Fan Merch

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Fan Merch has long been a part of fandom. Fan-made merchandise is usually created by fanartists. It is sold online or at conventions. Fan merch ranges from prints of fanart to apparel, lanyards, purses, dolls, buttons, pins, and more.


Selling & Trading

The buying and selling of fan merch is a large feature of conventions. Most conventions will have something like an Artist's Alley, where artists can purchase space for a stall and sell their goods. Some conventions ban artists whose display is more than a certain percentage fanart to original artwork because of intellectual property concerns.

Fan merch is also frequently sold online, such as through an Etsy store.

In the 2010s, anthology fanzines began to often include merch such as charms, buttons, etc.


Relationship to Official Merchandise

Some conventions have banned certain types of fanmade merch from being sold, with the presumed reason being that it would negatively impact the sales of official licensed merch.[1]

Creator Policies & Fandom Reactions

When a fanartist is selling fan merch "P4P", that indicates the cost is to pay for production and the artist is not making a profit. In some fandoms such as the MXTX fandom, the original creator doesn't wish for unlicensed sellers to make a profit from their IP, so this is a way for fanartists to respect the creator's wishes while still creating and sharing fan merch.[2] Drama can arise when a fanartist is suspected of making a profit off of what they claim is P4P merch. There is also frustration around criticism of P4P merch when the artists are essentially donating their work and time solely for the enjoyment of the community.

In 2015, Funimation issued a press release stating that fans should refrain from using trademarked names and logos in the sale of fanart and merch:

FUNimation appreciates the entertainment, education and skill that goes into and arises from the imitation and creation of works derived from existing works of popular manga and anime. FUNimation likewise realizes that the "Artist Alley" area of most conventions can be a good showcase for these works and therefore FUNimation tends not to enforce its copyright rights against those in Artist Alley who may be infringing FUNimation's copyright rights.

FUNimation's trademark rights, on the other hand, cannot go unenforced. This stems from a key distinction between U.S. Copyright Law and U.S. Trademark Law-in short, if copyright rights are not enforced, the copyright stays intact and the copyright holder generally will not suffer any harm beyond the infringement itself. But if trademark rights are not enforced, the trademark can be cancelled. Because of this difference, FUNimation cannot knowingly tolerate unauthorized use of its trademarks, such as use of trademarks in conjunction with the display or sale of works whose creation is likewise unauthorized.[3]



  1. ^ "Forum: Artist's Alley ban on selling fanart merchandise???". DeviantArt. April 23, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-04-26. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  2. ^ [1] by @shirokumani. Posted 8/16/19. Archived link
  3. ^ "FUNimation Announces Stance on Fan Art". July 1, 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-03-05. Retrieved February 14, 2020.