FURRY GOOD IDEAS: Fursuit of the Year award and fashion show, and more.
by Patch O'Furr
Read to bottom for Fred Patten’s informative comment that inspired this.
In 2014, fun hobby blogging exposed me to many new ideas that could use more development. This blog is for underexposed, underrated topics. That’s subculture, and it’s about fan love. I love sharing it!
Looking back at some articles about new ideas and opportunities, I think they could use a feature. FURRY GOOD IDEAS joins previous special features here.
I was going to call this “What Furry needs”. But nobody really NEEDS these. This isn’t preaching what’s best for you. It’s just observation from one enthusiastic fan, inspired by other fans. It comes from a thriving subculture that ‘s expanding with a convention every weekend, somewhere in the world. That makes a lot of room for ambitious proposals. This is an attempt to highlight ideas with popular demand, appeal, or opportunity to make real. Share yours too!
FURRY GOOD IDEAS:
A FURSUIT FASHION SHOW AND ANNUAL AWARD. There is popular demand. Cosplay does it. I call Fursuiting “the most original product of this fandom“, and I think it could use promotion as an art form. (Fandom’s Favorite Fursuit Fracas is a start, but it could go much farther than polls.) The live show element is something you can’t download; it’s a foundation for cons that glue this subculture together, and one of the reasons it grows. Promote it.
A FURRY FILM FEST. Build a program to tour many cons, for many audiences. Isn’t that more worthwhile than programming for one con? Read more: The San Francisco Furry Film Festival. There’s a small but ready base with cons hungry for content. It could do independent screening too, and invite the public to a participatory happening with costumes. Weirdly specific film festivals do well. There’s hunger for animated or dramatized furry performance. Feed it.
AN OPEN-PLAN FURRY FESTIVAL. Aim to grow beyond the convention model confined to hotels. Instead, coordinate many independent events in the community. It could include ALL of these event ideas. Read more: “New concept for furry events” brings enthusiastic response in San Francisco. Furries are considered “weird” until people meet them in person- then they’re either still weird, or “I had no idea this was so awesome!” Creativity happens on that fringe where convention meets public – like Street Fursuiting, my favorite thing. Keep it yours, but Put it out there.
A COFFEE TABLE BOOK. Like a Taschen book about furries and their subculture. It could engage artists who bring a pro approach to fursuit photography. (I’ve talked to writers who have already pitched publishers – I have a little rough outline for one.) There’s a lack of history and fan-generated media in permanent form. The misunderstanding that people talk about is countered by having some kind of crazy fun “bible”. Write it.
A FURRY BUSINESS GUILD. With a small but real subculture, there’s economy and industry. Read more: Thoughts on measuring the “furry economy.” There’s independent craftspeople building things that don’t exist outside it. It’s a cottage industry for a specialized audience. Look at the leap in quality of fursuit-making, and the way you can hire a professional (even full-time) to make it by hand for you. Look at any artist wondering how to charge for a commission, and you see someone who can use data about it. Look at all the inefficient gaps and leaps of trust in the commissioning process. They could use a platform, ratings or seals of approval, a “chamber of commerce”, and mutually agreed standards to smoothe the whole process. There’s a Furry Writer’s Guild. Think of one for freelance artists, dealers, and businesses. Establish it.
A FURRY ART GALLERY. There’ve been shows. Read more – Furries & Despair photography show – Santa Ana gallery’s ‘Art of Furry Fandom’ – and Moving Violations: Subversive animation art. This is as far across the line of high vs. low art as you can get… and what’s wrong with that? Today’s “bad” art is tomorrow’s new discovery by latecomers who missed the fun. But what audience could sustain a viable gallery with it? Maybe those who support “lowbrow” galleries, subcultural bohemians from Burning Man, and curiosity-seekers who love what’s weird. An enthusiastic crowd made the above photo show far more energetic than the usual wine and cheese thing. A gallery could be a permanent venue for events, like popular furry dances. AND, put porn in it. Yeah, porn. It sells. Robert Mapplethorpe, John Waters, and Madonna made big waves by putting kink and “trash” in museums and pop culture. Let furry artists have a place that makes Ralph Bakshi tame. If porn can be a radical art form, and it’s about fantasy, then it’s purest expression is in completely imaginary situations that can’t even exist but they’re HOT. That would be a strange risk to try. Those are the best kind. Dare it.
Look forward to much more.
Furry Museum/Hall of Fame/Walk of Fame is another topic from Fred Patten. It can keep going, inspired by everything fans already do.
Maybe this is all too serious about a silly fun hobby, but a dog can dream, right? When I’m asleep, if you see me kicking my legs in the air and whining a little…
The fashion show and award idea was inspired by Fred’s comment on my “top fursuit auctions” story:
Fred Patten – January 1, 2015 at 3:57 pm
I don’t know if I should presume to speak for the entire ALAA committee, but we have never tried to keep this a secret. The one category that we have gotten more requests than any other to add to the Ursa Major Awards is a Best Fursuit of the Year. But the ALAA has never figured out how to vote on a “Best of the Year” for fursuits. Most fursuits are not seen beyond two or three furry conventions a year, and then in “mob” settings. The ALAA does not get photographs of them to put on a ballot for furry fans internationally to vote among. Most fursuiters try to keep their fursuits &/or fursonas going over a long period of time, rather than getting a new one after a year, especially at $1,000 and more. Many fursuiters refurbish their fursuits, or replace them with lookalikes rather than replacing them with different ones. Contrariwise, some fursuiters own multiple fursuits, and try to show them all off.
Another suggestion that we have gotten is for the ALAA (or “someone”) to publish a coffee-table book “all about Furry Fandom”, with a section of color photographs of the best fursuits. This gets into copyright issues. Can anyone just photograph and publish a portrait-quality picture of a fursuiter without their permission? On a website, maybe, but in a book sold for money? Would most fursuiters give their permission for themselves to be photographed for those photos to be published in a commercial book? Do the fursuit manufacturers have any rights here? If someone, an individual or a company, makes a $8,000 fursuit, can a portrait photo of it, even with the wearer’s/owner’s permission, be published without the maker’s permission also? Can such a photograph be published online for a Best of the Year vote without the maker’s permission? The ALAA doesn’t have the money to hire a good copyright lawyer.
Patch O’Furr – January 1, 2015 at 4:28 pm
Hey fred- great comment.
I was just editing a “fursuit style” article as you commented! I can definitely appreciate the demand for a “best fursuit” category. You know what this needs? A fursuit fashion show. Not just a fursuit show, but one that’s specifically about designing and accessorizing costumes to make creative statements and enhance performance.
I have often spoken about a coffee table book idea. One solution is to partner with an established photographer who handles model releases and such, and then pitch the suit designers about publishing their work for exposure. There are a number of such photographers and I’ve tried to promote them.
This makes a new article topic to post soon.
Andreus, pictured in the Fursuit Auction story, also added a great comment about the process of making a fursuit, and the complications of copyright. But that’s a topic for another article: Fursuiting and copyright.