Nerdiness and geekiness is not toxic (or even forever).

I write this for all the kids (of any age) who get grief from family members, loved ones, or anyone else for being a geek who does “fan art.” They act like fan art is a dead end, and that you’re some pathetic nerd and not a “true” artist. Well, come on. I think they should stop sucking the joy out of life.

I did fan art. Sometimes I still do. When I was a teenager, everyone did! I got all kinds of disapproval for it, especially from my mom, who once said she’d prefer I’d quit art completely rather than continue with that nonsense. (She didn’t really mean it, but I heard it nonetheless!)

I’ll always consider fan art a good thing in my life. Whether or not it was “artsy” enough or serious, I don’t care. I refuse to be ashamed of it. Due to my involvement in fan art, I loved art at a young age. Because I was deriving enjoyment from it, I did more of it. I even sold art to fellow geeks, also while still at a young age. It was great and it helped my confidence and self-esteem.

Here’s an example of some fan art I did way back. It was a cover for a “fanzine” (pre-internet publication with fanfiction). One of my friends kinda-sorta commissioned me into doing it. Thank you to the person who posted their picture of it on the Internet. I’d lost my own scan of the artwork.

Sentry Post cover, Colored pencil & watercolor on illustration board.

I don’t consider that time of doing fan art to be wasted time. What I learned from my years of doing that kind of art, easily translated into other less geeky types of art. Even types of art that my mom approves of! Who would have thought?

Like these two pieces:

Half Dome in Cook’s Meadow, watercolor on paper, 4×6 inches, painted “en plein air,” on location at Yosemite National Park.
Mr Bodacious oil on panel, 6×6″. Thanks to shelldevil on deviantart for the use of her stock photo as reference.

So these are perfectly “normal.” My mom LOVES the rooster! 😉 I moved on quite nicely to other non-fan-art subjects, despite my beginnings in fan art.

I do warn anyone (of whatever age) that fan art, celebrity art, all that stuff, may be rejected at art shows or galleries. Most art shows will turn up their noses at it, and with some justification. They want to see you do something original, of your own. And I agree with that. Art schools also will want to see original work. You need to be capable of doing that. But guess what? Fan art can serve as a skill-builder, which will make you more proficient in creating “normal” non-fan works. (Ask me how I know! 😉 )

Some caveats: Anime fan art, while fun and I encourage it (as long as the person isn’t planning on attending art school with an anime-only portfolio) may set you back if you do too much of it and don’t study “realism” (the drawing of things as they are, not the cartoonized version).  You can read more pontificating about anime in this post. Basically, a lot of anime and only anime might not help you paint a better rooster or a landscape on location. It might even hinder you in developing your own style (cartoon or realistic) later on. (I’ll have to write more about that in an upcoming post.)

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