I’m a fan of fanart.
I’m pretty open about how much I enjoy writing fanfiction, but when it comes to fanart, I’m a fan, simply put, not a creator. And that’s fine with me!
I’ve written before about how much I love commissioning fanart, and this time I wanted to take a closer look at the world of fan artists by showcasing two brand new pieces and talking to the artists about their work.
Rosaria Battiloro, or metalshell on Tumblr, is an artist in Naples, Italy, whom I’ve worked with many times. She creates stunning watercolor paintings as well as inked drawings and digital art. In addition to sharing both fanart and original art online, she often illustrates for children’s books.
“I think I started drawing with doing fanart, since I was a little girl,” Rosaria says. “The first things I put on paper were drawings of my favorite characters from cartoons, so . . . I just loved drawing the characters I adored, and I still love doing that!”
Rosaria has worked as a professional artist for five years, and started offering fanart commissions because she enjoys sharing her passion for fandom.
“I love transforming into actual images the requests and ideas of other fans of the same show/characters I like too. And I love also drawing for fandoms I’m not into; it’s an opportunity to discover something new!”
For my new commission, I asked Rosaria if she would create a realistic watercolor painting of Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens wearing a flower crown. To determine the right pose, we both scoured the internet for photos of Daisy Ridley until I found the one that matched what I was imagining. Next, Rosaria sent me a sketch and I asked for one small tweak before the painting began, and then we discussed paint colors. Unlike digital art, the colors on the painting would be permanent once created, so it was important to get everything clear.
“The more details the better!” Rosaria explains. “If you want a dress of that specific color, you can tell me from the first time; I’m happy to do things as close as possible to the idea of the commissioner!”
Here’s the breathtaking final piece:
In addition to sending me a scan of the portrait, Rosaria also mailed me the original painting, which I’m displaying framed on my wall. For a fan of fanart, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Of course, I also love digital art, and there’s no shortage of that in the fanart world. In fact, it’s probably most common these days, particularly when it comes to commissions.
Since I’m super excited for Star Trek Beyond due out later this month, I contacted Venezuelan artist Anne M., or aeroplaneblues on Tumblr, about a digital drawing of my favorite Trek ship: Spock and Uhura. In flower crowns, naturally.
I was familiar with Anne’s art due to our shared interest in the Hannibal fandom on Tumblr, and this was my first time commissioning her. To get started, I filled out Anne’s commission form and provided photo references for the Stark Trek uniforms. I also made sure to specify that Spock should be blushing green, since that’s obviously important. When Anne sent me an initial sketch upon request, this was an instance where I got to be like “YES, PERFECT,” which is always a beautiful moment.
This was also my first time commissioning a Spuhura piece, and I couldn’t be more pleased:
Anne explains that her interest in fanart grew out of inspiration from seeing other artists online.
“I’ve dabbled in fanart since I first began to draw, but as a serious thing it started back in college, when a friend showed me tumblr where I saw several artists posting fanart,” she says. “I think it was when I saw Noelle Stevenson’s Avengers drawings (which were hilarious) and thought ‘I could do that, I like movies and tv shows, I like to draw,’ and seriously got into it. It took a while before I got the courage to actually post something, so that would be about three years of really creating fanart [so far].”
Anne posts both insanely cute fanart and original creations online, and she started offering commissions after her follower base began to grow.
“Some of my followers asked me if I was considering offering commissions, and since they showed interest, I began to think about it as possible art job,” she says. “I like the challenge of them, because you never know what someone’s going to ask for, and many commissioners have great ideas, which makes the whole process enjoyable.”
When Anne sent the final picture, she surprised me by also including a “Thank You” sketch of the same two characters. That’s something I’ve never seen before, and it was such a wonderful and cute bonus!
She offers the following three important points of guidance to anyone considering commissioning fanart for the first time:
“1: Know what you want, what you really really want. 2: Read the artist’s rules/do or don’ts/FAQ. 3: Respect/Be patient with artists.”
Can’t argue with that. Anne continues:
“Each artist is different with what they’ll agree on commissions, but I think it is safe to say that before requesting a commission you should know what the artist is comfortable with drawing, and be certain of what you want them to draw,” Anne advises. “Respect that artists have the right to choose their price range, to accept/decline a commission, and respect that it takes time for them to work on your commission.”
When it comes to fanart, I like to think I’ve found a lifelong love affair. Thanks to the Internet, conventions, and of course, the artists themselves, it’s never too difficult to find fantastic art related to your current interests.
And I would hope this goes without saying, but if you’re in the market for fanart, you aren’t limited to commissions! Options abound for purchasing prints—particularly on sites such as Esty, Society6, and Redbubble, just to name a few.
But when your heart cries out for something specific—your OTP in flower crowns, for instance—commissions are the answer. Go forth.