I'm guilty of it myself, I see a pretty face/body and I'm drawn to it but I've discovered that my real interest past that is more in the conveyance of what the artist finds beautiful in it. The same beauty could be found anywhere if they trained their senses on it.
What we are ending up with is a uniformity of youthful gorgeousness that can sometimes lack any kind of emotional depth. Perhaps influenced by fashion photography or advertising it is certainly not from the background of traditional portraiture.
Take a look at Lucien Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (If you Google the title there're plenty of images). She is overweight and not what the present media's sense of what is attractive is but depicted by Freud with absolute respect for her humanity gives a result that is an amazing look at what real beauty actually is: his discovery of it in her.
If you also take a look at his portrait of Kate Moss you can see how different an approach he takes to what we generally consider to be one of the ultimate models of attractiveness. He paints her like a real woman, a mother, belly flab and natural as oppose to gravity defying breasts. She's more attractive here than the empty vessel fashion images she's famous for.
If you're going to paint, draw or photograph someone you find beautiful you should try to look past the superficial beauty and into something more original about them.
There must be hundreds of thousands of images on here of stunningly slim youthful girls with perfectly symmetrical faces but you could put together a hundred different artists' work and believe it was all done by only one of them. It's not just the images of females, there are plenty of boys pictures that are also as emptily pretty and perfectly muscular, it just seems to be that there are more images of just one type of female.
If there is to be a redefining of what beautiful is it has to start with the artists and those who appreciate art. There's beauty all around us, in the aged and wrinkled, fresh faced symmetrical, asymmetrical, plump or disfigured. You don't have to look too far to find it.
It may be in yourself.
The process of creating something yourself, not only performing a repetitive action learned and stuck to as if there is no other way of doing things, but truly creating something from inception as an idea to putting it down in your chosen medium in a style unique to you is an unparalleled act. It's something that every great artist fights for and sometimes dies in the process to achieve it.
This is where art ought to be. People creating work that they feel just can't not exist in the world.
As a platform I feel that this website should be as it is more or less free to put out whatever the members deem to be art-worthy. But, this freedom comes at the price of making sure that the member's taste is developing, maturing and not merely sticking to one distinct artistic flavour.
This is where it begins to become troublesome. Now more than ever before we're in the global throws of fandom. It's not only another of those things that we say, "it wasn't like this when I was younger etc.", it's the truth that we become fixated more now than ever with some form of entertainment that's all we think about. This in itself isn't the problem but what we do with our art as a result of this can be and tends to lead to a sad uniformity of images.
If when we create some piece of work that we feel is art but is not only based on but solely belongs in the realm of fandom we're not saying anything apart from "I like this thing". Just copying a character from animation, for instance, that in itself is of a generic enough design that any artist can draw it to make it look more or less the same really doesn't convey anything that we couldn't do without. Perhaps if you're somehow reinterpreting your subject or you're copying it as a study to learn how to do the same thing yourself but in your own style, with your own design, then maybe you can say you're creating something but it's still a ways off to me from the above definition of where I feel art should be.
To see yourself in the light of truth and be brave enough to turn that knowledge into something people can experience is the water artists must tread in. It feels that the creator born our of pure fanatical fandom tends to paddle in shallower water with little risk of drowning.
Now if you're a fan of something and you've recognised in this commercially created product that you can identify with it and it makes you feel good about yourself, this is fine. Just remember that this feeling is there not only because of the thing you're a fan of but because of something you need to get from it, or more specifically your own life is lacking it. This is not a bad thing either and also not so new; it's what makes religion so popular, supports political leaders, the concept of the monarchy and the cult of celebrity.
What is lacking with fan art is that a lot of it is following the thing without learning from it and evolving past it, which is a shame.
This is going completely against the grain of where I feel an artist ought to be. When the artist looks at that external thing they've become obsessed with they work out how to take it further, do it better, move away from it, understand their obsession for it and say something about that instead of repeating the subject as it is, just a flat reflection.
Like Rudyard Kipling said, "If you can dream—and not make dreams your master", the same goes here. To live your life through someone else's fiction, a fantasy reality, but not looking back to your true self for answers, to not move forward from it can erode your individuality and that's a sad fate for us all. If you have nothing to say that's really from you, your experience, temperament and vision of the world you're basically submitting to an artistic dictatorship where the commercially viable is all that matters.
Create whatever you want based on anything you like but make it matter, mean something that's worthy of saying, only then you can call yourself an artist.