I’ve finally gotten around to it, but after six/seven years of membership I’ve finally deleted my DeviantArt account.
Unlike some other sites (such as OkCupid, and many sites that can only be described as worthless), I wasn’t dumped back on the front page with no goodbye message. (That kind of treatment is purely rude.) Instead, I got the above prompt, which was appreciated on my end.
But it doesn’t make up for my reasons for leaving, which were long-felt sentiments about the site and the way it was run.
First of all don’t be fooled by the name or the services. DeviantArt started out as a web site hosting skins and themes for operating systems and apps; however, despite their move into printing services and portfolio hosting, I never got the impression that it had anything to do with actual art. I’m not saying that because DeviantArt is well-known
as a hive for anthropomorphism and manga/hentai, or that I never came close to getting a “Daily Deviation”. That was actually part of the problem: there’s a very obvious hierarchical system of membership, and it became apparent that any kind of recognition or promotion within the site is based on rank/status and nepotism.
If you have a system where how well known you are and how widely you’re promoted is based on your rank, or by who you know and how many people are in your corner, there’s no way your site can be about art. What usually happens is that some people change their styles (and even what they’re about) to imitate those people who get promoted. Other people, on the other hand, give up and leave, perhaps going off to do their own thing or giving up art entirely.
But by far the biggest issue I’ve had with DeviantArt was its “community”.
There were a handful of great people on DeviantArt whom I spoke to occasionally and were encouraging and supportive, but a lot of the other people could only be described as rude, obnoxious and self-serving. There’s no better place to find these people than in the forums, where an innocent question can easily turn into a barrage of ad hominem attacks (aka “flaming”).
Don’t bother asking a moderator for help: after requesting one of my threads be closed due to these attacks, I received the following response (paraphrased):
in future don’t create threads that have to be closed!
Sadly, as I found out many years ago, the rudeness doesn’t stay online. I went to one of the London “devmeets”, and although I eventually got talking to about two or three people, the others were basically locked in groups of people they already knew. Not since high school had I felt so much like a leper (even more so than my time at Singles In London/COILED); I remember leaving just a couple of hours later, very upset.
I found DeviantArt to be one big popularity contest, and for me – as an artist – it has nothing whatsoever to do with actual art, or being an artist. I’ve spent the last few years distancing myself from it to start my own ventures elsewhere, and though I haven’t made much progress I’m getting there.
Here’s to the good times on DA.