The brony fandom has grown exponentially since My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic revitalized the once dying franchise. Over two years ago, it was confined exclusively in 4chan. But since late-2010/early-2011, it's spread to further corners of the Internet and was promoted via word of mouth in the form of e-mails and social networking. People all over the world among various cultures came together to watch a family-friendly, brightly-colored Flash animation. As of this moment, the fandom is now higher than it's ever been, and the show's massive popularity has garnered huge media attention.
Aside from the fact that most of the fandom is consisted of young males, we're seeing a lot of fantastic art. What I mean by this is fanart, music, customs, plushies, 3D prints, fanfic, wallpaper, pins, buttons, rings, sewing patches, fandom animations, voice acting, and so on.
But all of the art surrounding this fandom hasn't just been good. It's been great! It's been amazing! Whenever we see the art, we are constantly wowed by how fantastic it is. There is such an explosion of great talent, but whenever we're wowed, we suddenly see art that is even greater than before. The talent in this art seems to be pushing further and further beyond not only the fandom's collective expectations, but even the person him or herself.
But where is the art coming from?
How do they their art in physical form?
Why are we seeing it?
What gives them the ability to create such great art?
It all comes down to one word: talent.
One of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's quirks is the talent amongst every pony. Each pony has the talent to do great work. When they demonstrate that talent, they succeed, and they each have something that they're extremely excellent at doing.
But why My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic? Why are we seeing such great art there at such a rapid pace and not anywhere else?
Let's backtrack a little bit. Prior to My Little Pony, the most popular art was Sonic the Hedgehog. Despite its ups and downs and divisions, the Sonic fandom has always been extremely and expressively creative. When they upload art, it's often good to great. With that pride as a Sonic fan, they want to show it. Now My Little Pony has eclipsed Sonic by far and wide, and Sonic art looks extremely miniscule by scale.
But why My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic? Why are bronies creating such high-quality art in a high quantity? Why are they displaying the talent there and not other fandoms?
Some comments I see around the Internet (in response to seeing great art) is them feeling jealous of their talent and how they don't have it. I see this here in the brony fandom, and I see this everywhere else. Unlike what is perceived, "talent" is very misconceived and extremely misunderstood throughout the art world. Whenever people think of "talent," they think of an innate ability to perform great work quickly and consistently without practice. And it's extremely understandable because we want to do work as great as them, but don't know where to start nor know if we can.
But I have one thing to say on this.
That is not true at all. You can do art. You can do great art. You can do amazing brony art. You can do art greater than those you love. You can be the Michelangelo, the Queen, the whatever of the brony fandom. And you can start right now.
Because the concept of "talent" isn't as complicated as it truly is.
The summary of "talent" is defined by one famous quote from the late and great television painter, Bob Ross.
"Talent is a pursued interest."
That's all "talent" is. Basically, if you have the dream and desire to do it, you can. Some people can do it pretty quickly, but others need a little more time to hone their skills more. But you can execute great talent if you have the will to do it. You need that little spark of confidence and outside will to continue encouraging you.
What we are seeing in the brony fandom is exactly this. Everyone in the brony fandom had a starting point. John Joseco. Rina-chan. MandoPony. Toxic Mario. Device Heretic. Pen Stroke. Veggie55. Black Gryph0n. JanAnimations. WhiteDove Creations. Pixel Kitties. The Living Tombstone. You name me an artist, and I will tell you that they all started off not so well. Every artist here in this fandom has to start somewhere, and none of their works were good when they began. They all had to commence somewhere and then commit themselves to do great. But they were able to push themselves further and perform greater in their craft than where they started.
The rest of the brony fandom isn't any exception. They all had to hone their craft. But they were eventually able to push themselves, and now they are able to publish high-quality production without trouble.
But the craft itself is not enough. You need a certain push to get there. The brony is the shopping cart. Without some kind of leverage, they can't demonstrate their talent.
That's where My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic comes into play.
This fandom exploded because the show is so good and defies everything the series and episodic family animated television offers, especially for a franchise that, for over a decade, was leaning exclusively to little girls and was a failed cash cow. Friendship Is Magic, on the other hand, has heart. When it has heart, it'll attract people no matter what age, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, religion they associate with. This is a fandom where we all came together because we all adore a great show. Despite our differences, we are able to demonstrate commitment and confidence. That's where we get our passion. That's where we get our strong investment for the show.
All of that in the above paragraph is the base of our talents. If we are so invested in something we love, we don't want to merely tell it to the world. We want to show it. We want to continually prove to the entire world that this fandom is creative, committed, and together. That we can show our love for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic in the form of fantastic craftsmanship.
The brony is the shopping cart. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is the hand that rolls the cart along the stretch of road and into the supermarket. The products in the supermarket is our audience, and we want to attract them. Great art and a great craft are what drive them. They are so invested in their craft that they want to perform to their expectations and beyond. When they don't, instead of burying their heads sourly, they go out and perform even better. Then they hone it better and better and better. We see the bronies show so much great artwork because the art makes them proud to be a brony, and it also makes their audience proud to be a brony. The great art tells the media how great it is to be a brony and impresses the media itself about the art. It catches the media by surprise, and we take pride and joy of what we — the bronies — see from them — the media and the people who aren't bronies. We push ourselves to become better, because My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is our passion and mental investment, and we want to exhaust our creativity and then improve upon it. We want to continually impress, and the show is our drive to our eventual artistic successes.
For those who are jealous, those people you see and want to become, you can. If you have the passion for the show like they do, then you can demonstrate this passion in your craft. To paraphrase Bob Ross, "All you need is a dream, a heart, and a desire" to put it out there. You have to start somewhere.
But what if you do have that passion, but fail?
This is every first-time artist's greatest fear: failure. Doing your work and either stopping because you think it isn't good or uploading your first work and then coming back to see comments saying they don't like it. This is a common thought process, and it's perfectly normal to think of this. In fact, failing is one of our greatest fears.
Let's look at Twilight Sparkle and her fear when opening the Door of Illusion. Her greatest fear at that point was failing Celestia's test, and it's understandable. She's worked so hard that she didn't want to screw up. But isn't just there; Twilight Sparkle is a very keen witch and doesn't like to fail, period. When she fails, she gets flustered and disappointed in herself. When she thinks about failing, her mind tends to not think straight or be clouded by previous events. Check out Twilight while being trained under Zecora.
Another example is in the biography, Bob Ross: The Happy Painter. One of the Bob Ross Instructors had no artistic background at all. When he used the palette knife for the first time, he literally shook from fright.
The nerves and fright are common and completely understandable, because when you try for the first time, you feel uptight and don't know if you will succeed or fail. When you past that first step, then the nerves tend to subside. But failing in public is another, and it's completely understandable. No one likes this impression that their initial work is unlikeable, and first impressions matter. And no one likes criticism, even if it's constructive. Constructive criticism, whether one wants to admit it or not, stings. You say you're looking for it, but you don't. No one does. We treat our own projects like our babies, from birth to adulthood, so we become very protective. The fear of failure is completely understandable and it makes you want to scrap your talent.
But it's completely okay if you fail. No one has started off well. They had to keep honing their craft to the point of where they are now. The same can be said for you. If you fail the first time, that's okay. Rise back to your feet and keep trying. See what makes the brony artists you love great, and then use what they do as inspiration to continue improving your talent. If you have an interest to pursue, don't stop. Go for it. If you can, you can always ask them questions via e-mail or private message and ask how they worked on their craft, where, how they got their ideas, and so on. Do not be afraid to ask the brony artists questions. Their answers will do nothing except make you want to do better.
But we're seeing artists churn great art quickly. Why is that?
The reason is the investment and commitment to continually prove why they adore the show. When artists improve their craft continually, one huge advantage is also improving on their ideas and cleanliness of their craft. When brony artists begins working on their craft for the first time, they're always slow and take as much time as they need to execute correctly. When they have the experience, then they don't need to go as slow as they were several years ago. They can churn great art on short notice. You notice many of the speed drawings and paintings in response to memes and villains they love? They didn't start speed-painting immediately. They had to spend a lot of time honing their talent just to get there. And the better you hone your craft, the faster you can execute your art. You can reach at that speed if you have the drive, continuous commitment, will to improve, and investment of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to help you reach that goal. For example, whenever Bob Ross was asked how long he took to paint, he said it took "twenty years, twenty minutes." When he was a traditional painter and beginner wet-on-wet painter for Bill Alexander's Magic Art Company, he didn't start off fast. It took him time for him to paint a completed painting in twenty minutes — for him, twenty years.
But along the way, you develop something that you don't intend to make. For instance, instead of pure rock brony music, you have a mix of rock and country instead. Or instead of dubstep, you have electric. Don't stop, nor get upset. To quote Bob Ross, "We don't make mistakes. We have happy accidents." Don't get upset if something doesn't go your way. Step back, stop working on it, and look at/listen to it first. Keep working on it and see if that little "mistake" works. Who knows? That "error" may be what helps you stand out amongst the rest. It may be where you can grown in your talent. And don't say the brony fandom has enough talent already. The fandom is growing, and when it's growing, so does the growth of new talent. You're always welcome to show off your work. If you screw up, try again. Because I guarantee you. If you have the ability to practice hard enough, if you have the heart, you can execute great brony art, and then people will come and admire your creations.
The brony fandom is doing exactly that. They don't just want to show off good work. They don't just want to show off great work. They want to show off amazing work! Beautiful masterpieces that they can go back and admire a few years later. They have such an investment for the show that they want to prove it with absolutely incredible art. They don't want to stop their craft at a certain level. They want to continually push themselves and make this work even greater than what they dreamed of.
As a consequence of the high quality in both the cartoon's excellence and the fandom's outstanding craftsmanship, we formed very firm, high expectations in both the brony talents themselves and their audience. When the show is great, and how much we bronies and the creative professionals want the show to continue being great, the talent wants to prove to be not just as great, but even greater, than what they see and hear in the actual professional world. The continuous push and expectations for excellent talent results in neverending dissatisfaction from the brony audience, the talented bronies themselves, and the professionals who work on developing the actual cartoon.
This dissatisfaction can also be rather scary because we have such high expectations that some just dismiss them as "unreasonable." But in fact, our dissatisfaction is one of the greatest things this fandom has, and this is something every other fandom should observe.
When you're dissatisfied, you always strive to do better. We have a level of talent in this fandom that continually rises each and every day: Just like our extremely high expectations for the actual show, we always want them to do their best. When we want them to do their best, the talents themselves see this, and combined with the strength of their fellow bronies and themselves, they push for better masterpieces. The strive for continuous improvement results in amazing art in the brony fandom today and even more amazing art tomorrow.
The brony fandom is a talented community where everyone comes together. Because there is such an investment for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, they strive to show off their talents and develop outstanding art and later amazing art. Everyone has a starting point, and some fear that, because of the fandom's strict expectations, they fear they don't have the talent. But talent is nothing more than a pursued interest. If you have the investment and will to practice, you can show off your talent and execute amazing, museum-worthy masterpieces. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic shows heart, and it reflects in the bronies' craft. This creative heart reverberates throughout all of the corners of the brony art community, and we as an audience have developed very high expectations and neverending dissatisfaction towards both My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and the talent the bronies continuously exhibit. Instead of dismissing it, this is something we should look at with immense inspiration and admiration. With continuous dissatisfaction, we always strive to perform better than yesterday. If they can do it, you can, too.