A while before I wrote this article, I was randomly surfing the internet when I happened to stumble across this intriguing gallery of “Firefly” fan art by Kyle Burles. The interesting thing about these fan art pictures is that they’re drawn in the style of vintage sci-fi novel covers.
This, of course, isn’t the first collection of modern fan art I’ve seen that is based on older types of media, but it’s an absolutely fascinating genre of art for a whole host of reasons.
The first reason for this is that, when it comes to things like book covers and movie posters, traditional art mattered a lot more until relatively recently. Before digital photo-editing became more common, one of the easiest ways to create a really dramatic-looking book cover or film poster was to hire an artist.
For films, this was still the case up until the 1980s at least and it can be seen in things like the original poster art for “Blade Runner” or even low-budget horror movie VHS cover art. Even in the early-mid 1990s, computer games like “Duke Nukem 3D” and the old “Doom” games still used wonderfully dramatic paintings for their cover art.
Being an artist myself, it fills me with joy to see a time when traditional artists had many more opportunities to make cool-looking paintings. But, more than that, traditional art gave old novels and movies a certain gravitas that their modern equivalents often don’t have.
Whilst they certainly weren’t timeless, a traditionally-painted cover or poster is a lot more attention-grabbing than a photo-based one. It shows the audience that the film or novel in question is a work of art rather than a disposable piece of media.
So, seeing more modern things with traditional cover or poster art (even if it’s been made unofficially) makes them seem more important. It makes the “classics” of tomorrow actually look like classics, rather than just being another TV show, another video game, another film.
The second reason why this type of art is so cool is because it satisfies our curiosity. It makes us wonder how the modern things that we watch, read and play would have been seen if they were made a few decades earlier.
Not only does it lend these modern things a sense of timelessness, but it can also make us wonder “if this had been made thirty or fifty years ago, what would be made today?“. It gets us to think about an accelerated version of our culture, where the things that we love have had more time to inspire other things and have a greater influence on the things we enjoy today.
Finally, these things are anachronisms (albeit fake ones). Seeing things that are out of their “correct” place in history is always absolutely fascinating for a whole host of reasons, since it makes us think about the past differently.
To use a real historical example of something similar to an anachronism, I was absolutely astonished when I first heard (in a documentary, I think) that an archaeological dig in an ancient Viking site in Sweden turned up an equally-ancient statue of the Buddha. Whilst this isn’t a “true” anachronism (since the Buddha statue was also ancient), the idea of a Viking owning a Buddhist statue certainly wasn’t something I could have imagined.
Anachronisms, even fake ones, are absolutely fascinating. Seeing “modern” things in old settings evokes the idea of time travel. It evokes the idea that history may not be as “reliable” as we think it is. It evokes the idea of secret parts of history. It makes us curious about the past.
So, yes, these are some of the reasons why making old-fashioned art about modern things is absolutely fascinating.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂