On August 7, year 2000, the world saw another fledging online community spring up. But unlike many other, deviantART, Inc. (or DA for brevity), has done more than just succeed - It has gone on to become the creme de la creme in the category of art. Point your browser to http://www.deviantart.com/, and prepare to enter the world Where Art Meets Application.
Although the site originally focused on strictly graphical arts, the site has given users the ability to host everything from photography, poetry, prose, application skins, and of course, all varieties of visual art. Any piece of work submitted to DA becomes known as a "Deviation," keeping in tune with the "devious" nature of the site. It also allows users to interact with one another, via commenting on other user's Deviations, their Userpages, and a dedicated message forum.
DA was borne from the same minds who brought us Wastedyouth.org. It currently has a large staff composed mostly of the founders and loyal volunteers to help the system work.
The current "core" team who work nearly full-time to handle real-world issues such as the servers, coding, legal and administrative duties consists of the following hard-working and dedicated individuals:
While the staff is located worldwide, the central servers are located in Los Angeles
Boasting over a quarter of a million members worldwide, and always growing, DA provides artists of all types and talents a place to upload and promote their work. It continues to offer dozens of features without requesting a single penny from its userbase, offering premium memberships with a few added features to those who wish to support DA and allow its continued expansion. However, a premium membership is merely icing on the cake, as almost every feature which one would think of is offered by default.
DA's database of Deviations is constantly growing, and some of the quality of artwork is truly mind-blowing. Try these numbers on for size (as of July 2002):
Over 10,000 'Application skins' Deviations
Over 40,000 'Designs' Deviations
Over 90,000 'IndyArt' Deviations
Over 80,000 'Photography' Deviations
Over 30,000 'Poetry' Deviations
In total, DA hosts over 400,000 Deviations - And that's just as of this writing. On any given day, between 2,000 and 4,000 Deviations are submitted, and that daily submission number continues to grow as the userbase expands.
The Wares Behind the Art
The servers specs are enough to give any hardware geek a hard-on. From the DA FAQ:
7.2Ghz of speed, 8.75GB of RAM, 198GB of 10,000 RPM Ultra 160 hot swappable SCSI hard drives as well as an additional 85GB of IDE hard drive storage space all across a total of four boxes. A total of 8 10/100 Ethernet NIC's as well, which will power both the backside LAN as well as dole out all the images and files that will make your heart content.
The four servers are named after some of the most notable artists of the last several hundred years, each one serving a slightly different purpose. In no particular order, they are Warhol, Da Vinci, Picasso, and Escher.
DA relies on custom-coded PHP code generation for its pages, while the servers run Red Hat Linux.
One of the keys that allowed DA to flourish was the feedback system. Since it began, any Deviation submitted can be rated, commented on, and added to user's "Favorites" lists. In the beginning, ratings were done with a letter-grade system, ranging from A++ to E. When DA Version 2 launched a year or so later, the system was changed to allow a simple "Like/No Preference/Dislike" selection to be made.
All votes and comments are on a visible basis, allowing someone who receives negative feedback on a Deviation to look into why they did so. This fosters voters and commenters to stick to constructive criticism and praise and only resort to negative feedback when a work actually deserves of it, rather than out of sheer spite or nasty attitude. It also promotes much growth and improvement on the part of the Deviants, resulting in a continually increasing ratio of excellent work to mediocre work. Finally, since the system is not unduly harsh, few people pack up their bags to leave and instead grow with DA, improving their skills and working their way further into the community.
Each registered user receives a free subdomain, in the style of username.deviantart.com. From this Userpage, a browser can comment on that Deviant, view a gallery of their Deviations, view that user's favorite Deviations and favorite Deviants, read personal information the Deviant has entered, and check out entries in their Journal. Deviants are given free reign with webspace, with no limit on Deviation file sizes or the numbers of Deviations uploaded. All Deviations are uploaded via a simple HTML upload page.
With the combined communication resources allowed by the Forums, a 'Notes' system, a live 'Shoutbox,' and Deviation and Userpage commenting, DA has grown as a community in every sense of the word. From the fairly long list of Deviantspeak words, to the myriad in-jokes, or the various user-groups that have sprung up, there's something for everybody on DA.
Although I've known about DA since its launch over 2 years ago, it wasn't until January 2002 that I realized how much I needed something like it in my life. DA has been one of the things that has made the quality of my life increasingly better in the last 6 months. It wasn't just the fact I finally had a place where I could get honest, unbiased feedback on my work. It was a place I could meet people with similar interests, find people whose work shadowed mine and I could aspire to become as accomplished as. A place where I could just sit back for hours at a time, browsing the galleries, and awe at the sheer amount of raw talent possessed by individuals the world over.
It was a second home. And it continues to serve me well. My Trillian contact list contains throngs of fellow Deviants whom I've grown close to, I've given out and received hundreds of comments, and posted upward of a thousand forum threads. And to top it all off, I'm pretty sure my hand-drawing skill has increased a bit.
Please feel free to /msg me with any errors, corrections, or comments. Thanks for viewing!