To Fan Art or Not to Fan Art
It doesn’t bother me that some dislike fan art or feel that it is uncreative or uninspiring. I don’t necessarily agree, but I think those are reasonable-ish viewpoints to an extent. What bothers me is when people go the next step and say it is not even art or shouldn’t be done because it doesn’t contribute or say anything. It bothers me when people say art has to be this or that and have this purpose and have some singular drive behind it. Why? Says who?
I do not understand why people have to force these lofty ideals on what art is. To say to people “Hey, you aren’t an artist, because your art is not doing what I think it should be doing” is such an incredibly pretentious notion to me. Why can’t art just be for FUN for some people? Why can’t the joy of creating it be enough?
Personally I feel like, just because something is “original” doesn’t make it intrinsically any more creative than fan art. There is plenty of original art that is pretty dull derivative stuff that’s not saying much, and on the other hand there is some fanart that is incredibly imaginative and interesting, Kizer’s stuff for instance takes pop culture characters and re-contextualizes them
it tells a story and it’s goddam beautiful. Does art need to be even MORE than that? What about professionals who for instance work on established characters in comics? Is that not art because they didn’t create the character? Or does getting paid make them artists? If a person drawing Spider-Man for fun is not an artist and a person who gets paid to draw Spider-Man is, then that would mean art for profit is a more elevated purpose than art for fun? If you’re going to draw the line you have to start making all these kind of distinctions. Personally, I think it’s all art no matter why you’re doing it, no distinctions necessary.
I do a lot of fan art myself. Definitely a lot of Adventure Time stuff, the style is fun to recreate and I feel like I actually learn a lot in doing it. It doesn’t put a damper on my creativity either, if anything working on some random Adventure Time gif often gives me ideas of my own or at the very least helps me figure out or refine a technique that I can use for later in my original work.
That’s not the point though. The point is, if people want to draw their favorite characters or their favorite styles, and that’s all they want to do and they have fun doing it… that’s okay. Their fun does no harm to you or art itself. There’s no mandate on what art is for. And if you simply want to encourage people to create more original work, that’s definitely a noble cause, but outright insulting people and telling them their creations are of little worth is probably only going to inspire them to do anything but have a negative opinion of you.
Look, I’d be lying if I said that when I see someone who’s really talented and all they do is fanart that I don’t wish I could see them doing some more original work. But I would never tell them what they should and shouldn’t be creating, and I’d definitely never tell someone they’re not an artist. If you believe what you do is art then you are an artist, and nobody can take that away from you, because they don’t own art. Art is for anyone and everyone and you can do with it whatever you want, that’s the cool thing about art! Make whatever you want for whatever reason!
If you feel yourself about to tell others that what they love is not valid or worthwhile, just remember the great wisdom of The Dude.