Previously, a fanartist was anyone who drew for a genre because they were a fan of the genre rather than a professional employed to create art for the genre. In the earlier fandom years, artists like Wendy (Fletcher) Pini who produced amateur original fantasy art for fanzines would be deemed a "fanartist" because they produced art for a genre they were fans of. While a fanartist could make fanart for any genre, generally the most common were the science fiction and fantasy genres.
However, in modern usage, the word "fanart" means any amateur art for a specific TV show, movie, book, or other media event not owned or created by the artist. Original genre art is generally no longer considered "fanart."
Technically, the term "fanart" encompasses art in every medium just as the word "art" does, including but not limited to drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, photo manipulation, videos, crafts, textiles, metal smithing, and fashion. Within these broad media types, fanart has also created types of art almost specific to itself, such as icons.
Colloquially, fanart most commonly refers to the art for a canon that is drawn or painted either traditionally or digitally. However, colloquial use can also depends on the fandom. For example, in a fandom where photo manipulation is the dominant form of art, "fanart" for the fandom often implies "photo manipulation," not traditional art. Some fandoms refuse to consider icons or banners as "fanart."
History of Fanart
In the USA and other Western countries, fanart in the modern sense of the word dates to at least the 60s and 70s, if not earlier. It was especially prevalent in the Star Trek and Star Wars fandoms. Other TV shows, such as Starsky & Hutch, The Professionals, Beauty and the Beast, and other 80s and early 90s TV series (and some movies) had a noticeable fanart presence. Fanart was also created for highly popular books like The Lord of the Rings.
When media fandom moved online, it was mostly fanfiction that developed an online presence. The split between fanart and fanfiction that occurred when western, live-action media fandoms, moved to the net gave some fans, who first encountered these fandoms online, the impression that in the English-speaking world fanart lagged behind fanfiction in general, although it was only true for online media fandom where fanart was not as prevalent as fanfiction.
In contrast, many Asian countries, notably Japan, had a highly visible fanart culture, most notably in the form of small fan comics called doujinshi. Anime series of the 80s and 90s that had a considerable doujinshi following in Japan included Samurai Troopers, Saint Seiya, Sailor Moon, Fushigi Yuugi, and others. Doujinshi was also produced for western television shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and The A-Team. Often the characters were drawn in a more "Traditional" manga style and there was little attempt made toward the more portrait realism seen in western fanart for these series.
In the early and mid 90's Japanese cartoons increased in popularity in the USA and fanart began to be created for these shows. These fandoms did not have an expectation of a 'realistic' portrayal of characters, which may help explain why fanart began to be not only drawn more often, but drawn by younger fandom members, especially teens and pre-teens. This is not to say the teenagers had not previously drawn fanart, but there was a noticeable increase in fanartist numbers in this age bracket.
The first time anime fandom and western media fandom met was in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which was the fandom that swallowed all of (media slash) fandom before Harry Potter became big, and The Phantom Menace fanart documents this meeting of different styles and traditions. With the rise of Harry Potter fandom and fanartists moving from the anime and Harry Potter fandoms into other fandoms, fanart became increasingly visible again in both older and newer TV, movie, and book fandoms. Giving these "live action" characters a more 'cartoon' look became more accepted among fans.
Currently, fanart is a highly visible and popular part of many fandoms across the genres. It is still most noticeable in anime and Harry Potter fandoms. However, it is also seen in a diverse range of fandoms including Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Supernatural, Merlin, Marvel comics, and other popular TV series, books, comics, and movies.
Recently, newer online posting formats such as Big Bangs and Reverse Bangs (akin to Big Bangs but with the artwork created first and inspiring the fic) show a return to the old zine tradition of collaboration between artists and writers.
Types of Fanart
Drawings and Paintings
Fanart that has been drawn or painted is broken down further into two groups. Traditional art, meaning the art was primarily drawn or painted with material such as paint, markers, color pencil or other physical media, and digital art, meaning the art was primarily created using one of the many computer art programs such as Open Canvas, Photoshop or Painter. 3D rendering programs can also be used to create fanart, in the past most often technical fanart, such as spaceship designs but modern 3D art has technology has fewer limitations, even on personal computers. (See also machinima.)
This is the oldest form of fanart, pre-dating the modern use of the word, and stretching back to at least the fanzine and fan publications of the 1930's. Initially most fanart of this type was black and white due to the limitations of publishing fan publications, but with the advent of cheaper color printing methods and cheaper distribution methods, notably the internet, color illustrations and paintings are now seen more often than black and white illustrations.
Fanart of this type is most often illustrative. So the most visible influences are illustration traditions and styles rather than from fine art, and fanart only relatively rarely branches into art styles such as abstract art, especially if it is non-representational abstraction, surrealism, impressionism, or some other modern art styles. However, modern graphic art and design are an influence more often, for example in minimalist fanart poster and cover design.
Cartooning is another common form of abstraction and in recent years, cartooning has become more accepted in previously photorealistic-dominated fandoms, such as those relating to TV shows like Star Trek. Chibi art and icons are another type of cartoon-related fanart, and have become quite common even in Western media fandoms. In most fandoms character portraits and illustrations of scenes with characters are more common than still lifes or landscapes.
Generally, traditional and digital drawings and paintings tend to dominate the various anime fandoms as well as novel-based fandoms, most notably Harry Potter.
Photo manipulation refers to any image that has been digitally manipulated (through combining images, warping, recoloring, repositioning, resizing, etc.) in order to achieve the artist's desired effect in a new end product. The fandom term for this art is usually photomanips or simply manips. This artistic medium also includes icons (small images digitally manipulated and used for blogs such as Livejournal), banners (often seen as decorations for blogs and other online spaces), and computer wallpapers. Icons and banners tend to be almost exclusive to the arena of fanart, while wallpapers may still be either original- or fanart-based.
As with painting and drawing, photo manipulation fanart tends to be more illustrative than abstract, with emphases put on creating realistic blends of diverse photo elements.
This is a newer form of fanart that has become more prevalent with the availability of computer graphics programs that allow artists to manipulate photos in many ways; such as cutting out characters from the background of one image and adding them to another, changing light and color of certain image elements, resizing entire areas, or creating an entirely new scene with elements extracted from a multitude of other images. Because the beginning manipper tends to start with easy-to-learn cut and paste techniques, their fanart may be easily recognized as manipulations, and can be unintentionally comical or even grotesque. This has led to a backlash against this fanart media from some fanart circles, similar in nature to the backlash against photography that occurred in artistic circles. Detractors often point to the simple techniques used by beginning manippers as evidence that manips are "simply cut-and-paste collages" or "simple recolorings of pre-existing photos" and, therefore, should not be considered art.
Whether manips, icons, wallpapers, or graphics should be considered "fanart" continues to be debated among fans. Another topic of debate is the whether manips cross a line into RPF and RPS. One fan in 2001 writes: "I have... seen some really explicit shots where the very recognisable actors' heads have been superimposed on bodies in very, very explicit poses. This really is beginning to worry me, as it seems an extension of actor slash. Somehow artwork never seems so bad, as it is obviously a work of imagination and creation... The dividing line seemed so much clearer. What do others think, especially given that the photo manipulations could be picked up by outsiders? Is it fair to the actors?" 
At this time, there is no common consensus and some art archives, notably the Harry Potter Archive Artistic Alley allow fanart of this type to be posted. On the other hand, the art archive deviantArt, for copyright reasons, has taken an official stance against such art, unless it can be proven that there is no copyright conflict.
For more, see Manip.
"3D" (or Three Dimensional) Art is a rarity in fandom. While dioramas do exist, combining drawn fan art with craft-style methods is even rarer. An exception is Laura Quiles "Star Wars:30 Years" art piece that offers three different views of Star Wars characters depending on where the viewer is positioned. The "Light Side" of the Force, the "Dark Side" of the Force and the combined straight on view. It won multiple awards at the 2007 MediaWest art show, including 'Best In Show,' 'Best SF,' and 'Best 3D."
Laura Quiles 3D art piece: "Star Wars: 30 Years." Full on view. Winner of multiple Art Show Awards at MediaWest 2007
Crafts, Textiles, and Metal Smithing
Fannish crafts are very diverse: They can be dioramas recreating canon (or fanfic) scenes, model building, sculptures and dolls of characters, especially if there is no official merchandise such as in Calvin and Hobbes fandom, mobiles, even silicone sextoys, and of course all kinds of textile arts, such as cross-stitch and fannish knitting.
An 10" x 8" cross stitched representation of a small section of the Atlantis Gate Room main window from a pattern designed by the stitcher
Sculpture is not a very common fannish activity. Still, there are a few examples of this form of art.
from the 1982 MediaWest program book, some busts for sale
Allistair Gourlay is the artist; this bust of Spock won a prize in 1985 at Sol III
ASCII art is a graphic design technique that uses computer characters to create visuals pieced together for use in email, ezines, BBSs, mIRC, MUDs, and text-only webpage development.
Fans used ASCII art on early communication, often as part of a message footer.
When online access was pricey and time-consuming, ASCII art had to be judiciously shared. A fan remembers: "You were entirely welcome to write long posts -- people were far more willing to read long posts then, in fact -- but you pissed people off if you quoted too much of the material you were responding to, posted something off-topic, posted spam, posted "me too" (especially if quoting the entire original), had giant ASCII art at the end of your post, or otherwise took up space to no purpose."  Also see Fandom 1994-2000-ish/Part One.
ASCII art-fusion with a .sig
Photography is not commonly used as fanart in and of itself. In order to be fanart, the photograph is usually related to either Photomanipulation or fandom-specific costumes and is therefore more a part of those categories than fanart media in its own right. However, many fanartists find photographs and photography to be a valuable art tool.
- Creating costumes based on TV Shows, movies and cartoons is often termed "Cosplay" among fandom members. This form of fashion fanart tends to be especially prevalent among both anime- and sci-fi fandoms. Usually costumes are made to be worn at fandom specific conventions. Of the various fanart types, this is one of the least controversial when bought and sold. Typically, a studio will issue a Cease and Desist if a person is selling an unauthorized replica that is felt to be too exact.
- Some fans create fashion items to wear such as sweatshirts, vests, sweaters, t-shirts and hats.
There are many different kinds of fan videos.
- Vids are short videos composed of scenes taken from a movie or TV show and set to music. Vidding started in 1975, but really took off as an art form in the early 1980s with the rise of the home VCR. Fan videos were often shown as part of themed conventions; the other way to get vids was to send away in the mail for videocassettes. Vids were made with VCRs through the 1990s and into the 2000s, but recently advances in computer technology have resulted in an explosion of vids. Distribution has gotten easier as well; password-protected download sites have given way to more open modes of file distribution, and streaming sites like youtube and imeem are popular. Vids are less common among book-based fandoms; however, occasionally a fan vid will put fanart to music.
- Anime Music Videos, are similar in format to vids, but evolved as a separate tradition. AMV footage is most often taken from anime or game cut-scenes, but may be constructed with stills or fanart.
- Machinima videos are rendered in real-time by game engines.
- Fan films are videos in which the artist is actually creating footage to tell a story; in certain fandoms, notably the Star Trek ToS fandom, actual fan-made TV episodes have been produced and put online.
- Multimedia art is now becoming popular; examples include credit sequences, trailers, animated visual art, and multimedia-enriched fan fiction (fan fiction that integrates words, pictures, music, and video).
Of all the fanart forms, fan videos, especially the ones composed of video clips set to music, have met with the most resistance from copyright holders. Viacom especially has taken exception to this fanart form, and as a result, streaming sites have taken vids down for violating copyright. However, not all media companies have taken this stance; e.g. the makers of Forever Knight included three vids by Kristin Harris as bonus materials on their Season 3 DVD release.
Fan comics have typically been more prevalent in Asia (as doujinshi) than in the USA; however, they are increasing in popularity each year. Typically a fan comic run is a limited run, often with only around 50 issues produced. This is to help avoid copyright conflict with the owner of the material the fan comic is based upon.
In live action fandoms fan comics are not always drawn, but are sometimes photo comics made from rearranged and cropped screencaps combined with text and speech balloons. These are usually published on the web, not as print comics. The same is often true for drawn fan comics in these fandoms, although they can have the same format and layout as print comics. Online comics in live action fandoms often tell their story on a single page and parodies rarely need more than one panel. Some live action fandoms have produced online comic strips that ran for several years.
Feedback for Fanart
Feedback and comments about fanart has always been much scarcer than for fanfiction.
Before the internet, there were many more comments for fanfiction than for fanart, something that many fanartists found frustrating.
Comments and LoCs about fanart in zines were relatively scarce when compared to the number that discuss fanfiction. Sometimes the accompanying fanart was not even mentioned, or was referred to with a comment such as, "the art was okay," or "this zine had several illos [illustrations]." In 1993, a fan commented: "I... tend to ignore the illustrations and rarely mention them unless they're on the cover." 
Some LoCs did, however, discuss fanart, and a there were a few zines that specialized in art commentary.
Some reasons for lack of art comments by fans: Lack of widespread access to fanzine fan art also hampered art commentary. While fanzines could be reprinted, they often lost significant details in reprints, which meant only a small handful of fans owned copies of the original print runs. And in some reprints, publishers would omit fan art to save costs. Or, the art was not reprinted because they felt it had not received sufficient recognition.
While the reasons for this lack of fannish comment vary, one common reason is that fans often remarked they did not know enough about art and/or its vocabulary to make educated and interesting comments. Most fans had some exposure to literary analysis through school book reports; art critique and discussions were not part of the typical school curriculum.
For example, as late as 1999 when fanzines began to decline in numbers, one fanzine publisher (who also happened to be the artist) wrote: "I had little to no feedback on the art from that zine so I'm not putting it into future issues. I think it's just a waste of paper to most folks." 
[needs information on different platforms, different venues... see talk page]
Even after more and more fans moved online, their ability to discuss fan art was hampered by artist restrictions. For example, in 1999, members of the MUNCLE mailing list Channel-J wanted to upload a 1983 Suzan Lovett Star Trek art piece so they could discuss how her style changed over the years. The idea was that the art would be low resolution, contain a banner or some other watermark and be limited to members only. Suzan originally liked the idea, but later withdrew her support and the list was never able to muster enough enthusiasm to mount further fan art discussions.
In 2008, a fanartist referred to the "pride and gratitude" she felt "when someone takes a few minutes to tell me they enjoyed one of my photo manipulations. Yes, I prefer a detailed explanation of why the picture appeals to them, that they appreciate the clarity, the color, the way the guys are posed. But not everyone can express their appreciation in such a way -- it is very difficult for me to review art because I don't know why I like it, it, I just know that it makes me feel good inside. So, let me tell you that if all you can say is "Wow!" or that made me feel good," that will be just fine with me." In 2014, a fan wrote of her pleasure at being able to see the artwork printed in a zine that also contained another fan's comments:
What a wonderful idea to also print the illo along with the review! It let me appreciate the points Virginia made having the illo right there while I was reading her insightful comments. I understood so much more about how the artist presented her work, how she achieved the effects that made the illo memorable, seeing it through Virginia’s discerning eyes. Not only is Virginia a fabulous artist in her own right, she’s also extremely capable in translating her knowledge about and love for fan art in clear succinct prose. Now I wonder what else I’ve been missing when I look at an illo. I realize there may be issues in reprinting illos but is there any chance this might become a standard feature in future issues of the KSP? Perhaps pics from zines no longer in print or if artists give permission? 
- See also Purchasing Fanworks.
Selling for Profit
Another fan notes that some ST artists were getting high prices from the sale of their art for fanfic when sold at conventions:Artwork! Am I the only person to think it's a tad unfair that fan artists make a packet out of their illos, while writers don't earn anything? Not that I'm in fandom to become stinking rich, I hasten to add! 
Another fan writes of what she felt to be a double-standard and how that propelled her to write a zine:[It seems] unfair and frankly quite discouraging that a good fan artist can make excellent money for his efforts and an equally good fan writer who sweats just as hard and long over a story gets nothing." 
One fan writes a letter about what she has heard about another zine, Energize!:Okay, I'll try to explain how this story came about. I suppose it's a lesson on the pitfalls of being a smartass. A long time ago (the spring of 1986), at IDICon in Houston, I thought it would be cute and clever to put a piece of art in the artshow. My artistic abilities are nonexistent, so this seemed an amusing way to make a point about inequity in fandom. So I drew two stick figures on a piece of typing paper, matted and entered it in the artshow under the title "Sour Grapes." Attached was a little note explaining that, as a writer, I could not legally sell my fan stories outright, but if anyone saw the deep, underlying passion and romance in the above illo, I might feel compelled to write them a short story.
Some fans argue that the reason fanart has more perceived 'value' than fan writing (and therefore is a skill that can be sold) is that many fans do not see themselves as capable of doing fanart:Sure, it's a good zine, but I'd like to put in an anti-plug. The zine has a beautiful Kraith portfolio by Connie Faddis which all by itself make it worth buying. However, contrary to the usual fannish practice of returning the work to the artist (and a highly commendable one it is, too) [name redacted], didn't return Connie's originals. In fact, she even refused to answer letters about it, apparently feeling that they had become her property. Rumor has it (and this is only rumor) that she may have even destroyed the originals. Now, if nothing else, Connie could have sold those for a good deal of money, and she should certainly have the right to reprint the art as she desires. But [name redacted] printed her zine for one reason -- to make money, and having [the art] reprinted might cut down on her profits.
Others disagree. In this excerpt from a discussion in early 1993, one fan says we should not confuse respect with the ability to charge money for fanworks:"There is much more value placed on jobs that we (personally) don't know how to do, than there is on jobs that we imagine we could step in and handle easily. The most common place this shows up in fandom is in the writer/ artist dichotomy. People put artists on pedestals, pay zillions of dollars for [prints] (essentially) xerox copies of their work, and very few people (myself included) see any problem with this. On the other hand, people think (and I have heard this said) "Well, anyone can write. That's not so special." Therefore, writers get only a trib copy for their story (in most cases), and not lot of respect.
"It is true that most fans have a least started one story, and most fans haven't tried to draw T'Binky (ask me later) but I don't think the line between artists and writers is that clear cut. For one thing, really only the top couple of tiers of artists get that much respect. In media, that's Suzie, and Marty S. and Jean Kluge and Caren Parnes, maybe a couple of others on the top tier, and maybe 10 or so on the next tier, and that's all of media fandom. (since most 'slash' art is actually just redrawings of photos, and few of our boys have ever posed in the right way, artists don't have to be slash artists to make money from slash fans--but that's another discussion altogether). I think the top writers, M.Fae, Pam Rose, both lezlies, O Yardley, Ann & Leah, Melody, H.G., Meg Lewtan, people both prolific and good who write in big fandoms, get a comparable respect. (Not comparable money--but that's like saying, why is it easier to spend $400's on a couch that is just some padding over wood, and probably took a couple of days to make, than it is to pay $400 for a software program that took months if not years to develop. Why, because it is too damn easy to copy, as much as anything.)"
Whether a fanart sale is accepted within a fandom usually depends on the question if the artist is acting within the bounds of acceptable fan behavior, or violating them. What is deemed "acceptable" can vary from fandom to fandom. However, even pro-sale fans were shocked when Suzan Lovett sold her Starsky & Hutch art from the zine Timeless for $3,000 at the Zebracon art auction in 2003.From a fan's comment in 2000:
The same discussions about different standards for art and fic continue. This fandom secret from 2009 reads
[Selling fanfic for profit is] a concept that goes against fandom tradition...and I'm not sure why. Why are writers expected to produce writing, which arguably fuels fandom, for free, when we bid for art in art shows, buy photos fan-produced (which also violate copyright, since none of us pay for the right to produce those photos and none of us own the copyrights), and crafts that are fan-produced. I'm not sure that *ethics* enters into it. No one every blanched because some artist sold an art piece of characters whose images, legally, are often copyrighted. I'm not sure why a writer selling her copyright-violation words is any different than an artist selling her copyright-violation art. However, it's against tradition. That's a different issue.
Do I think it's worth while to buy a disk with 5-7 new stories that have not been edited, that I will have to format and print out at my expense. No. But this is partially because I know the writer and the content [to be a poor writer]. If Connie Faddis or Suzan Lovett were selling this disk would I buy it? In a heartbeat. And it would be worth it. I wouldn't like that trend for fandom, but I would be willing to buy the disk if this was the only way I could get those stories by those writers. As a writer, I also have to ask why art costs, and pictures cost, and zines cost, but as a writer, I'm expected to produce huge numbers of words for free.It's an interesting discussion, but I don't think it's about ethics. It's about what we're willing to spend fan dollars on. And obviously, as much as we want our writers to produce, we clearly don't want to pay them to do it. 
I hate that it's okay for fan artists to sell their art at anime conventions, or do commissions, but it's not okay for fan authors to do the same thing. Even selling it at cost is some sort of horrible taboo. Why the double standard fandom? Haven't fanfic writers worked just as hard as the fan artists? Is it because fan art is just more visually pleasing? Why is it okay for fan artists to sell art of characters they don't own, but it's not okay for fan authors to use characters and worlds that aren't their own and sell it. I'm not talking about publishing a fanfiction novel, just creating nice booklets to sell at conventions or online to those who want them. I think there are plenty of people who would like to have real copies of good fanfiction. Secret because I don't need the wank and drama voicing this opinion would bring me.
Tumblr has seen the rise of fic commissions, and plenty of people object to the selling of fan art. (And, legally, as we know, there's not much difference, despite persistent fandom beliefs otherwise.) At a guess, a lot of the difference comes from situations like Anne Rice throwing a fit over fic but liking art and Marvel and DC turning a blind eye to fan art sales by people who draw for comics officially (because Marvel and DC don't actually pay enough to make that career feasible any other way). It's not just paid art but fan art in general that TPTB seem less freaked out by encountering, so maybe that has historically contributed to people being more okay with fan art being visible in ways that could potentially annoy a rights holder. There's the physical copies issue too: traditional art does have an original, and limited run prints are, well, limited. These tend to be nice objects that are demonstrably different from just seeing an image of the art. Fans who sell mugs and keychains with their art are selling a practical product with a non-fandom application.
In 2016, when a writer added a "tipping jar" next to a story she posted to AO3, one anonymous commentator wrote:
This prompted another anonymous fan to explain:Was reading a perfectly nice fic, finished, was going to leave kudos... and then at the end was a note asking for (monetary) tips. NOPE. (And yet now I feel bad about that, because I have totally given money to fanartists! I just... can't, for fic writers.)"
[The poster above is adopting] .... a very old school approach back from when fanart was mainly done by commission at conventions as one-offs. The idea was that you were paying for a single artwork, and that the money covered the artist's time and materials. Something similar happened with old zines: you paid for postage and maybe the cost of assembly. Arguably, fanfic is more transformative than fanart, because if someone draws a picture of Bucky Barnes they're using the actual likeness that has been copyrighted by Marvel and Stan Lee or whoever, but if someone writes a fic about Bucky Barnes it's their original words about a character, which has a much, much better legal defense. But no, people who encourage tipping for fanfic will CALL DOWN THE WRATH OF DISNEY UPON US ALL, even though Disney is far more likely to go after people using the actual footage from their movies. Oh wait, they're not, because of lawyering (although there was some Star Trek fan movie that got quashed just recently). The position of paying for fanart but never paying fic writers is just illogical, it's fandom mores."
The Sale Venue
We've just discovered 4 of Suzan's SH slash prints have shown up on Ebay. (Prints I produced, I believe.) I didn't know how Suzan would feel about this, so I called her. Some people don't mind, others do. Suzan was very uncomfortable that her full, real name was up on the site advertising her slash art. She asked me to contact the person selling the art (from the UK) and ask her to pull it if she could. I don't know if anyone on this list is bidding on the pieces, but I wanted to let you know I can help you obtain this art for a very reasonable fee. Suzan doesn't object to anyone reselling her prints in the fannish community, and would be very comfortable if the sale was going through slashlist, or zinelist, or any fan-run resale option. She's just not comfortable having her name on ebay.Wanted to let you all know, if any of you are one of the bidders. Or if you are the seller, Suzan would be happy to buy the art from you or help you resell it elsewhere. It's just finding her name on the totally public forum of ebay that makes her uncomfortable. 
In the artistic community, fanart is often not seen as a legitimate form of artistic expression. This has led some fanartists to feel resentful of the art world.
The argument against fanart made by some artists, as well as from some other fans, is that the artwork is derivative and not original. Therefore, it does not show as much individuality and artist sensibilities as original artwork would.
The counter claim by fanartists is that fanart often contains an original expression and original idea by the artist even if the specific subject matter is not original and is no more derivative than, for example, artwork based on the Bible, on mythology, or historical events and people. They claim the negative bias is based more on the subject of their art than any artistic principles.A 2003 comment by a fan:
I agree some fan writing is as good as 'proper' writing. I easily get as much pleasure (if not more, given that I have a certain fondness for the subject) from reading fan fiction as a published book. But fan art doesn't give me the same satisfaction as 'real' art, and I'm having trouble in trying to work out exactly why. Because, as you so rightly say, some of it is very good indeed (though I am still scarred by the drawing in a zine that had Ray Vecchio looking like Mr. Bean).
I think some of it might be guilt/personal baggage. To me reading is a private activity, and I have no problem with the fact that I read fan fiction secretly (though I do worry about those piles of printouts in the attic!) But I look on art as essentially a public medium, something that is created to be shared and displayed. If I felt I couldn't do that with a picture because of the subject matter, then it almost descends to the level of a porn magazine hidden under the bed.
... Then I got to thinking about exactly what, in both genres, would I be prepared to leave lying around for public scrutiny and what I would hide away. I wouldn't leave slash lying around; but then I'm not sure about a professionally written erotic gay novel either. I'd have no problem in displaying a painting of two naked Greek wrestlers in a homoerotic pose, but I would never display an obviously fannish drawing or photomanipulation. It would have to be 'disguised' as something to give it credibility (you think it looks like those two actors from TV? No, it's a photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe!). So it is all to do with context, and nothing to do with quality. Which basically is stupid. If I like something I should be proud enough to display it, whatever the subject matter.
But back to fan art. I think there is much more freedom in fannish writing. Even though you are starting from a certain point, with certain characters in a certain setting, the sky is your limit. You can write from various points of view, you can write comedy or tragedy or romance. If you write an AU then your imagination can take you anywhere. You can introduce new characters, you can kill them off. All you have to do is keep the characterisation and the voices true and the storylines believable.
In art you can choose what materials to use, but you are far more limited in subject matter. You can't really do an abstract, or a landscape. You have to stick to (usually) two figures, they have to look recognisable and realistic, and they are usually doing a variation of one thing.And there is one other thing, which is, I think key, to my vaguely uncomfortable feelings. In a story you are working with the fictional *characters*, whereas in art you are working with the actors *image*, which seems a lot more exploitative, like visual RPS. (I notice this particularly when people do photomanips of a pairing using a picture of one of the actors in a different role. This always seems wrong to me and throws be out of the piece completely.) So, without the aid of speech and action, the art has to be particularly good to make me feel I am looking at the characters, and not the actors.
Some fan artists, at least in the past, felt that their art was treated in an inferior manner compared to fiction by zine eds, and as a result, also by fans. There is an essay titled "The Starving Artist Syndrome" by an uncredited author in Spectrum #33 (1977):
For some reason, artists in fandom do not have the status fanfic writers have. Treklit is the main staple of the Star Trek genzine and thus, a proportional amount of honor is paid to the authors in terms of kudos, notoriety, and rank... Artists have never quite figured in at the top of the status chart since art is usually secondary in a fanzine, sad to say, rather than working hand in hand..." She goes on to list of how fandom's artists are badly treated; poor printing of their work in zines, original artwork not returned to the artists, art published without permission in other places such as shirts and such, zine eds who use whiteout and other editing procedures on art... She recommends that fan artists band together and require that an informal contract between zine eds and artists be drawn up. "Although the contract idea does not solve all of the problems of art/artist abuse and handling of art, it does offer artists a defense against flagrant indifference on the part of faneds who never had any reason to give a damn one way or another...
Another fan sees an opposite problem, that of artists being treated "better" than writers due to the fact that their work is rarely "edited":
This comment is by an editor and fan artist:Remember that with a zine, an editor will often ask for changes to be made to stories submitted; that is not often done with artwork. I refuse to accept the latter as something sacred that must be included whatever its shortcomings.
Fanart is not often the subject of legal controversy; however, it can be considered a form of copyright infringement, especially when sold. A copyright owner will often overlook small, one-time shows such as conventions. However, in 2006, Otakon attempted to ban fanart from the Artist Alley, which was the first major convention move against the selling of fanart.
Such legal cases are still the exception rather than the rule; however, they serve as a reminder that the fanart is not necessarily the legal property of the fanartist and that copyright law and fair use and transformative defenses vary from country to country.
Still, more policing of fanart tends to be done by the fandom itself than by the property owners themselves.
Sharing Fan Art
- See Sharing Fanart.
In the days before digital fan art, sharing of fan art was limited to photocopies and the occasional print run. The steep costs of reproduction and low production quality available meant that the redistribution of fan art, both authorized and unauthorized, was highly restricted. To see fan art you either had to buy the zine, borrow a copy of the zine, or spend money to attend a convention where the art was displayed.
By the mid 2000s, more and more fan art, both scanned and born-digital, was appearing on fan websites. Without the fanzine publisher or convention art show as an intermediary, fan artists could, for the first time, communicate directly with their fan audience and get feedback about their fan art. However, easier access to fan art meant that there were no longer technological restrictions against sharing fanart. Instead, fannish norms in media fandom dictated that reposting or sharing fan art without permission was Not Done. In practice, fans did it anyway. This issue has been hotly debated.
Art-Friendly Platforms vs Those That Are Not
In 2016, a fan commented:
There are huge portions of fandom that adore fan art and think fic is an also-ran of the fanworks world. But these fans aren't on mailing lists or AO3: they're on Tumblr and DeviantArt and Pixiv. The internet is full of sites where pictures are king; people who mostly care about art have no reason to hang out on sites that don't cater to them because there are so many that *do* (including sites, like those three, that also allow fic). AO3 in particular has a bad reputation among many fan artists because it has been open for ages without any viable internal image hosting... I love AO3 and Fanlore, but the OTW has turned off a number of the more art-centric fans, making the audience that cares about art on those sites smaller. 
Fanart as Its Own Story
Sometimes it's the art that tells the story, rather than the other way around:
This summer, when I was at Shore Leave, I was strolling through the dealer's room and thumbing through a stack of 'zines. Most of them were slash 'zines - G/B, a bunch of K/S, some from other fandoms (Chips? heaven help me <G>). I'm not a slash fan, so I didn't pay much attention, until I came across this one cover...oh, *man*. It was for a K/S 'zine (don't ask me what it was, all I saw was the cover art, which blinded me for about 3 hours afterward). Words fail to do it justice, but I'll try: Kirk and Spock, obviously, both shirtless, Spock is standing behind Kirk. Spock has one arm wrapped around Kirk's upper chest and is doing god-knows-what to his ear. Both their eyes are closed in what I can only describe as bliss. Y'all, I don't read TOS, and I don't read slash without a *really* good reason, but that one illustration, in just one 2-second glance, told a story far better and far more poignantly than anything I've come across in verbal format. And it damn near converted me to K/S on the spot. Whoever drew that illustration obviously put just as much loving tenderness and hard work into his/her 'visual fiction' as I've put into any of my 'verbal; fictions'. Using pictures rather than words, a story was told, and this unwary viewer was moved to heart palpitations :-) So, yes, I am a vocal and passionate supporter of artwork in 'zines. Illustrations that accompany stories can enhance the inherent visual content within the stories, but I also think they tell their own stories. Whether it's verbal or visual, to me it's just another form of storytelling.
Another fan writes that art for a story can make all the difference:
For me, art can make or break a piece of fiction (make a fair story good or a good story terrific, or severely diminish the impact of a well-written work). Okay, I admit it, I'm a child of the TV tube. But from my perspective, art is never simply "embellishment." 
Fanart as Inspiration for Other Fanworks
For FictionThe editor of Oasis wrote:
From Flamingo, a Starsky & Hutch fan:I would especially like to thank Deeb for the inspiration for OASIS. As I'm sure you'll agree, the cover art is fantastic, and without it, OASIS itself wouldn't exist. Deeb's cover for Naked Times #22 also served as writing inspiration for the chapter entitled Night Life On Nineva Nine: her young-Kirk cover of Naked Times #23 was the backbone of Chapter Two - Just An Iowa Farm Boy. Also, thanks to Marilyn Cole for her inspiration on The Birthday Present. The illustration used for that chapter was originally the cover of Otherwhere/Otherwhen. So... what I'm saying is that I probably wouldn't have written any of the stories in OASIS if it hadn't been for these two magnificent artists. Thanks to both of you for the inspiration.
And I was in the middle of the story Addiction -- which Suzan didn't know anything about at the time -- when Suzan showed me "Addiction to Flowers", the cover of the Addiction novella. She'd done the piece just because she felt inspired to do it. I was inspired, too, and asked her if I could use the image in the story, and then incorporated it as part of the story's imagery.I also altered a scene in Total Eclipse because Suzan felt like producing an art piece that wasn't pictured in the zine. She said, "I know it's not part of the scene, so if you don't want to use it, we don't have to." I very happily changed the scene to accommodate one of my favorite pieces. 
Fiction as Inspiration for Fanart, and Vice Versa
Notable Fanart Shows and Auctions
- What is Fan Art? by sockii (July 20, 2015)
- Fanart: A guide to terminology by littlewolfstar
- The Rudest Thing that I Have Ever Experienced as an Artist by sockii (June 19, 2015)
- Yuletart (external link)
- Deviantart (external link)
- Sheezyart (external link)
- Artisticalley (external link)
- WOLF 359, an archive and resource for SF 3D fanart, last updated 1997, accessed 21 Feb 2010
- Gnatkip. The Dragon, a HP fanart inspired by Pablo Picasso's Le Taureau series, created for the HP Fringeart imitation challenge. (accessed 20 Feb 2010). WebCite.
- Gnatkip. Dementoid, an abstract Harry Potter fanart in the style of Jackson Pollock's drip paintings, created for the HP Fringeart imitation challenge. (accessed 20 Feb 2010). WebCite.
- Example for a surrealist Snape/Harry piece by Froggie NSFW (accessed 12 Dec 2009). WebCite.
- Gnatkip. Sunday Afternoon on the Grounds of Hogwarts School, example for a pointillist Harry Potter fanart in the style of Seurat, created for the HP Fringeart imitation challenge. (accessed 20 Feb 2010). WebCite.
- minimalist TV series posters (accessed 21 Feb 2010)
- minimalist Star Wars posters (accessed 21 Feb 2010)
- tv/movie book cover designs(accessed 21 Feb 2010). WebCite.
- Glockgal. The WHAT IS FANART Poll. Posted 28 May 2007. (Accessed 3 October 2008). WebCite
- Beet. Fan art and Manipping. Posted 4 June 2007. (Accessed 3 October 2008). WebCite.
- from Discovered in a Letterbox #18
- Media fandom has a long history of art shows at conventions that pre-dates the internet.
- Laurelwood. A Quiet Evening at Home, a diorama showing Snape and Wormtail at Spinner's End. (accessed 20 Feb 2010). WebCites: artist notes and Diorama.
- Gnatkip. HP Art: Diorama: Classroom Eleven, a diorama of Firenze's Divination classroom (accessed 20 Feb 2010). WebCite.
- Tofty. Snape diorama (accessed 20 Feb 2010). WebCite.
- lymanalpha. various NSFW Star Trek sculptures in progress
- Several Calvin and Hobbes sculptures (accessed 20 Feb 2010). WebCite.
- Astridv. Stargate Atlantis: The Mobile. (accessed 20 Feb 2010). WebCite.
- Naked Bee. Batman's Utility Belt. (accessed 20 Feb 2010). WebCites: Journal post and Gallery
- Dalek Propaganda by Shae (accessed 1 June 2010). WebCite.
- Firefly Crew Sculptures on TervorGrove's DeviantArt page. accessed June 3, 2012.
- See other sculpture by Keropian here.
- from Fandom 1994-2000-ish/Part One
- Grrrindhouse, by Danegen
- Distance, Long by Bingeling and Dogeared, and The Tree by Newkidfan
- Missed the Saturday Dance by Zoetrope
- Chrome-Magnon. Artwork by Astrid, story by Shannon Fisher. This X-Files example from the 90's is a 30-page online comic book. (Accessed October 13, 2008).
- Example: Stargate SG-1 Cartoons by Leah Rosenthal. (Accessed October 13, 2008). WebCite.
- The Xena fan comic Battle On! by Jeanette Atwood ran from 1997 to 2000 and Little Xena and Little Gabrielle by Lucia Nobrega ran from 1999 to 2006. (Accessed 13 October 2008). WebCite and WebCite.
- Zine Reviews by Sue C on Lysator dated Mar 24, 1993.
- See First Time.
- From the publisher of Exposure and X-Files zine.
- Morgan Dawn's personal recollections, accessed Oct 18, 2015.
- from The K/S Press #139
- from The K/S Press #198, the art (by Gayle F) discussed is in T'hy'la #1
- from Discovered in a Letterbox #19 (Autumn 2001)
- from Interstat #22 (August 1979)
- from the author's preface of Arabian Nights
- a dust-up in the pages of Warped Space #21 (November 1976)
- Megan Kent's post to the Virgule-L mailing list dated Feb 18, 1993, quoted with permission.
- Sandy Herrold's response to Megan Kent's statement, also posted to the Virgule-L mailing list, dated Feb 19, 1993, quoted with permission.
- An example for a post with a poll about the different opinions and some discussion of these positions in the comments is here: Miriam Heddy. Show Me The Money (a poll). Posted 23 July 2008. (Accessed 3 October 2008), now offline.
- comment by Flamingo, May 16, 2000, at VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with permission
- fandomsecrets. Posted July 7th, 2009. (Accessed August 10, 2011.). WebCite.
- 28.5.2011, ANNOUNCEMENT: REGARDING THE SELLING OF MSPA STUFF by Lexxy, post explaining the new rules with quotes from Andrew, accessed 3.11.2011 and 28.5.2011, No Selling MSPA Stuff Without Andrew’s Permission clarification and opinion on Lexxy's tumblr, accessed 3.11.2011
- a comment by Franzi, posted to Zinelist on November 12, 2015, quoted here on Fanlore with permission
- Fabndom venting post dated Sept 15, 2016; archive link.
- Fabndom venting post dated Sept 15, 2016; archive link.
- March 8, 2002, Flamingo's comments on VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission
- "reply by prudentia to mandragora". Archived from the original on 2014-11-02. Text " Fridge magnets galore " ignored (help), November 10, 2003
- from The Hatstand Express #14 (1987)
- comment by Barbara Fister-Liltz, editor and illustrator for Outlands #2
- "Otakon Enforces Copyright at Artists' Alley". Archived from the original on 2011-10-22.. See also Copyright Law for Dummies (and anime con attendees) dated Sept 15, 2005; (reference link).
- Regulating the Fringe: Waisetsu (Obscenity) Rules Doujinshi? (now offline)
- comments by [F D] at Zinelist, posted August 24, 2016, quoted on Fanlore with [F D's] permission
- Laura’s post in the alt.startrek.creative thread Fanzines and the Internet or Economy Outside dated 8 November 1998, accessed 17 June 2012
- from Not Tonight Spock! #11 (1985)
- from the zine's editorial
- comments by Flamingo, October 2, 2002, from VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission