Fan Art: An Explosion of Creativity | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios

Fan Art: An Explosion of Creativity | Off Book | PBS Digital Studios


BRAD O’FARRELL: Fan art is
often the viewer’s reaction to the show projected
onto the character. FRED SEIBERT: It is something
that happens in our culture that when we recognize
something we immediately want to participate. JONAH BLOCK: A lot of
people like to make fan art, and they’ll brush
everything from “Doctor Who” to video games– everything
that kind of falls into geek culture. ADAM JURESKO: People
have this outlet, and they want to
express their ideas. They don’t have to go
the traditional routes that you had to go years
ago to do this kind of work. They are taking their
style and something that is widely accessible and simply
mixing the two things together so that what they do can be
appreciated by more people. BRAD O’FARRELL: The significance
of fan art and fan fiction is that it’s the first
entry point in being creative for younger people. There’s a lot that goes
into character design and creating characters, and if
you just want to learn to draw, sometimes it’s nice to not have
to come up with a character and story and everything. Fan art and fan
fiction is like when you have characters that
are from a story or a movie, and you want them to be doing
things that they don’t do. It’s like wish fulfillment,
but for the characters. Usually it’s like really
strong relationships that aren’t romantic are
always turned romantic under the lens of fan
art and fan fiction. And I’ve noticed also it will
get really weird for shows that are really normal. The “Sherlock” fandom is
in this weird bubble where they– their– I can’t tell
if they’re joking or not, but they’re, like, in an
arms race to be more absurd. Like, I saw a fan
art/fan fiction where Sherlock was a llama and
John was a corgi, and they kiss but they’re having trouble
because their height difference. How is that what this show
is about in your head? The fan fiction that I
write is sort of absurdist. I like writing
crossover fan fiction because you could see
the story happening, but just the two things are
so completely unrelated. My favorite one was
“Beverly Drive Chihuahua,” which is the story of “Drive”
combined with “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” So they’re both set in LA, they
both involve, like, heists, and they both have,
like, love stories. So I just made Ryan Gosling
fall in love with the chihuahua. Yeah. I– I– I guess just the
stupider the crossover is, the more I think it’s funny. I mean, a lot of people
who are into fan art and fan fiction
are very talented, but I think one of the
appealing parts of it is that it gives you motivation
to perfect your craft of either writing or drawing
if there’s an audience for it. Pretty much everyone I know
right now who’s an artist started out drawing fan art. ADAM JURESKO: How I
came into graphic design was through being in
bands and always having to make flyers for shows. After a show was
over, you, like, you had this piece of ephemera
that you wanted to hold on to, and I thought that was
a really powerful thing. Film is such a
personal thing to me, and I just wanted
to make something that I could wholeheartedly
stand behind. The process varies
from poster to poster, but the actual
construction is there’s an image that I want to work
with, and then I take that, and I just have to
build upon that. And every poster is always
different than the last one in terms of what I envisioned
to what comes across. Well the “Black Swan” poster was
one of the first ones I made, and I wanted to keep
it as simple and as minimal as possible,
but also I wanted to apply that grainy aspect to
it because it is such, like, a stark, terrifying
film. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless
Mind” was a hard one because it’s such a love film,
and there’s so much going on and there’s so much depth to it. That poster was a really
complex poster to make, and I feel like that in itself
pays homage to the film. When I started doing
this, I had no idea that was such a huge
community of people that were so enthralled with fan art. And there’s such a
sense of community around it and not
competition, and that was really important to me. I really want to
make something that’s more personal to the
person who loves the movie, and I want to have them have
such a positive reaction with it and not view it
as just a movie poster. JONAH BLOCK: I have
to create fan art. If I don’t, I go crazy. I got my graphic design
start on Threadless because they gave me a platform
to show off what I was doing and have it made into something. A friend of mine, he had a
fan-run contest within the site called Threadless
loves minimalism. So we all just forced ourselves
to do minimalism designs. The superhero ones
start with Spider-Man, and it was so successful,
I decided to do a series. The rules for the superhero
ones are every character has to be broken
down into two colors so that one color could
be the man’s shape, and one color is the pun
that represents their power. If it’s Luke Cage,
I draw a cage. Aquaman, I drew a cup of water,
and people really react to it. I still don’t quite
understand it, but if I post it
on Tumblr today, it’s going to get
reblogged 1,000 times. I collaborate with a
lot of other artists too, because I have more
ideas than I can draw. My most successful
thing this way was “Star Wars” with unicorns. It was a unicorn that looked
like Darth Vader and a unicorn missing a hoof that
looked like Luke Skywalker with light saber horns. And it has to be stuff
people can relate to. Unicorns are one of
the subcategories that people react to online. You got astronauts,
zombies, then there’s a huge audience
that really wants the stuff. They don’t just
want to look at it. They want to buy it on T-shirts
and show it off at conventions. Humans have a need to share
information and ideas. Anything we like, anything
that’s important to us, we have to let other
people know about it. It’s not enough to
just make things. Once you make it, you
want to show it off. SAM SPRATT: On some level,
I am just a fan boy, and I love certain TV shows, and
I want to pay homage to them. There’s an early
episode of “The Office,” and it ends with Jim as
Dwight saying, “bears, beets, ‘Battlestar Galactica.'” I
just loved that alliteration, and I thought it would be
cool to do a portrait of that. So I made Dwight wearing a bear. I gave him a little beet
juice stain on his collar and gave him a little
“Battlestar Galactica” pin. And so it’s all
really subtle stuff. It’s just a moment that
fans will appreciate. And those are the people
that will share it most. And, you know, there will
be people that rip it apart, and I love that, because if
you take enough of it in, it helps refine the next
piece and the next piece. And I really enjoy
that aspect of it. I had recently
joined Tumblr, and I started seeing these
rage comics pop up. And I thought it would just
be fantastic to, you know, just apply what I do with
my realistic portraits to these faces that are supposed
to be human, but kind of make them a little messed up. I made one for
fun, and, you know, some random person stuck it
on Reddit, and it went wild. I got all these requests
for– do “LOL Face.” Do “Why You No.” So I did eight that sort
of encompassed a wide range of the most popular ones. Then I packaged
them all together as the Illustrated
Internet series cause I just wanted people
to share them freely. And it’s for the internet. It’s for people to share. When it comes to
these internet memes, so many people from any fandom
can appreciate what they are. Thus, they will naturally
reach a larger audience. You know, people
write the internet off as if it’s a detriment
to creativity. To me, I can scroll
30 seconds on Tumblr, and I can see more images
than any other means of digesting content. And it just inspires you
immensely to keep going. FRED SEIBERT: Seven
years ago, Pen Ward pitched us “Adventure Time.” We made the short,
and when it came out, it had that really simple
art style that Pen has. But when you were done with the
cartoon, all you wanted to do was look at it again. Before we knew it, one of
the fans had ripped a copy and started putting
it up on YouTube, and it started gathering
millions of views. We were developing the show
for a television series, and Pen started coming into
the development meetings with all of this art that
clearly he hadn’t done. And he goes, oh, there’s
hundreds of pieces of fan art on DeviantArt. I went, wait a minute. We have one six-minute
film on YouTube, and the cartoon
was made for kids, and that has generated
hundreds of pieces of fan art. To this day, it doesn’t compute. The fan art didn’t stop. And in fact, it wasn’t
just somebody drawing. We have seen people who have
done cosplay and dressed up. We have seen 3D art,
LEGOs, clay, cakes baked as the characters. But the most exciting
part is the interaction of the artists who are on
the show with the fans who are drawing. One of our character designers,
a woman named Natasha Allegri, started doing her own fan art
of “Adventure Time,” making little comics of characters
that she had remixed out of the show. And instead of
Finn and Jake, she had created Fionna and Cake. And all of a sudden, we had a
whole community bubbling up, not of the show, but of
Natasha’s remix of the show in her comics on her Tumblr. We decided to produce a special
episode of Fionna and Cake. Turned out to be our
highest rated episode so far in the history
of “Adventure Time.” In this age of the
internet, I think that we have this possibility
for real time collaboration that, in our case,
has ended up being creative collaboration
at a level that I never suspected
was possible. BRAD O’FARRELL: If you’re
just drawing and not showing it to anyone,
then your drawings aren’t going to get any better. But if you put it
on the internet and there’s people
automatically caring, then you will get
better as an artist. SAM SPRATT: For
them, it’s a means of expression of how much
they care about these things. ADAM JURESKO: One of
the best things about it is that there’s such a sense
of community around it. JONAH BLOCK: If you make a
stylized thing about something people like, they’re
gonna want to share it. FRED SEIBERT: There is this
mind meld between performers, artists, and their fans that,
in the 20th century and beyond, has been almost
completely unique. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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