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SURVIVING (AND THRIVING) IN THE MINTY GREEN JUNGLE
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.


NETWORKING
  • 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.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconwellspring-station:
Wellspring-Station Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks for writing this, this is a really good guide.
Reply
:iconclairvoire:
Clairvoire Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2012
Surviving (and thriving) on deviantart on the internet
Reply
:iconaque-mizuhara:
aque-mizuhara Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2011
I wanted to fav this, but it has 777 favs, caaan't ruuuiiin thiiiisss D:
Reply
:iconspielodia:
Spielodia Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2011  Professional
Hmmm interesting, you talked about some things that I've never seen anyone talk about before. Like about the types of watchers.
This made me think of previously unthought things, so, thank you :P
Reply
:iconcherianncsw:
CheriAnnCSW Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2011
The bullets under "don't hate on your watchers" really speak to me. It bums me out when I say, "hey you know what this make me think of.." and I tell the creator about it and they freak out. I only tell people that because I think they might like the other artist if they don't know about them. When people tell me that something of mine reminds me of something else, I generally appreciate finding a new artist or being compared to someone I consider to be more talented than myself.
Reply
:iconsodayakasama:
SodayakaSama Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the master grand tip list. I shall be off to network and spread the love!
Reply
:iconabnerdwight:
abnerdwight Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2010
I honestly love the concept of self-respect brings more respect that you've pointed out (or implied)..
Reply
:iconbahtera-merdeka:
bahtera-merdeka Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2010  Student Digital Artist
I just want to say thank you so much for this post. I have been a deviant user for 2 years and I feeling really down when my any artwork that I've put my best effort with eventhough its not beautiful doesnt seems to get any views. After reading this, I realize that it need my very own effort to put my work onto public, and the 'groups' feature in here was sooo helpful. I've now gain more viewers, comments and critics which help motivates me towards better work in the future. I may sound like a 'glory hunter' but without any comments and viewers how will I know my work quality?
Thanks again!
Reply
:iconelanorepenn:
elanorepenn Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Ugh, when I first stumbled upon your page, I knew you were one of my new favorite Deviants. Not to be the "Biggest fan" or anything haha. ;)
Reply
:iconheysawbones:
heysawbones Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2010  Professional General Artist
LOL, you just made a callback, didn't you? Oh man.

Hi!
Reply
:iconvelcake:
VelCake Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you SO much for this:worship:
Reply
:iconchucked13:
Chucked13 Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2010
thanks very insightful
Reply
:iconrandombran64:
RandomBran64 Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This caught my eye, since I want a bit more activity on my page. But I'm just so... shy... DX
It's really awful when someone more skilled beats down on someone less skilled, I agree.. Especially since I find the lesser skilled artists to be more enjoyable than the more skilled!

I'll try networking more... Thanks for this really awesome article!
Reply
:icongeonex:
geonex Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010  Student General Artist
though i like this artical on whole, i ask myself, where did i go wrong.

my watchers are in no way active with me, most of them haven't even faved or commented on my work, i find it jarring that most of them seem to come off uninterested in any of my work.
Reply
:iconkeyboard-ninja:
Keyboard-Ninja Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2010  Student Writer
:clap: Excellent advice to be sure.
Reply
:icontwelfth:
Twelfth Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2010
I DO EVERYTHING WRONG
Reply
:iconheysawbones:
heysawbones Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2010  Professional General Artist
LIKE A BAMF
Reply
:icontwelfth:
Twelfth Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2010
NO

NOT AT ALL
Reply
:iconmoonlightmaiden15:
MoonlightMaiden15 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks so much for all the tips. I'm new and just starting, so I don't know all that much about being a deviant, but I have looked around for a while, and everyone is so nice that I find it hard to believe that anyone would be so mean, but it is possible. I hope I can avoid hurting anyone's feelings and help them improve, but frankly I can't draw to save my life. [link] I hope I can help people who write improve, though!
Reply
:icondarklightningshadow:
darklightningshadow Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
Great advice. I wish some people I've come into contact with could have read this long long ago xD
Reply
:iconjamgirl0808:
JamGirl0808 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010   Digital Artist
"You are largely responsible for the character of your watchers."
THIS
I agree COMPLETELY with this, I made a whole rant on it a while ago. A lot of my friends don't understand why their fans act the way they do, and I pretty much explain what you say on a regular basis.

Excuse me as I show this article to everybody, cause I swear everyone needs this as a reminder. Cause this /should/ be common sense, but people forget that on the internet. It's really sad.
Reply
:iconvalyr:
Valyr Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Brilliant article. It reads like common sense but this kind of sense isn't as common as we might like!
I especially like how you gave first-point significance to the statement that what we get out of dA is what we put into it.
I've seen people who complain about a lack of exposure of their work, difficulty in getting noticed, sparse critique, etc. despite a quick glance at their profile revealing a comment rate of only ~100 comments per YEAR.

The best way to get involved in deviantArt is to....get involved!

Article fav'd for truth and sense.
We're all guilty of at least some of the "don'ts" in this article, so it's great to see this advice compiled in a well-written and honest manner like this.
A lot of it could be adapted to life beyond deviantArt too, but it might be a more realistic goal to get people behaving nicely on here first. :la:
Reply
:iconsootness:
Sootness Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010
It's rare to see someone actually writing down what should be common sence. I'll have to save this in case my brother's daughter needs a lesson when she gets older. Thank you for doing my work for me :meow:

When it comes to commenting on other people's art: I can't even count the times I was going to write a comment and didn't because the artist wrote their art comment in a way that's rude or 'divaish' (is that even a word? :o).

And if someone describes their own art as fantastic and loved by all, and talk too much about having lots of fans I lose all interest in commenting since they obviously think it's perfect already so why should I fill up their inbox even more with stuff they already know. Besides, I don't want to sound like just another fanboy when I just thought a picture was nicely done.
Reply
:iconmonochromememory:
MonochromeMemory Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Wonderful article with thoughts that should be heard loud and clear.
:3 Thank you for writing this!
Reply
:icontheny:
theNy Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010
Finally, someone who sees how to go about it. Even better - now I don't have to write something like this myself! :la:
Thank you muchly!

I've seen so many people already that seem to expect instant attention and popularity, without even going into the community and making an effort.

I could also respond to all your other points, but in general I'm just going to say I agree and that I hope quite a few people read and are enlightened by this.
Reply
:iconanalillithbar:
analillithbar Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
You said "butt-monkey". :giggle:
Reply
:iconcalyptra:
Calyptra Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I read one of your DD'ed lit pieces yesterday and put you on watch (I would have left a comment on the piece if I wasn't practically asleep) and now I see this piece of yours.

Coincidence?

OR JUST PLAIN CREEPY?!

:fear:

Eloquent article :clap:
Reply
:iconheysawbones:
heysawbones Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Professional General Artist
I LIEK 2 WRIET ON THINGS HURR HURR





<3
Reply
:iconcalyptra:
Calyptra Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Initially I ended up interpreting that quite literally and imagined you running about like a maniac with a marker and scrawling on stuff!

:rofl:
Reply
:iconmirandom21:
MiRandom21 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
That was just what I needed to hear. Thank you very much for writing this! It's very good advice.
Reply
:iconheysawbones:
heysawbones Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Professional General Artist
No problem, thanks for reading!
Reply
:iconjmh12345:
jmh12345 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
a very good read and interesting some good points :)
Reply
:iconzefang:
zeFANG Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010
This is really good, but somehow I feel that the ones who should read this will not.
Reply
:iconheysawbones:
heysawbones Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Professional General Artist
That's possible. You never know, though!
Reply
:iconzefang:
zeFANG Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010
Yeah, they could accidentally stumble upon this and reach enlightenment. xD
Reply
:iconbashtal:
Bashtal Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010
I think I love you.
:D
I'm glad you mentioned how people on Deviantart should treat each other like peers and not fantards. Some other sites have this problem, but not one artist I've watched has ever really undermined my opinion because I'm not a professional artist or particularly knowledgeable of art.
Reply
:iconheysawbones:
heysawbones Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Professional General Artist
I think all art sites have this problem, some worse than others. I've never had my opinion undermined by a more skilled artist either, but I'm protected by a thick layer of uh, skill. So, you know, I'm not as skilled as a lot of the artists I talk to, but I'm skilled enough that they don't try to beat me down. I know that if I was not as skilled as I am, I'd be more subject to it. I even see people I like do it to other people sometimes. <_____>;
Reply
:iconippo-lita:
IPPO-Lita Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010
Thank you for great article!
Reply
:iconshatoyarn-moongoddes:
Shatoyarn-MoonGoddes Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
This is great, it open my eye a lot more and how to improve in some areas.

Everybody should read this.

Thank for putting a lot of time to writing all of this.
Reply
:iconjazylh:
JazylH Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Very well written & some great points!
Reply
:iconbamfandblueberry:
bamfandblueberry Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
"The more mass appeal your art has, the easier it will be for you to network"

While this is wonderful advise for artists trying to go career-say, in the digital industry, I can't help but feel it kind of....undermines the point of what art is in the first place.
Reply
:iconheysawbones:
heysawbones Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Professional General Artist
Did you read the rest of the article?
Reply
:iconbamfandblueberry:
bamfandblueberry Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Of course I did. For the most part, I thought the rest of it was very good. This was the only thing I disagreed with.

Uh, is that a problem?
Reply
:iconheysawbones:
heysawbones Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Professional General Artist
I'm just confused. I never claimed that the reality of the situation was the ideal, but your reply reads as if you were somehow holding me responsible for the reality that I observed. I did not cause mass appeal to be as effective as it is! It simply is, and I observed it. What exactly are you disagreeing with - the reality of the situation, or are you disagreeing because you find it troublesome that I acknowledged it?

I even state in that very bullet point that someone should be aware of what their priorities are, and keep those in mind. For most of us, networking with as broad of a pool of people as possible, at the cost of artistic integrity is not our priority. Unfortunately, the reality of it is - the more appealing your art is to a larger amount of people, the easier it will be for you to connect with people. I'm not praising that. It's a neutral observation.
Reply
:iconbamfandblueberry:
bamfandblueberry Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Dood, I totally think you read subtext that wasn't there. It's not troublesome that you acknowledge it-kudos to you. My point was merely an observation as well. Something along the lines of, it would have been a pity to see what would have happened it someone had told Van Gogh to make his art more mainstream so it would sell better.

It's just my personal opinion that art should be deeper then that, and at least for some of us, it's not about watchers or money, it's about moving people. In my personal experience, thriving on DA means being genuine. It is, as you said, not about being a jerk. Simultaneously, I think too much emphasis is put on the monetary aspect of it, and I made a comment to that effect. I'm....sorry if I offended you?
Reply
:iconheysawbones:
heysawbones Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Professional General Artist
Art is definitely about more than mass appeal. I'm not even speaking to what is 'better' or 'worse' or 'more meaningful', or 'less meaningful'. I am not talking about what art is, or is not. I am only talking in terms of networking on deviantART; there is no morally quantitative (or even qualitative) judgment attached to the statement I made. That's why I am confused. I don't understand why you are bringing what art should or should not ideally be about into this at all. It is totally unrelated to anything I said.

I'm not offended. You didn't say anything I could take personally.
Reply
:iconbamfandblueberry:
bamfandblueberry Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Well, I'll bow out before I do, then. My apologies.
Reply
:iconbamfandblueberry:
bamfandblueberry Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Typos aside.
Reply
:iconvesperius:
Vesperius Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010
Ho. Ly. Crap. I'm your World's Biggest Fan. O_O
Reply
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