A couple of days ago I wrote about addiction to TV shows and how to avoid it. While addiction of any sort is certainly not the optimal state for a rational human to be in, there are some aspects of being passionate about a TV show that can certainly help you improve the way you create. Today I’d like to focus on joining a fandom and the consequences it can have on the art one makes. The way I see it, there are at least 3 reasons why you would want to become a geeky fangirl/fanboy of at least one TV series.
Being part of a fandom is a great way to improve on being creative without the fear of rejection. Fandoms is usually really accepting of all kinds of fan art. Even if you are not a great singer, the fact itself that you tried to record a fan song will gain you popularity. Most fandoms are generally very supportive. They will not judge you for the quality of your work, as long as you did it with passion and put it out there. The main reason for this is not that fans have such bad taste that they like anything and everything. On the contrary, we can be the harshest critics of the things we love. However, we rarely get as much content as we would like. This makes every additional bit precious even if it is not ‘the real thing’. Try it yourself and you will be amazed. I have heard more than once people say that the strangers on Tumblr/Twitter/Pinterest are a lot more supportive than their friends on Facebook. They give you the feeling of belonging and will provide valuable feedback and probably new ideas as well.
The second very important point is the huge amounts of ready material to work with. We all know that everything we see on TV or read in a book is copyrighted. However, no corporation will readily sue its biggest fans unless they are abusing their content and trying to profit from it. If you have visited sites like Etsy.com you already know that the stuff sold there technically infringes copyright. Still, a company that has fans like that usually knows to cherish them. What does all of this mean for you, an aspiring artist with limited abilities in most creative areas? It means you can use anything you need to make the job easier. You can’t play an instrument but you can sing? Use the soundtrack of your favourite TV show. You have an idea for a short film but you don’t have a camera? Cut and edit a couple of movies and stick them together. You want to show your appreciation of a show but you don’t wear T-shirts? Draw your favourite character with textile markers on your sneakers. You can be just as creative as you wish, taking only what you need and completing the rest from your imagination.
This leads to my third point: a fandom uses all possible kinds or art to express its ‘feels’. Members of such groups are very creative when it comes to choosing and mixing content to create a new piece of art. A typical example is the existence of ‘ships’. I will explain all the necessary terms in a future post but for now it is enough to know that it is normal for fandoms to pair off two characters from a TV series that have no official connection and make art about them. Very often these combinations are odd, say Hermione and Snape having a romantic attachment.
However peculiar some ideas may be, they are generally based on the original but add the artist’s point of view. There is nothing that these fans consider impossible. They paint art, organize conventions, sell music albums with fan-made music – in short, explore all the possibilities and in the process learn a lot about their own artistic potential.
There is a thin line between a consuming addiction and a creative one. The best way I have found to focus on the latter is reflection. If I really like something, I watch it again. The first time you see a new episode you will be too affected to think about it. You need to watch it again and really concentrate on how the characters feel and why they act the way they do and what is happening between the scenes when they are having lunch, and applying their makeup, and going to the toilet. The moment you stop noticing their perfect six packs and tight skirts and start seeing them think is the moment when your own ideas will start flowing.
That being said, don’t forget this timeless truth:
If Sherlock’s cheekbones inspire you to write a song, then by all means do it! Just don’t spend your afternoons daydreaming about fictional characters or Hollywood stars. However sweet that might be right now, it is not productive and it will never make you feel truly content with yourself. Find the golden mean and harness the powerful surge of inspiration a great piece of art gives you!
Want to know more about the power of fandoms and how to feel at home in any one of them?