Reflection: Timeliness and fandom trends

Practice 1, Reflection, Research and Enquiry

First out of the gate

Hannah Friederichs / Critical Role

I’ve been torn for the past couple weeks with the urge to drop everything and be (one of) the first to produce work relating to a newly revived fandom. The third campaign of the wildly popular Dungeons and Dragons series Critical Role started up again recently, and with the first episode came a full set of artwork depicting each of the characters. I’ve been a fan of the show for many years and familiar with the usual upswing in fanart, discussion, and cosplay whenever new characters are introduced. My current best-sellers in the 3D printed cosplay accessory shop I run with my partner are previous-campaign CR pieces by a large margin. But with university work, I haven’t had the time to sculpt any of the new designs (until this upcoming week!).

I admit, it frustrates me not being able to ‘keep up’ and missing out on sales and, to a much less important extent, social media boosts from the novelty factor. The popularity of the series will continue, of course, and I expect to see many new cosplayers popping up in the coming months (it makes sense to wait a few episodes before committing to a character). But there are already full sets of accessories for the characters for sale on various marketplaces; complexity and accuracy varies, but they’re available now.

I generally try to keep very up-to-date with fandom trends, both in terms of my shop and as someone hoping to enter the rapidly-changing games industry. I’ve found that games do tend to follow certain genre or style trends (e.g. MMORPGs, cartoony MOBAs, slow-paced farming simulators..), and believe it’s important to be aware of the space.

I track trends in multiple ways:

  • Follow hashtags on Twitter and Instagram
  • Follow Facebook groups for specific genres or aesthetics
  • Join subreddits (general /r/gaming to genre- or game-specific forums)
  • Watch what cosplayers are currently constructing; they often tend to be fingers on the pulse of popular media, as there’s always a rush to be one of the first few people to cosplay a new release
  • Follow game awards, best sellers, and trailer releases

Two kinds of practitioners

The thing is, even if I had no other obligations, I wouldn’t be able to be ‘first’. I work in a slow, methodical way: gathering multiple references, obsessing over accuracy, adding additional detail, making pieces realistic and functional, agonizing over scale and print settings..which takes time. I wouldn’t want to compromise the quality of my work in favor of speed.

I can meet deadlines, but I don’t thrive on the stress of overly limited timeframes. Therefore, I believe I’d be best suited for larger, long-term game projects, without a fast turnover for sculpts, and where iteration is possible. I’m practicing working with an art director of sorts when I get feedback from my partner on our 3D prints, sometimes creating a dozen tweaked versions, and I’ve found this is the best way for me to refine my work.


Friederichs, H. (2021). Campaign 3 Characters – Critical Role. [Image]. Available at: [Accessed: 4 November 2021].

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