Good afternoon (as of February 03, 2015). I am a young male of mixed Puerto-Rican/Azerbaijani heritage, with Sunni Moslem beliefs, studying at the university level. I discovered what is called the "furry fandom" on the Internet back in 2007, and my experiences have not always been positive. For now, I will not deal with the already-covered, more controversial aspects, but I have another question instead: Am I the only one who finds much of the costuming, artwork, and writing superficial and tacky? On any given day, I could visit DeviantArt or Tumblr, and be stunned at the appallingly low or gimmicky quality of most user submissions (granted, this is a general phenomenon of amateur content sites and social networks). Outdated sound bites, devoid of substance, by people with no clue as to what is good aesthetic taste. I have viewed online footage of AnthroCon, and I was not much impressed either. Like the fundamentalists of my faith (give or take however you want it), although bullying and intolerance of those who consider themselves "furry" is a sad reality, a few also seem to lack perspective on themselves and be incapable of taking any criticisms. These are the images of furry artwork I have seen so far:
And I could endlessly go on and on, but I would never finish. Maybe I am being too demanding and unrealistic, but I would like to see anthropomorphic animals explored from a deeper, more elegant and sophisticated, fine art perspective (I would actually pay to see such an exhibition!). Oh well, maybe I was quacking at the wrong door the whole time. I hope you could orient me a little. Thank you very much, may Allah be with you, and have a most excellent week.
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Dear Joaquin Claro,
Thank you for your question and kind words. I would agree with your statement toward the end of your letter that you are “being too demanding and unrealistic.” Expecting all the art (or even the majority of it) posted by furries on the Internet to somehow be top quality stuff worthy of display in a museum or art gallery exhibits a misunderstanding of the purpose of the fandom. That would be like expecting everyone who writes Trek or Lord of the Rings fanfic to win Hugo and Nebula Awards. Remember, these people are, for the most part, amateurs. As the word “amateur” denotes, they draw furries for the love of it, not because they are pros and want to make money or earn awards (although many appreciate kind feedback for their efforts); to my way of thinking, that is a very admirable reason.
I, personally, always encourage people to express themselves artistically, whether that be in the visual arts, or in writing, music, dance, or whatever moves them. If you feel that much of their work is imitative or pedestrian, remember that many artists begin by emulating what inspires them and what they enjoy. Some will never move beyond that point, while others will eventually find their own artistic voice and become quite brilliant.
I would object, too, to the implication here that all furry art is bad. There are a lot of very talented artists. I am constantly amazed by a lot of the art I see.
You also mention costume arts (i.e., fursuits). This area is one I find particularly impressive. I’ve seen dazzling fursuits by a number of creators, including the talented woman who created mine, Beastcub. I’d list more great fursuit makers, but I’m afraid if I pick and choose I might hurt some feelings if I leave people out who are talented, as well.
As for artists, again, there are some very gifted people out there, such as Dark Natasha and Blotch. Too many, in my opinion, to list here.
If you are looking for the best furry art, one place you might start is the Ursa Major Awards page. Look through the pages of past winners and current nominations and you will find links to some great stuff. Most of the awards are for fiction and just a few for art, however; I keep hoping they’ll start an award for best fursuits, but I’m still waiting (anyfur also think this is a good idea?) I also think that there is no need for the UMAs to award movies, novels etc. from the mainstream world and that, instead, they should focus on arts created by the fandom (just my opinion).
If you feel that the furry art world can be improved, there are a couple things you might do: 1) you can contribute art yourself if you’re an artist (not an artist? then maybe you should be less critical of something you can’t do yourself), 2) if you find certain websites gross, disturbing, banal, or otherwise inferior, stop going to those websites, and 3) encourage people you think are talented by commissioning works from them and giving them positive feedback on their websites and discussion groups. Artists gotta eat, too, ya know :-3
You apparently wouldn’t agree, but one of the things I find most attractive about the furry fandom is that it is contributed to by furries, rather than large, moneyed corporations (this is why I find going to a furcon more rewarding that ComicCon). Amateurs are, therefore, to be appreciated and hugged, not berated because they don’t have art hanging in the Louvre.
Art, Claro, is in the eye of the beholder.
To answer your question, there probably are other furries who feel as you do about the art in the fandom (many of them turn into trolls), but, when I think about it, I really don’t know what the purpose of your and others’ criticisms could be. Do you hope, by pointing out that you don’t like most furry art, that the artists will suddenly decide to do better because you have pointed out where they have gone wrong? Or do you hope that they will read your criticism, get discouraged, and stop drawing things you find inferior or offensive, and, thus, clear the way for more gifted artists? Neither is a very admirable goal.
You note that many artists don't take criticism well. You might wish to consider how it is often true that furries have found themselves, for one reason or another, rejected by society, criticized by peers and family for what they love. Therefore, to be criticized further by fellow furries, the people they have turned to for support and camaraderie, tends to put them on the defensive.
I could be missing the point, though, so if I am, please write again and let me know. I’m not trying to be harsh here; just trying to figure out your letter.
Yours in Furriness,
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