Fanart as craft and the creation of culture

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Abstract

A study reveals how young people from nineteen countries have begun to manipulate media conveyed narratives of popular culture in ways that may be construed as culture creation. Through intense engagements as fans of commercially produced images and stories, adolescents and young adults may craft fanart illustrations as images of self. As they learn art making within the global fandom, or Internet-connected community of like-interested fans and fanartists, these young people enact relationships to the subject and process of fanart making, fellow fanartists and the fan community that are not unlike those of the medieval European craftsman to his craft, guild workshop and community. Appreciation of local and global aesthetics is quickened, and a desire to develop a high level of skill is inspired. Knowledge, skill, and aesthetic appreciation, however, do not necessarily lead fanartists to desire art-related careers. Rather, many fanartists are satisfied to experience fanart making as internalized affirmations of communal self. These findings suggest art teachers should encourage practices that permit students to explore personally relevant content, such as may be found in popular narratives, and enter into interactions that reiterate those between craftsman and media, process, and community.

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