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deviantART, A Little Story, Part 1

Sat Aug 6, 2005, 8:13 PM
This entry is mirrored.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a little yellow alien named jark.

Wait, this is not a fairy tale so let me dispense with that.

This is an attempt to explain some of the history behind the founding of deviantART.  I have no desire to hide a thing and therefore make of this what you will.

"Back in the day" I used to run a little known MP3 website called CyberTropix.  I used to hang out in #mp3 on, where all the big named MP3 webmasters were.  There was a fairly large following in the channel on this small network.

It was here that I met Angelo, who used the nick "spyed" in the channel.  He ran a hugely popular MP3 news website called Dimension Music.  The site would eventually be bought by Michael Ovitz.  I have no details surrounding the acquisition therefore will not speculate.

Interestingly enough, back during the #mp3 days, Angelo was living in New York.  He had a girlfriend named Sarah, who showed up on IRC every now and again.  Sarah's mom, with her nick of "mp3mom," popped in to the channel almost daily.  She was a great person to talk to.

It was "mp3mom" that ultimately introduced me to Angelo.  I complained to her one day that he was pretty condescending, and acted like an ass to many folks in the channel, but she talked me out of those thoughts.  Not sure what she said to Angelo but somehow dialogue between us started.

At some point there was this plan to converge some MP3 websites in to DMusic, which is what the original name was changed to, in order to make one really large site with a unique vision among all the chaos of the MP3 revolution.  CyberTropix was one of these sites.

In exchange for a monthly "salary," the site became part of the "DMusic Network" and I ultimately ended up doing development on both CyberTropix and DMusic.  This was back around the 1999 timeframe.

After working on DMusic for almost a year, while nothing but failed promises, things started to look very bleak.  This disappointment could not be attributed to any one individual with the exception of Michael Ovitz.  My relationship with Angelo was starting to worsen because of the stress of the setbacks on DMusic.

Nonetheless, all of us pressed on in the most professional manner we could.

In the spring of 1999, while in the process of rebuilding DMusic, it was decided that the site needed the ability to host skins for all the popular MP3 applications.  This was at the height of Winamp's fame, before it was bought by AOL.

I had written a user authentication system, news system, and other such features, on CyberTropix.  These were merged in to DMusic and a couple other sites in the DMusic Network.  The shared backend made it easy to propagate news on multiple sites simultaneously while offering a single sign-on for the network.

At the time we thought it would be useful to build in to DMusic a skin section. Sites like and DeskMod were experiencing many issues.  DeskMod had problems handling their growth and ultimately saw many of the same slowdowns that deviantART saw. and the whole eFront debacle will go down in history as one of the oddest events in the customization community. was gone as it was bought by someone who ended up not having the expertise to comprehend the Perl backend.

The customization community was up in arms.  Nothing was going right, per se.

Having run a skin site for a short period of time in the 98/99 timeframe, in a site called screenphuck (which I still own the domain name for BTW), I had experience that I wanted to put to use.  I thought it would be smart to start a new site and use portions of the shared backend idea we had going on with the DMusic Network.

The basic premise was the new site would use the user authentication and news system I wrote while the skin submissions would be integrated in to DMusic.  This would give DMusic, and Angelo, the much wanted skin "solution" that he sought.

I started hunting for ideas; a way to make a unique vision that incorporated some fun in the name and the ideals of this newfound site.  After some hard thinking, and some hard-fought domain name locating, the name deviantART was the name I settled on.

Initially I wanted to use but that was taken.  The idea of using .org, which was open at the time, did not appeal to me. was open so that is what I selected.

The thought pattern was as such, since the roots of deviantART were with the skinning community.  When you skin an application you eventually end up "deviating" from the normal look and feel of Windows.  Skins are, at the end of the day, works of art.  By putting these two thoughts together, I surmised, that deviantART was the ideal name.

To make things even more fun and exciting I thought that calling the visitors "deviants" and the submissions "deviations," as opposed to skin, would be a nice play on the name.  A kind of branding, if you will.

I ended up pitching the whole idea to Angelo, who was in charge of DMusic at the time.  He liked it and, basically, gave the green light for me to migrate from my duties at DMusic in order to concentrate on my vision.

So I did.

I worked on a basic design for the site, which offered a revolutionary menu system for the time.  This is where "deviant green" began.  It was shown to a couple folks, one of which was my friend, and co-founder, Matt Stephens.  We met on IRC somewhere.  My senility does not allow me to remember the specifics; point is that we met and, in due course, worked together to bring the deviantART vision to fruition.

Matt's idea was to open deviantART up to the masses by way of allowing any type of art submission, without moderation, rather than be confined to skins.  Together we brainstormed and added to our vision for this "utopia" of the art and skin community.

Then one day I had a career shift that had me move from one prefecture (the Japanese equivalent of a province or state) to another.  During this change of residence, and the stress associated with it, I got severely ill.  For weeks I had fevers of 102, or higher, compounded with lung issues.

It was during a long weekend, with a rather bad fever, before August 7, 2000 that deviantART was born.  deviantART was coded from the ground up by myself, in its entirety, throughout this hot summer weekend.

The consciousness of the "Collective Rectum" was conceived.

:heart: :jarkinajar: :heart:
Add a Comment:
foxgguy2001 Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
You've an army of artists and coders at your beck and call. Use us! Deviantart maybe lost to your vision, but it's soul lives on in the creator and community that built it. You can rival this site, in time. Goodluck.
wickiedcuty16 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2006
Okay , it's interesting , yet still u didn't tell me what does (Yellow Alien) got to do with the site ?. How did you come up with the character "Jark" and why yellow ?
HaashiaOS Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's like asking why the hell you chose your username in the first place, dear.
WarthogDemon Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2005   Writer
Just curious, how old was Spyed when you met him and how old is he now?
HYPD Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2005
monkey4sale Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2005   Traditional Artist
So, if Deviant art is your "baby" why'd you give someone else control? That seems like a bad move on your part.
raidsilver Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2005
That's exactly what I want to know. Now that $Spyed is controlling all, it's like kidnapping! Sort of.
HaashiaOS Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
More like forced adoption.
cheese-cube Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2005
This is quite concise. It is very plausible but I don't want to accept it in it's entirety in order to remain unbiased.
wildoats Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2005
Hey Scott - please note me with a way to get in touch with you quickly and effectively? (I know you're probably inundated with notes). I have a proposition which may very well interest you, both for enjoyment and financial purposes.

I'll give you a hint: it resembles this journal's story very closely, but I'll be sure to throw in a few twists to keep the movie entertainig ;).
jinubean Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2005
I always enjoy reading stories from before the beginning, i wonder is the conclusion going to be the present, what with all that has happened? Because if you built this site from the ground up then it's pretty assanine that you're no longer an admin!
Eleaf Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2005   Photographer
This is incredible! I really enjoy this.. Very powerful piece. I really like it.

Thank you.. =-)
lexidh Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2005
I think this little story will be more than little ;P
kleineannoemeisje Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2005
If I didn't hate spyed already, then I surely do now. That's BULLSHIT that he took that away from you.

Can't wait to see part two.
SunshineKat Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
esotericsean Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005  Professional Filmographer
i am so glad that i read that. it clears up a lot.
MusicRocksGBV Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005
it's good to hear the story from the beginning. thanks for letting us all know.
VampireSiberian Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005
it's interesting to know the story... and I understand a little more...
JudgementOfMan Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005

Journal entry, just for you brother. Please, check it out, and if you can and want to, leave your opinion. Thanks

And yeah, if you start another art website, please tell us. If this goes on, and you start a seperate website? I'm there.
fatty-666 Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005
oh please bring us part 2 mr jarkman sir :)
demondeath1 Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005
dear jark,

if you will start another website to carry on your vision, can u tell us?

I wanna be there.

best of luck.
bananaprincess Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005
Edit: Totally posted this in the wrong entry. Such a newbie, but getting the hang of it, and I'm glad this site is here, and thank you and the staff for it. :hug:

I'm new, and don't know you or spyed but...

If you have a case, why don't you file a wrongful termination suit instead of typing up journals about how a child business prodigy took over your idea and posting pictures of your son crying? Or perhaps you're also at work on a case...again, I wouldn't know. I've heard so many different versions of dA history in the past week I'm starting to wonder if you were all drunk for the first year and suddenly woke up with a website (kidding--obviously there was a lot of hard work involved).

I'm sure everything will work out one way or another, and I hope everyone involved in this who needs a hug is getting one. :heart:
AsliKolcu Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005  Student Photographer
i was trying to stay neutral because i've away and dont really know what is fully going on but the whole situation is beginnintg to bug me. you'r gaining my whole support too.

you are kind and you've always been there for me and the other deviants. you respond to our comments and notes...

keep this up and you'll have nearly all the da on your side.

best luck in this. :hug:
aznneozanet Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You know, writing this story is a really good idea. It allows the deviants to...kinda reconnect with dA overall, and give it a more personal feel about it. It certainly has touched me and makes me want to read more.

Grrrreahaghhhhhhhh. This should be a hot topic or something, so that its more accessible to the rest of dA, not just the people who....i dunno, have favourited some of the people at the top (senior members mostly i think)

Is that possible? To somehow...put this up on the front page or something?
digitalJackalnz Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2005
oh well, me hopes you made a handy backdoor somewhere ;)

if I ever give birth to something even a fraction of the amazingness of deviantart, ill make sure to have a fallback plan. This experience has warned me :D

keep up with the legal stuff man, :)

well, if theres anything positive about this, its
A) the community has shown its true colours as to what they stand for.
B) seeing your no longer enslaved, you should theoretically / hopefully have more time to catch up on the other necessecites of life like sleep, and spend more time with the family :)
xCalee Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Jark, dear... I just wanna say... I'm not to familiar with everything that' going on, however you still have my support, and my thoughts are with you. I just wanted to say, whatever does happen, DA is my home... I'll stay for a long long time... and, your efforts put into the site, are very much appreciated (though I wish it would all just phase out and the mes get straightened... with you back, etc... but who knows how things will pan out)

Anyway... I just thought I'd check up on things here... and let you know, out of the millions of tiny speks on DA, I wil always appreciate you being a part of bringing DA into the works. :cling:

Heh... it's hard for me to fully express my thoughts, as I fell behind in the news of things... and really... I don't know... I miss DA, as it was when I joined a few years back, but the newer version of DA, wasn't very bad after I got used to it.... I hope it keeps living, seeing as it's the only art community I fully have taken a part in...

But... yeh... you are in my thoughts... and I... for one, really appreciate the effort, and care you put into this site. :heart: May your dyas be nice and hopeful

lateralusSPIRAL Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005  Hobbyist Photographer
I'm making you a little present. It probably won't turn out (in my luck) but even if it doesn't, I'll still send you a silly little yellow alien looking thing.
tib Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
My friend made a cute picture for you the other day :) She doesn't know I am plugging her mwahahahaha...


jark Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
thezebras Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
Hi Jark,

I am fully aware that this comment is but a tear lost in a monsoon of support for you, but I still want to get it off my chest. I originally, almost as if by instinct, sided with the administration (spyed) in (i guess nothing more that naive) hopes that their dealings had been honest. Now I fully support your cause, as informed as i can keep myself, and want to thank you for getting DeviantArt off the ground. I dont know if this journal is the right place to express this, but i know you read through the comments (thanks btw). It has been through DA that i have gained the confidence to truly call myself an artist, namely through the community that you helped forge. I will cut myself off here... just wanting to thank you for a great experience. Again, you have my full support and my orange of righteousness :orange:
jark Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
:thumbsup: thanks!
Hendel-Shmendel Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005  Student
Jark, you are slowly gaining my full support. I have honestly tried to stay neutral on this, because, I still don't know what is fully going on, and who's right and who's wrong.

I've tried to piece this together; I've left comments on one of your journals, and sent two notes to spyed, specifically asking him to respond, just so I know he read them. He hasn't responded yet (though he has read both of them; I could tell by looking at my notes page, since it tells you whether or not a note has been read), and to be honest, his silence is pissing me off.

You, on the other hand responded almost immediately to my comment (I didn't expect you to), and have been somewhat supplying info through your journal entries.

Because of this, you are gaining more and more of my respect, while spyed is rapidly losing it.

Keep this up, and you will have nearly all of dA on your side.

I wish you the very best of luck in this.
jark Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
thank you for the kind wishes of luck. i appreciate that greatly. :-)
the-Element Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
very nice! :hug: cant wait to read more!!
furryturtle Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
Poor Jark. -patpat-
If it's all your work. . .then why aren't you an admin?
That's really gay.
justb Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005   Writer
while it was nice to hear this background info, i know your story all too well. i used to chat on #mp3, finding it via audiogalaxy. I spoke a few times with you, I was a speck in the massive ego collisions of that room. I carried the name thalin. I was a champion of yours, always liked you, in my own way, supported you, when you had cybertropix and then deviantART. I basically reinvisioned myself on your website. I exhumed my life on to the collective rectum in small rhyming couplets and obtuse personal references. In 2000 I stopped talking for a year and went on a media tour. Boltsky, who coincidentally, along with marcus on the audiogalaxy java channel and then later on irc (what with their lofty @ symbol) were the first to really notice who I was. I noticed their time spent in #mp3 and spent mine in there as well. When I stopped speaking I needed something on the web to represent me. I came up with a website on my own ( no longer owned by me) and seth, skitzo, hosted it freely. Boltsky installed a message board later on in the year. Due to my friendship with seth and his and angelo's beef, i never really gave spyed a second look. But I always liked you and believed in you even during the times when it got really topsy turvy, corny and otherworldly. I was of the opinion that you in the control deck would find the path to an artistically licensed "freedom."

I hope in your sea of comments this one finds you and makes you smile.

Brett Banfe
jark Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
wow, long time no talk. i totally remember your nick even though it was so many years ago!

glad to hear you are doing well these days. :-) thanks for the kind words.

justb Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005   Writer
But, with regards to not knowing the details until after that message, i guess i could smell some trouble was lurking.
justb Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005   Writer
no problemo, i wrote that from my heart though, i really didn't even know about the incident until i started reading a little further. sorry to hear about all that. *sniff*
jark Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
:sniff: :thumbsup:
hawk-fenix Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
Well, this seems a little more beleivable because it all didn't have to do with deviantART. What I am getting at is that in Spyed's history, he tried desperately to make it seem like his connection to the founding was extremely tight. However, yours tells you what everyone was doing at the time and how you all met up. And it does coincide with some of his accounts. I choose to beleive yours, because it doesn't seem covered in deceit.

But man, I wish you luck in all your endeavours, this is tough shit and completely unjust.
xWolfyx Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005   Filmographer
More Stories!

So basically a noble kicked off the two kings with a mouse click.
That's quite rude in my opinion.


So when is deviantART 2.0 coming out?
I want jark back, the devSearch is still not working.
thundercake Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005  Professional Digital Artist
No wonder he considers himself a co-founder, he was there from the beginning. Not that he helped, but I can see how he'd think it.

Question: does he reply to your journals?
jark Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
nope, he sure doesnt. just look at his activity page and you can plainly see that the only time he comes to actually participate is when he is interested in spinning things in his favor.
thundercake Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005  Professional Digital Artist
:no: he really just doesn't give a shit, and it bothers me a lot.

Curious: do you think $lolly will do a good job?
jark Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
i have faith in $lolly.
xDestitutex Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
More to come i hope...

btw Jark we're with you...

Elizabeth-May Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
It's great to hear a version about the start of DA other than Angelo's bullshit diary entry that seemed more like a testament to his accomplishments rather than yours and matteo's.
I remember back when I joined this site reading his version of how it all started and thinking to myself, "...and what about the OTHER two people who found this website?"

travisuped Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
Ever thought of slapping this into a book and selling it for cash?
jark Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2005
that thought, honestly, never occured to me.
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