I grew up with ceramics, it’s in my blood.As a baby my cot was next to my mother’s potter’s wheel, which is probably one of the very few situations where the mother gets more messy than the child.Growing up, instead of being sat in front of the TV to keep me out of mischief, I was handed a block of clay.I learned to love creating: to make something from nothing, order from chaos.
Fantasy was my main interest back then, so by the time I was into my teens I was making fairy castles and selling them alongside my mother’s work in galleries.Before I had learned algebra at school I knew how to mix the components of a glaze and handle a gas-fired kiln.It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.
Moving to England, while a good decision overall, put the brakes on my claywork.You can hardly set up a studio and fire a kiln while flat-sharing in the middle of bustling London.So I waited – impatiently – until I had enough money to buy my own place with a large enough garden and shed to get back into the family business.
Now I have clay at my fingertips again (sorry for the pun) I’m able to pursue my two loves – history and sci-fi/fantasy.Both of these genres present very well in clay and I’m enjoying all the different possibilities of using various glazes, highlighting compounds and even glow-in-the-dark paint to bring the piece to life.
I love the thought that I can make something unique for others to enjoy, something inspired by the TV shows or movies that we’re all fans of but with the unmistakable character of a handmade item.
The Legal Stuff
Copyright law as applied to fan art is a murky and confusing world. At its most simplistic, the creator of the work has full rights to all images and derivatives.However, things are rarely that straightforward.Fanfiction and Fanart exist in the millions, even supported to become commercialised by such sites as Amazon and DeviantArt, not to mention the thousands of 'Unofficial Guides' that are produced by reputable publishers every year. There are clauses which allow reproduction of otherwise copyrighted material under certain conditions, and other rules and cases which all have bearing on the matter, making it something of a Gordian Knot to unravel. As I understand it, it's important for fans to abide by two main stipulations:
1. Your work should not be in direct competition to anything produced officially, and 2. Your work must be wholly your own work, not using anything official in its physical creation.
Point 1 is fairly easy to avoid in my work, as few official companies out there would think to start producing ceramic merchandise in the form of wall plaques or displays - but if they ever were to, I would have to pull the plug on those products of mine that may be in competition. Point 2 is one that must be kept in mind, and as relating to ceramic work, it essentially means that I cannot simply take a mould from an official item and then make copies of it.For example, it would be a simple thing to press an official merchandise cookie cutter into clay and sell the result, but that would be stepping past the line of fair use.Instead, I must carve my work by hand, which you can watch me doing in my youtube videos. One notable breach of this was in the case of a man who tried to sell a Harry Potter Encyclopaedia, and was successfully sued by J.K. Rowling.In that case, the fan was both in direct competition with the official Encyclopaedia as well as inputting very little original material of his own, the bulk merely being copied and pasted directly from Rowling's books.
Although there's a lot of grey area in this field, many creators feel that fan artists are helping promote their work and are happy for them to continue, even if there may be some degree of infringement that isn't covered by fair use.It can be a symbiotic relationship providing there is always respect on both sides.There are some companies that have indicated they would prefer their work not be the subject of fan artists, and I will be abiding by their wishes insofar as I am aware of them.
At the end of the day fan artists such as myself are, above everything, Big Damn Fans at heart.I love Lord of the Rings, adore Doctor Who and will spend hours pitting Marvel characters against their DC counterparts in imaginary battles.I want to share that with others, to put my artistic skills to good use by (hopefully) making something that will remind others how much fun it is to be a Geek.