Fandom is a big part of 26-year-old Laura Sanchez’s life, as they wouldn’t have become a professional illustrator if it hadn’t been for the support that came from the fandom community. As a bisexual, non-binary person, fandom has provided Laura with a safe space in which they can be themselves while projecting their own gender and sexuality onto their favorite characters. Fan artists like Laura communicate how a fictional world personally impacts them by adapting these characters to their own styles and perspectives. When she was 12 years old, Laura read the Japanese manga series Naruto, a comic series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto that tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who aspires to be the Hokage, or village leader.
Laura was inspired by fan artists to draw Kishimoto characters from her own perspective, which allowed her the space to think critically about the characters she loved and to think about these characters from her own perspective and not only the perspective of its canon, the collected source material of a certain fictional universe. Laura particularly enjoyed creating head-canons of Naruto's female characters, drawing them with more muscle and not just as a love interest to the male lead. Head-canons are ideas and concepts fans believe in, outside the original material. They may not be accepted as a part of the general fandom community, but the process allows fans to be more critical of the original material they love. Laura moved away from the canon not to destroy the original material, but to allow the characters to grow outside their original boxes. Laura particularly enjoyed creating head-canons of Naruto's female character Sakura. Sakura was known as an annoying character whose story revolved around one of the male characters, but Laura loved to draw her with more muscle and not just as a love interest. Through the spectrum of fan creations, such as fan fiction and fan art,
Laura began to accept that it is okay for a series you
love to have flaws and that it’s okay to want to see
how it could be better with your own personal vision.
As mrotisky on Instagram, Laura started to post fan art about characters from Naruto and characters from the Maggie Stiefvater YA series The Raven Cycle, story that follows four private schoolboys, and a psychic's daughter to discover the legend of a Welsh King buried in the mountains of a Virginia town, and The Dreamer Trilogy, the companion series to The Raven Cycle that features Ronan Lynch as its central character. She hugely enjoys following fan artists and reading fan fiction as she has found safety, representation, compassion, and depth in the ideas of other creators. Laura says she draws to remember the characters outside the original material, but she posts her illustrations so that when it feels that no one in her real life can understand her drawings, at least she knows there is a community that can.