Furry artists among top highest-paid Patreon creators, but face threats to their livelihood.

by Patch O'Furr

This article went out in January 2017 titled “Yiffing for Dollars”. Here’s a re-edited update a year later, to coincide with a bump in notice and a concerning situation. 

Furries have built their own small industry on creativity worth millions. Their membership is rising and it’s likely to see the “furry economy” grow with it. You can see what’s up by watching the small slice who are devoted enough to make a living in the fandom – Profans.

Adult art can have an edge in dollars because it has more of a niche quality. Clean art is perfectly valid, but perhaps the mainstream is where it succeeds most – making an apples/oranges comparison. This look at indie art business will focus on the naughty stuff, but doesn’t exclude other kinds, and it applies outside of fandom too.

Check the list of top creators on Patreon and play Find The Furries!  

When first looked at in January 2017, fandom member Fek was earning $24,000 per month for making furry porn games. (Quote: “Ditch the dayjob and live the dream.”)  He had the stat of #2 best-paid per-patron on all of Patreon.  (See his art on Furaffinity.) Others were in or near the furry ballpark (dogpark?) Most of the NSFW entries in the top 50 had furry content. #12 was the Trials in Tainted Space NSFW game, earning $27,000 per month. #30 was the kinda-anthropomorphic-NSFW artist Monstergirlisland, earning $20,000 monthly.

I haven’t checked these numbers since early 2017, and I think the list changed from “amount of money” to “number of patrons” which knocks furries down the list, but… Artists are getting rich from this, no joke.

Older news:

  • Cracked – We Draw Furry Porn: 6 Things We’ve Learned On The Job. “Every artist agreed it would have been impossible to make a living doing this as recently as 10 years ago. But today they constantly have multiple projects going and portfolios with hundreds of completed works, and they find themselves in ever-increasing demand.”

Since late 2017, Kotaku has given strong attention to adult art on Patreon:

These show growth being overshadowed by trouble. They aren’t just about furries, but notice – the first one is about a theft site that targeted furry porn first, then spread to any and everyone. Theft, instability, and creator-hostile regulations are looming. It even involves politics.

A tiny slice of Profans having positive success is also vastly outweighed by those who do it for less than a living – but more than a hobby. Competing as business with lower-expense hobbyists makes things complicated. Fandom is full of young, struggling artists who are figuring out how to use their talents, and deserve all the support they can get. Making money from art has never been easy, and this makes me think about the current state of things.

There’s a lot to say about being an artist in troubled times.

The planet is in trouble and every species has a complaint, so let a dog bark about politics for a minute.  If I had a crystal ball to see into a future with Trump in power, I bet it would show nothing but murk with occasional mushroom clouds. Expect isolationism, extreme nativism, and turmoil.  He gives lip service to bringing back jobs, but has no plan beyond drunkenly slashing and burning everything – corporate regulations, facts, and the social contract. Don’t be surprised when it simply helps rich people hoard money and leaves burger-flipper work and a Limbo-game race to the bottom for wages for everyone else. What I’m saying is, Millenials are facing poverty and instability beyond what their parents faced.

This space needed a graphic so have Old Economy Steve.

It’s scary, but even downsides contain opportunity. Not like in the old economy before they had robots doing all the jobs, but if nobody’s hiring for jobs worth doing – what’s better than making your own career?  Look at the indie level.

This business article caught my eye: “Can This Startup Reinvent How Doggie Portraits Are Sold?” Forbes explains that pet industry spending hit a record $60.28 billion in 2015, and MyPoochFace.com got a half million. It’s “the first venture launched by Niche Digital Brands”, who target “massive markets with specialized and differentiated products”, according to the owner: “‘Basically, if Amazon sells it, or has the ability to sell it, we are not interested.'” The part that stood out is “specialized and differentiated” and “Amazon can’t sell it”. Robots and Chinese manufacturing aren’t such a risk for that.

Doggie portraits? Isn’t that familiar to furry commission artists who make unique custom art for every client?  They do all kinds from Disney to dirty, and you can’t lump everything they do together, but there already is a Disney. What people don’t have is a stable business for adult media companies. (Even the weird kind is having trouble, like Kink.com closing shop.) The centralized production studio concept is going away, in general.

That’s why furries are poised for a little opportunity on the naughtier side. A modern “go west, young man” is “go yiffy, young furry.” Any person can get naked and it’s not very special when people do it – but who does “specialized and differentiated” better than fantasy artists?

Appreciate furry porn because it’s hot and cute and fun, and you can commission your own to match your desire – but also because it’s so independent. You can complain like hell about being broke and having no health care, but it may even be one of the few places to still find the American Dream.

Why this matters:

Does furry erotica even fight modern entropy? (Slate: How Can Literature Resist Islamophobia? One Writer Answers: Gay Muslim Furry Romance.) My feeling is a subtle yes – in ways like expressing queerness that lets individuals gain confidence to break barriers – and in being countercultural against stifling values that pit people against each other. In times when fear of strangers is fired up to the point of war, if you can say “hugs are the furry handshake” – hugging a stranger is a statement.

Free love and expression may not be overt “politics,” but it matters. It especially matters to people who make a living from this. We can find a small vision of a kinder, happier way to treat each other, in the fantasy and international conspiracy of fandom.

With risks on the rise, how can furries look out for themselves?

From a source.

See, politics. The theft targeting small, indie artists is being done with reprisal against remedies to attack them as a class. That’s one reason for them to consider organizing for their interest. They may be their own bosses, but still deal with various kinds of exploitation.

It gets more feasible with growing amounts of money involved. There’s an active Furry Writers Guild, loosely modeled after the Science Fiction Writers Association (which had a furry V.P.!) The SFWA exists to represent creators to (or vs.) publishers, as well as connect members for mutual support. Indie furry artists don’t deal with bosses or formal industry relations, but in a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps situation, there’s still the issue of what the downward forces are and how organization helps; stuff like dealing with abuse or figuring out standards among those competing with a semi-hobby level. Let’s not get into differing costs of living for international members.  Basically, Furry art is an incredible bargain for the skill involved – enjoy it, but don’t take it for granted. (My related article: Tip Your Makers! Why to pay more for art to improve commissioning and spread the love.)

I’ll leave these thoughts as a start for new topics to come. If you have tips on the theft situation, please get in touch.

UPDATE

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