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Fan Art

Cartoon Network Has Figured Out How To Make Money From Fan Art: The Cartoon Network Collective

One of the few areas where animation producers haven’t yet figured out how to profit from is fan art, which is all the unofficial artwork made by fans that is shared online or sold as prints at conventions. Cartoon Network today announced a new initiative that makes them the first major company to address the situation.

The newly-announced Cartoon Network Collective is an outlet for selling exclusive limited-edition products related to Cartoon Network series. The Collective can be accessed exclusively from the Cartoon Network Shop; it’s a collaboration between Cartoon Network Enterprises (the consumer products arm of the network), current CN Shop licensee Bolder Road, and the newly-formed Horizon Line Studios.

The Collective’s launch offering include designs from ten different artists, many of whom are professional illustrators, animators, and comic artists, whose work will be available on limited edition posters, apparel, phone cases, notebooks, and other products. Each month, the collection will be refreshed with new artists who will present their interpretations of different Cartoon Network series.

“Cartoon Network has some of the most loyal, dedicated, and discerning fans out there”, said Pete Yoder, vice president, Cartoon Network Enterprises. “The Collective provides an opportunity for our fans to acquire never-before-seen, exclusive network product interpreted through some of today’s most talented artists.”

This Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems print by Missy Pena is an example of the type of fan art that will be sold on Cartoon Network Collective.
This Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems print by Missy Pena is an example of the type of fan art that will be sold on Cartoon Network Collective.

The Collective will also include interviews with the featured artists as well as other behind-the-scenes content. “This is an exciting time to be in entertainment because pop culture has permeated so many aspects of our lives,” said Rick Blanco, CEO and creative director, Horizon Line Studios. “The Cartoon Network Collective will be more than a store—it will be a community that will offer fans and collectors a new way to engage with their favorite brands.”

Over the last decade, fan art has become an inextricable part of animation fandom, and some of the network’s current show creators, like Steven Universe’s Rebecca Sugar, first attracted attention by drawing their own fan art (though it’s unlikely that Sugars’ eroticized drawings of Ed, Edd n Eddy would ever be sold through The Collective). It’s a smart move on Cartoon Network’s part to work with their fans to monetize work rather than trying to shut them down for selling artwork of copyrighted characters without permission.

It’s hard to say in whose favor the program works because little is known about the financial arrangement between Cartoon Network and the artists participating in The Collective. For example, are artists being compensated? If so, is the artwork being bought outright or do artists receive a percentage of sales? And, of course, the other big question is are fans willing to pay upwards of a hundred dollars for a print of Cartoon Network characters? Time will tell how much control Cartoon Network will be able to take over the work created by its most dedicated fans.

Artists selected to participate in the June launch are:

  • Jason Edmiston, Mahendra Singh, and MAKO – Adventure Time
  • Missy Pena, Ty Mattson – Steven Universe
  • Miranda Dressler, Louie Zong – We Bare Bears
  • Frank Forte – Clarence
  • MAKO – Regular Show
  • Anthony Petrie – Over the Garden Wall
  • CHOGRIN – Dexter’s Laboratory
  • Fried

    It’s about time. I’ve always wondered why CN and Nick didn’t open up their own Etsy-based store. The only reason I was able to see was that their websites and stores are so region-based, it would’ve been complicated. Valve has pretty much been doing this for years even since they opened up the Mann Co. store.

    I imagine the artists must get some percentage of the profits, otherwise there’s literally nothing in it for them, especially with all the other alternatives they could go to to sell their work at. It would be nice for CN to tell us how much.

  • Martin Cohen

    The links in the Rebecca Sugar article at http://www.cartoonbrew.com/animators/rebecca-sugar-4363.html to not work for me.

  • This looks like a good opportunity for everyone, really.

    And wow, the comments on that Rebecca Sugar article are horrendous.

  • ogglar

    all the links from the referenced post “Rebecca Sugar, first attracted attention by drawing their own fan art” are dead, may as well refresh that post.

  • Elsi Pote

    Mondo has been doing a great work on this lately.

    The big problem with CN and WB is they are still hesitant on releasing countless hours of content the fans have been craving for years now.

  • I will say that a large chunk of My Little Pony’s merchandise (even statues now) has been fan-art driven for the last couple of years thanks to We Love Fine, who have also done t-shirt contests for CN shows. I think CN is just the first to proudly brand it as a new thing while Hasbro just had it silently sitting on the internet for only the fans to see.

  • MaximumOvertroll

    is it still “fan art” if its officially licensed?

    • Netko

      Well, if it’s made by a fan of their own will, it’s fanart. If you were employed to create the art, then it counts as official art.

      • MaximumOvertroll

        im sayin. the artists are being paid for their work by the network. if you’ve made a profession in creating fan art then it’s professional fan art, but when the pay comes from the license holder; the artists may be genuine fans, but the art they produce is officially licensed mechandise.

        • Noble Valerian

          It’s officially licensed fan art. The artists are not commissioned or obligated to CN in any way to produce it. I think it’s absolutely awesome for companies to create a moderated/curated outlet like this.

  • I loved this article until the end. We don’t know if the artists are being compensated or not?? They d*mn well be getting compensated or Cartoon Network is going on my s*** list.

  • StephaneDumas

    One thing who might be dicey is the fanart crossover showing fanarts of various CN characters with Disney/Nick/various animes/European cartoons characters.

  • Brian Ingermann

    How do we submit art for consideration?

  • A Cultist Lemming

    I really hope they make this work, This could easily turn into a React world kinda scenario