Drawfee is a comedic art show, which airs on YouTube, where artists turn audience suggestions into silly drawings. Spencer Wan guest-starred on a recent episode, where four artists drew fan art of characters from Castlevania in styles from other shows. Spencer’s contribution was an animated clip (drawn in Toon Boom Harmony) of Trevor Belmont from Castlevania in the style of Disney’s The Owl House — two productions he previously worked on as an Animation Director and Animation Supervisor, respectively.
If that wasn’t enough of a CV, Spencer is also the founder of Studio Grackle (which animated a stunning trailer for Hades), was selected as a Toon Boom Ambassador, and is currently working in visual development on the sequel to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.
We reached out to Spencer Wan and two of Drawfee’s hosts, Julia Lepetit and Karina Farek to learn more about the episode. You can watch the animation process below, and then read on to find out how Spencer came to appear on Drawfee, how the web-original show continues to evolve over its 7-years on YouTube, and how attitudes towards fan art have shifted in the animation industry.
How did you come to appear on Drawfee?
Spencer: Well, Karina and I are friends from college. A few months ago she asked me if I wanted to come on to do a more technical episode. I kind of shied away from that idea because I didn’t think I’d have enough time to do something complicated, but I thought I could manage a speed draw episode.
Does working in a different style change your approach to animating a character, like Trevor Belmont?
Spencer: Honestly it’s really all the same to me. I make the drawings look different and change my timing up to suit the style, but the process never changes for me. It just takes less time when you don’t have to draw so much detail.
How important is it for artists working in animation to be able to draw in different styles?
Spencer: It’s important all across the board, but especially for animators. The most valuable animator is one that doesn’t require correction from the director. The time and effort needed to correct a lot of drawings puts a pretty massive strain on a production, so my number one priority now is trying to match the style well enough to get approval on the first try.
My speed animation for @DrawfeeShow— Spencer Wan (@SpencerWan) July 14, 2021
It’s Trevor Belmont in the style of Owl House! If you haven’t already, you can watch me animate this in the full episode here: https://t.co/HaItPGZjW1 pic.twitter.com/QjJCy5pZiZ
Have you noticed a shift in attitudes towards fan art?
Julia: I think there’s been a shift over the past few years. When I was in college, it was seen as a cheat, as if you “couldn’t even bother to create your own characters” but there’s less of that now and for the better. Now people appreciate the rest of the artistic skill.
Karina: I definitely think so! I feel like fanart used to be more frowned upon in the professional world, but now it’s something a lot of pros do for fun or practice. I think it’s awesome that a lot more artists are comfortable doing fanart and even find their niche in it now, because I love doing fanart haha.
Spencer: I think so, although I’m not sure if it’s just that I’ve surrounded myself with more supportive artists than when I was in college. It may be that other artists still experience the same attitudes toward fan art and I’m just not seeing it in my corner of the internet, but at least it doesn’t seem that way.
What do you enjoy most about Drawfee and the community you built?
Julia: Our community’s general positivity and willingness to let us and them be experimental with art. We encourage them to just draw whatever feels good and they do the same for us. Due to the general nature of our content, nothing is going to be perfect. We have to just come up with something on the spot and roll with it and that means accepting a lot of small failures. Art is never going to be perfect and this show embraces that. We do our best and the community latches onto that.
Karina: I love how positive and creative our community is. Something I really enjoy about being part of Drawfee is hearing from people who have started drawing or rediscovered their love of art through our content. I think anyone can find joy in art regardless of skill level or polish, so it’s awesome to have a community of inspiring people who want to improve their art but also just have fun.
How has Drawfee evolved over your channel’s 7-year history?
Julia: The show has definitely gotten tighter with its editing and pacing and we’ve definitely figured out our channel voice but beyond that, the heart of Drawfee is the same. We joke that we’re bad at what we do and in a sense that’s true. We’ve just learned how to best package our artistic chaos.
Karina: I haven’t been a part of Drawfee as long as the others (I was involved a little for a couple years before becoming an official member in 2019) but even in the time I’ve been a host I think we’ve really found our voice and refined our style. We became a fully independent channel in 2020 and it’s amazing how much we’ve kept growing in a short time!
Do you have advice for artists who are looking to build an audience or find community online?
Julia: Just keep on going. Keep posting. Create art that makes you happy and keep doing it. People will find you. Also fanart helps that a lot. Hashtag that stuff.
Karina: Follow your bliss! It’s very easy to get caught up in the rush of promotion and networking, which can become super stressful and discouraging. Art is for you, so always be sure to do things that make you happy! Draw fanart of things you like, make art you like and want to see. Being positive, and even a bit self-indulgent, will bring positive people to you!