|See also:||SI OC, -sona|
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A fursona is a furspeech portmanteau derived from the terms furry and persona, that refers to a anthropomorphized animal character, persona, alter ego, avatar, or identity assumed by a person or player normally associated with the furry fandom. The fursona itself consists of a name (usually fictitious) and a species, as well as any distinctive colors, markings or body features. They are typically rendered in art by furries. Fursonas are as diverse as furries themselves; some are feral, some are sapient, some are quadrupeds, some are bipedal, some wear clothes, some wear none. All of these choices reflect who the artist is, or who they'd like to be as an alter-ego. There is some discourse on whether a fursona is necessary to be a furry. Some self-identified furries may not have one, while others may have more than one. Sometimes a fursona is "retired" when the artist does not want to use it anymore. Furries with multiple fursonas may label them as primary (or "mains") and secondary to note higher or lesser importance. The practice of labeling fursonas this way is popular on Toyhouse with regards to character folders and tags.
Canines, specifically huskies, wolves, and foxes are the most common fursona species. Dragons and felines are also extremely popular. According to at least one study, different demographics are more likely to choose different animals. Straight furries are more likely to be wolves and gay furries are more likely to be huskies, for example. Men are more likely to be red foxes and women are more likely to be arctic foxes.
The International Anthropomorphic Research Project found the following species (out of a list of 28) to be the most popular: hyprid, wolf, fox, dog, big cat, dragon, and so on. Out of the hybrids, these combinations were the most popular: other, dog/wolf, fox/wolf, dragon/wolf, cat/fox, tiger/wolf, and so on. Most fursonas were found to be completely anthro with the least popular being completely feral.
Fans of furry art & literature often refer to themselves as furries too. Online they typically assume furry identities, and have furry characters on role-playing systems like MUDs/MUCKs. For some of these furries, there is a deeper connection that goes beyond appreciation of artwork and stories. This can include concepts such as totemism and spiritual theriantropy.
Fursonas have long been a "character, persona, alter ego, avatar, or identity assumed by a person or player normally associated with the furry fandom." The origins of the fursona concept and its role in furry fandom today are difficult to pin down to specific dates, but it in Western society in the 1970s and 1980s due to the growing clout of roleplaying gaming (including live-action, tabletop, computer multi-player, etc.) induced the adoption or self-creation of highly-stylized, often genre-specific alter-egos for RP purposes among specific audiences.
As the first large furry parties took place at large science-fiction or multi-genre speculative fiction conventions, such venues often served as meeting places for both RPers and costumers as well as artists and writers, the latter two of whom had often honed their skills in the funny animal art scene's APAs. Thus, when RPers and costumers happened upon the Art Show exhibits for "funny" animal artists, the latter were soon in demand from RPers and costumers for commissioned renditions of their RP or costume characters. As the customers were often not writers or artists but had envisioned these characters as being more than just under their ownership, detailed specifics for such characters. As a result, when the first furry parties were held, the first costumers and RPers of what would become the furry fandom had already developed the awareness of their favorite RP or costume characters' artistically-rendered exteriors, what they acted like, and in what they were interested or disinterested.
Such characters often did not need to be written into written narratives, but were instead buoyed by being a general-purpose alter-ego for the RPer or costumer. This difference from the traditional idea of the character as being driven by stories of fiction allowed for the "favorite character" or "custom-made character" to be shifted to the "alter-ego", "alternative persona" or "fursona".
Drawing Someone Else's Fursona
Drawing someone else's fursona without permission comes with the same risks and rewards as drawing someone else's character without permission. Occasionally, artists may want to make fanart or gift art for someone, in the form of their fursona(s). A forum post from 2018 on DeviantART discusses this when user Sopheirion asked if this practice was okay. Many responded that surprising someone with gift art of their character sounded like a nice gift, and some even voiced that they'd personally be fine with surprise fanart. A few others said flatly no, that someone should never draw art of someone else's characters without permission first, though this opinion was a minority.
Though gift art seems generally accepted in the artist community, not everyone likes having their characters or fursonas drawn by others without permission. This can be because the fursona is deeply personal to them, or because they believe that those who present them with gift art are only trying to gain favor with them if they're popular.
Links & Resources
- Fursona on Wikifur
- Adjective Species: Species Popularity Explorer
- Furcience fursonas. (Accessed 7/5/2020)
- Fursona on Wikifur, retrieved June 2019
- Is it ok to draw someones OC as a gift for them without asking permission?, DeviantART. Jan 26, 2018 (Accessed 10/7/2020)
- Note: I followed an artist on DeviantART who accepted gift art, but then suddenly no longer allowed gift art. They said it was because they'd been taken advantage of by people trying to ride off their popularity, because they knew that the gift art would be shared. (Patchlamb 10/7/2020)