Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week

Tag: commercialism

A Tale of Two Kickstarter Campaigns, and the Selling of Identity by Artworktee

by Patch O'Furr

Is your identity a stretch goal?

On Flayrah, Sonious wrote two articles about Artworktee, a popular furry t-shirt company with many happy customers. In May 2019, he wrote a positive story about their charity benefit campaign. Now in November 2019, a shirt selling campaign is not so positively covered. The difference — no charity this time.

After being asked to write, Sonious felt conflicted about giving them “blatant advertisement” as news. It could have been turned down, but wait; there’s more. He found reasons to criticize their campaign launched on October 22: “Furry and Proud Shirts! Show your furry pride with ArtworkTee’s new line of LGBT+ shirts!” On Kickstarter as I write, it has 396 backers pledging $24,758 — likely in the top few percent of furry crowdfunding.

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 3)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Part 1 looked at the roots of fandom, with fans being “fans of each other”. Stigma and undermining showed how the fandom didn’t just follow the path of least resistance, it broke out under pressure. A sense of outsiderness and self determination has stayed ever since.

Part 2 looked at conventions making a platform for industry and expression that keeps the group untamed. Relations with the media got better while making a certain fandom identity (instead of letting others make it). It can even connect to deeper identity of members, because it lets them be who they want to be.

Furries care about fandom identity with a kind of tribalism. When members say they’re prone to “furry drama,” it can come from conflict about who defines it or benefits from it. That’s how The Daily Beast noticed conflict about a luxury “designer fursuit” brand, which usually wouldn’t matter to anyone except furries.

I told the reporter: “I think it really struck a nerve. It really got to the root of this possessiveness that the subculture has about itself and what it built for itself.”

It’s a case for looking at resistance to commercialism. Backlash at the brand was provoked by tone-deaf marketing, where bringing a mainstream approach wasn’t workable with art based on unique personal identity. Also, luxury brands don’t get made from scratch when others go back 100 years. (Fans in-the-know could compare this with furry brand Hyena Agenda, whose stuff speaks for itself without rubbing the wrong way against a certain fandom identity.)

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 2)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Fandom is big business in the mainstream – but furries have their own place apart. Why does this fandom grow independently? Let’s look at unique expression at the heart of it. Of course furries do a lot more things than this story can look at, but one aspect brings insight about decentralized structure.

Some subcultures rise and fall with media they consume. But the influences seen in Part 1 didn’t make one property in common for every furry. They didn’t rise with a movie like Zootopia. Instead, this fandom is fans of each other.

Part 1 looked at the roots and growth of their conventions. Furry cons make a platform for the specialized craft of fursuiting, with bespoke, full-body mascot costumes that cost thousands. They’re uniquely original expressions of identity. They’re tangible, huggable products of imagination. They put the fur in furry.

A lot of the fandom’s rock stars are fursuiters, who give it a photogenic face. Unlike stars of other fandoms, their original characters usually aren’t promoting something else — and fursuits can’t be downloaded or easily pirated — they’re for live experiences. It matters because online community can be temporary, but live events glue it together. They can show why this fandom is independent, here to stay, and not tied to certain media.

Rather than naming great works tied to their activity, you could say that the group is its own greatest creation. And if writing, art, or other creativity in the fandom didn’t rise out of a certain type of event, fursuiting did.

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How furries resist a commercialized fandom (Part 1)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry fandom often has DIY ethics (intentional or not). That can mean nonprofit volunteer-led events, and directly supporting each other’s art instead of just consuming corporate products. A Daily Beast reporter asked about it and I shared lots of info that didn’t all make the news — so here’s a followup in 3 parts.

Why is commercialism a topic for an often disparaged subculture? Compare furry fandom today to its roots. Times change, and hindsight can help to see why. Let’s look at how industry and media influenced the American roots in the 1970’s, how it grew, and changes that come with bigger scale than ever.

The 1970’s could be a hungry time for fans with a taste for comics and animation of the 1940’s-50’s Golden Age. As it faded, funny-animal comics died off while the business suffered under the Comics Code. In movies, the fall of the studio system contributed to a dark age of animation. Hanna-Barbera reigned on TV with cheap formulaic product. Disney’s feature studio almost went bankrupt with barely any new artists hired for a generation. Robin Hood (1973) spread the furry virus before it had a name, but the movie wasn’t well loved by the studio. Then a new wave of artists (such as Tim Burton and Don Bluth) came out of Disney while it had a rebirth, peaking with The Lion King (1994), which launched a thousand furry projects. But by the early 90’s the furry fandom was already fully fledged to take off on its own. It happened under the influence of the ups and downs of industry, but also in spite of it.

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ArtworkTee issues and the heart of the furry economy

by Patch O'Furr

There was a lot of recent drama about Artworktee, an indie operation catering to furries. This video covers how it started, but there’s a lot more to say.

I had mixed feelings on watching it unfold on social media. “But Patch, isn’t reporting not supposed to have feelings?” I’m a fan like any other, and “objective fan” is an oxymoron.  I couldn’t pretend not to be one, or miss the point of having an independent subculture by fans, for fans that’s best written about from inside. For this story, I dug deeper into some of the issues involved:

  • Complaints about underpaid artists.
  • Questionable practices for the business of art.
  • The mission and allegiance involved in profiting from fandom.
  • The stakes of overlooking problems and calling it “just business”, vs. how formal business can solve problems too.

Let me try to bring understanding from several perspectives, including the travails of small-business, and the devotion of grassroots fans. This is a great case for that stuff, because it’s not every day that a business comes from this niche fandom that kind of resembles mainstream startup companies. Until now, the most successful commercial enterprise like that is probably Bad Dragon.

Pro-fans and profiteering

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Community > Commodity, and the value of WTF. Part 3 about the FurAffinity sale to IMVU.

by Patch O'Furr

A series of three articles:

 

  1. About the FurAffinity sale, and the issue of trade-offs.
  2. IMVU does a Q&A with me.
  3. Community > Commodity, and the Value of WTF.  Long live furries.

The conclusion brings it all back to commercialization.  I’ve reported this for a while:  Measuring the Furry Economy. – Mainstream advertising: “More and more, Furries are being hinted at in marketing media!” – And the recent $11,575 record fursuit sale and $17,500 top price. Also try: Furry, not an obscure little fandom any more.  I often say that the thriving growth of this subculture is built on WTF weirdness that can’t be digested by the mainstream.  Will that stay true?

___________________________

3) Community > Commodity, and the value of WTF.

___________________________

 

You could write a whole book about a subculture’s place in the larger culture.  (There’s a “Furry coffee table book” waiting to be written.) Here’s a very loose topic about it, with a point:

Commercialization makes some furries fear losing what they love.  But the normals-scaring, freedom-raising, limit-pushing, WTF part of it may save the rest.  The more fringe it is – the more it holds Furry back from acceptance, but keeps it strongly independent. More notice could be a win-win.

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IMVU does a Q&A with me. Part 2 about the sale of FurAffinity.

by Patch O'Furr

A series of three articles:

 

  1. About the FurAffinity sale, and the issue of trade-offs.
  2. IMVU does a Q&A with me.
  3. Community > Commodity, and the Value of WTF.  Long live furries.

The conclusion brings it all back to commercialization.  I’ve reported this for a while:  Measuring the Furry Economy. – Mainstream advertising: “More and more, Furries are being hinted at in marketing media!” – And the recent $11,575 record fursuit sale and $17,500 top price. Also try: Furry, not an obscure little fandom any more.  I often say that the thriving growth of this subculture is built on WTF weirdness that can’t be digested by the mainstream.  Will that stay true?

___________________________

2) Speaking with IMVU.

___________________________

 

FurAffinity just posted a Q&A with IMVU’s CEO Brett Durrett.  A furry responded: Ashamed for the fandom; an apology to CEO Brett Durrett. 

While seeking graphics, I just noticed they tweeted me from Fur Con in January!  (Not endorsement, just spreading furriness.) Yay! Can you spot me among the eye-blasting pink, sparkles and rainbows? I was in camo.

My Q&A started:

This is for both IMVU and Dragoneer (Mr. Piche). I assume that some details may be kept private. I’ll build a news article from the answers, aiming for positive information not gossip. I’m curious to know:  1) The story of how IMVU and FurAffinity came together.  2) Terms of ownership now.  3) The future and your roles in leading users.

They responded to my long list:

Attached is the interview completed by Sean Piche, Fur Affinity Community Leader, IMVU; Kevin Henshaw, SVP Business Development, IMVU; and Varsha Pande, Director, Community Experience and User Safety.  You’ll note a few of your questions were left unanswered as a matter of company disclosure policy.  Thanks for the opportunity to talk about the Fur Affinity acquisition.

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FurAffinity’s new ownership makes a turning point. Should fans fear commercialization?

by Patch O'Furr

(Via Greenreaper):

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 6.46.18 PM

From 2008.  Anthrocon has grown to generate $7 million in 2014.

From 2008.  Anthrocon has grown to generate $7 million in 2014.

A comment from 8Chan:

The furry community is loaded with cash compared to other niche internet communities and it’s been exploding in popularity over the last decade. Nowadays it’s becoming more apparent with kickstarter and patreon making the figures public and internet companies are starting to move in on their turf to get a cut before it really goes mainstream.

And for those doubting that it’s about to enter the mainstream just wait until “Zootopia” from Disney comes out in 2016. Even Marvel giving prominent roles to a furry character in their recent major Hollywood movie would have been unthinkable 10 years ago, people who study the furry phenomenon are expecting it to explode soon. Universities and marketing groups are preforming surveys and studies on the fandom, this is considered a legitimate field of study.

A series of three articles:

 

  1. About the FurAffinity sale, and the issue of trade-offs.
  2. IMVU does a Q&A with me.
  3. Community > Commodity, and the Value of WTF.  Long live furries.

Read the rest of this entry »