Promote your art (on DeviantArt)

17 min read

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DamaiMikaz's avatar
So you have your awesome art project that, you feel, the whole world needs to see? So you've signed up to be a DeviantArt member. Because, DA... that's where all the cool artists reside... isn't it? So you've posted your art. You've been here for a few weeks, or perhaps even a few months or years. But despite all your efforts, you still get close to zero comments. Why? What went wrong? It could be your art is really bad. But most likely, you're not approaching this subject the right way. Becoming well known on DA doesn't only rely on your art skills. It also relies on your marketing skills. And let that be exactly what most aspiring artist forget about.

Here I listed some simple tips & tricks that will help you get out art out there, and become better known on DA. 

My background on this? True... I might not be the most famous artist out here, but I do have a strong background in websites and webmarketing. Most of the things listed here, I've learned from the many jobs I had in advertisement company's. I've followed several courses on web marketing and have done quite the research on social media marketing over the years. Many principles for marketing are the same for the entire web, no matter whether it's facebook, DeviantArt, or a random webshop. There are just small things you need to become aware of, in order to use them to your advantage.

Oh... and how about this: ? This is what the DeviantArt staff has to say about getting known on this site. While it's certainly true, it's not very throughout. So let me clear up a few things for you.

:bulletorange: Realize DeviantArt is like social media

DeviantArt may list itself as being an art site... it's actually a lot like social media. Sites like are art sites. They're merely focused on art. On professional artists that want to be better. DA is not such a place. It's a community. And with all the friend-features we have, it's actually a lot like social media. We can 'like' art, like we like a post on facebook. It's called "faving" here. We can like a person, like we follow a person on twitter. It's called "watching" here. 

Although the details may differ, DA has in fact the same features that other social media hold. Realize it works this way. Instead of going all out on your art, and hope go get some fame that way, try to focus on the social aspect of this website as well. Because it's there. And (in contrary to paid advertisements) it's free to use. 

:bulletorange: Get out there! Interact with people

The basic principle of social media is interaction. So that's where you're at. Stop being shy! This is the internet. People don't know of you being shy, blushing or shaking when talking, unless you tell them. DA is a great place to communicate with other users. And leaving behind a message will alert those other users, and make it more likely for them to talk back and check out your profile along the way. Since, you know, people are naturally curious.

DA provides many great ways of interaction. One of them being commenting on an artwork. Don't say "I like this" on every artwork, but take the effort to point out what exactly you like (or don't like). If you do so, your reply stands out from the masses, and you will more likely receive feedback. The same goes for the forums (yes, DA has forums). Add something interesting to an art related discussion, and people will remember you. Useful feedback will often be remembered. And people will reply to it as well.

Overall: make sure you're not invisible on this site. Even if you are shy, and you haven't got the guts to voice your opinion, you can always try saying something positive about somebody's art. Nobody is ever gonna hurt you for giving a compliment.

:bulletorange: Join events or organize them

Because DA is a community, it has a lot going on. Like contests, commissions, journal features and all other kind of things that make people reply. Joining such an activity, is a good idea when you want to make friends. It helps you communicating with other artists. As for contests. Even if you don't win, people always bother to check out the other entry's before they even join. Your artwork gets noticed anyway.

The next step in this is organizing such an event. You don't even have to plan something big, with huge prices (although that might help XD). Do something as simple at featuring a few people or artworks in your journal, and people will join you. 

DA offers many possibility's to interact with people. There are all kinds of groups out there for all kinds of artists. Naruto fans, OC artists, people that like lovey-dovey stuff, people that want to learn art... etc. You name it, DA has it. Join some of those groups. Get involved with the events there. Maybe even help moderating. The possibility's are limitless. 

Open point commissions. Commission other artists. Even if you don't have money, you can always do some point commissions. Points are easily found as they can be traded against llama badges. Collaberate with other artists, or do art trades. Make fanart for an artist that has a small own project that you actually like. Who knows what happens? The artist might even like his fanart so much that he decides to feature it in a journal. I know for sure that I feature every single person that made fanart for me at the end of the year, because I like the idea of people taking the effort to actually draw my OC's. And I'm sure there are many more people out there that do features like me.  

:bulletorange: Those weird things called "Llama badges"

I'm still not sure why DA's staff has ever invented Llama badges, because they're an utterly useless feature. But I guess this has something to do with the social aspect of this site. As a way to promote interaction. In order to get a lot of llama's, you have to get one from many people. And in order to get them, you have to give them out. As you can only get and give one per person, you have to interact with many different people to collect them.

Giving them, however, will lead you to the page of other people. And getting them will lead people to view your page. Make use of this feature to boost your interaction. 

:bulletorange: Help out other artists

Who didn't ever had a computer problem and gratefully thanked the one that helped him out? 

Same goes for art. We like helpful people. We remember them, so we hopefully can rely on their advice again. Help people out! If you're afraid to post redlines or do a critique, try making a tutorial on something. Explain the method you do things (Instead of saying something is an absolute truth -- which might make some people angry). People tend to look up to people that make tutorials. We think of them as skilled and kind (because they're willing to help us out) and we're often thankful towards them. Make use of this stereotype in a positive way. Do something useful to the community. People will like it. 

:bulletorange: Make good quality art

I'm not going to lie about this. Making good quality art helps boosting your chances for getting noticed out there. It's a site about art after all, isn't it? I don't say you have to be an extremely skilled artist. But it does help if you at least put some effort in the work you submit. 

Try to use good quality images. Don't use too small of a resolution. Don't do art on lined paper (it just doesn't give the impression of quality) and try scanning your traditional drawings, instead of making pictures of them. Even if you don't have a scanner... your friends or family might have. Or maybe your school, or even the local library.

:bulletorange: Posting your art: Quality vs quantity

Your watchers get your stuff in their inbox, so make sure you submit stuff that's worth submitting. Research on social media shows that people like to get up to 3 updates a week. Everything above that is considered 'spam' and 'annoying'. Make sure the work you don't submit too much work, or spread your submissions over a few days (DA's premium membership comes with scheduled posting of art). It'll make people more likely to check out your work.

Posting every little sketch on DA might seem important to you. It might even be important to your friends... but to most of the watchers it isn't. They don't want to see every crappy sketch you make. They followed you for your full work. Submitting too much incomplete work or sketches will make them annoyed (because a lot of people here suffer from inbox cluttering) and might even make them unwatch you. You don't want this! Make sure you submit your sketches to your scraps when you upload them to DA. So your friends can follow your scraps, and the rest of your watches won't get annoyed by lesser-quality updates.

If you do upload multiple artworks a day, make sure you upload the best one last. DA stacks uploads in people's inboxes in a non-chronological order. Which means the last upload will be on top. You make better chances to get noticed if this is a quality artwork.

:bulletorange: Mind the time of posting

Try to follow this reasoning for a bit:
When you submit your art, your artwork will appear onto the "what's new" section of the site and will be seen by users there. It's there for a while, before it gets pushed away by other new works. This goes for people watching you as well. One piece of art might have their attention. If they get many, your artwork will probably be lost in their inbox clutter, and you have to 'compete' with all those other works to get attention. Because when seeing a lot of artworks, and with the limited focus we humans have, it's hard to actually notice all of them. We just notice the ones that stand out.

In order to get this effect, posting when people are online works best. They probably have an empty inbox when they're online (inbox clutters happen mostly overnight) and they will be able to see you at the front page before you get pushed down. 

The peak times people are online are often before work/school (7-8 AM), during lunch break at work/school (12-1 PM) and when they got home and had dinner (7-11 PM). Considering most of DA's users are from either the USA or Europe, you can easily calculate the times that many people are online. Try posting during those times. DA's premium membership even has a possibility for scheduled posting. It might be worth trying.

:bulletorange: Have a distinctive username & avatar

What are the 2 most important things users see when you post a comment? Yep, your username and avatar! Ever since the early days on the internet, usernames and avatars have been very important. They are your face on the internet. Most people only see those 2 things. The reason to click any further, and see your profile and gallery, lays entirely in how interesting you seem based on those 2 things, and what you have to say.

If you have a good visual artwork, use that as an avatar. Your own style will immediately be distinctive. And if people are interested, they'll click on it to find out about your art for sure. Having your own art as your avatar, makes you stand out from the crowd and gives an unique face to your profile. As people judge a lot on icon, you will stand better chances. Don't go around and changing your avatar too often. Changing it too much will cause confusion, as many members remember each other by avatar. Only use your artistic masterpieces for this. 

The same goes for username. A good username is not too long, and doesn't include too many numbers. A name like "Kelly010692" might be logical to you, because the numbers hold a meaning to you. To other users, they don't. You're just another "Kelly-with-a-lot-of-numbers". And having people find you back when they can't even remember your username, is really hard. The same goes for users that have names from popular fandoms. I don't know how many people with Pokemon-names there are out here. Pokemonlover, pokemonfan, pokemontrainer, pokemonmaster, etc etc. People tend to remember those names as "Pokemon-something". And since there are many people with such names, it makes it hard for them to find your profile again.

Try going for a username that's not too long, but gives off a somehow original twist. It's hard to think up such a thing. And I admit my name (DamaiMikaz) is a tad on the long side as well (I would've used Mikaz, if it wasn't taken already). But try to come up with something original.

Also: I know you can change nicknames now, but don't try to do that too often. People will become confused and forget your name. You don't think it works this way? Think about it the other way around. Let's say you watch about 500 people, and 40 of them change username. Will you be able to remember who's who instantly?

:bulletorange: Show what you've got on your profile

Your profile is like your personal website, on this network. It's a place just for you, where you can promote who you are and what you do. Research shows that the average person only stays on a website for about 10 to 20 seconds, and they judge even faster. If you want them to stay longer (and you do!) you have to show them at least something interesting. 

You don't have to pimp your profile with html and such... but do show something that's representing you. Your best artwork, an interesting journal or a great profile picture representing you. Whatever you want to show your visitors, make sure they get interested enough to check out your entire gallery. Because that's what you want them to do.

:bulletorange: Be genuine... or at least seem to be so

To many people, this world seems to be full with arrogant people, fake people, and people that only seem to do things for money. As a result of these capitalistic thoughts, people appreciate other people that come across as modest and genuine. They love people that don't care about fame and art alone, but are willing to interact with other people. People that have genuine love for what they do. People that have a clear opinion and are not afraid to voice it, but yet stay open minded towards what other people think.

Why do you think politicians and famous artists have so many spin doctors around to help them build such an image? Image building leads to fame, and fame is big business. I realize not everybody has the gift to stand out from a crowd. Not everybody is able to be passionate about art (or come across as such), and not everybody is capable of voicing their opinion. Yet it never hurts to try to at least mind this whole 'image-thing' when you're posting on DA. It'll make you a lot more likable :)

:bulletorange: Know what to share, and what to keep to yourself

Remember when I told you DA is like social media? Well... in one way it is. In another it isn't. Unlike on facebook... you aren't able to select the people that get your updates. You don't have to approve of watchers. Which means every random stranger can get your journals and art in their inbox. For this reason alone; be careful about what you post. Not only because information can fall into the wrong hands. But also because not everything you post will be interesting for everyone.

I used to follow a lot of people on DA. And back in the time, you couldn't choose what to watch from them and what not. I got a lot of journal entry's in my inbox about people talking about their personal life. About their school. About their friends. Their boyfriends. Their thoughts on the girl they hated in school... or whatsoever. The point is... I couldn't care less. These were journals made for friends to read. Not to be published to all of DA.

A lot of people watch you for the art, or maybe even for the journals, if you make interesting ones. They don't know you, and don't care either. It's the art that you're famous for, not you as a person. To them, you are just a random stranger that makes nice art, and they don't care a shit about who you're desperately in love with, or how you're doing at school. I'm not saying you can't post anything personal. Things that have a big impact on your life (like graduating, moving, or being ill for a long time) are important, since they have an impact on your activity and art as well. But other than that... too much personal things are often a turnoff. And might even lead people to unwatch you.

So leave the personal stuff for the chats with your friends, or for facebook. DA isn't the right place for it. Use your DA journals to promote your art, or your vision on art, instead. It's a great place for doing so, and people might even become inspired by you when you do.

:bulletorange: Think of marketing as a challenge, rather than a chore

Marketing might not entirely be your thing, but think about it as a challenge. It can be very rewarding to see how people get back to you, once you get involved in the community. And while being immersed in the community, you can actually make some real great friends that'll stick around for years. And, who knows, even meet people that can help you taking the next step in your artistic career. 

The possibility's are limitless, but you've got to open your mind for it. Don't be shy. Don't stand on the sideline of the community, but join it! If other people don't take the initiative, then take some yourself :)

And on a sidenote:
Everything here is based on my own opinion and experiences. Yours might be different. Note that this journal is mainly focused on the aspect of promoting your work on DA. This might not be the most fun way to stay here. This journal is by no means a 'guide' about how your should behave on DA or how you should interact with others here. It's meant to give you a sneak peak in the science behind social media platforms, and how you can use it to your advantage. 
Think you've got something to add to the list? Enlighten me! I'm always happy to learn.

Oh... and I'm not a native English speaker, so there could be mistakes in this text. Please forgive me for that. I'm trying my best ^^
© 2013 - 2021 DamaiMikaz
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xXScaley-MuffinzXx's avatar

This is excellent advice, my friend. I am saving this for future reference - thank you!

TheSalguod's avatar

oh my... in those five years and four and a half months here on this site I never thought about most of the things noted in this journal, I literally started out of nowhere without any preparation to lose everything and start over again. man, this is the first time i viewed your account and here i am just one of the 523 comments, but your post made me think a lot now. I never stopped to think about the times, own markting, excess of posts, highlights etc. I was a bit shy but I took my shyness out of posting and commenting as the years went by and as I was posting on the community forum. but the rest is just new to me. I just don't know how to thank you, just thanks for posting this :/ (PS: i'm not a native english speaker too so there could be also mistakes in my text)

JohnElYT's avatar

a very atmospheric animation if you are interested:

RosleinRot's avatar

How much does this article hold up now?

Lazy Whiskers
bearludic's avatar

This really helps! Thank you !!

apoxyea's avatar

check out my gf's art!! its really cool

L0nelySoul's avatar

Hi there, if anyone interested I am looking to receive some good feedback in my work!

Come and visit! If you feel like it anyway

Cold didn't bother me anyway
Art-Fox1337's avatar
If anyone's interested, I do detailed traditional drawings, both anime and realism (rarely) and I only have 4 followers, please help me out here!…
AnotherDoggo's avatar

I am now the 500th comment, at least from what I’m seeing XD

AnotherDoggo's avatar

Dang Nabit Lol, I’m just one off😂

IgnitedPontemian's avatar

Hello! I like fantasy, OC and species creating, so everyone who likes those, let's know each other! I will be happy to meet someone new, sharing the same interests!

I am sorry to do so, but little self-promotion: I am creating a species right now, if someone interested how they look like

Lil Buddies

Those are cute beans/sausages =P

cnktartist's avatar

Come on.!!! 555

Can enjoyed my artwork.

AYArtzRamen's avatar

hiya, not sure if it’s okay but I’d like it if i could get some critiques on my art~

Into the Unknown
YamioP's avatar
Ah' Oosaka

I mostly do chibi arts but I sometimes do normal artworks like this too, I don't mind a CnC so I will know how should I improve~

FotusKnight's avatar
All comes down to the fact what's popular right now or not. What is HAWT. In that sense you're right that DA is like social media which sucks. If you draw artworks about non-popular topics without the drawing style of modern standards you will never get more than a few hundred people watching you. Simple. Learned that the long way.
ShortieLikestoArt's avatar

Thank you for the tips! In any case, can i have anybody critique the quality of this post so I can improve?

Traditional drawing: OC Aecor
Anthonymous-official's avatar

Hello! This was posted nearly a year ago, but I will comment my suggestions anyway. One of the most important things when you're taking pictures of your drawings is clarity. Make sure you're taking pictures of your drawing in broad daylight where the drawing looks as clear as possible, no shadows bothering the main focus. Also, be aware that drawings look better when there is no yellow or blue hue, which is very natural but it's something you can just edit on your phone or pc easily.

When it comes to the lineart, you can just erase the lines that aren't helping your drawing look professional or even use a fine liner to make it look even clearer and erase all the pencil lines.

Hope that helps :la:


Another fellow OC artist ^^ Here's my critique:

I'm gonna take a guess and assume this was drawn from marker AND pencil? Color wise you made both work VERY well together, especially the shading!

I can tell you sketch like I do^^

BUT from personal experience you gotta watch how much you sketch. The lines around your character (from the pencil) that go out and inside the image blends into their coloring, making their hair/coat/skin seem darker than you probably want them to look.

One more thing: when you want to add contrast colors inside darker coloring (ex: the buttons on the coat), you want to make sure the brights aren't blended in/overwhelmed by the darker coloring that surrounds it. In the case of the buttons and how small they are, maybe add more of their color to make them stand out.

Over all this OC looks very interesting! Keep your style cause I like it! I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing more of you work^^

Blessed be


Gelof7's avatar

Thank you so much 🌞

Audiowerfer's avatar

Thank you for this. Maybe someday I will get atleast 10 loyal watchers to waste few seconds and view my 'GMod mass'.

WonderlandTrades's avatar
Just gonna say here you must have missed out on some research

cuz other researchs and obvious observations i myself have even experienced is

Often times people WILL follow you SOLELY cuz they like you as a person, and you even basically stated this when talking about being geniune and what not but then you go back on that aftewards and contradicted yourself XD

personality DOES play a big part, and many peopel DO like getting to know your personal life, they prefer you not be a stranger. thats often how social media works (social ;)

but ofc , not all. it'd just be good to "not state that as fact" and remind both ways. great "guide"/tips etc otherwise.

i also wanna state calling sketches/etc low quality is also not the way to go, some people have really high quality sketches and such.
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