Pop Culture and the Fan Art Phenomenon
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Pop Culture and the Fan Art Phenomenon

In today’s globalized world, movements in visual art are sometimes influenced by exceedingly prevalent trends in our shared social media space. Being constantly connected even across continents makes it possible for a cultural zeitgeist to develop that is different from those of the past. Instant communication through social media and simultaneous distribution of cultural products through the internet empowers not only professional and well-established artists to thrive, but also the amateur and those who are not members of traditional art society.

The Fan Art Movement

Fan Art is one such visual art movement that has been a trending visual art movement since the development of mass media in the later part of the 20th century. Because of the internet and social media, this movement has accelerated even further; and it gave people who normally don’t have a platform to share their art pieces, a venue where they could share and receive feedback on their work.

The creation of fan art is driven by the popularity of its subjects. Usually these are celebrities, musical pop stars, influencers, and other popular personas. The recent events of 2020 however, has established Netflix as a pop culture hub where people can watch films and television series that are renowned internationally and thus is able to capture a significant number of followers. This also means that a lot of fan-made art by amateur artists are inspired by what people watch in the online streaming service.

September Surprise: Netflix’s Squid Game

Last September 17, 2021, a Korean survival television series called Squid Game took the world by storm and is currently one of the most popular TV series on Netflix. This is a good example of how something popular like this television series generates a lot of fanfare and consequently a lot of fan art from viewers of the program.

People normally relate to the characters of a show. This is why most fan art consists of the cast members of television series. For example, in the series Squid Game:

Cartoon artist TheCartoonist.Me drew cartoons of prominent members of the cast. She specifically chose what she considered the protagonists of the show because she believed she and her following can relate to them the most.

Other graphic artists choose specific scenes from the program that they find important, or simply because it’s their favorite:

Instagram graphic duo @hanavara drew a specific scene showing two female characters who form a unique relationship with one another. The fans of the show are enamored by the two, and imagine that a relationship between them exists even if it is not part of the official narrative of the show. This is called “Shipping”.

Finally, other very creative artists can combine two unrelated but similar pop culture series:

In the example above, Twitter design artist @Trashijordi creates an imagined world where the characters from a manga series called Chainsaw Man are wearing the Player uniforms that they use in the Netflix series Squid Game. This type of fan art is called a crossover.

The fan art phenomenon will only proliferate as internet and social media permeate the lives of people all over the world. This exchange will not only reduce cultural borders, but also empower artists of different skill levels to participate in the creation of art and the improvement of their own craft.

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