One of the first posts ever on this blog was a recognition of work by a New York artist and actress who was making weekly stylized desktop images based on episodes of Mad Men.
The artist, Dyna Moe, started doing the illustrations after doing a Christmas card for a friend in the cast of the show. I discovered her illustrations via a fansite towards the end of Season 1. We started looking forward to them every Monday during season two; quietly thrilled for her as she met the show creators when star Jon Hamm was on SNL ; and are now ecstatic to see her creations turned into the instantly-popular “Mad Men Yourself” tool on the show’s official website.
I see this as a textbook example of how the new New Media should work: A fan / friend starts creating an homage to a brand. That brand does not sue or discourage the fan doing unofficial work, even though she might be making a few paltry bucks. Nor does it jump in and try to co-opt, compete or take over. It lets the homage play out. Once it becomes clear that the homage is successful and additive to the brand, it embraces that homage. It then hires the fan / friend to extend that homage in an official way that is true to the brand and the artist.
Everybody wins. Imagine that.