Operating deviantART

15 min read
spyed's avatar
By spyed
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It's that time of the year again. I'm preparing to write up my deviantART "State of the Union address" in the coming days, but before I could do that I felt I needed to re-address some matters. There are hundreds of thousands of new members that have joined the community since last year, and it's only right that I re-introduce myself.

Many of you know me as a dark figure in the background, whose purpose is somewhat obscure to the actual day to day operations of the community. And that's because actually running or operating deviantART has very little to do with updating journals and keeping the community informed. That's the job of Artist Relations and Community Development. My job is to stay true to what I know about online communities, which I've been building since I was 12 years old, and so long as matters are addressed that are reported to me from the front lines, the community runs smoothly and you fine folks just get to have fun in this artistic wonderland called deviantART.

I am the Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer, etc. of deviantART. A position I have held since the inception of deviantART. In the beginning I paid the hosting bills and managed the finances. Including the consulting fees I paid jark and matteo (the other founders) so that they could work on deviantART when deviantART was a "starving artist" itself. And at some point when we ran in to trouble, I called my good friends Andrew Mccann and Ian Lyman (the Sonique guys!) to invest some angel dust ($$) to save us. And off we were out there in the real world with a thriving site that had no way to pay it's bills :P

So it's that time of year. But before I give our State of the Union address for 2004 and talk about our plans for 2005, I think it's important to talk about the operations of deviantART. How it works, who works on it, and what it takes to be the leader of such a massive online society slash community. Community being a term people are more comfortable with. A society is what deviantART really is.

What is the operating philosophy behind deviantART?

The long established (unwritten) philosophy of running deviantART is one we take for granted. Because if it isn't a part of your soul, you can't work here.

The rules of this philosophy are simple:

1. Artists come first.
2. The community second.
3. Everything else is third.

Without this deviantART would be dead. YOU would stop submitting. WE would die. And that's all there is to it. We've taken the long route in every instance, rejected outside financing, and ROUGHED IT throughout deviantART's entire history even at the risk of our own health to ensure that we execute our vision in full. Four years later the results speak for themselves: we stayed true to you, and you made us the number one art community in the world.

So let's talk about how we do it.

Operating means MONEY

With the above philosophy in tact, the very essence of operating deviantART is keeping it alive and thriving. And the main force that keeps things alive is the very same force that seems to urk especially the 10 year olds around here: money.

Without a consistent flow of revenue, deviantART shuts down tomorrow morning no questions asked. Just like DeskMod shut down three or four times and Skinz a few times too. And they were skin sites, as you well know we host every type of still image created (so long as it's art!) The only thing that makes deviantART a million times more successful is that we in fact do support all forms of art, with no limitations on submission, and that we follow the above philosophy above all things. For the record that was probably matteo's most awesome contribution to deviantART. In just the right moment he said, hey why don't we support ALL art? And that is a concept we embrace to this day, launching new categories when demand from artists arises.

But the bills; they pile up. Sixty servers run deviantART today, and that's a huge expense. And when you have 60 servers, you need lots of talented people to administer them. Six full time employees in our IT division alone keep this place pumping out multiple billions of images and web pages per year.

In 2005 we hope we can really take some big steps forward to solve the money problem for good. It's a serious problem! But I'll talk about that in the S.U. Address.

Are we big bad and corporate? Hardly. If you really think we are; go take a look around folks. We have no pop-ups, we write informal docs like THIS ONE directly to you. Which is such a major no-no in other companies. And for profit we provide a cool subscription service that isn't by any stretch a requirement, and for god sakes we have a print program that shares profits back with artists. Give us a break there, wouldja? Without the dollars, this ship sinks!


Every year we take giant calculated leaps forward. As the CEO I craft our vision for deviantART year after year and focus our team to meet our goals. As a technology company our main operations deal with Information Technology (IT). If we can't serve the pages you post on, what's the point of you posting? IT derives it's strategic objectives from our three main operating arms: ARTIST RELATIONS, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT and PRINTS.

:pointr: Artist Relations

Artist Relations is a division I initially built a few years ago. Today it is run beautifully by Eric Kolb ( dygel ) and encompasses the operations behind all galleries and sub-galleries in the community. Including the management of our volunteer Gallery Directors.  The creation and execution of Contests. And the promotion of deviant artists outside of deviantART utilizing deviantART's PR firm, Gorgeous PR. Eric Kolb is effectively responsible for featuring and discovering the most talented deviants, and making them more well known to the world. In 2005, you will see major steps forward in this division that will impact your lives and the lives of your friends on deviantART.

:pointr: Community Development

Community Development is the only division in the company I did not structure. It was the first division built when deviantART was founded. Scott Jarkoff ( jark ) built and runs all aspects of Community Development, including the Copyright Enforcement team managed by perhaps the most beautiful soul and one of the hardest working folks we've got, realitysquared. And the Help Desk managed by the awesome phae. CD also encompasses the dAmn Army and the News team making it perhaps the most visable division in the company.

:pointr: PRINTS

Prints is probably my favorite division because it is the only division that pays artists. It is also the hardest division to operate. Arguably the sickest dude on this team has run prints up until recently. spot took a division I pretty much slapped together to show that we could get it done, and created a foundation we can use for years to come. In the very short term prints will launch a new program that will allow any artist to sell without a sign-up fee. The premium print program will be kept in tact providing higher return to artists than the basic program. spot will be transitioning to Information Technology where his mad skill is needed most. Richard Hartley ( lllo0o0olll ) will be taking his position as Acting Director of Prints.

Our other divisions include:

:pointr: Information Technology

The blood of all of deviantART's operations. Information Technology was founded by Andrew McCann ( mccann ) in recent months. At least that's when the division became as formal and uhh.. functional as it is these days. Before this I held the title of CTO for most of deviantART's life and honestly it wasn't a skill set I really had. But working on a daily basis with chris to build our technology infrastructure was certainly an educational experience. Unfortunately given our limitations I was all we had to work with in IT, and I think for all intents and purposes things did work per say. Truth be told it's all chris -- but he's in Canada. And our servers are here. We currently have about 60 servers, 38 of which I built with my two hands (which were cut up by case metal on a  regular basis) and installed for chris to administer and put to good use. Without chris's tireless efforts, we would have been a pathetic operation that would have failed right around the time of version 2. So he rox0rs the b0x0rs. Go tell him so. Because he hates getting comments. So comment! :)  It's important that I mention the major score we found in Rick Olson fluffy this year. And same with pachunka whose skills are off the charts but barely compare to his light hearted and incredibly positive presence. It's guys like pachunka that make working at deviantART fun.

:pointr: Business Development

I'm a lonely soul in Business Development but we will have a new VP starting in March of this year. No announcement quite yet as to who it is, but I'm very excited about it. All Advertising on deviantART is managed through this division, as is the subscription service. And Public Relations which consists of our PR firm Gorgeous PR in Los Angeles. Our governing philosophy for Public Relations is that deviantART and deviantART's directors & executives will interview and participate in press activities only if at least 3 artists are included in each interview. We'd prefer to have artists speak of us, and get exposure themselves. Eric Kolb in Artist Relations chooses which artists are featured in these instances. Like most recently when we were featured on the G4/TechTV  "Screensavers" program!

:pointr: Basic Operations

There are a number of services that make up our basic operations. Accounting; which among other things sends out all the print checks every quarter. Our law firm and other legal advisors who tell us that naughty artists are submitting copyright violations. And a group of advisors who I use to help me make more informed decisions on important matters. The members of that board prefer to remain anonymous. But I often rely on their experience and expertise to make more informed decisions for the company as a whole. In many moments of deviantART's history these folks have been critical and I wish I could publicly thank them.

To help me around the office in general is the best girl in the world; Heidi Chambers Heidi & apartialfragment who deals with more B.S. than anyone should have to with a smile and regular doses of dry humor. :hug: to them.

:pointr: The deviantART summit

Formally announced but still in planning is the deviantART summit. Now tentatively scheduled to take place in Late June 2005 due to popular demand for a change from the initial tentative date of May. Michelle Robertson who is responsible for the MP3.com Summits in 98, 99, 2000 and 2001 is heading up this event. With the help of Todd from IllustratorWorld.com and Eric Kolb from dA Artist Relations. This summit is going to be the sickest event in the history of online Art. We urge you to be there, visit summit.deviantART.com to sign up for info as it becomes available.


It is the harmony between these divisions that make deviantART WORK. I'm incredibly proud of the team we've assembled and of the prospects who will be joining deviantART soon. Make no mistake about it folks, we're a lean mean operating machine here. And we're building a dream that will unite artists across the globe in a way I don't think any of us could have imagined years ago. In my state of the union, which is coming up here real soon, I will address exactly where it is we're going. But I wanted you to see the structure that it is going to take to make these giant leaps for all of us.

The support of this community over the years and the encouragement which we receive from all of you is enough to bring tears at times. I can't quite describe what it feels like to be in the center of all of this, watching deviantART affect the lives of so many people in such positive ways.

Just this month:

:bulletgreen: The deviantART Holiday Project is an example of the power we have when we unite as a community, or society, to bring good to the world. Heidi started this project, and we've received thousands of cards which are being distributed to hospitals. Heidi and I and a few other team members are going down there ourselves to hand out your creations. We're wearing deviantART shirts and santa hats and bringing the cheer of deviantART to people who really need it. This will be a reoccurring project year after year. And while that sounds great, you should see the thousands of human hours that went in to creating the *art* on those cards. It's perhaps the most inspiring thing I have ever seen.

:bulletgreen: Eric Kolb and Artist Relations are fighting for your rights as artists in New York City. We're using our PR firm to bring attention to this matter and we will stop at nothing to find a middle ground if one is possible. Please do your part and participate in this contest. But know one thing well: deviantART isn't just a place that will host your art and bring you an audience. We are committed to you as a partner who's there to help you fight the big fights and to win.

In closing..

On behalf of team deviantART: Thank you for your love and contribution. And for spending time to read this madness too. We have many wonderful things in store in 2005, be sure to read my "State of the Union" announcement in the coming days it will have some detail on our plans for 2005 and our successes and failures in 2004.

Happy Holidays & God bless.

Angelo Sotira

Chief Executive Officer

:ninja: :spyed: :ninja:
© 2004 - 2020 spyed
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Kuramarocks's avatar
i'm hyper!!!!!! weeeee!
Lezah's avatar
hmmmmm.. isn't it interesting that Jark got only two mentions up there, and one of them is "I paid $jark and `matteo (the other founders) so that they could work on deviantART" which is, according to jark of course, a lie because they are the only two founders.
PnkRckPrinsez's avatar
i cant remember how to find my friends on here. how is it again?? i thought just putting their site name into the search bar, but that doesnt work...
SheepDiablo's avatar
Thankyou so much, all of you guys who keep this place running. This is a marvel of the internet. (Excuse the slightly geekish twang included in that sentance.)
taidg's avatar
taidgProfessional Photographer
Thank you, Spyed! Great words, and good reminders for us all.

:hug: :community: :hug:

shajoey's avatar
what the f@$& is going and can someone me on is s$@& I hive not been on my laptop for some time
yahna's avatar
I wonder. I don't have a regular enough income to subscribe, but is there anyway of donating? I'd love to contribute but I just can't do it regularly.
frederick777's avatar
frederick777Professional Artist
Shure thing :jarksaber:
kendrake's avatar
kendrake Writer
kendrake's avatar
kendrake Writer
it does make sense...running something worthwhile takes a lot of sacrifices...i wish i had the money to subscribe...hu,hu,hu...want to help the site but...im broke!!!hu,hu,hu....
gsrdemon's avatar
gsrdemonHobbyist Digital Artist
I :love: deviantart
gsrdemon's avatar
gsrdemonHobbyist Digital Artist
I :heart: deviantart
Deathelm's avatar
Deathelm Digital Artist
i think your doing a good enough job connecting artists
m4ck's avatar
m4ckHobbyist Photographer
AnimaRaptor's avatar

Big board...

(Sry, New guy)
Beware the rage of a patient man...
evil-enda's avatar
thaenk you for making DA a paradise for artist ,an an inspiration for aspiring artist thank you very much :Blowkiss:
NCH85's avatar
NCH85Hobbyist Artist
thats so informative!
somniacscaper's avatar
somniacscaperHobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for the numerous opportunities that this site gives.
It's fab!
tigr3ss's avatar
tigr3ssProfessional Digital Artist
reynante's avatar
reynanteProfessional Digital Artist
Hmmm... :nod: Now I understand the concept behind deviantART. More power to you guys, keep on supporting artists and people in as much way as you can, keep the encouragement and inspiration alive. =D
capmoroni's avatar
i dont understand how to search for somefing =[ i want asian brushes with symbols, i have one i need more keekels
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