Net Museums Pt 1: Elfwood

So last post I proposed that I would make a comparison between a few of the websites where fan art emerges and comparing them with my own experience of tumblr.com By giving a brief overview of my findings, I hope to gain a better insight into how Pokemon fans communicate online and whether there is any distinct difference in the form of communication between sites. The fan art and communities that spring up online is as diverse as it is fascinating, as is the ways in which people discuss and discover in online environments. I took a trip to, Elfwood.com to observe the types of art and communication on each site and aim to compare these differences with the observations I have already made of Tumblr. I have decided to split the observation of these sites across two weeks, otherwise this post with be much too long. It must be noted that these are merely surface-level observations, and I’m sure if given the time, a much deeper and richer understanding of online fan culture could be gained from a more thorough comparative analysis of online fan art communities.

I’d only heard of Elfwood in passing conversation with people, and had not visited the site until this week. For those of you who are unfamiliar, May 1st 1996 was the day Elfwood saw the light of day. Created by a man named Thomas Abrahamsson, the original name of the project was Lothlorien and mainly focused on high fantasy art made by amateurs. On Elfwoods first day it held art from three artist, and Thomas being one of them. Today,  small team of people in Swedish people run the website and the site is owned by the company Usify AB. The site is a mixture now of amateur fan art, photos and fan fiction, or stories written mostly my amateur writers. A quick search for “Pokemon” turned up 604 results, with 601 images and 3 stories. I clicked on a work of Articuno was posted near the top and read through the comments. Articuno is a legendary ice/flying type Pokemon that can be found in the Seafoam Islands in Pokemon red, Blue and Yellow, and this particular artwork of the Pokemon seemed to have been a digital creation.

To summarise in a qualitative manner, the comment section consisted mostly of badly spelled, grammatically incorrect praise for the work put into the picture, along with affirmations of the fan’s love of Articuno/Pokemon in a general sense. There were very few negative comments on that post, which for me reiterated the excitement and genuine interest fans of the genre felt towards the franchise and other amateur artists. It is difficult to tell the age and location of the commenters, but for Elfwood users it doesn’t seem to matter. The picture of Articuno th in a sense, became a symbol for me of the Pokemon franchise’s international successes a vehicle for both non-verbal and verbal communication.

What Interested me most about the site was the range and quality of the Pokemon fan art, with the inclusion of uploads of pencil sketches and hand coloured pictures along side digital artworks. The site is moderated by a “trusted member of the Elfwood team” and has seemed to have made a point of trying to feature a diverse range of artworks in the site. This site seems much smaller and more of a niche audience than Tumblr, catering specifically to amateur fan fiction and art. I feel as though it is harder  on Elfwood to generate discussion among fans than it is on Tumblr, whether this is due to the seemingly smaller user base of the site in comparison to Tumblr, or perhaps it is because of the inability to reblog or share other users works, as is the case with Tumblr.

References:

http://www.elfwood.com

http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Seafoam_Islands

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2 comments

  1. Fan art online, as you probably already know, is huge! Especially on Tumblr. This is a very good topic to pick for your digital artefact as there is so much potential information you could find online. Like you said, it is very easy for discussion on Tumblr to generate itself as photos, images and text gets re blogged continuously.

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  2. Being able to reblog is an interesting technological boundary, seeing how this affects what gets generated I think would make for some great results. In your experience on the sites what have you felt with regards to communicating about Pokemon? Was it an environment that you thought welcomed your expression? Fans contributing their own art to a site I think is a great example of digital empowerment; they are able to give their personal stories and feelings a voice. It might be that as you said the ‘trusted member of the Elfwood team’ provides a safe haven for the enthusiasts and structures it in such a way that their free flowing thoughts are able to be seen.

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