Furry college clubs — a place for artists and animators with vivid dreams and fears

by Patch O'Furr

A staple comic, 1998-2000

Furry College Clubs are a new movement

Furscience, the group researching furry fandom data, say the majority of members are around college age. By law, they can only track ages 18+, so this growing subculture may have an army of new lurkers just finding their whiskers and tails.

Looking back, furries at colleges are nothing new (check big furry comics of the 90’s) — but having enough members at the same schools to start official clubs is a new chapter in fandom.

A 2005-era Livejournal-connected list has a few dozen college furries — in the world, not the same place. A 2008 forum topic mentions handfuls finding each other (but more likely at anime clubs.) Then during a watershed time of mainstream media turning from mockery to fascination with the fandom (between MFF 2014 and Zootopia), a USA Today headline says: Growing community of ‘furries’ finds acceptance on campus.

Student newspapers love the topic now. It’s a common reason for alerts about furries in the media. And in big online forums, college location lists get hundreds of responses. Looking into it gives an impression that many are majoring in tech, science, or arts. But one subject stands out the most.

Pro animator dreams

Furry fandom overflows with art talent. And the animation industry is a hoped-for destination for many. For a guiding light, they can look at artists like Joaquin Baldwin (Disney’s Zootopia) joining furries as a popular convention guest.

For these artists, a feature studio artist job is like aiming to be a pro sports athlete. Many try but few make it. Other paths may lead to TV, graphics and illustration, or freelancing.

Furries doing freelance art commissions have a burgeoning indie niche. But the downside of catering to fandom is being boxed in, by economic challenge or the pull of lucrative adult art: Furry artists among top highest-paid Patreon creators, but face threats to their livelihood.

That’s how the mainstream industry might feel exclusive. It’s hard to tell how much, but furry art in job portfolios can get negative moral judgement. For every Joaquin Baldwin, there could be many staying undercover, like in: Interview with a Secret Furry animator inside a top movie studio.

Dogpatch Press has an interview on file representing a Hollywood studio half staffed by furry artists. It was withheld by fear of affecting jobs, because they were working on a popular kids show and the #MeToo movement was coming out in Hollywood. That leads to a piece of irony.

Ren & Stimpy & Stigma

It’s rumored that in 1998, a hurtful judgement by director John Kricfalusi (Ren and Stimpy) on a young artist led her to launch the Burned Furs manifesto. (A “clean up the fandom” effort tainted by puritanism and homophobia that quickly fizzled out). Kricfalusi later made fun of furries for Adult Swim.

Then in 2018, judgement bounced back. He became a subject of #MeToo allegations by artists. It’s mentioned in my story about visiting his house — A furry look at an abuse story about John Kricfalusi.

Before going pro, John K. went to a certain animation school. A lone furry artist at the school was a friend to me. Many years later, the friend’s untimely death made his family ask about that hidden part of his life. My search for others he knew was met with fear of their identity coming out, even from decades ago.

Tomorrow’s Joaquin Baldwins

Times are changing. There’s that studio full of furries. The fandom is producing loved talents like: How furry animator Jib Kodi found his art.

Furry art is most active with illustration or fursuiting. Full animation is rarer. Outside of schools, it’s an intense medium that’s hard to do full time without studio support. Will it will always be that way? Or could indie production make something like this cult-worthy animated movie? Nova Seed movie review- a rare find of sci fi animation.

“Nova Seed looks like what I imagine could come out of my favorite art subculture some day – something like this is a holy grail of furry art.”

You can get an idea of how much work it takes from this indie animator. He made what looks like a winning show pilot that’s 12 minutes long. It took years and he became a furry in the process.

These are challenges on the path from college to career. That’s why when college furry clubs are the topic, a club at an animation school stands out from others.

SCAD: a top animation school

Georgia’s Savannah College of Art and Design is rated in the top 4% in the US by Animation Career Review. It has a great reputation with lots of pro artists coming out. It’s also in the neighborhood of Furry Weekend Atlanta, one of the top few fandom conventions.

That’s a great place to look for furry talent and energy. SCADfurs gathers dozens of members who you can find here on Furaffinity or Twitter. Check out an interview with them posting tomorrow: “SCADfurs: These furry animation students will make shows you love one day.”

UPDATE – responses.

Some furries working at animation studios sent private messages as well about how they feel in the industry.

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