After last season’s Writing Deeks series, which explored the world of NCIS:LA fan fiction, we thought a follow-up on the world of fan art was long overdue. So we talked with some of the great artists who create amazing edits about Deeks and Densi. In this first of two installments, we’ll find out what inspires their NCIS: Los Angeles art. Whether it’s romantic tension or intense drama, Deeks and Densi move them to design works that convey the emotions of a scene, demonstrate their love for their favorite character, or maybe even offer a little constructive criticism about the show.
|It was one of my first edits back when I wasn’t entirely sure about how to use Photoshop. The fact that it actually turned out okay will always make it one of my favorites.
Inspiring (and Beautiful) Subjects
Many NCIS:LA storylines have inspired fan art, but sometimes it’s the simple things that get the creativity flowing. For ecolookhere, it starts with the fact that, “They’re pretty people with an engaging story that gets in my head and won’t let me go. I like their dynamic and their chemistry and they give me ideas… Plus pictures of hotness!” lovesaroundga loves “the little bits, little talks with deeper meanings. And also their banter. And Deeks’ body.”
thewingsofnight doesn’t disagree, saying, “First, they’re beautiful people. Ridiculously so. And it’s a no-brainer to want to have more images of them floating around. But also, I enjoy their story and have invested myself emotionally in their characters. It’s like my kids and their Legos®. They watch the show on television and then when it’s over they grab their little figures and create more stories in the voices they recognize. I watch the show and then when it’s over I write a fanfic or I open Photoshop and I keep on playing with the characters I love. I extend the experience. NCIS:LA, as a procedural, really lends itself to this extended play because the nature of the show leaves a lot of elements unaddressed or merely touched on. It leaves you wanting more. I make the more myself.”
DeeksFreak gets inspired by several aspects of the program. “I just love the show, particularly Deeks and Densi,” she says. “Sometimes it’s the funny moments that inspire me. Sometimes it’s the relationship drama or angst that inspires me. My ideas are usually centered on a scene or moment. Eric and Dani are so perfect as those two characters so sometimes a facial expression is all that’s needed to make me start thinking of design ideas.”
For Sweet Lu, it pretty much comes down to Deeks. “I love the show and Deeks in particular. Combining photos of him with Kensi or even other team members is simply a joy and a way to express my feelings for these characters. Watching Deeks and Kensi together on the show without much happening kind of pushed me to create collages that eased some of my frustration.” monique0429 is inspired by “whatever pops up in my mind. Sometimes a scene, sometimes a quote. Deeks is my main inspiration though. Haha. He is such an easy subject, I use and sometimes even abuse his picture. But it’s all out of love for Deeks of course.”
These artists noted a wide range of inspiring episodes, although for ecolookhere, sometimes watching the episode isn’t even necessary for inspiration to strike. For her it can start with just the “Episode titles and previews,” she explains. “I enjoy the mystery of what’s to come and what the glimpses of spoilers we get mean for Deeks and the team as a whole.”
DeaksFreak can gain inspiration from “Any funny or weird thing that Deeks says or does,” but she is particularly drawn to “the intense Deeks scenes. Any time he’s Max Gentry I get inspired- probably because his Max persona is so different than Deeks’ usual happy-go-lucky demeanor.” lovesaroundga’s creativity has been driven in large part by a single episode, “Ascension.” She says, “I remember that after watching the episode I just had to sit down, open Photoshop and make fan art, I couldn’t stop. The last few minutes of the episode gave me so much inspiration that I still have a lot of ideas based on this ep.” Sweet Lu says that “a single line of dialog can be an inspiration, or a strong episode like ‘Spoils of War’ can inspire a deep need to express the emotions that particular episode generated. Sometimes a combination of scenes from an explosion on the show with images of the characters can express deep seated emotions… a metaphor, if you will.”
monique0429 has gained inspiration from a variety of episodes: “Hmm, ‘Humbug’ of course,” she says. “And ‘Spoils of War’, those episodes had great stuff in [them], just scenes for editing and scenes for quotes. I used those scenes a lot I think. But also the newer stuff, I think in every episode there is something I could use. As I said, Deeks is so very inspiring!”
Like many fan fiction writers, these artists are often most inspired by Deeks and Kensi’s thing. ecolookhere likes “any extreme emotional scene or moment between Kensi and Deeks, anything that can be represented with a dynamic visual.” Sweet Lu shares similar feelings, saying, “The ups and downs of Kensi and Deeks’ little dance around their feelings definitely inspired most of my pieces.” thewingsofnight loves “Shippy lines and moments. They say things like ‘It’s a love story’ and (after the squealing dies down) I get tons of ideas about how to interpret that visually, and all the different pictures I could make to go along with that concept. And the kiss, obviously. I think I made a dozen edits with one screencap :D”
DeeksFreak loves the Densi, saying, “I love creating pieces that focus on dramatic moments, too. So… any major Densi moment- when they first meet in ‘Hand to Hand’. Any episode where they antagonize each other. When they dance around their relationship in ‘Descent’, ‘Impact’, ‘Recovery’, ‘The Frozen Lake’ and ‘Three Hearts’. And then, [in Season 6] seeing their relationship progress to the next level in ‘Humbug’ and ‘Expiration Date’. Pretty much any time there is interaction between Deeks and Kensi I can usually find some aspect to focus on and design something. I love angst and tension scenes as these tend to convey strong emotions. The armory scene and the kiss scene in ‘Descent’, the mirror scene and the Densi scene outside the meat shop in ‘The Frozen Lake’, the boat shed scene in ‘Praesidium’.”
lovesaroundga has designed art for other fandoms, but she says, “Making edits for NCIS:LA is different, because I have most of the quotes memorized, I know which scene happened in which episode. And if I hear an inspiring song, the first thing that comes to my mind is Densi. I automatically start to think about scenes that would match the song.” The same goes for monique0429, who’s done some requests for Hawaii 5-0. “ I liked how it turned out,” she explains, “but it’s not Deeks or Densi, you know? I like doing other stuff, but I hardly watch TV so I don’t really ship any other couple. And the editing is a bit harder simply because that ‘shipping-feeling’ is missing.”
Saying What They Really Mean
These artists’ work communicates a variety of things. lovesaroundga says, “I guess I try to show people what I enjoy the most about NCIS:LA.” For DeeksFreak, “Designing a fan art piece allows me to express my take on a scene or moment.” Similarly, Sweet Lu says, “I like to think I am telling a story, either an emotional one or trying to clarify my feelings about an episode or to illustrate what one of my short stories is about.”
ecolookhere tries to communicate “Feelings, moods. I try to capture a specific emotion from an episode (or from one yet to come) and bring it to life in a visual way,” she describes. thewingsofnight explains, “Most of the time I’m just playing around. Sometimes, though, I suppose I try to create a visual representation of an emotion- like the darkness inside Deeks, the tension between him and Kensi, etc. If I’m feeling a particular mood because of an episode or a line or a discussion with other fans, it can come out in the edit I create. Sometimes I tell AU stories (a wedding, a family, Kensi as the Little Mermaid, etc.), which are fun to do.
lovesaroundga sometimes tries to show her “opinion on a certain topic that divides the fandom,” but she doesn’t think she really criticizes the show. She says, “I had a lot of ideas that I didn’t bring into life. After ‘The Frozen Lake’, I wanted to make a gifset with scenes where Hetty was messing up the team’s life. It’s the thing that annoys me the most in the show.”
thewingsofnight actually does create pieces as a way to critique. “I’ve posted contradictions,” she explains. “After seasons of Kensi eating junk food and losing candy in her car seats I was really bothered by the scene where Hetty and Kensi thought it was so ridiculous that Deeks could pull off that particular undercover role but Kensi was the natural choice. So I made a fake promotional photo (the ones where they have the image and the quote) with Kensi eating a donut and Hetty’s line about her being the nutritionist. I have also done some that were just side-by-side lines that were contradictory, or where I take the scene and rewrite it to show what I took from the dialogue (like the dinner/date from ‘Recovery’). These are always much less artistic and more of just a way to get my frustrations out visually instead of ranting for paragraphs and paragraphs on Tumblr (which, of course, I do as well).”
|Although it looks pretty simple, this edit took a lot of time to make. That scene is one of my favorites, and I just love how this edit turned out.
Come back Thursday, when we’ll find out more about how these artists learned the skills they’re now applying to their NCIS: Los Angeles work, and explore how their individual styles have developed. In the meantime, you can enjoy more of their work by following the links below:
Sweet Lu- wikiDeeks
Thanks to Allie AKA the fabulous @thewingsofnight for the title artwork.