Monday, October 12, 2015
Is the Worlds Largest Online Art Community Really a Community?
DeviantART is a social media platform launched on August 7, 2000, it claims to be the largest online art gallery and community. I have been a member of the art sharing site DeviantART for 7 years. The site uses a platform that allows users to remain anonymous and protect their identities through the use of online alias. The site also allows users to use their own artwork as profile pictures rather than encouraging them to use their own photograph. The site encourages users to discuss interests, post stories and text rather than just artwork and critique each other’s art through interactive comments.
I use Deviant Art primarily as a means of viewing artwork for inspiration in my own art, to use drawing tutorials and models, typically to practice animation style sketching and drawing (Specifically the Classic Walt Disney style of Animation and cartooning).I also occupationally post some of my own sketches and other art to the site.
As much as I like sharing artwork and posting comments with people who share similar interests to me I am not sure I would go so far as to label DeviantART and other sites whose platforms are largely anonymous as a community. I believe that a community is a group of people who share a sense of fellowship and solidarity. While online “community” sites, message boards and other platforms for people with shared interests may create a sense of fellowship I am not sure that that always translates to a sense of solidarity.
Unfortunately I think that the anonymity offered by the site coupled with the narcissism or even just cruelty of some users creates a lack of solidarity on the site. I have often been upset to read clearly mean critiques of beginning artists made by users who are either more talented or simply have access to more expensive and powerful Photoshop programs.
The lack of solidarity on this and other sites can perhaps most extremely be demonstrated through persistent trolling and cyber-bullying that can be found on far too many message boards. Unfortunately, I think the sense anonymity that sites like DeviantART, YouTube, and other social media/messaging sites offer has a dehumanizing effect on the user. It seems that some users take advantage of the anonymity to say crueler or more inappropriate things that a real community would tolerate. Also the anonymity of other users often tends to cause users to forget that behind every image shared or comment posted is a real human being. A real community would share a sense of fellowship, comradeship and solidarity with other users and stand up for victims of any bullying that may occur on the site.