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I came across this survey on deviantART, and I thought it would be fun to answer some questions.

1. How did you join deviantART?

I don't even remember. As usual, I joined a while before I became active. I was using flickr for a long time, but they kept making sitewide design changes until it was unusable to me (took forever to load endless pages of images). So I migrated over to deviantART, and made it my new "home". I'd avoided it previously because it has stricter rules for posting erotic works than flickr (which has - or at least had, when I used it - a three tier filtering system), but these days I consider it practice for creating works that can reach a wider audience (i.e., people who don't like porn).

2. What does your username have to do with you?

It's a name I made up for a character in a story I wrote in Junior High School many years ago, and it has just kind of stuck as my online alias. I have a whole back story for the character and everything, but all I'll say is that zharth's "soul signature" (a concept I borrowed from Realms of the Haunting) is between. Also, since most people pronounce it wrong: the 'zh' is like the 's' in "pleasure", and the 'th' is like the 'th' in "these". It does not rhyme with Darth, or Garth. I won't strangle you if you get it wrong, but you will earn brownie points if you get it right. ;-)

3. What is your current avatar of?

An artwork that was commissioned by a very special friend of mine and drawn by an artist on this very site (see link).

4. How many Watchers do you have, and how many do you watch?

As of this moment, I have 415 Watchers, and I watch 16 Deviants (four of which are actually groups). Obviously, there's a discrepancy there. I use this site mainly to advertise my work, and not follow other artists. I have well over 1,000 deviations posted, but barely over 200 favorites. Also, I like to find good art by browsing through other people's favorites, rather than other artists' galleries. So for me to follow someone, they have to have a lot of art that is consistently good and to my tastes. (And I have to have come across them, too!).

5. Do you have more than one account?

Nope. Can't think of any reason I would need to.

6. Name three of your favorite artists on deviantART.

I don't really do the 'social media' thing here, sorry. As I said, I use this site mostly to share my photography, and not to follow other artists, so I'd be hard-pressed to pick three I'm familiar enough with to warrant naming.

7. What deviant(s) do you admire because of their personality?

Obviously, I like my biggest followers, because they appreciate what I do and give me confidence and motivation to keep on doing it. The one deviant I feel justified in mentioning here has unfortunately disabled her account, so I'll just leave it at that. :-(

8. How many deviants do you actually know in real life? Post their avatars.

None. Is this common?

9. Do you comment, Favorite, or both?

I leave comments when a piece of art strikes me in such a way that I have something substantial and original to say. I also fave art without leaving comments and have no qualms about doing so because sometimes you're speechless and there just isn't anything to say but, "omg, wow, I like this" and that's pretty much what the favorite button is for, isn't it? I don't like to waste words just for the sake of speaking up - that's a deeply ingrained part of my personality. If you want to fave my works without leaving a comment, go ahead. I consider it a compliment, not a slight. But if you want to leave a comment, be my guest. Even vapid or sexually explicit ones (within the rules of the site). I don't share my art because I want it to be ignored. =p

10. What do you typically post on deviantART?

I've posted a little bit of poetry and some short sayings that I felt like sharing, but mostly, my gallery consists of nude self-portraits. That's my bread-and-butter as a photographer, and I very much enjoy sharing those images with an audience that enthusiastically appreciates them. I've also gotten into making stamps, which has turned out to be a lot of fun.

11. Do you participate in clubs or contests here on deviantART?

Not really. I never got into the whole 'groups' scene, which I felt was more intuitive and user-friendly on flickr. I'm not really very social on this site, except with the users who follow my work. I used to post on the forums until one too many mean-spirited trolls pushed me away. Now I avoid that place like the plague.

12. What is your most popular deviation -- as in most viewed or most favorited?

I think most viewed, most favorited, and most commented are all interesting in different ways - which deviation is seen the most vs. which is liked the most vs. which sparks the most discussion (or at least vocal admiration). I used to love keeping track of my top lists on flickr.

Here, my most viewed deviation (with well over 4,000 views) is Female to Male Transformation, probably because I submitted it to a contest (which I don't usually do). The contest was for girls to post before and after transformation pics dressing/making themselves up like boys. Even though I'm going in the opposite direction (boy to girl), a friend on the site recommended I enter, so I did! I didn't win, but it was still a lot of fun.

Female to Male Transformation by zharth

My most favorited deviation (with 56 favorites) is Oral Fixation, a highly suggestive (and mature content-rated) clone shot. What can I say? People are perverts. But there's nothing wrong with that. You can't help liking what you like. And the more daring you go, the more attention you're bound to receive. That's human nature; I'm not going to fight it. I used to post on flickr, which permits sexually explicit images, and I still post images daily on my blog without a filter. So I'm used to it. And I'm dedicated to holding erotic works up to the level of fine art, and similarly proving that just because something is art, that doesn't mean it's bad if it also turns you on.

Sex-positive by zharth

As for my deviation with the most comments (at 41 comments, including my replies), it's actually one of the stamps I've produced for this site - Sex-positive. It's not my best stamp by my own admission, but it seems to have stirred up some heated discussion. Which is not surprising. I'm sex-positive, but we're currently living in a very sex-negative culture. The fact that our culture seems to be obsessed with sex doesn't disprove that. We are obsessed, but our attitudes toward sex are unhealthy. You can't create a sterilized culture because we're sexual organisms and that just isn't going to work. But there are good ways of approaching sex and bad. Sex-positivity isn't sexual anarchy, where anything and everything goes. It's having a healthy, positive attitude towards sexuality, not one that's infused with guilt and shame. And that's something a lot of people could use a lesson on.

13. What's your favorite submission in your Gallery?

Wow, that's a hard one. I have thousands of images posted on this site, selected from a portfolio much larger than that. I can certainly pick out favorites, but then we're talking about a book filled with at least tens of images, and you want me to narrow it down to one? I'll give it a try.

14. What are things you wish you could draw better?

I know a lot of people use this site for their drawing, and I use it for my photography, so I think I should answer the question "what are things I wish I could photograph better?" Because as far as drawing goes, the answer would be everything. I wish I could draw. It would be so easy to create images and scenes from my imagination that I can't produce with photography (either due to limitations of convenience, or reality). Okay, maybe not easy, but possible. The one thing I wish I could photograph better is other people. I don't doubt that I have the technical skill (at the very least, to make portraits on the level of my self-portraits), but I'm not a people person, and so the hurdle of actually directing another human being is a huge one for me. And then you gotta factor in the difficulty of finding people of a similar mind, who would want to pose for the sorts of photographs I like to take...

15. Do you have a Premium Membership?

Nope. I'm a poor, starving artist. People don't pay me to create the images I create. And even if they would, I'm a terrible entrepreneur. I'm an artist. I don't want to run a business - that's for people with business degrees. I just want to create art. So unless it starts paying off (in a literal way), it makes zero sense for me to pay somebody else for the privilege of displaying my works, when I can do the same thing for free.

16. How many hours a day do you spend on deviantART?

Usually less than one (except for today). I enjoy making it part of my morning routine - checking my notes, browsing the favorites of people who have recently favorited one of my images, and then posting a new image before getting off and letting the notes on it rack up for a day before I return to handle them (it's much healthier than nervously refreshing the page every five minutes to see who faved/commented). But I have other things to do, and when I'm on a 'break' between bouts of posting images daily, I rarely even visit the site at all.

17. Are you a fast, slow, or medium typer?

Fast. I type a lot - being a writer - and frequently amaze my significant other with how my fingers zoom over the keys. I don't think I'm anything amazing, I just have a lot of practice. But I guess it doesn't come that easily to everyone. (I'm spending a lot of time on this survey not because it takes me a long time to type, but because I have a habit of carefully selecting my words - to quote a fictional character from a Russian PC game: "My tongue is my enemy. A well-thought game comes before.").

18. What is the most annoying thing people ask you?

Here on this site? I dunno. I don't get a lot of annoying questions, excepting the occasional abusive comment (e.g., "what kind of a freak are you?", or "you call this art?") - but more on that in the next question. As an erotic model, I do sometimes get "propositions" from people via private notes. It doesn't actually offend me, it's just kind of annoying because I don't like to turn people down, but that's really not something I'm interested in. My photography is not an appetizer for something else, it is the main course.

19. What is the most annoying/offending comment you've ever received?

Lucky for me, most people on this site have been really friendly and supportive (excepting on the forum, which is a completely different story). I know I create images that some people are not going to like, but thankfully they mostly seem to avoid me. Every once in a while I'll get some crossfire, though. Like the anonymous person who reported one of my deviations for containing an "erection" just because my flaccid penis was pointing upward (mid-twirl). The deviation is still there, mind you, so we know who won that confrontation. =p

Other than that, I can think of two comments that really offended me. One was from somebody who seemed dubious that a nude portrait could count as "photography" (pretty sure she meant "art", but still...). The reason it offended me, though, was because she insisted on insulting my androgynous appearance, specifically calling out the size of my penis (judging it only on its flaccid state). Real mature.

The other was from an asshole masquerading as a professional who criticized a behind-the-scenes shot for being "cheap ass porn", presumably insinuating his annoyance at other shots I'd added to the Artistic Nude category, for not sufficiently meeting his arbitrary standards of "professionalism" (conspicuously lacking in his demeanor). Thankfully, this user's account appears to have been deleted.

Oh, there was one other comment I got that was so offensive, I actually filed an abuse report (which I very rarely feel the need to do). It's since been removed (I suspect the user had posted similar comments elsewhere). I don't remember the exact phrasing, but I think he used bigoted language and said something along the lines of "go kill yourself", prompting me to wonder why it is that the people who are most likely to leave humanity better off by killing themselves are always the ones going around telling other people to kill themselves, and not vice versa?

Luckily, these experiences are the exception, and not the norm.

20. What (or who) inspires you?

My imagination? Is that cliché? I'm inspired by seeing my image in the mirror. I'm also inspired by art I browse online. I like to try to imitate female nudes that I see and like. Also females I see in person, but that extends to my whole lifestyle as a transgender person, which is one of the things I document in my photography. I'm also inspired by culture and politics, in the realm of the subjects that my art confronts - I like to use my photography to express my feelings and unconventional beliefs on gender, nudity, and sexuality. Speaking out makes me feel less isolated and alone, when I'm bombarded by messages from our culture that I don't agree with - like that public nudity should remain a crime, men and women should not experiment with their gender, and people should feel shame and guilt about their sexual desires and behaviors. Even though there are a lot of people out there that feel that way, I still (so far) have the freedom to express myself as I am (for the most part), so I'm going to take advantage of it!

21. Do you use guidelines when you draw?

Seems like a question specific to the craft of drawing. I don't know what the question means by "guidelines", and I'm not sure how that would translate to photography...unless they're talking about, like, tutorials? As a photographer, I'm pretty much exclusively self-taught. For better or worse.

22. Do you associate people on deviantART with their icons? Link us to some examples!

I guess I haven't thought about it much. I doubt that if you had an icon of an alpaca (sory, dA, llamas are so last decade =p), I would think of you as an alpaca. But I guess yeah, that's bound to happen to some extent.

23. Have you ever suggested a Daily Deviation?

Nope. I mean, I kinda like the concept, but ultimately it's just a popularity contest, and I've never been part of the in crowd. I don't even vote, because I don't feel like my interests are going to be represented by any kind of a majority. If I think about it too much, I'm bound to feel envious, so I just ignore it, and I'm much happier as a result.

24. Many people have considered leaving deviantART. Have you? Why?

People say this everywhere, on any site you can think of, and for any number of reasons. I wasn't aware it was also a thing here, but it doesn't surprise me. I'm not about the drama. I left flickr because I didn't like their site change. I didn't whine about it. I didn't threaten to leave. I just left.

Come to think of it, I did boycott deviantART once, after suffering some abuse in the forums (which, after filing an abuse report, the mods/admins ignored). Eventually, though, I came to the realization that deviantART does more good for me, than my boycotting harms it. So I swallowed my pride and returned. I won't touch the forums with a ten-foot pole anymore, though.

Addendum

To end this on a bit of a more positive note, I've thumbed through my gallery and picked out an image I'm going to call my "favorite". I could probably pick at least a hundred different images, but I picked this one because it has meaning to me that is distinctly related to this website. When I migrated to deviantART from flickr, my mental process while shooting photography changed. Before, I could shoot just about anything and expect to be able to share it. But because deviantART prohibits what they describe as "pornographic" material, I started thinking in the back of my mind about what sort of images I'd be able to share, and what sort I wouldn't. So I started getting into the habit of shooting "tamer" versions of shots that naturally included erections (even when doing so ruins the theme of the shot - self-censorship is a bitch), just so I could share them here. This is one of the earliest shots I remember shooting, having deviantART specifically in mind. It also touches on all three of the major themes in my photography - nudity and gender nonconformity, with a "little" hint of eroticism. -_^
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June 21
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