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All Past Featured Artists

Featured Artist of the Month

Monkey

It's all but impossible to look at Monkey's work without cracking a broad grin: it's funny, it's clever, it's visually pleasing, and it's even determinedly on-topic, delving into creative possibilities few have even explored in the Lion King universe.
I promised myself I'd do this if I ever won AotM, so I might as well get it out of the way...

"I'd like the thank the Academy..."

Phew. Okay, I've had that bottled up since 2003.

So, um. Wow. Artist of the Month. I was pretty much floating around in my chair went I heard "You've Got Mail" and saw that e-mail sitting there. I swiveled around with a big " 8D " face on (because my sister was sitting there watching TV) and made an unintelligible "WEEEEEB" noise. Aah... I'm still bouncing around on the ceiling about it, although the weeb noises have subdued.

Forget the Academy, man. You know who I REALLY want to thank: You guys. There are so many people that deserve thanks, praise, (this title), hugs, and chocolate. Seriously, the concept that so many people voted for me just makes my year. I imagine the remainder of March will be spent skipping on every third step. I'll try and pull some specific names out of my brain, although I know I'll forget people so please forgive me. I'll just list them, I guess. In no particular order: TheUnknownSoul, TabbyKatt, Serge Stiles, Raven (Dynamo), Aquanite, ClearGreenWater, Criquetin, SpiritWolf77, Akril, Kristin O., CLSA, Va-Kasi, Daisy7, Endless Night, Vekke, Katse, Jannali, Junee, KassyNaVerdis, Kourukon, Kookamunga, Kuroneko Tenshi, Pegasuss, Timali... argh, I hate doing this because the list will go on forever. And I know if someone else was making a list like that and I wasn't on it I'd be sad. So I'll broaden it: THANK YOU to everyone on TLKFAA and especially my friends at Lilymud. I wish I could just use this space to redirect everyone to my favorite artists. It would be full of links. Very cluttered.

So... Most people who find themselves writing a speech like this will say how much they love The Lion King -- about the first time they saw it and how much it meant to them. I'm not going to do that. I want to say how much all THIS means to me. The community. The stories. The art. The conversations I've had. The people I've met. Sure, on the surface this is all just about fanart. But it's the universe that ONE movie created that I love so much. I guess I'm allowed a bit of reminiscing here, eh? I remember when I first found TLKFAA. I hadn't thought much about The Lion King other than a good movie since I had finally grown out of my Simba Halloween costume and I no longer played with my Lion King action figures everyday. But when I found fanart.lionking.org was when I discovered that it was actually possible to draw the characters that I had loved so much. This seemed so foreign to me for some reason. So I started out, copying clipart and pausing my VCR and trying to see which way a line went when static was completely covering it. Yeah, there's no shame in that. You got to learn somehow, right? It was when I found Lilymud that I really began to have fun with fanart. We Lilymudders argue over whether or not the animators of Simba's Pride messed up when they gave Kovu a white nose marking. It's ridiculously entertaining, and I love them all so much. If I hadn't joined that community I wouldn't have ever even cared that a background character like Dotty the outlander existed. I wouldn't have even thought about whether or not the Gopher in the morning report was a furred naked mole rat or a Cape Dune mole rat.

Ha ha... I've been thinking about how I'd write this thing ever since I found the site and I keep drawing blanks. I guess I'll say this: If it wasn't for TLKFAA, I don't think I'd be applying for art colleges right now. I don't think I'd have ever pictured myself in an animation career. Thanks to TLKFAA, I know what I want to shoot for in my life. And people say fanart is silly. Pshaw.

My advice to others: Open your eyes to the world. Did you know that scientists recently discovered a "lost world" in Asia? Yeah. They discovered 30 new species in one expedition alone. And, to keep this speech on topic, what about the AMAZING amount of animals in Africa? There aren't just lions you know! There are even more animals than crowned hornbills, meerkats, spotted hyenas, and mandrills, too. There are elephants and rhinos; antelopes ranging from elands to dik-diks; brown and striped hyenas; Ethiopian wolves; Lammergeiers, sunbirds, rollers, bee-eaters, secretary birds, ostriches, barbets, and tons of other birds; Yellow, bush-tailed, Egyptian, and barred mongooses; Golden, side-striped, and black-backed jackals; Giraffes and okapis; bunches of monkeys; Servals, sand cats, caracals, black-footed cats, cheetahs and leopards, to name a few. Not to mention all the animals on Madagascar, and all the extinct beasties. What I'm saying is... broaden you horizons! And even on a more canonical note - Who was Nala's father? What ever happened to the cub at the end of TLK? Did Nala ever love someone other than Simba? I mean, he was dead during Scar's reign, right? Where did Zira come from? There are just so many facets of the TLK universe to explore. That's why I love it so much.

My other advice: Read Cat Hick's Artist of the Month speech. It is so truthful. Never put yourself down, and find your own style. Draw from life. Just DRAW!

Well, anyway. I think I've rambled enough. Go on with your lives. And thanks again! March. Ha ha. Marchy march march. Aaah. Yay. I now love March.

But mostly I LOVE YOU ALL. I mean for serious. Wow. And thanks so much to Brain Tiemann, who made all of this possible in the first place. You rock so much.

Do I win the longest speech award? Haha. Okay, I'm done now.
She may be self-consciously long-winded, but who can fault that when there's such a great illustration in what she says of what makes the fan-art community so great? In some ways, it's never really been about The Lion King itself; it's been a reason for people all over the world to seek a creative outlet, a common theme that serves as a catalyst for bringing out all the artistic talents that a whole generation has just under the surface and trying to get out.

Of course, that's not to say that Monkey's gallery is not focused on that theme. A perusal of her folders reveals a collection of colorful, expressive, beautifully rendered and computer-colored Lion King art that finds its voice through explorations of the intricate facets of the movie's story, the characters' motivations, the back-stories of the obscure bit characters—all the little details that are hinted at by the movie's rich world.

The affinity that The Lion King instills in its fans for the characters and the broad landscape of Africa, as well as the inspiring artistry of Disney Feature Animation at the top of its game in 1994, makes these things prime subjects for up-and-coming artists to explore their skills, develop their unique styles, and even ponder careers of their own in animation, as Monkey and a number of other artists at the Archive have done. In the process of developing new scenes and new situations in which to place the characters we know so well, artists like Monkey seek to do justice to the original creators' vision and skill—and, in some cases, end up surpassing it.

It's unlikely that Disney ever realized, while it was producing The Lion King, just what kind of a universe it was creating, or that it would be any more of an extensible world than the one of Pocahontas or Aladdin. These things are never planned in advance; they have to come about through a confluence of coincidental factors that emerge after the fact. As Monkey's speech illustrates so well, the continuing popularity of the movie owes itself to the dedication and creativity of the fans who found themselves unaccountably drawn into its world, enough so to want to become a part of it through their own creations.

Congratulations for this well-deserved recognition to Monkey!


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