How Teen Wolf is legitimizing fan art, one exhibit at a time
Often when the outside world talks about fanart — if they talk about it at all — it’s with an air of skepticism and even cynicism; it’s limited to the faithful eyes of Tumblr users, DeviantArt, and members of specific fandoms, despite the unmistakable talent of so many artists. Fanart often comes with a qualifier, as if there is an implicit “just” in front of the word.
On noted occasion, celebrities have taken notice of a fandom’s collections of work and promoted them. Zayn Malik, for example, is notorious for his love of his fan artists, and we recently wrote about how The 100 Charity Project uses submitted work in their charitable endeavors. MTV’s Teen Wolf, however, has taken their appreciation to a whole new level: by displaying fanart of the show in a well-regarded New York City gallery space.
Image Source: ADC Global
In conjunction with the show’s fifth season, fan artists were selected by the Off-Air Creative team and given advance hints of what was to come. No major plot points were given, but themes that the artists could work with were provided in order to make this even both a display of artistic creativity and a killer marketing move.
Image Source: Artist Swann Smith via Facebook
On opening night, fans crowded the streets outside the gallery hoping to be one of the first to gain admittance into the event, which hosted six of the nine selected artists as well as the alpha wolf himself, Tyler Posey, and showrunner Jeff Davis.
Image Source: Carlos Rodriguez via Facebook
Apart from drawing attention to these incredible artists and to the show itself, Teen Wolf has done a lot for the fandom community, specifically in regards to artwork. They’ve made a point out of interacting with popular artists and even have some works hanging around the production office. Jeff Davis, in a sign that hung at the exhibition, made it clear that fan participation through art was an integral part of the viewing experience:
Image Source: Alice Pain via Twitter
“It’s one thing to watch a TV show and enjoy it as an hour of entertainment. It’s quite another thing to be so inspired by it that you go off and create your own works of art. More than glowing reviews or ratings, these incredible pieces of artwork might be the greatest compliment fans can give the creators and artists behind their favorite show. It inspires us. It makes us want to do better. It makes us proud that maybe we’ve done a few things right. And most of all, it makes us want to keep inspiring you.”
Image Source: Frida Svensson via Facebook
The show ran for a week at New York’s Art Director’s Club and attracted a sea of fans. It’s uncertain whether or not they’ll continue collecting fanart for suture seasons, but they have certainly made their stance on the medium clear. For so long, people were wary of fanart out of fear of copyright laws, but MTV and Teen Wolf have proven that they can keep up with the changing landscape of watching television. They have accepted that popular television as an immersive, fan-driven experience; instead of alienating their fandoms, they embrace them.
Image Source: Jessica Short via Facebook
One thing is certain: Teen Wolf is doing their part to make sure that fanartists are perceived as more than just superfans. They are talented, ambitious artists who channel their creativity and love for the show into an entire off-air community where possibilities are endless. By involving themselves so heavily in the fan community, Teen Wolf is setting a precedent for other high-fandom shows to follow in the future.
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