News / Features / Editorial

Giving Back To Idols: A Look At K-Pop Fan Art

By Rachelle D. | January 17, 2015 04:38 PM EST


K-pop stars spend their days making art for us. In turn, thousands of fans worldwide have decided to pay it forward - they're busy making K-pop fan art that depicts their beloved idols.

A search for "Kpop art" on Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, or Twitter yields tens of thousands of results, and the genre is also popular on online original art community DeviantArt. The artists come from all over the globe and have several different styles. Some are self-taught and use fan art as a creative outlet; others are art students or professionals hoping to make a living selling their K-pop-inspired work.

Fan art isn't unique to K-pop, of course, but idols have seemed to serve as muses to the masses in a way that pop stars from other countries haven't. That's partly because of the intense colors, fashions, and styles that make K-pop unique, said a fan artist that goes by the name Tunyon.

"The concepts they do for each comeback and debut are very interesting and original, and I always get good ideas that will fit my work," Tunyon told KpopStarz.

There's also a personal element to fan art, said Abby Penn. She's a self-taught fan artist who started anime characters at a young age and was inspired to draw her favorite idols after she discovered K-pop at age 13.

 "That was the awkward time when I was figuring out who I was, and it was really influential in my growing up," Penn told KpopStarz. "I'm really sure that K-pop is the reason why I got so passionate about art. I was so taken with the music, the choreography, visuals and the culture of Korea in general, that it inspired me to start dancing, start my own YouTube channel, learn Korean, and go on to have many adventures through those things."

Fan artist Erika Gaborovna, a visual communication student who has a special interest in videos that help viewers understand her artistic process, can't say what exactly it is about K-pop that has lured her - just that the lure has been undeniable.

"K-pop is my muse," she told KpopStarz. "It's a little of a strong comparison, but the way the Bible was the muse of the old masters, my muse happened to be K-pop. With my art I try to show what it makes me feel, not simply copying the images or their face. I want the viewer to feel what I feel when I look at that person who inspired me."

Another artist, who goes by the name gaypixiefairylu, has a similar desire to dig deeply into her emotional response to K-pop.

"I liked K-pop for the music, but my biases are really the ones who made me do more for the fandom," she told KpopStarz. "As long as they're still active and passionate about their work, then I would be too."

For some fan artists, simply creating works and sharing them with fellow social media followers is enough. For others, though, there are two ultimate goals. First, making a living (or at least some extra income) from their work. Several artists accept commissions through social media or have set up stores at sites like Society6, which allow artists to sell their original work either as prints or printed onto items like pillows and coffee mugs.

The second goal would be having an idol see and love their work. Penn has had a little luck with this so far.

"I met f(x)'s Amber at the K-pop Coverdance Festival in LA in 2011 and got to personally hand her a drawing that I did of her," Penn said. "She said, 'This is really awesome! I'm going to hang it on my wall.' And I basically could have died, haha."

Getting works to stars is increasingly tricky, though, as security measures increase to protect stars and their families. Gaborovna said she hopes that K-pop stars can see fan art as an alternative to the rabid fandom that drives some netizens to track the lives of their idols to a dangerous degree.

She hopes that thoughtful, inspired fan art can act as a reminder to artists about why they do the work they do.

"With all the crazy fans we see in the videos uploaded on the Internet, the brainless barbaric attitude that the stars have to endure in public, I hope if they came across some far art and felt what I feel, what they make us feel, how much they inspire us, how precious they are to us," she noted. "I hope it could make them feel a little better, a little lighter."

Tagged :  Art, fan art, K-pop fan art, Born Hater, Chanyeol, CL, Kai, tao, B.A.P, Bang Yongguk, daehyun


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