After seeing “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in 2012, Annika Sparrell ’18 has never left the world of elves, hobbits, and orcs. She has created several pieces of fan art for “The Lord of the Rings” and other fandoms (fanbases of entertainment) throughout the years, according to Sparrell in an interview with the The Phillipian.
“I get obsessed with things really easily. I think my first obsessions were golden retrievers and American Girl dolls. I watched ‘The Hobbit’ with my parents when the first movie came out and I thought it was really cool. I started reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ books and I just became obsessed because I love reading fantasy and this is just an immense world that I could completely dive into,” said Sparrell.
Besides “The Lord of the Rings,” Sparrell especially enjoys “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who.” She also likes “Supernatural,” “Studio Ghibli,” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”
“One of the reasons [I started creating fan art] was to extend the world. Once you finish a show or a book, it is like ‘what do I do now?’ One day, I imagined these scenes and since I focused a reasonable part of my life on certain fandoms, if I think of something to draw, I just go draw it,” said Sparrell.
Sparrell’s favorite art medium is drawing, even though she has experimented with other various mediums, including photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, architecture, graphic design, and sewing.
“I really like drawing with pencils and colored pencils because I am comfortable in it and I love the precision that it gives me. I [never want to] necessarily make it photorealistic; it seems kind of pointless. If you can’t tell it apart from a photo, why do it? But I want to allow [my art] to become more realistic and be able to make it more creative,” said Sparrell.
In seventh grade, Sparrell drew her first fan art, a drawing of Rivendell from “The Lord of the Rings,” as an assignment for art class. The assignment was to draw a portal to another world or a scene out a window. Using color pencils, Sparrell spent eight hours drawing every detail of the elven outpost.
“[For the assignment], I was thinking that I’d like to do something rather untraditional and I was thinking, the place I would love to look at the most was Rivendell,” said Sparrell. “[For the piece], the white columns were not supposed to be white. They were supposed to have a lot of intricate detail and then my mom saw it and said it was great just the way it was. From then, I’ve tried to not finish every single detail of a drawing. There have been a few more [drawings for which I did not] need to completely fill everything in.”
Sparrell is particularly proud of her first sewn clothing item. Sparrell sewed an elven dress from “The Lord of the Rings” using green silk-like and white opaque fabric.
Sparrell said, “Me and my grandparents who were helping me sew told me that this was super ambitious for [my] first project but I had my heart set doing that and I do have to say I learned a lot from sewing. I have to know how much fabric I will need before I buy it. I’ve also sewn a skirt and I am working on a dress right now.”
Fandoms have also introduced Sparrell to other artists online, especially on Tumblr. Tumblr has exposed Sparrell to different art styles, inspiring her to try digital art as well.
“A lot of artists that inspire me now are just on the Internet. There are two Tumblr artists, they both create really realistic-looking things, but what makes them unique is they are not photograph-looking. I hope I find a style somewhat like that,” said Sparrell.
Although Sparrell has been drawing since she was little, what initially attracted her to creating fanart was the satisfaction of turning an idea into reality.
“Often, I am more proud of [my art] than anyone else. I just really love seeing things I imagine come to life. Most of the time, I have an idea and I can visualize it and when I try to do it, it looks like a potato. The times that it does work, when I’ve imagined something and it comes out the way I am thinking of, I just feel really satisfied that I’ve managed to create something that I’ve been thinking about,” said Sparrell.