Fan Art for All!

The other day I saw a wonderful IG post by the author Neal Shusterman displaying some of the #fanart he receives from some very talented artists. I am a huge fan of his writing myself. A little background: I earned a BFA in 1982, and when I became a teacher in the mid-2000s my BFA earned me an endorsement in teaching art, too. This past school year, during the building closure, was the first year I was able to add teaching a Drawing class to my schedule. My schedule included Drawing, ELA/ELL, ELL Study Skills, and a Check/Connect time (which, by all metrics, was a collaborative disaster, but that’s a story for another day).

Incorporating visual arts into my English/Language Arts design is embedded in my work. And the ‘skills’ of drawing are something, the fear of “I can’t draw a straight line” is addressed swiftly and soundly. Guess what? I can’t draw a straight line, either. I use a ruler. I use digital tools. My stick figures are quirky. Oh well. Art and writing are closely connected to telling a story. And when we ELA teachers have asked our students to shut their eyes and visualize a story*, to see the movie in their minds, we’re asking a daunting task for many students now. Consumption of audio/visual content is a full-time pursuit for many students (and ourselves) so being able to imagine characters and scenes in a book feels impossible to some.

#Fanart is an act of love and never has to be anything but showing a love of the stories and characters.

Here are some brief ideas on how to get started with books, Fan Art, and all of us who feel less than confident when it comes to creating FanArt.

  • Use already created art and ensure that citing the source of the art correctly is a must.
  • Use to import art (again, if not original, give credit)
  • Fandom sites and wikis are a treasure trove of art
  • Bulletin board sites like Pinterest are good places to find source art
  • Use existing paintings and curated sources that might go with a character/theme
  • Encourage symbols and focus objects to represent characters, moods, tone, and theme: these can often be found as free clip art.
  • Take some time to learn basics in digital collage for your own enjoyment. If you need a place to start you can message me in the comments.

Here is a rushed example (and, I just discovered Canva now connects to!)

To help inner creating sensory processes:

  • Ask students to rest/close eyes, remove devices and distractions
  • Read a passage from a text that has vivid sensory imagery
  • Read the passage again and have students track their senses (use this chart if you like)

Reminder: always give credit to the original author, too.

We English teachers have asked students to create movie posters and one-pagers for a long time. Adding #fanart to the mix supports inclusion for multi-modal approaches to texts. Please comment with questions and ideas, and “dog food” this — create your own FanArt!

*Yes, there is aphantasia.