Parents: Your kid and anime


Sailor Moon, a very popular anime character—so well-known that even I have heard of her!

Your kid and anime:

Oy! Since I first started this site (TEN YEARS AGO as I write this) the anime thing has really taken off. And I’ve heard all sorts of pros and cons about kids wanting to draw anime. So here I weigh in with my opinion, and it’s actually very simple and uncomplicated (but with some caveats).

My opinion is this: Let them draw what they want. They’re kids.

I feel quite strongly about this. That’s because I was a kid once, and loved to draw. I loved to draw my favorite actors and actresses (what we’d call today “celebrity fan art”). Hey, I still like to draw an occasional actor or actress! And all the time I was doing this, my mom constantly complained, complained, complained. Why didn’t I want to draw nice still lifes? Or some landscape (subject chosen by her, of course!). Whatever I did, it was somehow wrong, not serious enough, not artistic enough. I was a kid, drawing the things that kids like to draw, and got constant grief for it.

Yes, I’m still bitter.

At the time I remember thinking to myself, “I could be doing all sorts of things that drive parents nuts, like indulging in illegal substances or dating 35-year-old men (like one of my friends did in high school—true story!). But all I was doing was drawing Mr. Spock. Okay, fair enough, I was a geek, but at least I was home at night and was cultivating a skill that would turn into a life-long passion, and what’s so bad about that?

Fortunately, my parents allowed me to take painting lessons, and my teacher, a really cool lady (and fantastic artist) named Shirlee Prescott, told my parents that all her students could paint whatever they wanted. So I got to do lots of portraits of Mr. Spock, with her blessing! Yay!

And that’s how I feel about anime, or whatever thing a kid wants to draw. Parents, LET THEM. Let them. If it’s just a hobby, something their friends are doing, let them do it. Encourage them. Consider yourself lucky that this is something that they are passionate about. I don’t care if you don’t think it’s ‘real art.’ A lot of people don’t think celebrity portraits (my childhood art passion) are real art either. So what. Big deal. In my case, my love for drawing my favorite TV characters carried over and I started drawing other things (more “serious” subject matters—but so far, not many still lifes!) as I got into college. And even if my love for drawing celebs had never led to much out of school, who cares? It kept me off the streets, okay? It was harmless and was something I enjoyed.

School is hard enough for a kid, don’t make it worse by discouraging them from doing something that makes them happy.

And now the caveat:

The content of the artwork your kids do should be of a concern to you. If you feel they are drawing things that are too “adult” in subject matter, of course you have a right to intervene. Keep an eye on what your kids watch and read and listen to. Common sense, right?

Another caveat (and it’s a pretty serious one):

If your kids are talking about how they want to be a professional artist and go to art school, this changes everything. Everything. No, that doesn’t mean that they can’t do artwork in the anime style if they want to, but they need a reality check if they think that all they need to do is draw anime/manga-styled art. Most colleges will not accept students who can only show work done in the anime style. They want to see “realism” (realistically proportioned drawings—not cartoons) in a student’s portfolio. And if your child cannot display proficiency in this style of artwork, then they have a slim chance of going far professionally. These are just the facts.

I will be writing a separate post about that, so stay tuned. Update, here’s that post.

So, back to the main point of this post:

Parents, let your kids draw whatever THEY want, as long as there are no moral boundaries that you think are being crossed in the subject matter. Don’t stifle something that is good and fine and will bring them joy and may be later cultivated into a skill that they’ll be grateful they have as the years pass.

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