As an artist, I sometimes face the dilemma or coming up with an original character (aka OC) or drawing some fan art. I enjoy both very much and mostly I come across this issue whenever there is an event to table. There are advantages to both for sure but when it comes down to it, it needs to be a reflection of my particular style art.
There pros to fan art:
- Capitalizing on what’s popular in the entertainment world right now, can be quite lucrative. Make an original art piece of a famous character or singer and make prints of it so you can sell it at a lower price therefore having a better chance of making more off of it.
- You don’t have to brainstorm backgrounds of the character, outfits, hairstyles, human traits, etc. Its already done for you.
- You can really show off your portrait skills this way. Can you replicate a phot really well and add a bit of your own style to it? Drawing fan art can really show off your ability to capture a likeness from a photo which can get you commission work in the future.
- You can develop your style without worrying too much the actual character design. While you still have to pay attention to proportions and likeness, you can get a little more headspace to apply to technique and execution of the picture in your own style. Its a really good reference practice also to study color, poses, clothing wrinkles, etc.
- You can share your own interest in what you like through fan art. If you like certain shows or music and want to really share that with your fans (which fans do like to know more about the people they admire) then you can be more open with them. You can meet others that share a similar interest
Cons to fan art:
- Copyright. That’s a given. You have to worry about copyrighted material and turning it into fan art. This is frustrating to say in the least but I have watched a few conferences from speakers at Comic Con about this subject and they have said (I am paraphrasing) Fan art is an expression of love for these characters. While you can’t make millions and do mass publication of these characters, doing some fan art and making a little bit of money will not land you in jail or with a big fine. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all companies and copyrighted materials. And like a lot of things in life, there are loop holes. Can I set up a table in a smaller art fair with only fan art prints and get arrested? Maybe not. But if you open up a shop in a big city and sell your fan art paintings and make thousands of dollars every month from them, you’ll be found most likely. And I am not a legal advisor, but as someone who has sold fan art before, you do need to be careful.
- Limits imagination for your own original work. This is more of a “it could happen” vice a “this will happen” instance. I.E. if you love a certain franchise and start drawing all the characters from it over and over, you could get stuck in that world. It could hinder your from developing new and original characters (if you are trying to make more originals) There is a chance it could influence your own original characters by using ideas from the fan art you are drawing, which honestly, would be so awesome if that happened!
- Limited clientele. If you only like super heroes for fan art, then you are mostly going to get people that like super heroes purchasing your things. That’s not a bad thing but it does limit on purchases.
- The competition is fierce. Not only are you competing against others that are doing this same fan art, but you are competing against manufactured products made by the bigger companies that have copyright on these characters. And when you capitalize on something that is popular, you are competing against a lot of other products. And while your fan art piece may be wonderful and awesome, it won’t have the advertising and mass production of the store products.
Pros to OC:
- Its your own character. You make this all your own and you have the chance too truly express yourself and your style
- You can draw inspiration from multiple places or other characters to really fit your style
- People can really see what kind of art work you like to draw and what to expect from you which can lead to a fan base of your own artwork
Cons to OC:
- While we all want to have completely and totally original and cool ideas, you still are pulling technique and style from somewhere. So while you are still making your own art work it can have similarities to someone else’s artwork and may get questioned on it authenticity.
- This depends on your style, but if you go for a more realistic look to your characters and less cartoon like style, you’ll need to rely on references which can be a pain if you can’t find the exact pose you are looking for. You could always take the pics of yourself also, something I have resorted to a lot of the time.
While there are many of reasons to both and all side of this, these are the main ones I wanted to focus on now just to share the wisdom and help anyone that may have this similar struggle. And you have anything to add to either list, be sure to comment with them below.
I would also like to take time to introduce my new shop ono Storenvy! I have set a list in my menu but I have hyperlinked it here also to save you some time. The feature image of the mermaid for this post is my first product I have posted! I am so excited to finally start a shop and hopefully get my art out there! Please check it out and check often for new items that will be available!
Consider becoming a patron on my Patreon page! You can select a rewards tier that best suits you or you can simply donate once a month and show your amazing support that way! You can find new prints and stickers there every month and at a cheaper price than you can find in my shop!
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