with this so much. I watch many different people of varying skill level and focus, but the defining thread is that they produce original work and have original stories in their heads. I like young artists a lot for this reason; sometimes the stories aren’t the best but the feeling and brain power behind them is there.
Fanartists can do incredible work too, but as a consumer of art it’s as significant as the difference between eating a meal and eating someone else’s vomit.
I have a huge problem with this.
How do you know they aren’t doing their own work? Believe it or not, about 40% of what I draw is my own original stuff. And only about 10% of that makes it onto my online accounts. Why? Because I’m constantly changing and improving things. Because maybe I feel like I want it to be the very best it can be before I show it to the world. It’s a lot less nerve-wracking to showcase fanart even if you just did it for the sake of practice. And even then….what’s wrong with using your fanart to improve? You can learn a LOT from drawing fanart, then when you’re ready, you can start doing your own things. This elitist “I draw my own things, therefor I’m a better artist” idea is bullshit.
The fact that you’re doing your own original work and not posting it is fair, but isn’t it also fair that I don’t know that? Am I supposed to assume that every person that I watch who posts nothing but fanart is someone with deep amazing story ideas and I should just wade through the stuff I hate to get to it a few years from now when they get around to showing it off?
Nor did I say that one shouldn’t draw fanart to improve. Lots of people do. I did. I drew a fuckton of AtLA fanart back when the show was going, and I learned most of the basics of dynamic drawing in the process. What I didn’t do after that was continue to draw fanart constantly to the exclusion of developing my own work.
I don’t think I’m being elitist. I’m not saying that fanart is bad. I love drawing fanart for things that inspire me (I just posted one a few days ago in fact). But, as I said pretty clearly, as a consumer of the art of others, constant unceasing fanart doesn’t inspire me to anything but annoyance. All my favorite artists draw fanart from time to time, but they also all have incredible worlds in their heads that I never want to stop hearing about.
Last, if you’re reading some kind of personal insult into it, then that might be your own guilt speaking. If you want people to recognize you for your original work, then perhaps you should stop worrying about what I do and keep pushing to make that happen.
I agree with Dershing here. It’s not wrong to do fan art, but the returns can only diminish and make the world of entertainment poorer because of it. We live in an age of fan fiction. Entertainment today is strip mining recent popular culture for product with a built-in audience rather than creating new stories. It’s a self-destructive cycle.
Not to mention the legal problem of copyright infringement. Believe me, you do not want to get entangled in legal battles with the likes of Disney. They have enough power to actually rewrite the law in their favor. They’ve cut the people who actually created their properties right out of the copyrights. They’ll take you for everything you have without a second thought.
The stories and characters you grew up with and love should inspire you to create new stories and characters in your own unique voice. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were frustrated that they couldn’t make a James Bond movie, so they came up with a character called Indiana Jones. Imagine if they had just made a Bond movie instead. George R.R. Martin was inspired by The Lord of the Rings to create A Song of Ice and Fire. He could have just written a bunch of Tom Bombadil fan fiction, but what would we have missed out on (I’m aware that Martin started out in non-professional fan publications, but I don’t know whether he ever used other people’s characters).
There is an exception that I should point out though. Re-interpreting well-known stories is a time-honored tradition that has resulted in some great new stories. I recommend The Once and Future King, T.H. White’s re-interpretation of the Arthurian legends. Jim Henson’s Storyteller series and Greek Myths series illuminated and re-examined some of Western Culture’s best-known myths and fairy tales. Of course Walt Disney invented the animated feature film with new versions of classic stories. The difference is one of taking an existing story and retelling it in a unique way versus taking other people’s ideas and piggybacking on them.
Another way of adapting existing work is the basis of all storytelling; re-inventing a story for a new audience. Spirited Away is loosely based on Alice in Wonderland. Ponyo is a new version of The Little Mermaid. Park Chan-Wook’s Old Boy is a new take on The Count of Monte Cristo. A Fistful of Dollars is Sergio Leone’s Western remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.
The world is hungry for stories, guys. You can use the raw material of great stuff you love to create something new. Not only can you, you should.