Harry Potter and the Importance of Fan Art

Continuing our week-long Harry Potter theme for a bit longer (I don’t think you can fit The Wannabes’ many feelings about the Wizarding World in one week), I want to celebrate the third-most important feature responsible for sustaining my Potter fanaticism — fan art.

More than fan fiction, fan art was responsible for tying me over between book releases. And by fan art I mean viewing fan art, not creating it. Trust me, no one wants to see my stick figure with a lightning bolt scar on its face. I viewed so much HP fan art that for a period of time, I assumed all works deemed “fan art” were fanworks for Harry Potter.

When I read fan fiction, I’m actively aware that I’m not reading a story directly from Rowling. It is, by definition, not canon. Experiencing cultural content in a different medium than the original text or the virtually ubiquitous film adaptations enriches the fandom experience in a wholly unique way.

For me, the ambiguity of fan art translates to universality. The artist can convey only so much meaning in one piece. The spectator fills in the blanks, making whatever piece that speaks to the spectator all the better. What a nerdy joy it is to see a fan artwork for the first time and without any other reference know exactly who the characters are.

Moreover, the characters portrayed in fan art, as in official book illustrations, are just as valid as the live action portrayals in the almost ubiquitous movies. I argue that they’re even more valid than the live action representations because there are many instances of book-to-film character description discrepancies (don’t get me started on Hermione’s hair) as well as the mere fact that the actors are actors. An actor is a character only in the allotted time of the movie series. An illustration of a character is that character forever.

That’s what makes fan art so much for and so important to the livelihood of fandom. For Potterheads, fan art enriches our understanding of the vivid world of Rowling’s books and individual imagination. It keeps Harry Potter, et al. alive not just between official, canon projects but forever. (Or at least until the Inferi Apocalypse.)

While I tended to enjoy more canonically accurate fan art, I indulged in all kinds of fan art. For instance, there’s a soft spot in my heart for cutesy “Next Generation” art, especially featuring Rose and Scorpius. (Scorose. It’s a thing.)

Reflecting on my past hours upon hours of fan art spectating, here are ten of my favorites from then and now. See if you can figure out the characters and scenario without reading the work titles!

Harry Potter, ‘1945’ by Nicholas Kole

YAH DONE GOOFED by Heather Campbell a.k.a. Makani

Lone Wolf by LMRourke

In Front of the Magical Menagerie by Marta T

Weasley Winter by Humourless Poppycock

Sunlight by Pojypojy

Pansy and the Walk of Shame by Forbis

sun-filled memories by vivira13

Orphan Tom by Abigail Larson

Oh, THAT day… by Lisa Villella

 

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