This is part of a new series I’m starting that compiles profiles of certain themes within the Fanart that Blizzard chooses to publish in their Fanart Gallery. I was going to start out with Draenei Women, but that post is going to take a long time to compile. Future themes will feature each race, and some profiles will focus on particular characters. Due to the way Blizzard handle their gallery, I have chosen to only display occasional thumbnails rather than try to create a giant comparison pic. I’ll be listing the pictures in the order they were posted, oldest first. I’ll try to keep commentary to a minimum, and I want to make it clear that I am not accusing anyone of anything or taking offense at anything – artists are not a hivemind trying to oppress women but they do impact on and reveal the way we as a modern society view gender. This isn’t about demanding an equal amount of ‘male characters in male model poses’ in the Fanart Gallery.
The Published Fan Art
- Blood of Zul’jin by Drake Fenwick 26/09/05
- Brightbeauty and her Wolf by David Koppenhaver 27/07/06
- Voi and Hex by Caralyn Edwards 10/08/06
- Beffy and Masti explore Winterspring by Beth Trott 15/12/06
- The Adventures of Messy Cow by Chen Weng 22/08/07
- Break in the Shade by Melissa O’Brien 26/09/07
- Druid Touch by Gonzales Reyes 14/11/07
- School of Warcraft by Beth Trott 29/05/08
- ^-^ by Ayatamilin 18/06/08
- Sporeggarrr by Giyoung Han 18/06/08
- Naptime by Bytail 18/06/08
- Female Tauren Druid, Healing by Morten Olgenkaer 17/09/08
- Death Knights’ Caramel Dancin’ by Charlotte Su 25/03/09
- Girl Fight by Dan Miner 13/05/09
- [Warbear by Constantin Bentlewski 19/08/09] – If only the artist hadn’t put a beard in. Actually a male
- Druid in T8 by linxz 16/09/09
- Jera, Tauren Druid by Kate Craig 07/10/09
The obvious thing that strikes me personally is how cute these pictures all seem to be. Only the Tauren in ‘Girl Fight’ seems to come close to looking angry or threatening. Most of the Tauren female fanart is extremely cartoony, and as expected has a high proportion of healer and hunter depictions, as well as a lot of boobtacular art. Facial expressions vary from ‘cute and child like‘ to ‘come hither’.
Understandably artists will draw what they want to, and what they find comfortable doing so – I’m certainly not going to argue the right of artistic expression, but it is interesting to see how the most physically powerful women are mostly rendered as non-threatening, passive characters. It’s a big contrast to the majority of the male Tauren, who are anywhere from outright berserking, to comedic, to simply standing and looking proud, although another issue there is that the male spellcasters are also somewhat passive. This is partly a reflection on the feel of the race – calm, nature lovin’ hippies aren’t all nasty and fierce, and yet the male character are presented to be as brutal as their green-skinned cousins.
The only Gnomish and Dwarven women are much less present in the fan art gallery, but I find the ubiquity of the ‘cute’ art very interesting. Tauren have non-standard bodies (both the men and women), so they are likely to be more difficult to get to grips with for an artist. It’s very hard to separate Tauren from the people they are closely informed by – Native Americans. Female Tauren are generally presented as calm and close to nature, as hunters or druids, and the cartoonish nature of female tauren art echoes the cartoonish appropriation of Native American culture in World of Warcraft. While artists seem very willing to depict male Tauren in a very savage way, the female Tauren tend to embody the ‘noble’ part of the Noble Savage trope in Fan Art.
Tauren art is also relatively free of the playboy poses and extreme painted-on-clothes that plague Elves and Draenei Art. I find the Beffy and Masti explore Winterspring an interesting piece because it actually does depict a non-typical female body, although it still plays into the plate bikini/boobs trope and the character still has an extremely small waist. Her stance isn’t ‘sexy’, and her expression certainly isn’t inviting. In the background we see a passive, male tauren druid healer who isn’t dressed in a loincloth. This piece, viewed through a feminist lens, is more body positive than the majority of women in the Fanart Gallery, despite continuing to perpetuate annoyances.
So what, Pewter?
Well, I think if there are artists looking to paint something different, the above listing shows us the acceptable fan art of Tauren females that Blizzard has published. Tauren female characters are clearly painted into a certain box, perhaps you as an artist can think about painting them into a different box. Tauren females are capable of just about everything a man is capable of in World of Warcraft – they can be chieftans, spiritual leaders, and while they may not have the power of the men, they certain can match most other races for pure strength. If Blizzard does receive Tauren art that is different, I hope they will publish it to give us some more variety.