Thoughts & Process: Where Fan Art?

Thought I would have made a write up about Inktober because it’s October? While I will admit that’s a good idea and I should have done that (as well as made an illustration for it), that would involve me doing research into something I just don’t have time for currently…

A black and white drawing of a character in an afro holding a pizza box. He says "Would you like to order some DomiNO-NO-NOS?
If you know, you know

Today’s write up isn’t as constructive as the others, I just wanted to talk about something more introspective. Mainly, the topic at hand is-

Why don’t I do fan art anymore?

If you’ve been following me for a few years, you probably caught glimpses where I’d draw some Fire Emblem, Phantom of the Kill, and if you’ve been around for a reaaaally long time, you might have seen some Pokemon comics. Normally, fan art gets lots of traction in comparison to original character art, and it’s more common to see artists make fan art content, and once they get popular, moving to some of their original characters if that was their goal all along. Artists like Qinni and Stephaniepriscillart come to mind in these instances (although the latter will still do fan art on a regular basis).

The long story short of it is: Generally, I didn’t want to be known for that anymore.

The short story long of it is…

Pokemon

I was one of those brats that absolutely loved playing Pokemon RPGs ever since I was a child. I grew up with the series and would buy every generation of the games very faithfully. I didn’t actually become super avid and create Pokemon content regularly until I made a few friends on Tumblr, and would document my battles and journeys through the XY game in a series of humorous comics to make others laugh. And yes, this was when I was still drawing in an anime art style.

One type of artwork I love to see is when somebody makes a gijinka of a character, essentially a humanoid interpretation of a non-human character, object, or entity. Pokemon was absolutely perfect for finding artwork like this, and it would be amazing to see how creative people would get in their interpretations! This is still something I adore to this day, as I’ve created art where I make gijinkas out of real life objects and phenomena.

However, my love of Pokemon went the same route that many dissatisfied fans went: once the XY, SUMO, and SWSH games were made, each one tested my patience and love for the series more and more, until it evaporated with SWSH and I considered myself done with the newer games. Granted, I am a bit of an outlier as I was much more forgiving to XY’s criticisms and problems, since the online battling system was so easy and made a good chunk of all my content; but in general XY seems to be the common point where fans feel the series started to go downhill. This isn’t a Pokemon complaining blog, and I don’t really have anything new to add to the argument as to why I’m not a fan of the series anymore, so I’ll end that bit here other than to say that effectively ended my Pokemon comic and art creation pretty hard.

If you’re interested in seeing some of my other Pokemon comics, here’s a link with them buried in some other art. Though some of them you probably have to play the games to understand. And yes, that is my old Tumblr account.

Phantom of the Kill

A painterly stylized digital illustration of a woman in scantily clad samurai armor. Her ponytail flows wildly in a round curve behind her.
I still really like this one…

Not gonna lie, my bi ass absolutely loved some of the character designs in the mobile game “Phantom of the Kill.” For those who don’t know, Phantom of the Kill is a Japanese mobile game that’s about women characters who are essentially gijinkas of famous weapons, that plays in a strategy format. The game was released in a Global version, which is how I came to know of it, but the Global server closed back in June of 2018, making the game unplayable. The JP version, to this day, is still active, and I had played on that server up until April of 2021… I just got bored with it. But I found myself wanting to replicate some of the characters in my art style, and while it probably had an uncanny valley appearance in hindsight, I had a lot of fun making that art.

The thing about Phantom of the Kill, however, is that the fandom was very small and niche. You obviously had most Western fans filtered out by the language barrier for starters, then if your fan art wasn’t specifically in an anime art style, it went relatively unseen. After all, the fans of the game were definitely on the more… perverted side, and it’s not like that game was trying to keep those fans away, far from it, they catered specifically to them! This was all something I understood and accepted with making fan art of the game. None of it stopped me from drawing it for a bit though.

Fire Emblem

Probably a fan art of mine that’s aged the best… despite the character being in a milk bath

If you know the Fire Emblem series, you will know that there are some good looking characters in those games, both the men and women alike. I personally think artists Kozaki and Hidari did excellent jobs at creating beautiful and mature characters for this series about strategy and war. So for a while for me, once I had officially dropped anime art as my go-to style, I had a lot of fun reinterpreting the characters in a semi realistic style and exploring their color palettes. Granted, sometimes these characters would be an absolute BITCH to draw, as they would more often than not have very intricate and detailed designs. But I would eventually push through, and see a relatively good amount of engagement on sharing that artwork, especially on websites like Tumblr where old content doesn’t necessarily die since people search older fandom posts there all the time.

So why did Fire Emblem specifically stop? The answer is really simple actually: I quit playing Fire Emblem Heroes. Those who know what game this is are rolling their eyes at me because, opps, I was playing another mobile game, but the honest truth is that I was having a lot of fun getting to know some of the older characters in the series that I was being introduced to through this game. I had gotten into the series back in the big Awakening boom, you know, when the series was about to die but then got revived with a big bang. But after a while I got pretty tired of the balancing issues in FEH and just realized it wasn’t worth my investment anymore. I still have friends who tell me what’s going on in the game today, and the game does still make some banger art, not to mention I did play their most recent entry into the series: Fire Emblem Three Houses and enjoyed myself. But since I was no longer getting inspiration from that game, it only made sense that the fan art stopped too.

In case you’re curious, I stopped playing that game towards the end of 2018. I heard that those balancing issues…only got far worse.

Old Habits Die Hard

In the end, there was one mini epiphany I had towards the end of my Fire Emblem fan art journey: my fan art posts were getting far more attention than the other illustrations of mine. Granted, this isn’t to say I don’t like my older fan art, far from it I’m showing it to you all again. It’s also not like this factor of an attention discrepancy isn’t anything new: it’s been this way for artists since basically the internet started; and that’s not really anyone’s fault, it’s simply easier to explore already established interests than original character content a viewer would like. It’s more that, as a person, I was way more excited to draw original character content and explore how they’d come to life, and it almost felt like by doing rare fan art that people would like, I’d be tricking them, somehow, into sticking around for that once-in-a-blue-moon drawing that they may not get for months. I know I don’t have many, but I would like to take care of any followers I have, and not deceive them into thinking I’m an artist that I’m not. One thing should be clear from my portfolio now: I like drawing women, I like drawing fashion, and I like my OCs!

An anime style illustration of Usagi from Sailor Moon. She has multiple jewel barrettes in her hair, and is putting on lipstick.
Posted back in October 2021 of R/SailorMoon

Despite everything I’ve said, it’s not like I’ve given up on fan art completely, I just draw it much more sparingly because my heart is more in my original characters these days. When I do draw fan art, I normally keep it to myself, or if I do decide to share it, I keep it in self contained communities, like on fandom specific subreddits. I’ve actually uploaded two drawings on the Sailor Moon subreddit this year, for instance, and just left my watermark/signature as an “M” instead of the full “Mintisse.” The nice thing about Reddit in particular is that making posts in those fandom communities tend to stay there. I do also have another, albeit unfinished, drawing from earlier this year that I look forward to sharing with you all when I make my “unfinished drawings that’ll most likely never get done” blog script towards the end of the year! Thank you all for reading this far if you chose to continue beyond the TL;DR, I’m happy that these ramblings of mine actually reach people’s ears. I wish you all the best, until we meet again.

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