In a week it will be April 15th, 2015. Which in my memory is the day fifteen (15) years ago that we embarked on a new project we'd come to call DeviantArt. jark
and I agreed for him to wind down projects on the DMusic Network and instead focus his energy on a similar platform for an emerging group of digital artists we were watching closely as fans. Soon after, he found matteo
who was working on an education resource for digital artists known as WastedYouth.org and asked him for some perspective on the project. As a high functioning digital artist and photoshop master (I believe he had co-authored a book on photoshop by this time at age 18!) matteo
(Matthew Stephens) made many contributions to what became DeviantArt at this critical moment, not the least of which was the NAME 'DeviantArt'! But perhaps more importantly the idea to include all artists on the platform, not just wallpapers and art made for customizing your computer. jark
created the ability for us to easily create new categories to facilitate whatever the community wanted us to support. And off we went.
Three months later on July 15th we had our final database build, the one we stuck with. Which is why many O.G.'s at DA joined on "July 15th, 2000". And we launched to the public on August 7th, 2000 so that anybody could sign up and become a "deviant" for free. The rest is history.
In August we will have served our beloved DeviantArt community for fifteen (15) outstanding years. I was 19 years old when we began, and I am 34 years old now. matteo
was 18. jark
was 29. chris
was 17, Heidi
was 16. mccann
was 24. spot
was 20 and joined us at 21 and so on. Incredible to be so young, and to have brought forward a platform that has achieved so much already for millions of artists and art appreciators world wide. Many from that same original group have lived our entire productive lives through the lens of overseeing this great global art community. We're all humbled by this idea, it is a deep honor and a great priviledge. How could we not be humbled? That free sign-up form has been used 35 million times and we've seen well over 300 million 'deviations' posted to our collective community with over 100,000 more each day. Nearly 4 billion comments
. But this is nothing compared to the real human stories of the effect of the network, the lives it has impacted, the positivity that it has brought and perhaps even a wholistic change for artists as a unit, bringing forward new opportunties previously unavailable. And that's what it's really all about!
When I reflect emotionally on the reality of what has happened, it can feel a little sci-fi. I then feel proud, specifically because I believe the world is a little bit better because of DeviantArt. Especially when I reflect on how inaccessable art felt to me as a young person, and how accessible the arts are for young people now. And the last impression I'm left with is an unsettling anxiety, and I know that doesn't seem like where I'd end up but it is true. I'm anxious because the job isn't done, yet the pieces lay before us to be assembled and there's so much more to do. At this point in my emotional reflection I pretty much shut down, squint my eyes, and feel an intensity and I cease to want to think about anything but what will move the needle even more.
The creative class is rising, but the creative class has not risen. When I look toward the future, our collective future ... It's all I want to see before I can give myself permission to rest. Even with a clear picture of how the world should be for creative people, it's remarkable how much inefficiency there is to contend with in bringing about big change. That's the fight, that's the struggle. I read books by people like Tim Ferriss
and I think about how to compress 10 years in to 6 months. I'm struggling with that a bit but I enjoy these exercises. Heidi
and all of our founding team members, long time team members and a whole generation of people around our age were fortunate in that we lived in a world that was initially connected through telephone lines, and as we were already teenagers or older we became connected digitally through bare-bones Internet services. We felt excitement and ultimately we felt possession of the Internet each time we'd use it as we felt its potential. And from this formed a responsibility to help craft systems to enable what we felt we wanted to see happen. DeviantArt is just one of those many results that came from a truly loving, optimistic place about people and society and (in our case) Art and Artists.
Every day I work for DeviantArt I have the distinct pleasure of being surrounded and supported by a team of genuinely wonderful people, who happen to have extraordinary skill in their respective fields. People like 4thofficial
, UltraDad ZevGordoni
who lead us, (along with Heidi
whom I've mentioned) and our various directors and managers and team mates who execute dozens of annual projects and perform an outstanding quantity of tasks to bring forward the platform and products that enable DeviantArt to be. Meet Our Whole Team.
We stand in awe of all of you
, and the audacious
steps you take in putting yourselves out there in the world to be seen and recognized creatively. In doing so, you are sharpening your perceptions of both reality and your imagination simulteanously. You are training your minds to communicate with people. It all starts small, but as you grow your +Watch lists and your pageviews in this endless game we've all come to play together, you are inspiring others
with your ideas and therefore contrubting to the spinning of a wheel of creativity that is spinning faster, and faster, and faster because of you, and this wheel produces the most important intangible element in the human experience: Inspiration.
Inspiration is the key to the entire notion of progress. And progress is the currency that fuels so much of the good in our lives.
Your meaning as a community, fellow deviants, is yet to be fully understood by sociology and by history. But fifteen years from now as a full generation has felt your effect it will all be undeniable. Stories like the story of Star Trek
have inspired the communicators we each have in our pockets. We were promised hover boards in Back to the Future
and we even have those now.
We've imagined traveling to Mars in many films and concept pieces, and now we're headed there, too.
The examples are endless. But the root of Inspiration
is present in each one.
You see, your deviations have been inspiring ideas all of these 15 years at a scale that is incomprehensible. Sometimes you know about it, most of the time you probably don't. But as we meet the people behind world famous film studios, tv shows, video game companies, tech companies, and all manner of key contributors to modern society I learn of your impact,
over and over, and over again. Deviants of all kinds and in great numbers are inspiring people in ways that only a few designers, artists and mainly writers could do in generations past. The conceptual illustrations that were (sometimes) acceptable enough to society to be published by few names of stature occasionally through book or broadcast, are now vibrantly making their way into our lives at a scale that cannot be compared to any other point in all of human history.
UPDATE: Just after publishing this, I learned that Elon Musk of Tesla Motors, Hyperloop, Paypal, etc. added deviantart
to the short list of now 47 accounts he follows on Twitter even though he has nearly 2 million followers after Faving this article about Future Tech
that we published featuring DA works. Did he pick up an idea for how a Hyperloop station might look in the process? Hehe he should.
Meanwhile, all of the other platforms that have emerged to interconnect us are helping artists and pretty much all forms of function in the world at the same time. As a result, all of the wheels of society are spinning faster, and faster toward all kinds of progress both good and bad. Sometimes I think to myself, it's a good thing DeviantArt was first
! If we jump started an inspiration wheel, perhaps as the future happens and history is told we will have widened the right receptors in society just in time. And I also ponder that perhaps for the first time in history, artists were first to be served by a major advance in technology;
the networked world! This single idea facinates me, because it represents the turning of a new leaf. A new chapter in history where perhaps creatives can rise in society to an appropriately respected level, previously inhibited by the impracticality of distributing art and ideas. We've lost too many brilliant deviants at the age of 17 to angry parents who want their children to be doctors and lawyers. This breaks my heart each time I see it happen. Yet I know in my heart how shortsighted those parents are, and how a coming generation might grow up without this stigma around being an artist.
That's the day we live for here at DeviantArt.
Fifteen years later, I see You every single day
as I refresh the NEWEST FEED
, which represents to me the purest, rawest, unedited, unfiltered, uncensored (if even for a moment) vantage of the current of creativity
that exists in the world, I see the beauty of humanity across all age groups. To have lived nearly most of my life through this lens, and to know that this same lens is available to everybody in the connected world is truly the most meaningful feeling in my entire human experience to date. I just don't know how else to say that.
We're going to see to it that for many years to come, DeviantArt grows, thrives, and persists in being like no other place you've ever seen. Accepting all artists, from anywhere in the Universe, to have a free and open place to be together.
From here, all roads lead to deviation. To differences in the norms that have been accepted, yet remain unacceptable. To DeviantArt itself which is seeing and will continue to see many pending, highly constructive changes. To new platforms we'd like to assist artists in transitioning to, as digital art screens are soon to rise providing the potential for financial and distribution opportuntiies that could sustain artists in ways never seen in 35,000 years.
For creative people everywhere, this is by far the best time to be alive. The future is bright. The potential is limitless. So if you're wondering what you can do yourself to help move things along, I have a prescription for you that I think will help a great deal. Don't worry, it'll be easy for this lot. But we need your help spreading the message
A Prescription for Deviousness:Create. Every. Day. And sincerely encourage those around you to do the same.
Practice is the finest art. And when your creativity blocks it can be very frustrating. But you don't have to resume what you created yesterday if you can't; Instead, create something new today. And don't bother over-estimating what creating something is. To view
creative. To listen
to music is
creative, too. To stand on a porch and perceive all that is around you can, in itself, improve your ability to perceieve. How closely are you looking? What are you really absorbing with your eyes, your ears, your senses? What is really happening? Is it the same as what you think is happening? Perception is what it is all about in the end for all humans, and art happens to be a perfect practice towards improving your own perceptions and those of others. All art and all creation is about perceiving. This ability lends a path, and when you follow that path to deviousness it leads to the greatest wealth in life.
Don't ever let yourself
take that from you
by saying things like, "I'm not an artist." Don't let anyone else take that from you by discouraging your art.
When you reflect on it all the day that you pass... it's the reflect part!
“A mind, once expanded by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes
We have these new temporary tattoos of the DeviantArt logo
floating about the office, and I either put one on my arm or I draw one on my arm or I draw one somewhere... we even made stamps! And it's a mark that's starting to become a bit of a religion for me. It reminds me to create every day, and I do. Viewing myself as an artist is a newer idea to me, perhaps only 5 years old. Before that, I would say things like, "I'm not much of an artist." or "Nah, our members are too good! I can't compete with them it would be embarrasing!"
Today I'm embarrased I said stuff like that. I wasn't perceiving things well. I'm actually sorry about it. I hadn't given myself the space I needed to grow creatively, and so I took on daily practice and what's happened to me since is endlessly fulfilling. The study of light has come in to my life more recently and I'm endlessly passionate about it. With whatever time I have to dedicate. I want to meet you all, and hand you a pen, and say "Draw me a masterpiece" as draweverywhere
always asks me to do. The effect is inspiring!
To fifteen more years of Creating Every Day, my friends!
To fifteen more years!
Questions I have:
1. Why do you create every day?
2. How does DeviantArt help you to create every day?
3. Is there anything you'd like to see me do at DA that would help you?