Elfwood is a large online art gallery, where people can place their stories and pictures.

The gallery consists of - Lothlorien (fantasy art), Zone 47(Sci-Fi art), Wyvern's Library(stories) and various other resources.

the URL is http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/elfwood.html

pigpoo's work is at

http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/loth/m/c/mcgough/mcgough.html

The site has a pretty decent comments system.

http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se

Elfwood is non-profit, created by Thomas Abrahamsson, it is one of the bigger web communities.

It is well maintained and very cool to browse through. The level of skill the artists and writers have varies from very amateur to very professional, the place is a gold mine of talent.

It's easy to join and a good place to get input about your creations.

The only drawback is you have to be into either fantasy or scifi.

Update (Monday, July 25, 2005):

Elfwood is still to my knowledge the largest non-profit online gallery. It appears to continue to be a fairly well-meaning community and holds true to Thomas' original concept of providing a free of charge online space for Fantasy artists to congregate and display their artwork. It is true however that Elfwood's popularity appears to be in decline, reasons I perceive for this are; the fairly restrictive framework, server instability that puts the site down for days, site data loss, a rediculous and awkward 'extranet' submission policy, and the growth of younger, sleaker, more professional online art communities with much better user interfaces such as deviantart and epilogue. I dont know if Elfwood will ever have the resources to compete with the profit making equivelants, but I know for a fact that most people don't have the patience to wait on ticket queues for their artwork to be put on display when there are sites either offering much better artwork moderation or instant uploads, and much more opportunity for gratification. I feel elfwood needs a makeover and some policy changes, but I, and a lot of other people, still share a lot of affection for the project and it's community.

The site has undergone some changes recently to include works based on non-original material (previously a no-no to post in Lothlorien and Zone47).

This is the FanArt section.

Before there was FanArt, artwork based on every character under the sun would get mixed up with all the original stuff in Elfwood.

Now, people can post their art based on other people's characters (Harry Potter, anything LOTR, and anything from any fantasy genre ever) and they have a nice place to do it. It's an interesting thing to see how other artists have portrayed characters so deeply embedded in modern culture.

HowEVER...
As I discovered last week, all FanArt pictures must be of a fantasy nature.
Apparently "The Comic Book Store Guy" from the Simpsons does not fall under this category.
Elfwood....

Elfwood was maybe the place where i spent the best part of my teenage years from ages 15 to 18. It was cool. It was fantasy. And the best part - it was free.

What in retrospect i deem to have been the most beneficial part of elfwood was the gumption it gave me. Being part of an interactive art community was novel, exciting - and gives- perhaps unknown to me at the time - incentive to draw. Seeing other people's artwork, being able to comment, them adding more artwork in a few days, they consequently commenting on your own work - created a healthy creative cycle. It was not so much the constructive criticism which sparked this avid art-race, as was the constant inner strive to put better, more original, more technically correct art up there on those green and grey galleries of the cyber zones i learnt almost by heart. It was every artists' (albeit fantasy artist's) dream. The interaction was something bewildering.

When i joined elfwood, there were 390 galleries in Lothlorien. I had stumbled on it quite by chance, being an avid fan of fantasy art and a dabbler in the field myself. For a long time, things went smoothly and i posted regularly. I made friends with other regular posters, whom i know shared a keen similar interest in the Elfwoodian community.

However things were to change. The galleries mounted to over 1500. The closeness was lost. The quality, alas, was lost even more. Suddenly, any Tom Dick and Harry could join Elfwood and did join Elfwood. People who filled their pathetic hoarding of webspace with four (the minimum art-piece requirement for each gallery) dismal black and white sorry-attempts at sketching of legolas or some other cliche fiend from the pit of 'trendy' fantasy. Browsing Elfwood became pretty frustrating, as uncovering true talented artists became increasingly hard due to all the overlying, pervading crap.

I am not an elitist, nor do I expect the art to be judged and deemed 'worthy' or 'unworthy' as it is for instance on the strict Epilogue.net. However one cannot help but be painfully aware of the fact that the popularity of Elfwood was ultimately its downfall.

Things got even worse. As is required of an increasingly large net community, moderators were appointed. These were just random volunteers. Every set number of galleries would have their moderators. Suddenly, it all went very wrong. Nudity, not even a relatively innocent display of it, was not allowed. Any sexual allusions were of course consequently banned. For a community made up mostly of teenage depraved fanatasy fiends, this was a travesty indeed. And slowly but surely, many of the best and oldest members just stopped updating... just stopped bothering. Many galleries now sit like skeletons gathering cyber-dust with a curt note from their artists at the top in the bio saying 'I'm afraid I will no longer update' or 'Sorry but i will not reply to comments any more'. There is little more offensive than being told that one's art is 'not acceptable'. Also some moderators were stricter than others.. hence the spreading of unfairness.

Some of the cooler art on elfwood was the weirder, more original art. Alas, so it is no more, as in the elfwood submission rules it suddenly described elfwood as being a place not accepting of 'freaky, weird art'.

A story of a net-community gone bad, perhaps. Of the horribleness of a hierarchy which took over something budding and creative and new and in trying to control the sheer size of it (which was much like a many-egged omelette trying to good-naturedly ooze out of its pan) stuffed it into prepared pigeon-holes.

Alas dear withered Elfwood i will roam your raped galleries no more.. only in the trivia and knowledge of E2 i will find solace.

I must disagree with meluseena. Nowhere in Elfwood rules are nudity or sexual allusions prohibited. It seems to be quite common. The official rule states:

Pornography/erotica in any form or level is not tolerated on Elfwood. While the naked form is a beautiful thing and is accepted in Elfwood, images depicting suggestive poses are not accepted. That is a different kind of "fantasy" altogether and doesn't belong in any part of Elfwood.

While this sounds quite strict, they are mostly commenting on truly hard-core erotica. The definition of 'suggestive poses' also is quite stretchy. One only has to look at the tours "Getting it On: Hot times in the Woods" and "Yaoi!" to see that.

Artwork that is freaky, or abstract (with no scifi/fantasy form or figure), consist entirely of kaleidoscopic patterns, or similar, are not considered fantasy or science fiction. Landscapes with no clear fantasy or sci-fi elements in them are likewise prohibited in Elfwood.

All this is saying is that you can't draw a bunch of patterns and call it sci-fi or fantasy. Freaky art, as in, gothic art, or weird art is perfectly within the rules, and is indeed widespread.

Of course it is unpleasant to get a note back saying that your work has been rejected. But generally the mods' reasons are fair and logical. You're also welcome to appeal at any time.

Better systems of tours and moderator's highlights have greatly improved the ease of searching for the gems in a pile of rubbish. Word of mouth is very strong in Elfwood, and with only a little effort, you can find some real beauties.

Are there downsides? Of course. Elfwood is no longer one community. Rather, it is a collection of them. However, it is easy to create a group as tight-knit as any in the early less popular site, even if it comprises a much small percentage of the site's total membership.

Still, the recent merge of Loth and the Zone has allowed different visions in of what counts as sci-fi or fantasy. The mods are becoming more consistent. Broken pictures and abandoned galleries are removed. General tidying up of the site has been ongoing. The site is viable and beautiful still, despite its size.

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