Anthropomorphization or humanization is a term that describes the act of making animals or inanimate objects into humans, be it visual or conceptual. It's a thing we sometimes do subconsciously, like when we imagine that our pets think human thoughts or talk in human language, and sometimes it's completely conscious, when people intentionally just turn them into human form. Shannon Lee is the latter case, as she sometimes draws awesome illustrations of human characters inspired by various animals, either from animation or pictures. The young artist hits it close to home and maintains the unique traits of the source, all the while doing it in her own style. Check it out and see for yourselves!
Shannon was very nice and gave us an exclusive interview about her and her art: "Obviously I love drawing, but I love people more. I love creating things for my own entertainment, but nothing tickles me more than when someone says that one of my drawings makes them feel nostalgic or made them laugh or whatever. I have a very close group of friends and they, along with my family, are extremely supportive. We play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons and other nerdy stuff! Although most of my time is spent at my day job at the Department of Justice Tasmania, I’m excited that from 2022, I’m going to be working as an artist full-time! It’s a scary step, but I have my wonderful girlfriend’s support and I think it’s an awesome opportunity."
"I’ve been drawing forever. Apparently, I saw my mother painting when I was only a year old and wanted to join in. My parents tell me they didn’t have kid-safe paints so they gave me some shaving foam and had me colour in the roses that were growing outside! Haha! They’re wild people. I was badly vision-impaired, so they were extra keen to encourage me, hoping drawing would motivate me to exercise my vision and focus on what I was looking at, rather than napping whenever I had my patch on. I’m not sure whether it helped in that respect, but I’m very grateful to them! I did a semester of an art class as a kid, but that’s it, really. At 14 or 15 years old, I started selling commissions, some realistic portraits and some (kind of cringeworthy) character design work on DeviantArt. I didn’t really see it as something I wanted to do for work until recently, though. I believed I could do it, but being an artist sounded lonely to me. That’s why I studied law instead; it’s something I’m passionate about and I knew I would get to work with and help people. Well, a year into working at the Department of Justice, my TikTok and Instagram started growing all of a sudden and I realised I could be an artist and also be part of a community if I focused on building up my socials. So, that’s the plan! I’m really trying not to use too many exclamation marks, lol."
"Designing characters is probably my absolute favorite thing. It’s sort of an exciting challenge to think about who you want a character to be and then to translate that into shapes, colors and stylistic choices, etc; problem-solving so that another viewer could get a solid read of who that character is. It’s tricky to take elements people will recognize (like symbols or shape language) and apply them in a way that is effective without doing something stereotypical or uninspired. That’s not to say I always get it right, of course. That’s the fun of it! I always have something to learn."
"I had a phase where I really didn’t enjoy drawing humans. I didn’t practice them because they weren’t fun to me and as a result, I ended up with repetitive “same face syndrome” designs. But then I remembered something to inspire some more diverse human designs, which would also make them more fun for me to make! When I was a kid in my DeviantArt days, I saw other artists reimagining characters I enjoyed, sometimes as humans (and sometimes as, uhh, ponies). Those works were novel because they were familiar, but also because they made me wonder how I would’ve approached the design if it was my work. It was also cool to engage with the artists, sharing our ideas and requesting other beloved characters. I started making my own because animal designs have such varied shapes and proportions to inspire my humans. I also realized I didn’t have to worry so much about seeming derivative because part of the fun is seeing different illustrators’ interpretations; that it’s a challenge anyone can participate in. Different artists can interpret the same idea in any number of ways. The same inspiring animal design could make countless totally different human designs which all feel like the source material in some way. I think doing these has helped to diversify my human designs a lot."
If you love humanized characters, Bored Panda has a lot of them to offer. Chey/endifi, for example, turns Pokemon into humans, and we have many iterations of her works. Isabelle Staub turns Disney animals into humans, much like Shannon Lee, though in her own unique style. If you want a little switcheroo, check out how Picollo turns Disney characters into animals and vice versa; you can find the first part of his post here as well.
"My favourite movies growing up were Balto and The Lion King. I always really identified with the rebellious kid characters who seem to pop up in the sequels like Aleu, Kiara, Melody from the Little Mermaid 2 and Scamp from Lady and the Tramp 2. Haha! I recently watched Wolf Walkers and absolutely fell in love with the art direction and animation style; and at the moment I’m loving everything about The Owl House."
"My first big inspiration (although I didn’t know his name at the time) was definitely Aaron Blaise, the legend who designed and animated cub Nala in the Lion King. Other big influences include Chris Sanders and Mike Henry; pony artists I followed as a kid, like ArcadianPhoenix and Centchi; and mutuals on Instagram like Lois (&L00_ji) and Katherine from Dollightful (@Dollightfully). I’d love to write a comic or graphic novel one day and I’m also generally influenced by stories about quirky characters and found families. It’s obviously not animated, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer really inspires me with its big personalities and themes. And of course, the people in my life inspire me with their aesthetics and great vibes."
"I’m working on setting up a Patreon at the moment and from next year I’d like to stream, make art videos every week and sell my more popular works as prints and stickers! That’s all a work in progress, but I’ll be a full-time artist next year, which will speed things along a lot. The goal for this year is to prepare myself well enough that I’ll be able to make a living as soon as possible once we get started in January 2022. Down the track, the dream would be to write my webcomic or graphic novel (I haven’t decided which medium would be more appropriate yet) and to offer more of a variety of merchandise for sale."