On Friday, December 2, 2016 I went to Midwest Fur Fest in Rosemont, IL. After a long Thanksgiving, it was nice to take my mind off the holidays and try something new. I wanted a change of pace, and I figured it would help my morale and my art some how. Furries don’t have the best reputation. They get pegged as weirdos, perverts, and other unmentionable names. Some of that is true, but at the heart of the fandom are creativity and enthusiasm that I found rejuvenating.
When I arrived there were people in fursuits that greeted attendees. I tell you on a cold November day in Chicagoland, it warmed my heart to be greeted by a cute dog in a pink bow. Literally, a person dressed as a dog gave me hug! I was hooked. The Hyatt in Rosemont was filled with birds, dogs, cats and other creatures. These were people living their fantasy as neon griffins or their favorite team’s mascot. In my opinion, Fursuiters are the living embodiment of character design. The creators have an idea, and it comes to life right before your eyes. I can image that is very satisfying to have your idea on paper become tangible to yourself and the world.
The con wasn’t just about the fursuits; it’s a place for visual artists and writers to showcase their talents. Room after room was filled with comics, stickers, and furry accessories. The furry community is very grassroots in that the creators are regular people. They aren’t backed by large corporations, and I had trouble finding a booth or table by a mainstream company. The art was original from the prints, to the sculptures, and the handmade jewelry. I saw some fan art peppered in from Disney’s Zootopia and Lion Guard; the artists provided a different reinterpretation from the original. The varied styles from sketch zines of cats to beautifully painted dragons made a fine art junky like me feel very comfortable. Being at Midwest Fur Fest made me remember my first love was a mouse.
I went home feeling more hopeful about my own art work. It’s not that I don’t have the talent or the know how. I did feel like my art was missing a story to tell. Although the artists use animals for their art, the artists were able to connect to their audiences’ varied human experiences. If the story was about a first kiss to a tiger or a last goodbye to their home in the jungle; the artists made the worlds believable, fun, and memorable. That’s something I want to do with my art work too.
I will definitely go back next year and go to few more fandom specific conventions. I was able to draw inspiration from the convention that I think will last all winter.
Credits: Edited by Brother Gator