Can drawing fan art get you paid?

A few weeks ago, the hashtag #fanartgotmepaid floated to the top of several artist communities on Twitter. Illustrators, animators, game developers, and artists of every caliber used the hashtag to share their personal stories of how fan art landed them jobs with some of their favourite franchises.

The hashtag originated as a method to bring attention to the discrimination that fan artists face. Despite being revered within the geek community and at conventions, they often face stigma within the larger artist’s circle for not being “legitimate enough” compared to professionals.

There are even anti-fanart movements who argue that fan artists shouldn’t be considered “real artists” on the plain notion that fan art is not as “creative” as original art. Not only that, they argue that fan artists who gain fame don’t deserve it because they’re simply “riding on the coattails” of popular franchises.

On the other hand, #fanartgotmepaid defends that notion by showing what possibilities lay ahead. Artist Richardo Bessa found himself hired by Game of Thrones after they discovered his fan art of the series. The company was looking for artists who were familiar with the lore and Bessa’s enthusiasm for the series fit the bill. Companies like Overwatch also scour fan artists on the regular to create sprays and social media content for them.

While this is happening more frequently now, however, it isn’t yet a common occurrence. A majority of fan artists never get recognised by the franchise creators for their work, and honestly, do they need to? As pointed out by many artists in the hashtag thread, fan art shouldn’t be a means to an end. Instead, it is just a show of their love and passion for the franchise. Being employed for that will always be a bonus, but ultimately, what matters most is doing what you love.

So whether you’re a fan artist or an artist working on original pieces, just work on the things that you like doing. As long as your passion shines through, the door of opportunity may open sooner than you think.

For more tweets and opinions, you can find the #fanartgotmepaid hashtag thread here.

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