First off, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, I’m Lorna, a 20-(something) year old from Ireland. I’m a self-taught artist and I spend most of my spare time practising drawing for what I hope will be the “real thing” when it comes to my job! In the meantime though, I’m trudging through my scientific career. My main focus when it comes to art is a mixture of traditional portraits, and digital fan art (usually gaming).
Although you’ve already touched on it a little, could you elaborate a little on your area of fan art? Is it exclusively gaming, or do you do whatever you’re into at the time?
Hmm, now that I think about it, it’s nearly always game fan art. I don’t consciously think: “this game is cool and popular, maybe I’ll draw that”. Anything I’ve drawn, I’ve played at some point. I guess because gaming has been a huge part of my life since I was about 5 it has heavily influenced me in what I want to draw. What usually happens is I remember a game I love, draw something from it then end up playing it AFTER I’ve completed the picture because I realised how much I’ve missed playing it! Haha! Most of my art is from the Final Fantasy series. I’m obsessed.
What enticed you to start creating fan art?
It’s really just an amalgamation of the two things that make me really happy. When I was younger, I used to draw little cards of all the Pokémon; I couldn’t think of anything else I really wanted to draw at the time, and the unique designs and colours of the Pokémon was something I found interesting to draw. I took a break from art for a very long time after that (probably about 10-15 years). When I recently realised I wanted to get back into drawing, I found that my visual library and creativity was at an all-time low. So, to ease myself back in, I started with fan art. The base and the reference is already there for you and it’s up to the artist to decide what they want to do with that afterwards, and what direction to take their style. I’m still experimenting with my style, so fan art is a perfect way of discovering what it is I want to do. Not to mention, I generally only draw what makes me happy; as much as I like coming up with original ideas – fan art really is something I truly love doing.
Do you think fan art is negatively received by other artists? Do they see it as “cheating”?
This is actually something I’ve been discussing recently with other members of DeviantART. I have seen a lot of negativity associated with fan art, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot. Yes, a lot of people are of the opinion that it’s cheating, but I don’t see it that way at all. For me, I actually see it as a form of tribute; it’s a way of saying “hey, this is something that I really enjoy! Thank you, and here’s my version”. I think it’s very harsh when some people say that fan art is not creative or original; sure you’re taking reference from something (which we all do anyway when we create art!), but so many artists have their own style and make the fan art something different and exciting. Not to mention the people who create completely non-canon art/scenes from existing characters/locations – I think that’s amazing! It’s not all doom and gloom though, there’s a lot of support out there for fan artists… after all they’re creating art that a lot of people want to see.
The fan art genre is quite saturated. Do you find it hard to stand out?
Yeah, definitely. It’s such a popular area of art right now. When the next big movie or game is announced, you’re almost guaranteed to see an influx of related fan art – before it’s even released! To try and become an established fan artist now is tough, because there are a lot of people out there who have already developed a recognisable and popular style – take Artgerm for example, his style is instantly recognisable, and something that has taken him years to develop. Also, I guess the internet is a “bigger” place now than it was years ago, so it’s no surprise that many artists struggle to become noticed. For me, it’s not an issue. I’m still trying to find my way, but I can definitely see how others who have been doing this for years without merit might get frustrated.
Do you have a favourite character that you like drawing?
Well, when it comes to game fan art, I really like to draw Final Fantasy characters. I’ve only just recently realised how much I love to draw non-human characters, so that’s definitely something I’ll be looking at towards the future. In general, I tend to draw female characters, too. I didn’t realise until now, but my most drawn character has to be Daenerys from the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series; I’ve drawn her at least 4 or 5 different times in different styles and different mediums! She’s a really fantastic, strong female character. I read the books many years ago and I felt like I really connected to her through all the trials she faced (and soon to face: waiting impatiently for the next book!).
Any words of encouragement to other fan artists out there?
I guess the same advice I would give any artist – just draw whatever makes you happy, regardless of how the genre might be viewed. I think it’s important that your art reflects whatever it is you’re passionate about; it’s what most people like to see. Fan art is fun, so enjoy it!
Interviewed by Natalie Rowlands