Fanart in Portfolios

  • Hi all!

    I signed up for my very first portfolio review (ahhhhhh so excited!), so I've been really going in and adding (and creating) new pieces, culling old pieces, and just making sure it shines as bright as it can.

    I've been looking through my body of work and I have a couple of really great pieces. They're strong in composition, very exemplary of my watercolor style, etc... but... the characters aren't mine (I've got a big mix from literature to anime (lot's of Pokemon) and western animation)! They were originally done as prints, but I went through all of my usual illustration process to put them together and they turned out super great. I have a lot of fun doing them and to be honest not having to design characters gives me time to have a little bit more freedom and explore other things.

    What's everyone's thoughts on including pieces like this in your portfolio? I've been battling with the decision for a few days. I wouldn't think it would be too much different than including something like a Wizard of Oz cover, but for some reason it feels a lot different! I've got about a 50/50 mix of pieces I'm considering where the characters are on model (which could demonstrate my ability to retain character consistency/work with other's characters) and characters that are re-imagined (like my Oz cover I'm working on for the contest this month, I've got some Redwall pieces, Dragonriders of Pern, etc).

    Is there a line for what's acceptable in a portfolio and what's not? Do you personally include fanart pieces? I've seen it done both ways looking through people's work, but I'm not sure if there's a standard to follow.

  • Pro

    @korilynneillo I think it can be okay to have fanart pieces in certain circumstances. But any piece you add in there has to further the overall goal of your portfolio, fanart or no. If that is, for example, getting children's book work, then you need children book spreads, you need to show storytelling and that you can draw kids and characters of all races consistently, and most important you need to showcase your SIGNATURE STYLE. So no pieces that borrow someone else's style or are on model with an animated production. And no pieces of characters that looks cool but have nothing to do with the kind of work you're trying to get or show no storytelling. Those may be amazing pieces, but they may not be relevant.

    So go through them one by one and determine which ones could be relevant. Wizard of Oz is a children's story and a cover is relevant to children's books work, so this would be a great portfolio piece! A portrait of Bakugo from Boku no Hero Academia looking badass? Not so much. I do have a couple pieces of fanart in my own portfolio: I re-imagined 2 scenes from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone as children book spreads! and those pieces often get commented on by clients.

  • @NessIllustration That's super great advice, thank you! It's very similar to my initial thoughts on the matter - I'm glad I'm not super far off the mark. I've definitely been looking at those fanart pieces through the lens of "what part does this piece play" in the overall portfolio, since I definitely feel like my portfolio is missing some cohesion and there's some gaps that I need to fill (I'm very glad for the Oz prompt this month, I really needed another book cover!)

    It's great to hear that having some fanart pieces is relatively okay! The one's I'm considering (aside from the Pokemon one that I really want to include because it fills a gap so nicely, but the characters are incredibly on model and I think I can pretty easily put together a piece demonstrating the same thing) are all kind of along the lines of re-imagined lit illustrations (including a Harry Potter piece!). I may in the future start gearing some of my more "commercial" fanart prints to be closer to portfolio levels of pieces anyway - a big pet peeve of mine is every artist alley is just a million pictures of Bakugou looking badass! It's a direction I've been heading in for a while and I much prefer to tell a story anyway 😉

  • Pro

    @korilynneillo Hehe that's precisely why I picked Bakugo as example 😛 Artist alleys are basically a shrine to him these days haha

  • @korilynneillo i agree with @NessIllustration , your portfolio shouldnt be static, it should change depending on the work you want to do. If you doing prints though you have to careful, as fanart, whichever way you look at it, is copyright infringement. Youre unlikely to pulled on it, but its possible. Look at what happened to Will Terrys kickstarter. With books like Wizard of Oz, the authors long dead (think it has to be 70 years) so anyone can do what they want with it.

  • Hi @korilynneillo, I asked @Will-Terry a similar question, on whether it would be acceptable to add a fan art page on my site to highlight my master studies of my favorite artists, but he recommended I seek their consent first. That makes sense, but the hassle of requesting permission is not worth it.

    Notably, I did send Dan Santat my master copy of his Dude Cover, but not sure if he ever received it through his agent. I know he’s a busy man so I definitely didn’t expect a response. Love his work!

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