Fan art is real art

Changing people’s minds about the importance of fan art

Illustration by Mia Eshima

I am an avid amateur digital artist. I started digital art about two years ago, and today I can often doodle with Procreate on my iPad Pro; my favorite art app of all time. For me, art is the best creative outlet because there are no limits to what can be created.

Unfortunately, as a full-time student, I don’t have all the free time I want to draw, but I’ve started illustrating for Seattle Pacific University’s student newspaper, The Falcon. My work has been featured in feature and perspective articles as well as The Falcon’s Instagram page. However, when I’m not doing illustrations for SPU’s sole news outlet, I pursue a very different form of artistic expression: fan art.

I’ve made fan art of characters from games, movies, and even real people like Harry Styles. I’m just one of thousands of artists who both specialize in creating fan art and are eager to enjoy it.

However, this hobby is not without criticism.

Many people believe that fan art should not be counted as true art because the content it depicts is not original and supposedly takes away the entire character/theme design process from the artist. Those who are extremely critical of fan art sometimes call it cowardly because of the artist’s reliance on replicating rather than creating something new. In addition, fan art is also considered too easy to make and lacks the true style or personality of the artist.

All of these claims have led to a major debate as to whether or not fan art should be considered legitimate artwork. For me, fan art is absolutely part of real art.

Learning art is not easy, even if I do it just for fun. I still had to develop artistic skills like knowledge of anatomy, where to put shadows or highlights, and I had to experiment with several digital art programs before finding the ones I liked best.

Furthermore, the whole process of creating art doesn’t get faster or easier just because the subject isn’t always original. In fact, sometimes it can be more difficult when the subject I’m referring to has a lot of detail in its design, while making an original character as simple as I want.

While most fan-made artwork is inspired by pop culture figures, it would be wrong to say that an artist’s style or personality cannot be represented in their work. An important part of being an artist is finding and developing your own style or a drawing method that the artist feels most comfortable with. One of the easiest ways to find a style is to create fan art, as it forces artists to consider, interpret, and recreate different subjects.

I can easily say from experience that it is extremely difficult to copy someone else’s art style line by line unless tracing the original, which is plagiarism. Also, trying to perfectly replicate another artist’s work takes all the fun out of drawing. Drawing is about creating works of art based on your own interpretation and creativity.

Draw This Your Style art challenges are a great example of fan art that serves as an outlet for artists to show off their artistic skills. The challenge is for a group of artists to recreate a character or scenario in their own unique art style. It’s a great way to see how character designs and methods differ between artists.

Fan art is not intended to create imitation artworks, but instead show appreciation for different franchises and aspects of pop culture. It’s a way for fans to connect through their interests, develop their artistic skills, and appreciate each other’s hard work. Fan art keeps these fandoms alive and helps creators connect with people enjoying their creations.

Fan art is undoubtedly another way to express your creativity. Being able to make great fan art is just as impressive as creating original art because both types of art require skill and patience. Fan art allows creators to showcase their creative abilities in the form of popular characters and franchises, and I can assure everyone that no artist would ever attempt to replicate the original subject line line by line.

My advice to aspiring artists is this: if you’re running out of drawing ideas, just make fan art of something you like. It is still valid artwork.

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