Cathleen Lengyel > Scribbles > Artist Help > Fan Art, Fun or Risky?

Fan Art, Fun or Risky?

Fan art is something that almost every artist will encounter at some point in their career.  Most young artists will create fan art of their favorite characters as they are practicing their skills.  Harmless fun right?  Let’s talk about that today. As a young artist I used to draw cartoon characters.  I had many favorites from Charmers to Garfield.  I never thought anything about the fact that I could possibly find myself in hot water.  Here it is many years later and I’ve learned a thing or two about fan art.  It’s dangerous territory and you need to be very careful if you decide to tread those waters. What is fan art?  Here’s what Wiki says:
Fan art, or fanart, are artworks created by fans of a work of fiction (generally visual media such as comics, film, television shows, or video games) and derived from a series character or other aspect of that work.
I would also like to add that fan art can also be artwork created of your favorite celebrity.

Isn’t fan art a type of complement?

You may see drawing your favorite character or celebrity as a form of appreciation because you really like them.  However, the character’s creators or celebrity photographer may not see it in the same light.    When it comes to characters whether video games, movies, tv or cartoons those characters have been created by someone and that someone is the copyright holder.  Likewise, photos of celebrities are the copyright property of the photographer and/or the entity who contracted the photos.  They do not take copyright violation lightly.  Copyright infringement is not something you want to find yourself in court over as an artist.   There are some companies/entities who encourage fan art, which is a wonderful thing.  If you really want to create and sell fan art you can always check to see if what you want to create is allowed by the entity who owns the copyright.  Be aware however, the policies can change on a dime.  One day they may allow fan art and the next they could revoke those privileges.

But I don’t sell my fan art, doesn’t that make it ok?

Good question.  Technically, no it’s still copyright infringement.  If you do create fan art which you do not intend to sell here are some words of wisdom for you.  DO NOT post pictures of your fan art on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media!  Even if you don’t sell your work, by simply posting it on social media could lead to a lawsuit.   In my view it’s better to be safe than sorry. As an artist you want to do things to improve and develop your portfolio.  Keep the fan art out. Until next time, Keep Creating!  
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