Defining what is and what isn't Fan Art and how it applies to you
This guide to fan art is long overdue, and will hopefully clarify what really is and what really isn't fan art here on deviantART.
It's been a learning curve for me--there isn't one cut and dry answer explaining it, but luckily there are just a FEW cut and dry answers that will hopefully educate all of us.
This guide is intended to be a reference when you've worked long and hard on your amazing artwork and then stop and say, "Hey, is this fan art?" Or if you're browsing the galleries and something in the back of your head says, "Could this be a miscat?"
When looking at a a piece of artwork, the first question you should ask yourself is, "Is the artwork I did copyright to someone else?"
Copyright belongs to the original author/creator of a work. "Copyright applies to any expressible form of an idea or information that is substantive and discrete and fixed in a medium." More information can be found here: [link]
In some cases, this is a fairly easy question to answer.
Your fabulous depiction of Star Wars characters would go into the Fan Art. Your wonderful drawing of Gollum from Lord of the Rings would go into Fan Art.
Sometimes the question may not be so easy to answer.The question "Is the artwork I did copyright to someone else?" is negated if:
A) The idea in question is NOT copyright to someone else.
B) You were hired by the copyright holder to create the artwork.
So what then?A) The idea in question is NOT copyright to someone else.
What does that mean? In many cases, books are the easiest examples to cite, copyrights expire.
You don't see so much of it in our age with everyone protecting their intellectual property, but works created from before 1923 (in the United States), and works have not been renewed by any copyright owner, are NOT copyright.
These sorts of work are considered public domain. You can find more on the copyright laws here: [link] Read to educate and know, but don't boggle down your mind with confusion. Examples of works NOT copyrighted:
A) Shakespeare works
B) Through the Looking Glass (Alice in Wonderland) by Lewis Carroll So what about Disney's Alice in Wonderland?
When someone, like Disney, takes a Public domain
work and makes it their own, THEIR
version is then protected by the copyright laws.
Fan Art: Your Alice drawing from Disney's Alice in Wonderland
Not Fan Art: Your Alice drawing based on the book by Lewis Carroll. Oooh... so that's why there are so many adaptations...
In any case, your work is welcome in the Fan Art category even if it is based on something public domain
, but you are free to post it in the other galleries if you wish.B) You were hired by the copyright holder to create the artwork.
We have a great many professionals on deviantART, and many of them post their artwork, with permission, from their employer. Example 1)
If you are hired by Marvel and have permission to post your work, you do NOT have to post it in the Fan Art category.Example 2)
If you are commissioned by someone to create artwork based on their copyrighted works, and have permission to post it on deviantART, you do NOT have to post it in the Fan Art Category. Okay, so that's why some Spiderman 'fan art' ends up in the Comics & Cartoons categories!
What about People? Celebrities? VS
A common question is whether portraits of people, celebrities, bands, etc, go into Fan Art? Again, it depends on the circumstances. You can ask the following questions to determine whether your work is Fan Art:A) Is my actress/actor portrait just a depiction of the person? Or is my portrait depicted with the actor/actress in character?
If your Johnny Depp is just... Johnny Depp (which isn't a bad thing at all...) then it does NOT go into Fan Art. As much as we'd like to copyright Depp... I guess we can't.
If your Johnny Depp is... JACK SPARROW then it DOES go into Fan Art!B) And bands? Political figures? My best friend?
No, they do not need to go into Fan Art. In some cases, like the Gorillaz, they have images that are copyrightable (since it's all animation), but your Metallica portrait, your Barack Obama portrait, your Aunt Mary--they do not need to go into Fan Art.
Easy Peasy Checklist
If the above information was presented in a way that was too long or confusing, this is a handy checklist to identify whether your work belongs in the Fan Art category:YES! It's Fan Art:
Your work is based on a copyrighted work!
It's an actor IN character!
Disney depictions!MAYBE! It's YOUR choice:
You are commissioned to do artwork for the original copyright owner! (and have permission to post it!)
You are employed by the original copyright owner, like working for DC comics! (and have the permission to post it!)NO! It's not Fan Art:
Band portraits, political figures, your relatives, friends, etc. Public domain
works: Shakespeare's works, Alice in Wonderland, and a slew of other works not under the scope of copyright law.Be careful:
Your depiction of Alice in Wonderland from Disney IS copyright. Do your research and make sure your work is based from the original public domain source and not someone else's newer and exciting adaptation.
How this relates to your work:
The Fan Art Gallery encompasses a lot of categories, but there are times where you can't figure out where to put your work! Fan Fiction:
I didn't cover a lot about fan fiction, as the same rules apply to fiction as they do to artwork. Work written by you, copyrighted by someone else goes into fan fiction. Sculpture, Artisan Crafts, Costumes/Cosplay, Photomanipulation, Photos etc:
These categories are not yet supported by the Fan Art category, so you need to submit in the main respective categories. Note:
If your photos/photomanipulations/wallpapers contain copyrighted photos, movie stills, actor photos, etc, it is subject to removal as a policy violation! The last categories in the Fan Art submission menu: Books/Novels, Games, Movies/TV, Miscellaneous
- Books/Novels: This serves the obvious purpose of books and novels, but if you have work based on a comic book, manga, etc, those would also go here.
- Games: This serves anything game related. If it's a video game, here, if it's a board game, sure!
- Movies/TV: This encompasses the obvious movies, tv shows, cartoons, etc, but it also goes for anime tv shows and movies.
- Miscellaneous: If the work you do isn't influenced solely by any of the above, this is where your work goes. (I don't know why you made a Spiderman-Pokemon-Sonic drawing, but you can put it here.)
I hope that this guide gives you a clearer understanding as to what Fan Art is from the deviantART point of view. If you have any questions, please don't post them here--send me a note! If you still have confusion as to whether your art is fan art or not, send me a note! $aunjuli
For related Fan Art information, please check out these news articles:
Fan Art and Celebrities: [link]
Fan Fiction: [link]
CEA:Copying and Tracing: [link]
by $realitysquared Now go and be creative!