You might have noticed the other day a trending article on Facebook about an etsy crafter that sold Disney-inspired candles. I was just amazed that most didn’t even realize how this shop was violating copyrights held by Disney, hell it got a HuffPo article to boot! Of course as soon as word spread they re-tooled their “brand”. But still they were able to build sells and an audience off of a brand they did not create or own. (Heck they only had 6 freaking candles)
This is something that has gotten my guff for a long time. So many popular artist and crafters are piggy backing off of popular brands and that’s what has gotten them known, but artist that make original work are barely a blip on people’s radar.
I have done the fanart thing a time or two, but it never felt right with me and I’d rather avoid the legal trouble. But then you see people with less skill selling a whole bunch more then you just because they are following the Frozen trend, the Kill la Kill trend, Harry Potter trend, so on and so on. It’s basically over saturating the market with knockoffs.
Of course this is mostly troublesome when it is being sold. Who’s going to buy your original painting or story when they are spending their money on fan art and fan crafts? It’s a bit disheartening to know your work is going to be passed over for something fan-spired.
I made a decision a while back, maybe a year ago, I would not sell fan work. I have a few Sailor Moon prints and what not that I’ll probably just give away as freebies sometime. But I know I’m talented enough I can create wonderful things that people will want at some point and I won’t let the popularity of fan work bog me down.
Fanart is great stuff and fun, but I don’t think it should be for sell. It’s not really yours even if you put in the effort of creating it. If you want to sell copyrighted work go through the process of licensing the work to sell.
There’s some good information on etsy if you want to read more about copyright infringement: Etsy Intellectual Property Infringement
and here’s a good discussion of the frustration felt from other crafters and artist from Etsy’s boards: Infingment Discussion
The bottom line for me is if you ever want to be considered a serious artist or crafter your original work should make up 99.99% of your portfolio.
**Edit: I am again reconsidering my position on fanart and if to sell it. I may sell a limited number of prints say ten of fanart but I hope to keep my portfolio largely original work. It’s such a hard line to travel as you would like people to see your work and fanart gets views, but also if you are going to spend a lot of time on a piece of art you’d like to offer it to other people to own. I don’t know. I have been considering a pateron account and maybe I could offer the fanart there as a reward to backers.