DeviantART is a platform that allows emerging and established artists to exhibit, promote, and share their works within a peer community dedicated to the arts. Touting 80,000 uploads a day and over 2500 categories, DeviantART is poised to become the next photo sharing phenomenon, with a wicked, or shall I say, “deviant” twist.
So how does DeviantART fit into the “secret society” category?
Like the groups listed above, you might have heard of them from reading books or television programs, however, do you truly know their origins?
I stumbled on DeviantART seven years ago, and it was as if I had unearthed the Holy Grail of pure unadulterated artists. I still consider the DeviantART community to be one of the best-kept secrets on the web; It is what keeps me coming back daily.
There is no way to describe the mystery and intrigue that shrouds this community, but I will do my best to give a brief overview from my perspective. The only “true” way to experience DeviantART is to become a Deviant.
When you first enter DeviantART, it can be intimidating to say the least, but in a good way. From beautiful, erotic, and disturbing, to peaceful and haunting, there is something for everyone and it will keep you coming back for more. I will go so far as to call DeviantART an addiction, however, it is one addiction for which treatment is not an option, at least not for me.
It would take pages upon pages to outline everything I love about this community, but for the sake of time, and my own sanity, I will make a feeble attempt to showcase some of my favorite attractions.
When you upload a photo to your gallery, you are presented with a multitude of options. Having your work critiqued is an option, which I like, because not everyone is interested in having their work put under a magnifying glass. Yes, the community can still comment on your work if you allow it, however, if you ask for a critique, be prepared, for critiques you shall receive.
This is a perfect example of what sets this community apart from others. During the seven years that I have been a member, I cannot recall a rude or obnoxious critique. The main reason for this is the caliber of people, and I do not mean that they are world renown critics, but rather, they are honest and to the point. This is not to say that all critiques are warm and fuzzy, quite the contrary. However, they are honest, and 95% of the time you will walk away learning a thing or two.
I love to collect stuff, especially swords, books, and of course photography. DeviantART has collections, or “favorites” as they are called on the site, which I liken to collecting baseball cards. When you come across a photograph that you like, you simply add it to your collection. Create virtual shoeboxes, or categories if you will, and simply drag the photo into the appropriate spot.
As you can see I have quite the collection under my virtual bed.
When you become a member of the DeviantART community, part of your home page includes a journal. I suppose you could call them blogs, but unlike their squeaky clean counter part, deviant journals have an aura about them that are unique to the site.
Whether you use the journal feature to raise money for a showing, or just muse about your favorite artist, they come in all shapes and sizes. My favorite journals are the monthly features, which have become quite popular. Members choose a theme, collect their favorite images, and post the results as a visual representation.
There are no prizes or awards, however, being recognized by your fellow peers is priceless.
Ah yes the galleries, or portfolios as we tend to call them, are the nucleus of the DevianART community. A collection of work laid out like a virtual museum for visitors to roam the halls and admire the beautiful work. As you view the art, depending on the artist’ privacy settings, you may have the option to download a high resolution image. The popular option is to purchase a print from the DeviantART store.
The store allows you to choose everything from mounting options to the frame, and the pricing is very reasonable. You can also have your favorite art put on a mouse pad, coaster, or mug, which I find to be a bit cheesy, but to each their own.
Another way to keep up with your favorite artist or category is the DeviatWATCH. Suppose you love sepia photography? The process is simple, find a group for a specific photographic genre (there are plenty to choose from) and begin following or “watching” them. When you log onto your account, you are presented with everything you are currently watching.
One click and you are viewing the latest and greatest from that group.
A word of caution, it is very easy to get caught up in watching everything that interests you, which will result in thousands, yes thousands, of updated galleries. I learned this the hard way, and narrowed my watches down to groups that meet a wide variety of art while still giving me a daily dose of what I crave. As a side note, you can subscribe to RSS feeds of the groups you are watching.
The Llama Badge:
Probably the most mysterious feature of DeviantART is the almighty Llama badge. It took me a while to figure out what this little icon was all about, but eventually I was enlightened. Think of a Llama badge as a gift from your peers to show appreciation of your work. There is no monetary value nor can you collect them for future purchases, but like the critique, the acknowledgment from fellow peers is priceless and the little llama dude is kinda cute!
These are merely a handful of features, and I have barely scraped the surface of DeviantART.
The best analogy I have come up with to describe this incredible community, is to compare it to the archeologist that discovers a buried civilization. It takes years to study, and there is always something exciting and new around every corner. But don’t take my word for it. Head to the DeviantART community and see for yourself.
You will learn quickly why I compare DeviantART to a secret society, and if you get lost, fret not, for there is always a fellow deviant not far behind to guide you on the journey.
Bryan Zimmerman is a seasoned musician, writer, videographer, and photographer based in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. His style varies between landscape and architecture, however, he has a “thing” for cemetery photography. Bryan’s true style is black and white photography, and he loves to tell a story with each photograph. Bryan has won several awards for his work and is currently working on his first novel which will contain both his poetry and photography. You can view his work at http://zcs41.deviantart.com/gallery and http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryanjzimmerman