SURVIVING (AND THRIVING) IN THE MINTY GREEN JUNGLE
FINDING HAPPINESS ON DEVIANTART
FINDING HAPPINESS ON DEVIANTART
- If you want to get something out of it, put something into it. Visibility on deviantART is mostly a numbers game; there are so many users that unless you're interacting with others, even the highest-quality work may go nearly unseen. This advice sounds like a truism, but people seem to have difficulty understanding that no, their work is not some kind of miracle that breaks all the rules. Don't expect the community to fawn all over you for existing. You have to make them see you.
- Don't expect the community to fawn over you, period. These people are usually your peers, but even if you don't think they are - they are not your buttmonkeys. Don't treat people that way.
- The people who let you treat them terribly are not the ones you want. Some people will allow, and even encourage you to treat them like slaves. These people are either immature, or troubled in a way that will come back and bite you in the ass later. Seek out people who see you as a peer, not as a god. I'm not suggesting to blow everybody off for having big-eyed admiration for you, but if they seem like they WANT your abuse, or encourage you to abuse others over petty annoyances - run.
- Be wary of manipulation. Like it says above - a lot of the time, people who make great efforts to put you on a pedestal are troubled. This something you should be especially wary of if you are skilled in your field, or are a big name in any fandom. These people will latch on to any perceived insecurities the creator has, and form a protective 'wall' around the creator to prevent them from having to reconcile with reality.
That might sound nice, but it's not. It happens because the 'fan' has no skills or goals to speak of, and wants to live vicariously through the creator, instead of developing their own abilities (that takes work!).
By preventing the creator from having to recognize reality (accept criticism, deal with a loss of popularity, complete owed commissions or give refunds, etc.), they cripple the creator's emotional and creative growth. That way, the fan doesn't have to worry about the creator wisening up and finding better, more mature friends, which would leave them all alone to reconcile with their own failures.
- Don't let the diva shine fool you. If you really like someone's art, it's understandable that you'd want to be friends with them! It suggests you have similar influences and tastes. Artists are people too, though, and even very skilled artists can be damaged goods. Don't let the quality of someone's art trick you into trying to befriend them, when everything else they do suggests that they are not people you'd want anything to do with. You will look back on it later and be like 'why did I do this, again?'. Instead, enjoy their work from a safe distance.
- Put on your big kid pants. The vast majority of things people will say to you are either not intended to be offensive, or - if they are - are not serious enough to warrant your attention. There are even times when people say tough things because the are trying to help.
- If you don't want critique, don't ask for it. Seriously. Why would you go to the trouble of clicking the 'Critiques Requested' option, and then freaking out when somebody actually gives you the critique you requested? Hello? That does not make any kind of sense at all. This may require you to sit down and think about what critiques mean to you, and whether you really want them or not.
- They probably aren't copying you. Whether we're talking the generic setup for a Gothic photo shoot, rough similarities between two Elegant Lolita costumes, or a marked similarity between two characters, it's very possible that you are not being copied. Many of us have similar interests and influences; not only that, but we (consciously or unconsciously) strive to achieve things that fall neatly into visual archetypes.
The more generic/iconic your idea is, the more likely you are to see the ideas occur elsewhere. That isn't to say that you won't be copied! If you believe that you've been imitated, bring it up to the creator if you think it's important. No matter what you do, think through it carefully first. Smart people are wary of someone who constantly accuses others of copying, both for practical reasons (what if they accuse ME of copying, and use the fact that I am familiar with their work as justification for the claim?), and for personal ones (as in, 'it's obnoxious').
- You are largely responsible for the character of your watchers. +watchers are a self-selecting group; they don't typically watch people at random. watchers watch things that appeal to them. It stands to reason that if you don't like your watchers, it's probably because you've been doing something that attracts the sort of people you don't like.
Are your watchers irritating teenyboppers? You did things that attracted those people. Are they all jerks? You did things that attract jerks (used a lot of chan references or memes, trolled people, etc.).
Do they leave the least insightful comments possible? You probably don't leave very insightful comments either, or you lash out at the few people who DO leave meaningful comments, simply because you disagree with the content.
You can't expect people to give you positive, meaningful comments if you punish neutrally insightful and critical comments. Your watchers will be afraid that anything they say that amounts to more than 'good job!' or 'so kawaii~*!' could be misconstrued as offensive, thereby raising your mighty, beast-like ire. Nobody wants that.
Sometimes the things you did to attract people you don't like aren't even bad things. You could have befriended someone who has watchers you don't like, and some crossed over to watch you. Maybe you drew a lot of fan art a really long time ago, and those people stick around, even though you haven't drawn fan art in years. Maybe you took lots of almost-naked pictures when you were 18, and even though you're long past that, those uninteresting perverts still hang around. There's no need to flog yourself over it, but... it's still something you had a hand in.
Take responsibility, and move on. You can always make changes that will attract a different breed of watcher.
- Don't hate on your watchers. Even if you like them SO LITTLE that it makes you doubt yourself, and your taste level. Even if you don't like them all! These are still people who are supporting you, and have taken time out of their day to do so.
- Don't call them 'fantards'.
- Don't give them attitude about the other things they like.
- Don't be a jerk when your character reminds them of someone else's character.
- Even if you don't want to talk to them all the time, try to acknowledge regular watchers when you can. They appreciate being noticed. It doesn't mean you have to be best friends.
Just treat them with respect. Even if you COULD say with certainty that you are 'better' than your watchers, it's best not to behave like you feel that way.
- Know what your priorities are. Are you concerned about being good at what you do? Are you trying to make friends? Are you trying to get a lot of pageviews or favorites? Be honest with yourself about your priorities.
Are your priorities good for you? Do they make you feel good or bad about yourself? Are you accidentally focusing too much on making art for your watchers, when what you really want is to be good at what you do? Are you posting too many sketches, memes, or unfinished pieces, when you are trying to appear professional?
- Network. deviantART is all about networking. Getting out there and being seen is a big part of that, though it isn't the total equation.
- Don't be an Internet Tough Guy. You'll never impress anybody worth impressing that way.
- The more mass appeal your art has, the easier it will be for you to network. This applies (to a lesser degree) to people with high-quality product, as well. Again, don't let this be the factor that determinines what kind of product you create, unless you do, in fact, care the most about networking, and less so about the personal significance of your art. Remember your priorities.
- Don't use a 'one size fits all' approach to networking. If the person you want to be friends with is smart, leave insightful comments! If you want to be friends with someone who is hip and self-aware, don't be an obvious panderer. Self-aware hipsters see that as a red flag. If you really like anime, but want to be friends with someone who does highly detailed Western-style comic book art, you might not want to tell them about how 'x character reminds you of so-and-so anime character'. In fact, you might want to avoid relating anything they do back to anime at all.
- You might not want to draw ANY comparisons between characters. For some reason, a lot of artists are very insecure about this. I think they are being p u s s i e s, but - if you're looking to network and not to teach someone a life lesson about how up their own ass they are about their original characters, just save yourself the trouble and avoid comparing their original characters to your favorite movie, television, game, or novel character.
- Don't worry! Your art does not HAVE to be great. It's EASIER if your art is great (or mediocre, but of popular subject matter), but not necessary. If your art isn't decent, you can always work your charming personality. That... requires a charming personality. You can also try the deviantART forums. They don't require you to have a charming personality, OR any creative skill to speak of.
- If they want to be left alone... leave them alone. Otherwise, not only are you infringing on the personal space that someone is trying to define for themselves, but you make yourself look really creepy. No, it is not okay if you send a go-between. That is double-creepy.
- In a similar vein, try not to be the World's Biggest Fan. For reasons mentioned above, a lot of deviants with high visibility are put off by people who seem to love everything they do, ever. Act normal. Remember, these other artists are just people like you. The difference is that they've been working longer and harder on that thing they are good at. That could be you, some day! No need to treat them like they are some sort of mystical aliens from another planet.
- Be yourself. This might be the most important thing! Don't let yourself be consumed by the need to network with everyone. You don't have to be everybody's best friend, and you DEFINITELY don't need to pretend to be someone you aren't, just to make friends with other people. If anything, being fake backfires when you use it on smart people.
- STOP WHEN IT ISN'T FUN ANYMORE.