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Fan Art/Tribute Dolls: Your Feelings

Nov 5, 2007

    1. First before I open the debate, I want to make it absolutely clear that fan art and tribute costumes and dolls are not copyright violations. The creations and yes, even selling of individual dolls is (with some very rare exceptions by individual creators or copyright holders) allowed and even encouraged by the copyright holders.

      (For those of you who don't know, I am fantasy author Mercedes Lackey, and I do have some 30 plus years of experience in this as both fan artist and original copyright holder myself)

      There is nothing morally or ethically wrong about creating this kind of art, and although it does skirt the edges of copyright when it comes to recreating things from movies and other visual media, this is how the lawyers and publicists usually look at it. Yes, there is a microscopic chance the original copyright holder will lose a minuscule amount of money. But getting medieval on the fan who created the piece is going to be Bad Publicity. Fans talk (boy do they ever) and your happy shiny image can be irreparably tarnished by your heavy-handed treatment of a fan. So in most cases, the copyright holders either tolerate it or actively encourage it.

      For instance, take a look at the Star Wars dolls on this site:


      When a franchise has been out there for as long as, say, Star Wars has been, any fan effort is regarded as a shot in the arm for the old property that might well bring back some new life.

      And for new properties, such fan interest is an unmitigated blessing. It means publicity from another angle, free publicity, and free positive publicity at that.

      So having established that there is nothing legally, morally or ethically wrong with creating this sort of tribute doll or costume, what are your feelings on doing so? Does this show a lack of creativity or an abundance of clevernees?
    2. I think it can be wonderful. And I also think that is is not a lack of creativity, recreating a doll after a character can at times mean a need for more creativity. Especially to create dolls from existing molds, or outfits from gravity defying anime costumes. I think that it takes a very creative individual to do a very good job on a recreation, or a likeness of a character. On the other hand, if you were to say slap together a wig and a shoddy costume and call it a specific character then that shows a lack of creativity.
    3. A lack of creativity? Absolutely not. Some people feel more at home with someone else's imagination than their own and create beautiful and extraordinary things with it. I'm an imaginitive person, but I wouldn't have gotten started if it weren't for Star Wars. It gave me solid ground to stand on while I was learning what makes a good story or a good character. I've made my own worlds now, and have broken away from that universe (mostly for copyright issues when I want to publish. :3). However, I have recently "returned to my roots" and am working on a single character to roleplay within the SW Universe. I believe that making a character from a particular story, whether the character is original or copyrighted is a way of homage. It takes a lot of creativity to be able to get the right look for those Amidala dolls... I can't imagine the hard work into finding/making the right patterns and whatnot it took to make them look so beautiful.

      I prefer my dolls to be original, myself, but that's partially because I feel like my dolls are not just empty shells. While I don't mind Shasta being cranky with me, having River from Firefly cranky at me is a different story. ^^;
    4. Personally I like fan works (fanart/fan dolls based on existing characters/fanfiction/etc). I think it takes as much work and talent to create good fan work as good original work.

      I don't think it shows a lack of creativity, but nor do I think it shows an abundance of cleverness. There are just different things one has to keep in mind and be good at while doing fan work.

      I have came across the opinion that people doing fanworks are having an eaiser time to find people who would appreciate their work, because the characters they use already have a large fan population, so in a way, they have a ready and symphathic audience.

      I am not clear on copyright/trademark issues when things like this are being sold for profit. I disagree that it is not a problem just because:

      "The creations and yes, even selling of individual dolls is (with some very rare exceptions by individual creators or copyright holders) allowed and even encouraged by the copyright holders."

      It just means that most copyright holders won't do anything to stop this, but that by itself doesn't mean there aren't any issues. It exists and they allow it now, but that doesn't mean it is a protected right.

      For a long time, I think fanfictions don't have copyright issues. Then along came Anne Rice. She did successfully stop most people from writing fanfics about her characters. Yes, I still think not for profit fanworks are absolutly fine, but when someone like her disagrees, she would win even when there is no money involved.
    5. Having River cranky at you......*_*

      now that is a scary, scary thought.
    6. Fanfic is an entirely different subject which, sadly, isn't relevant to BJDs or this forum. I'm trying to stick to dolls/doll costumes. (I would be happy to discuss it in PMs though).
    7. Frankly, I prefere my own characters to the character's of other's. :daisy
      So I would much rather bring my own characters to life than an author's; even if that author is one of my favorites. (Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis, anyone? :fangirl: )

      I am, however, playing around with the idea of making a character based on Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan comic series; but then again the author interacts quite often with his fans and publically lists an email address where I can contact him and ask him if he minds.
    8. I know, I'm just trying to find an example of how fan works could relate to original copyright holders. I thought since they are all fan works, same rules would apply. But you are right, perhaps it's better to leave this out.

      I think, without more concrete rules, when it comes to fan works being sold for profit, it seems to be the copyright holder's privilege whether to allow or not allow fan works of their characters. In reality, the vast majority allow it and some would even encourage it.

      But the possibility of them not chose to do so exists. It is not a protected right that people could practice regardless of the creators' wishes. If this is the case, then it is an issue. If this is not the case, I would love to hear it, especially since I do like fanworks in general:)
    9. I won't say it's a lack of creativity -- at the LEAST creative end of it, we'd have a person with no sewing/customizing talent whatsoever trying to assemble a fan doll from items that are already available on the market. That takes a great deal of effort, and requires that they have the ability to look at items that are presented "as-is" from outside the box. Also, since these are usually items that we can't see and handle in real life, this means working from a couple (at best) 2D photographs.

      On the other hand, if they're lucky, they can do all the customization themselves...and I don't think that anyone will argue that even making an item based on something else is creative -- you've got to develop the pattern, find the materials, etc. That's where the cleverness comes into play. xD I know figuring out how to assemble a garment that I've 100% designed on paper (and they usually look to be physically impossible @_@) is always a great, "AHA! NOW I feel smart!" moment for me. xD

      That being said, fandolls aren't for me personally. I've got too many original characters bouncing around in my head that need bodies. :XD: If I started worrying about other peoples' characters too, I think I would flat-out die.
    10. Personally, creating fafinc/fanart/fan-dolls takes just as much creativity as making up a character. I mean, yes the character(s) are already established, with descriptions, backstory, behavior, etc...but sitting down and taking that character to another place takes a little effort. As a struggling story-writer/comic person I hope one day there's a bajillion people out there who get stuck to one of my characters. It means you've made some kind of connection there. Also, I'd be one happy clam if someone liked the world I've created to play in it too (does that makes sense?).

      And, yeah, fan created stuff may be skirting the legal lines and all, but it is free advertisement. And sometimes it breathes new life into a dead series. I mean, the original Star Trek was cancelled, but lived on after the invention of the VCR recorder, and look where they are now (except for Enterprise - I'll happily forget that series ever happened)!

      For me, I love making fanart or writing fanfiction. Techincally, I suppose I have fan-dolls, but if they are my own characters does that really count? :lol: I feel like that brings me closer to characters I love, and the world that they are in.

      (Apologies if I was rambling, don't make sense, or misspelled things. NaNoWriMo is really kitting my butt! :lol: )
    11. Just gotta second that...xD Receiving fanart of my characters makes me crazy-super-happy. Even the time someone tried to RP "marry" one of them...it was like, "Alright, that's kind of weird...but I'm flattered." If I saw other dolls of them running around out there, I think I would be on cloud nine for a week at least. :)
    12. For me personally, I would make a fan doll if I have a lot more disposable income than I do right now :) The characters I think of would be expensive to dress, although he would only need 2 wigs (1 long, 1 short, okay, maybe 1 medium) and 1 pair of eyes. And then he would need a friend.

      I actually feel a fan doll would be more "real" to me than a character I created myself in many ways. With a fan doll, there are certain aspects I can't change, certain things about the character would come from outside of myself that I can't control. In a way it makes me feel like the doll is more of an individual, not less. Not sure if I'm making any sense with this here...
    13. personally i prefer original characters just because i come up with them and feel like they're unique to me and i know them better - -personally, this way, I feel closer to them.

      but fan art is good too...but with BJDs, you can always just change the wig and eyes and clothes to fit most cosplay characters. but if you're molding a head to be exactly like a character,then u've really gotta love that character with your life because that face is staying. forever.(and most fandoms fade with time, you won't necessarily not love the series anymore, but the heat'll dim)
    14. I just don't like them. I personally wouldn't spend $600 on a BJD when I can get an exact replica of the character (which is often a popular anime-type character) for so much less. Personally, I like anime a lot. And I have yet to see a doll that I believe looks like anything but that particular mold (except for the minimees MADE to look like that character).

      Anime just doesn't seem to transform well into the 3D.
    15. Personally, I prefer original characters for myself, because creating and working on characterization, backstories, current stories, etc, is a major part of the fun for me.

      However, plenty of people have tribute dolls these days and I don't think it can be considered a lack of creativity or an abundance of cleverness on a whole. To create a good tribute doll, I think there needs to be a different type of creativity than when you create an original doll and a certain amount of imaginativeness. How well you can produce a doll of an existing character will depend on how well you can imagine it into 3D and what you can do to translate those details onto a doll.

      I do think that how clever or creative a fan doll is will depend on the individual owner. I've seen some rather poor works where things are slapped together and voila, there it is. It doesn't take that much creativity or cleverness to plop a silver wig on a doll, toss it into a gaudy outfit and say, hey, Kuja! But if someone does it well by coming up with a feathery wig, going into the details of his elaborate but skimpy clothing, etc, then yes, you will need some cleverness and creativity to pull it off. In other words, I think it really varies from doll to doll.
    16. I like both tribute and "original" dolls. I don't find that either type lacks more creativity than another (think of all the original dolls that are goth, punk, lolita, vampire, marie-antoinette, victorian, fairy-tale, fantasy creature, angel, demon, angsty sexually confused, runaway-with-a-tragic-abusive-past, etc inspired). I think that every doll (and, in fact, piece of art) draws some amount of inspiration from one source or another. If you turn on the tv to any drama or anime, pick up a novel I'm sure you can find a character that is similar in some way to even original dolls. But then again, I never understood why there was a creativity competition in the first place. And I'm not saying all original dolls follow some stereotype or another either. As long as everyone is happy with their own dolls, no matter what type they are, that's what I think matters most.

      Frankly, my favorite "original" dolls on the board are still very, very stereotypical in appearance and personality. Even so, they are still quite popular. Another of my favorites is a tribute character. I think they're both awesome, but the thing that makes them really great is how much their owners love them.

      This isn't meant to knock on original dolls in any way at all. All but one of my current dolls are "original" types. I just think that every doll original doll is sort of unique, while also similar to something that's already been done at the same time. My girl has two colored eyes, blonde hair, and dresses lolita. Another is a angsty punk girl and yet another is a girl who likes pink, flowers, making friends..... being a stereotypical sickeningly-sweet sugar overloaded girl. How much creativity did that take? Not any more or less than my up and coming green character tribute unoa. I'm positive my "original girls" are not the only girls on the board of their type in either look or personality, but that's fine with me :) they're mine, they make me happy, that's all that matters.

      So basically, all doll-love is good doll-love imho :whee:
    17. I don't think it shows lack of creativity or an abundance of cleverness. I think it's more clever to come up with an entirely new concept, but dressing/customizing/modding a doll well to be an existing character also shows some inventiveness in finding and making the pieces and really getting the look and/or feel of the character.

      As for my feelings, I think it's fine. I don't really care to see dolls butchered, so I might have a problem with excessive damage to a doll to represent a character, but that's about it.

      It's not what I do, though there are a couple of book characters I would like to represent in maybe one photoshoot.

    18. Speaking for myself, I prefer to have original dolls, but so far they haven't been "original characters" to me exactly - they've been acquired simply because I liked them as they were. Although I just bought my first doll that I'm intending to actually be a character that was already in my head, and it's rather exciting. :)

      I do find that I want to make my dolls all sorts of cosplay costumes for temporary dress-up purposes, but they're not going to be that character full-time. This is probably because I cosplay too, and so my dolls are just fellow cosplayers or something. ;) Now I may well be biased since I've been making recreation costumes for so long, but I think it requires its own brand of cleverness in making things as accurate to the original as possible. (Especially since I make mostly anime costumes and they tend to regularly ignore the laws of physics.) It may be a different kind of creativity, or perhaps aimed in a different direction, but it's still there nonetheless. I actually have tried creating my own designs, and I find I actually prefer the challenges inherent in trying to realize someone else's drawing/painting/etc in a real-life costume.

      There is one amusingly ironic exception to the "cosplayer" thing, though... When I bought my Dollshe Van, I intended to have him dress up as Vanyel at some point. Months later, he hasn't got his Whites sewn yet, but this isn't stopping him from trying to insist on being Vanyel full-time. Every time I change his hair I swear he glares at me. I keep trying to tell him that no, seriously, he really doesn't want to be Vanyel, but so far the argument is at a stalemate. (Perhaps this is a big reason why I haven't sewn his Whites yet... I'm afraid that once I do, he'll win for sure! :doh )
    19. I had to giggle at that. Try and remind him what a horrible, sad, lonely life Van had! (And don't let him get a glimpse of any potential 'Lendels.)
    20. I'm sorry, but this is the third debate topic about character dolls. We know by now that there are people who find them 'not creative'

      Me, personally, I couldn't care less if my dolls weren't original. Yes, *gasp* I don't need my dolls to be unique little snowflakes, I don't need them to be 90 cm blue/green/purple dyed with colorchanging eyes and horns and enourmous elven ears and claws and God knows what more just so he's 'different from what's already done'. I just want to enjoy them. I bought them to enjoy, not to prove how speshul and unique I am. If that means basing them of one of my favorite characters? So be it.

      Hiritai said in one of the other threads that she has a doll based on Vincent Valentine, but with a slightly different name so he's still partly hers-that's how I'm going to do it too(have four character dolls in the planning, the first one's due to arrive around january). I think it's a wonderful way to have your favorite character as a doll, and still have him be yours and add/enlarge certain traits of him that you like and have to potential to sometimes give him a different wig or anything.

      All together, I don't think it shows a lack of creativity-not even when the doll is a one on one copy of the character-and it would be cool if people could leave character doll owners alone for once >.> Sorry if this sounded a bit cranky, but frankly, I'm fed up with this debate. And yes, I could just ignore it, but as a fan-and future owner-of character dolls I don't feel I should just keep quiet or walk away. I'm sorry if I offended anyone-I don't care if you think it's important to have your doll be a unique snowflake, that's fine with me, so please don't see my personal feelings as an attack on yours.