If you’ve spent any period of time in the furry fandom, you’ve probably heard people talk about their fursona… or show off the art of their fursona, or pictures of the fursuit of their fursona, or plushies, or posters or… You get the idea. Fursonas are kind of a big deal.
But what are they about, and how do you get one? Do you even need one? And more importantly, what might yours be?
Pay attention, because there may be a quiz at the end!
First things first, you don’t need to have a fursona to be a part of the furry fandom. There are many furries who have never decided on a fursona, or who have one and change it regularly. Some even have many fursonas that they switch between day by day depending on their mood. Not having a fursona doesn’t make you any less of a furry or keep you from taking part in the fandom and/or conventions. But making your own fursona can be one of the more unique and awesome parts of the furry fandom.
The most basic description of a fursona is that it is a character that a person uses to represent themselves in the furry fandom. A fursona might be a design that you’ve created, something you have designed for you, or an “Adoptable” design that you purchased. Your fursona becomes like the avatar that you use in a chat program, only that it represents you throughout the entire fandom. It becomes your face that other furries see and know you by. Kind of like a fuzzy calling card that people use to recognize you.
The best part is that the species, design, even things such as your fursona’s gender, are all up to you. Unlike in real life, a fursona is entirely fluid. It can be any species with any crazy combination of markings, colors, or morphology. You can be tall, you can be short, you can be male, female, neither, or both – the only limit is your imagination. Between your furry name and fursona, it works to create an identity that is entirely yours and not one decided for you.
Fursonas mean different things to different people. For many, it may really just be the equivalent of a chat room avatar for the fandom and nothing more. Others may use it as a means of self-actualization and growth. A fursona may just be someone as an anthropomorphic creature without any additions or changes. Or they may be an idealized version of themselves that’s braver, stronger, or may have a dream job. And others may have their fursona be a full character that lives their own life in another world. Some do all of the above! There’s infinite freedom to create your fursona how you like.
If it feels a little daunting to you, it can be. Some people find it hard to decide, and some never settle on just one. I’ve been through many fursonas in my years in and out of the fandom; I’ve been a wolf, fox, dragon, kitsune, pegasus, and just recently I settled on a cheetah. But even that might change someday, and that’s okay!
Other people, like The Gneech, have been one species pretty much their entire furry lives. While his design has changed on occasion, he’s always been a lion. This is just as common as people who change their fursonas regularly. [Editor’s Note: Like, “since I could talk” always there. I was a lion for 35+ years before I even knew what “furry” was.]
So how does someone start on their own fursona? There’s really no right answer, as everyone creates their own fursona in their own way. What I can do is tell you how I made my own and what pitfalls I’ve seen or fallen into myself along the way. Creating a full fursona can be a long-running process and doesn’t happen immediately for most people, so for the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on figuring out what species you want it to be.
- Favorite Animal: What is your favorite animal right now? It can be anything from a wolf to a kangaroo, to any mythological or made-up creature. Anything is up for grabs! You could also be a hybrid if you have multiple favorites. Many people use this method for creating a fursona easily and this was even the method that I used when I first entered the fandom. I really liked wolves, so it just made sense to make my first fursona a wolf.
- Favorite Character: Many of us were introduced to the furry fandom by any number of shows, movies or games, or maybe just a specific character in general. If there’s a strong connection to that character, go with it and create a fursona that is the same species! The only catch with this method is that you might want to avoid creating a copy of that character. Rather than creating Hyper the Hedgehog that looks like Sonic in every way except that his eyes are red, consider different colors, mannerisms, and markings to make it your own character. While paying tribute to a favorite is fine, you’ll want to create something that is wholly unique to yourself.
- Species Traits: Many people also choose their fursona based off of personality traits that they see themselves sharing with a species. Someone might choose a wolf because they see themselves as loyal, or a cat because they’re wily, or a rabbit because, well, rabbits. For example, part of the reason that I chose a cheetah was because of the lesser-known trait of their anxiety. Many species have obvious or not so obvious stereotypes like this if you research them closely enough. There are also mythological or cultural traits that we have given species: A real-world coyote won’t actually prank others or create insane devices, but the archetype of the “Coyote” might.
The choice is really yours on what sort of fursona you want to make. Ideally, you would want to choose a species that resonates with you the most and one that will interest you for a long time. But with all the choices open to you, I have observed several pitfalls that may make it more difficult for you to maintain a fursona.
- Choosing A Popular Species: It’s not unusual for a species to become extremely popular in the furry fandom. But aside from a few specific instances (foxes and wolves tend to keep the top spots of species popularity), a species popularity can wax and wane. What might be popular one week may be totally passé in the next. Be aware of this if you choose a species for its popularity instead of your own interest in it.
- Sharing Species With A Significant Other: It can be seen as extremely sweet to choose a fursona species that matches with your SO’s. However, that fursona may only last as long as the relationship. I have seen people choose to sell or shelve a fursona after a bad break up, just because they made it match their partner’s. Creating a fursona allows you to make something that is uniquely your own, so I recommend choosing something of your own tastes. If it happens to match your SO’s fursona, then great!
- Another Person’s Original Species: One of the awesome things about the furry fandom is all the creative, original species that people make. Some people even make them ‘open species’ and allow others to create characters based on them! But there are pitfalls if you choose one, that is not your own, as a fursona. For example: the species owner can change anything they wish without warning. They may choose to change species traits, abilities or even their backstory without notifying you. There are many awesome original species out there that are open for you to make characters of but know that it is at the whims of their creator. Drama is also not uncommon in the fandom, and if the owner of the species has a dramatic episode or develops unsavory traits, you may find your own reputation harmed by association.
- Someone Else’s Fursona: There are so many amazing fursona designs out there, but you can’t just take one and call it your own. Every fursona belongs to someone, and all have significance to the person that owns it. They have spent time, and often money, on establishing their fursona. Instead, take the time to create your own. If you feel like you can’t, consider commissioning an artist to help you with a design. If money is a problem, you may even be able to find groups where people help with fursona designs for free. Trust me, it’s worth it. This isn’t so clear-cut when it comes to buying fursonas or fursuits. If you buy a well-known fursuit, do you obtain the fursona as well? That is something to work out with the previous owner on a case-by-case basis, and many fursuit sales include the fine print requiring the new owner to change the character’s name and/or markings.
Fursonas are one of the coolest aspects of the furry fandom. They allow us to create unique and special identities that are all our own. While many fandoms have “personal OCs,” no other fandom has such wide-open possibilities, and I encourage everyone to take the time to create one for themselves.
What about your fursona? How did you decide on it? Do you have any advice for anyone looking to make their own? Or if you don’t have a fursona, do you need help deciding on a species? Leave it in the comments below!