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Many people I speak with about deviantART immediately form opinions about the site based only on the domain name. I think the initial reaction for most people (and interestingly enough, especially those people above the age of 30) goes something like, “Deviant? Hmm.. I wonder what that site is about..”

After many conversations in which I found myself trying to convince a person that the site does not focus on or dedicate itself to deviant sexual behavior or images (one of the more common meaning of the word, “deviant”), I decided to write about how I perceive the meaning behind the name of the site (And it is important to note that I write not as a founder of DeviantART but as a member of the community. The founders/staff may or may not agree with what I have to say).

I wasn’t in the room when jark and matteo came up with the name, “deviantART” but as a part of the community, as someone who has watched it grow from day 1, I think I have a pretty good grasp of what it means. Let’s take a look at some definitions.

"Deviant" adjective: Differing from a norm or from the accepted standards of a society. noun: One that differs from a norm, especially a person whose behavior and attitudes differ from accepted social standards.

"Devious" adjective: 1. Not straightforward; shifty: a devious character. 2. Departing from the correct or accepted way; erring: achieved success by devious means. 3. Deviating from the straight or direct course; roundabout: a devious route. 4. Away from a main road or course; distant or removed.

"Deviate" verb: 1. To turn aside from a course or way. 2. To depart, as from a norm, purpose, or subject; stray.

Now, in the case of, I think the site/community conform to the definitions above very well except when it comes to the standard definition of, “devious.” Look, we’re not about being evil in any way, shape, or form. We’re about deviating from the norm on the Internet. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Rock n Roll is dead?” Well, for many of us who were around when the Internet first became a phenomenon – before the “bubble” burst, we feel that the Internet died there for a while. Even now, very few businesses have been able to succeed. Even the sites on the Internet that weren’t about making money, the sites that were all about spreading information and building community, even most of those sites have long since been forgotten. In the post-bubble-burst days, in a time where the Internet is considered by many to be worthless, DeviantART grew to become something truly amazing. And it continues to grow – exponentially!

Having spent the last few years building Internet Companies, and as a member of the devART Community, I have a certain perspective about the site, the community and what it stands for.

A quick glance at the Forums and some userpages should demonstrate for you the diversity of the community. Thousands upon thousands of deviants (as we are called) hail from hundreds of different cultures and climates, each with our own distinct political, religious, spiritual and economic backgrounds. Fierce debating takes place on forums, userpages, shoutboxes and chat rooms. Sometimes we exchange harsh words; sometimes we share our most intimate thoughts and feelings. On many things we agree, but on many more I think we strongly disagree. In the offline world, hundreds of wars are being fought as we speak. In the United States where I live, we sometimes can’t even go to the store without yelling at someone who we feel is driving like an idiot. Yet at DeviantART we come together to form perhaps the fastest growing community in the world. And why? Well, we may not agree on everything, but we share some common bonds. In short, it’s amazing.

I have always considered deviantART with the idea that the word stemmed from a root word “deviate” rather than the word “devious” because I think that with (which I helped to build) and with deviantART, the idea always was to deviate from traditional methods of building communities. And I really believe that because of our deviation from the normal paths one might take to build a site, because the technology was build from the ground up, because of all the original ideas that were put into motion here, we have seen DeviantART reach levels of success that only a handful of sites have ever seen.

Change hurts. Pushing and pulling and molding; breaking down and building up; bleeding, healing, and moving forward; these make up the ingredients of growth and these things must happen in order to truly live. And deviantART has become a living organism; in that, it grows when you feed it and it dies if you do not. Further, it is grown by the community. Everything is dynamic; everything changes on a day to day basis. In that sense, the site truly deviates from the norm.

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sharmjay Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2011
rashmi Q jan 12, 2011

great stuff. doing something real here. like to see mo...
s0ulofsin Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2002

Great article..

I'm proud to be Deviant! :) (Smile)

:: ~Believe in Angels~ ::
openwindow Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2002
Couldn't have put it better myself.
Can't judge a site by it's domain name, like they always say ;) (Wink)
matanza Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2002
Nod Thumbs Up Nod

Fella look right Sometimes Its Story Time Fella look left
ebjcoat Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2002  Professional Photographer
.:ebjcoatFella, the deviantART Mascot Tech Junkie:.
endogen Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2002
well said

:: Save Me From This Place ::
silentecho Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2002
my whole family and all my friends know about this site due to me, and I'm sure their perspective on the word has changed, although my definition has always been the same... I didn't think of porn when I heard deviant, was I supposed to? hehe
acky Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
hmmm never has anyone commented about the domain to me before. maybe because i live in australia and we all know what deviant means haha :P (Razz)
fullyclothed Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002  Professional Photographer
Devian Tart... sounds like a Star Trek dessert:

"Computer, a bowl of Idanian Spice Pudding and a Devian Tart."
Whir, whir, twinkle, twinkle...

Here's a website with a great domain name:
blacksheep- Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
my friends laugh at the name of this site
The MOST ANNOYING deviant at deviantART, hands down! This is your brain; This is drugs; This is your brain on drugs! The MOST ANNOYING deviant at deviantART, hands down!
smoking Sheep
[link] favourite forum thread!
wwfgirl Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
well said symonx.... hmmm it was interesting reading the definitions.... i had never really thought to look em up, i never really thought anything about the name, mostly i just thought about it as my fave place to be :) (Smile)
Horns A girl who fights and runs away lives to fight another day Horns
spectracide Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
deviantART Logo 8) (Cool) :D (Big Grin)
patentdragon Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
Now I KNOW I'm in the right place :-) (Smile)

The second line of the signature says it all, ppl...

What others call , he calls home

Remember: stereotypes are NOT compulsory
inulg Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002  Professional Digital Artist
OH SO TRUE!! people shouldent judge before they think they know what they dont :P (Razz)
:P (Razz) *~*~*~*~* :D (Big Grin)
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[link] -home
stackelberg Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002   Photographer
Excellent commentary :) (Smile)
A pleasure to read, and so true :) (Smile)
| |
cid Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
Now, I stop to be a canadian, I'm a DEVIANT! :P (Razz)
-s0ft Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
a very well written artical... i hate people that judge like that.
isnt it the content that matters?
anon-y-mouse Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
a very nice article

i can't remember how i got here either.. i'm thinking was either somewhere on slashdot or in a digit article but i can't find the magazine from the month i foudn the site so i have no clue

but i would love to reemmber how i found this!

my dad still thinks this is a pornographic website and keeps threatening to get netnanny :rolleyes: i'm 18 gahrr! as everytime he walks by i tend to be looking at one of the more 'racy' artistic photographs or drawings

and a few of my friends were like "mm, maybe i'll go look at it, but not at home, at least not with that name!"

and my school blocked it because of the bikini nude wallpapers :( (Sad)
aelis Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
Very well written, I think you summed it up great symonx :]
:::Tell me again why im here??:::

dephunked Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
devianTART? wtf... no seriously i have trouble convincing ppl to sometimes. from what i can deduce from my limited latin knowledge... deviate... de via, via being road it means to stray from the road or to be different or something, and hence deviant is born. :) (Smile)
netguru Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
I'm here because I'm, funny today!

*points to the others who are coming in from behind a military firewall*
I guess our network security command team knows it's harmless.

Btw, where ARE those deviants with the .MIL address? no comment on this? :-) (Smile)
...Helping people love life through caring. :-) (Smile)
Seeking out Copyright abuse...
Current Favorite: [link]
ovrlrd Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002   Interface Designer
To me, and this is just my opinion really, I never judge websites by their names unless its an incredibly stupid name. In the case deviantART I didn't think of the name being silly, so I just looked around the site and found how nice it was. I guess some people are different though.

I did think of the name deviantART as coming from the word deviate and devious when I first came to this site. Like I said though, in the end there is always some people who are different.

I like this article though, was nice to read. :) (Smile)
halfbakedchimp Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002   Filmographer
yes! 83rd post... never been that before. hehe
philippe Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
You know.....when some of my friends join deviantart some of my other friends were like "OMG, he's/she's one of them." Well, i'm one em too now hahahahahh!
What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare
vannova Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
Good explanation of our community!


-[ VanNovA ]-

naysayer Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002  Professional Interface Designer
the deviant parts wearing a little...
The different just become the next mold for the impresionable sheep...

Oh my that sounded melodramatic...

but its true enough... for ever one that achives something truley unique, theres five waiting to copy or cling on...

just look at all the "i agree, end comment" responses alone that litter the forums =D (Big Grin)
daewon Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
Wise words.
And i couldnt agree more, the fact that this is one of the biggest community online proves it all.
digitaldemon Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
I could see how deviantART could also sound like a tattoo/body art site.
poluter Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002  Professional Interface Designer
nice text! good work Nod
Nod Abnorm Thinking | Nod
my comics dev. pack | [link]
ekud Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002  Professional Digital Artist
schrunk Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
Yes lots of people say deviant art, what is that? but most of my friends are below the age of 20, they dont see deviant as a bad thing but more like a "edgy" thing.
Where news and graphics connect!-[link]
jt8376 Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
Tell it, brother!
sadwings1 Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
I too am over 30 and I came to no conclusions about the site defined by its name. I assumed, since ART wan in the name it was about ART. Most of the people I talk to as well, think ART first. I guess it all depends on with whom you choose to associate.

Age is relevant to nothing.
n0ThinG[red] - [link]
The Battle Cry of the Mundane -
Quick, get my brown pants!!
shiji Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
you forgot to attempt to define art.
an artist, writer, and poet in any languge...
english---devin fury
japanese---furi shiji
tat2doc Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
As part of the over 40 crowd, I saw the word art and it got my attention. The fact that it was deviant, only meant I was home!
If you wanna see the show, you gotta be the show......Dodger - China Beach

**Deviant Arts resident tattoo artist**
madcoffee Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002  Professional Digital Artist
hehe... interesting bit. and very well said on what deaviantART is all about.
.: Poetess :.
nuf said

We are what we do, and the more we do it, the more we become it.
The only way out is to change our lives or to change our expectations for our lives.
And if we lower our expectations we are killing our dreams,
and a man without dreams is already half dead.
strangledbyart Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
baaaaaaaahahahaha thats fuckin hilarious caveman, word LOL

I don't remember how I stumbled onto DA, yahoo I think it was, but I really don't remember, doesn't matter, I've been addicted since the day I got here, and I wouldn't have it any other way...
craeonics Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
I'd say anyone who has a problem with a harmless name as DeviantArt has issues. Deviant = porn? What the? What a sad world when people feel that deviating means sex or unacceptable behaviour.

Not that anyone deviates from the norm here (anymore). In that sense the name does not reflect the content.

But hey, first time I saw it, I read it as "devian tart".

cruise Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002  Hobbyist Artist
Maybe if deviantArt had had a different name, then it would have got more people...but would it have attracted the /right/ kind of people?

I'm inclined to think that the sort of people who aren't bothered by (or outright attracted by [like me]) the name, are the sort of people that are best suited to making a community like this...because they won't jumpt to conclusions, they won't discriminate based on shallow appearances or initial reactions.

If people look at the site name and leave thinking it's not for them...then they're right...but not for the reasons they think :P (Razz)
[ cruise / ]
wiedo Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
I also have some problems with my site :
(the word sex is to confrontating for some ppl, but it just meens that it's sex for the eyeball... it's a nice feeling for the eyeball, it's just nice to look at... I don't know how to explain, but you will get it if you think about it, the site isn't ready to be shown BTW)
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l-courni Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
yes ! this :D (Big Grin)
Lightbulb Support the E.U. flag emoticon now !Lightbulb
Love support thread : [link] :flagEU: : [link] Love
symonx Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
well.. I dunno if this is what you're talking about but jark once ran a site called screenphuck. heh
between-balance Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
ok everyone at my richard III rehearsal thought it was some cult or something ?????? i dunno maybe cuz im wierd
l-courni Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
i red a Jark's interview in which he told about the name of the beta version of was really funny, but i can't remember it...maybe Jark or Matteo can tell us :) (Smile)
Lightbulb Support the E.U. flag emoticon now !Lightbulb
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parasight Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
rofl between-balance, I should try that out here in Germany. The common answer would be "Wie jetzt? Was willst du von mir???" =D (Big Grin)

Actually, when I first saw DA I didn't know what "deviant" meant. When I left Canada I was in sixth grade in a catholic school, and they didn't teach us such words. ;-) (Wink) (my English has improved significantly since I'm here in my second home, deviantART)

It was the green that kept me here, curious about who would use such a hideous color to design a full website. =D (Big Grin) DA sure as hell was intimidating at first, due to the size, but something kept me here. Most sites I click away after 10 seconds if I don't like them. I've always been devious, so I guess we just connected. ;-) (Wink)
chandrakanta Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002  Hobbyist Photographer
I didn't even know what Deviant meant when I joined... I looked it up from my dictionary after a couple of months. Kinda of a shock , not a bad one though :P (Razz) Love

Absolut Deviant! imagine psychotic ASCII ebola
antisleeper Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
my dad thought this site was a porn site
Shocked SPONGEART [link]
feasenau Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2002
lolololool Laughing @ itirep
gasp for air

yes, i think it does describe the community pretty well
...describes me pretty well too
arakhnidef Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2002
You can write a 10 page essay full of contents, epilouge prolouge, but when it all comes down top it, the name deviant art was chosen mainly because it sounds cool.
Whatever you dont question you will become a slave to it
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flummox Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2002
I would never go to a site with the name deviantART.
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Submitted on
April 22, 2002