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It's been quite a while since I wrote a preachy "THINK ABOUT YO' ART"-type journal, and some of my newer watchers may not know that this is a particular(ly annoying) habit of mine.  This is a subject I've had on my mind for quite some time for a number of reasons, and it's recently coalesced into a semi-soluble form so here we go.  (As an aside- this journal does have some recycled ideas from a previous post of mine, but obviously I hadn't really said everything I wanted to on the subject.)

It's no mystery that I love this website.  I came in at the tail end of the pre-critique wonder years, when the internet discovered and exploited that, yes, we don't always produce the highest quality art here.  There's a lot of unpleasantness directed towards DeviantArt.  At RISD, I made a point to never mention that I had an account here, because of the looks of disgust I would get haha and people would think about me differently.  It was something to be ridiculed over.  

I honestly think we're entering a new phase, though.  There are a lot of professional artists joining up on DA, recognizing it for a fantastic way to interact with other people in a language we all speak.  It's a combination of a portfolio website and Facebook, and it's ahead of its time and it's fantastic.  I no longer hide from anyone that I am a very active member here, and every single honest-to-god work offer I've gotten has come directly from my connections on this site.

However, like I said, I think we're entering a new phase, and I have some thoughts.

If you're a creative person and you have a facebook, you have undoubtedly read Ira Glass's poignant quote about taste.  If you need a refresher:


"What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take awhile. It's normal to take awhile. You've just gotta fight your way through."

God bless you, Ira Glass.  I mean, the man works in radio and speaks well for a living, so nothing I can say after that is going to be quite as affecting.  Acknowledging everything he's just said and after meditating on if for months, I've got to say that I don't entirely agree with him.  I don't think anything he's said is incorrect, but I do believe that there's another side, which he didn't really get to: taste development.  

"Taste Level" is one of those phrases bandied about in art school and no one can really put their finger on it but they know it's something we're all aiming for.  

Shall we take a look at what I considered my "best to date" 5 years ago?  best of 2006 by toerning

You know that "Draw This Again!" meme?  Those honest to god alarm me.  If I were to "draw this again" with the piece I posted above, the right panel would be empty, because I no longer believe it's worth drawing.  Not to get down on the subject matter or anyone who likes it.  

I could easily say this ditty: Ardee's Getting Crunk by toerning is a recent and very similar piece.  Lurchy posture, focus on pretty lady, lots of hair, lack of explicit storyline, indulgence in the media.  The thing is, that drawing was done in an hour, and almost not shared at all because it is so far from the level of finish I usually require from myself.  That purple drawing, on the other hand, I slaved over for DAYS.  DAYS.  And it was my MASTERPIECE.  

I'm trying to say I'm not immune. I obviously maintain plenty of the same visual fetishes that I had 5 years ago.  However.  I no longer think "pretty lady, big hair" merits an illustration, I now recognize that those are simple aesthetic soft spots of mine, in which I allow myself to indulge every once in a while when, for instance, I'm on vacation.  And there are certain items of questionable taste I'll NEVER grow out of: Fanart, cleavage, backlighting.  God knows I work them in whenever possible.

The thing is, I have yet to see a "Draw This Again!" meme that makes any notable changes to composition, content, or impact of the work.  Is a person's ability to draw more convincing clothing folds or a more roguish grin evidence of what they have accomplished in their last two+ years of artistic development?  This is a matter of taste, and we are limiting ourselves.

Defenders of DeviantArt (such as myself) like to say that we encourage each other to improve, but it is my opinion that we also perpetuate bad habits and insulate ourselves against real-world standards.  Taste is a big deal.  And as a community, we don't have the best taste.  We allow ourselves to draw sketchbooks full of faces and measure our improvement by how many times we had to erase the eyelashes before they looked right.  We balk at the idea of considering composition, of learning color theory, of trying to put story into our works, because it's a vast and unfamiliar ocean and it's comfy here in the shade of the DA umbrella.  We convince ourselves we don't WANT to do that stuff, anyway, this is just for fun, and if we wanted to do complete illustrations, we would!

Well maybe this is true and I don't mean to criticize hobbyists, and obviously I used to follow this exact code of conduct, but even those of us who are genuinely content to just practice running poses or angry faces should accept that there is a greater standard of taste outside of DA and we are willfully shutting it out.

Taste Level is the doorway through which we peek at every Skill aspect.  DeviantArt has programmed us to see Expression, Posing, and Media through the tiny crack in between the door and the frame and to think that's all that's there.  But if we were to open that door, there is just so much more behind it.  Skill is only one part of artistic development.  Yes, skill encompasses technique, anatomy, expression, composition, value, narrative, anything else you can think of.  But without Taste, we would ignore all of that in favor of a really stellar pair of eyebrows.  

I don't want to close with any aggressive demands like "it's time to man up" or whatever, but now you know my thoughts, and I'm looking forward to hearing anything you guys have to say.  Thanks for reading.
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Macabeak Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012   Digital Artist
Wow, I needed this and read it at exactly the right stage of me pushing myself. Thank you!!!
BooSchnoo Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, so true. I totally do what you've described, in terms of most of my artwork (whenever I make the time to actually do it) consists of the same old faces that I did four years ago. This journal has seriously given me a boost to reconsider my artistic work ethic, especially in terms of the level I wish to achieve with each piece and not just having a "that'll do" attitude. This was a very interesting read. Thanks! :)
TRDLcomics Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
I've read this three times now. Very well articulated.
portheiusJ Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2012  Professional Artist
Yes. I think it might just be a common thing that you're getting at here. A person can't really make a project if they never start it after-all.
Perhaps it's mostly due to the fact (generally speaking) that deviantArt seems to be more interested in the process than the final work. I can't really say that I'm best at it, but I tend to force myself to doing projects rather than just playing about with the idea! Can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say they have a great idea and then never get farther than that. I can't be that person I guess...
I'm kinda rambling a bit now. Agreeing with your thoughts basically.
xRoxyryokox Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012
I completely agree with this. I am going to a University with an animation program and although I haven't improved as much as I like due to the way the program is set up (lots of essays, tests) and am unfortunately grouped with a bunch of animation majors who don't seem to really like art, I have met several inspiring students and teachers here who I think impacted my taste. And when I talked to the artists I used to know in high school they hard nothing in common with me anymore. I used to really like the anime style, but more and more my taste has moved away from it and I much more like characters with interesting silhouettes and exaggerated shapes. My friends and me were talking about a possible wicked movie. And I mentioned that I had really liked character designs that Elsa Chang did, but my friends didn't like the "funny" look.
Personally I think my taste changed for the better. Although it means I'm never satisfied with anything I do anymore!

I really like the art you post here because its so different from the status quo here. And I think I never would have found your art if it was on another site. : )
tguillot Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012  Student General Artist
This really makes me think.
I remember when I first started drawing (i'm only a junior in highschool, and i started around 5th grade. I'm still not where I want to be with my art.) I was so happy with my terribly-proportioned-3rd-grader-drew-it-anime-scribbles. now, if i can even make myself look at those, i always wionder what i was thinking and how i thought that looked good. I'm still going through that today, and i'll prolly be doing it for many years. As i've improved, my taste level has definitely changed. However I can't say that I do not do alot of the same thing. I want to try to, but i feel my skill level isnt good enough, and that i need to learn more in art class about it. I also need to look more at my surroundings. study the world... even if you didnt say that "its time to man up" it has made me think to myself that it is that time.

Thank you for writing this! :3
ninkira Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012  Student General Artist
Shit son, the amount of respect I have for you right now is reaching sky-high. Thank you for writing this, even if it is reiterating an older topic of yours! I agree this is a very important aspect we should address in our work we decide to post on DeviantART. I go to the front page of DA and glance over the art there and think, 'this is not why I am on this website. Ignore this'. Also, further perpetuating media's stereotypical representation of 'beauty' (aka hair, cleavage, pretty face) isn't interesting or healthy for our own perceptions of self-worth and beauty as well since it is usually not real and unattainable! (Of course, any other representation could be equally as fantastical in retrospect, but hey at least it breaks out of the mold of the same thing we see over and over). It is great to be on this website and see and learn from inspiring works.
But I agree that DA is kind of like Facebook for artists. The crowds we get are varying and there are a lot of different ways to use this website.
perfect-tea Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Why is this a journal and not an article. People should read this. It more articulately says what I've been saying all these years about concepts > "skill" (which is such a vague term). Well done, thanks for your thoughts. <3
toerning Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012
haha, thank you! Rhetorical though your question might have been, I actually have an answer which is that I don't really believe that bludgeoning the public with my rather strong ideals is really the best way to spread my thoughts. With journals, I feel safe knowing that only the people who have volunteered to watch me are subjected to my rants- pushing this kind of thing upon a larger community results in the kind of political drama which ceases to become about the content and turns into a dissection of the personality of the author.

In any case, I am very glad you found it helpful. :heart:
perfect-tea Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's... very true! I think similarly about my own opinions, but forget to put other's into the same context. There -are- some who respond well to a stranger's strong ideals, but as this is DA, and we are all opinionated babies... I totally understand. Wise choice. c:
elmenora Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Student General Artist
There's a big difference between drawing "just for fun" and drawing to make things the best they can be. It's kind of like how a lot of people will go play sports with friends, but wouldn't want the pain that comes with being a professional athlete. A lot of folks on DA draw just because they like to doodle, and that's fine.

But a lot of people THINK they're doing something more. They want to do art for a living, but don't want to break out of their comfort zone.... which just won't work.
elmenora Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Student General Artist
Haha, and I'm definitely one of those people ;P Only just now starting to reeeeally kick myself in the rear and draw.
FatPurpleBird Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I must say, I realized I needed to improve greatly because I "opened the door" and saw behind it. Although, like you said, DA is improving and entering a new phase because of the increase on quality work from professional artists, there is still a big gap and a long way to go for people to actually step beyond their own boundaries. For this, "mea culpa", I admit I went along with the bandwagon of DA for far too long.

But this site is great and so, personally, I will take advantage of it while demanding much more from myself. So yes, I believe what you said is something people tend to ignore, forget or just don't think about.
ATadMad Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for writing!
I really love reading things like this however very guilty I am of everything haha
well said!
project-epic Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2012  Student Filmographer
Everything has it's place
Xiao-Hua Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Student General Artist
Man, I am so glad we can fav journals now :'D
I love the points you make--especially because they describe the me of a few years ago.
I'm still a person who largely draws out of "hobby" but... I think at the same time, by coupling it with curiosity, it isn't a bad thing. Not so much "I want to become the best in my field at ___!" but "I wonder what would happen if I tried ___..."
I sometimes feel bad about how carefree I am regarding my own artwork though--I'm enrolled at Massart, and I feel like I'm not half as serious as my peers.
But one thing is for sure, from many of the artists I have met on this website years ago, over time I'm seeing all of their tastes develop and their work become stronger pieces, both conceptually and in impact. A lot of people join this site when they're young, and as they mature, so does their art, I suppose? It's also an interesting and exciting thing to watch :>
As this website ages, I feel the strength of the artistic side of this community will only grow to match the social~
Tannerama Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Professional Filmographer
I personally have noticed an insane level of improvement in my personal work and I have to get some of the artists on DA credit for that. I realized thanks to DA that I can't just get by on so so drawings. I realized that I need to push myself in terms of both concept and execution. And I wasn't really acquiring any new skills. It was just not being lazy. It was pushing myself. Take a turn through my gallery and you can kind of see that there were certain spots where I (for lack of a better term) "level up" in terms of execution, and I have to credit DA with some of that. A lot of it was just drawing everyday. But, the motivation that made me want to draw everyday came from seeing all of the wonderful artists on here and wanting to have good, well-thought out pieces like they do.

However, I find it tough to find new wonderful artists because there is so much chaff to sort through. And that's where the whole taste issue that you mentioned above comes into play. I can't tell you the last time I went to the main page of DA and found an artist that really blew me away(not saying it never could happen, just saying I haven't been able to do it in a while). Ask yourself this, would you/could you recommend to someone to just go to the DA main page and look around? I couldn't. It's because we, as a community, need to try to look at our work applied to "real world standards".

Anyway, I'm rambling, I loved this post. I actually did a "draw this again" and it was a "level up" moment for me.
yourbigbrowneyes Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012
Very inspirational, thank you! I have a lot to say about this but I'll try to get down as much as my rambling mind can manage: I always thought I was one of the only ones that noticed that a lot of artists love to avoid dA. I mean, after being on Tumblr, I just noticed that there were bigger and in a sense better artists/pieces "out there" than there was here (whether it be blogger, tumblr, etc). And I think that's because those artists create from a whole other dimension, it's art that you wouldn't normally find here - it was independent so to speak, and didn't have the normal dA influences we usually encounter. I think what those artists that tend to ignore dA don't realize is that dA is dominantly made up of young people trying to find themselves in their art, their sense of style, TASTE!, and talent. You're a perfect example of that! That old piece you created is something you'll always be proud of, and you've proven that you're taste has improved and so has your talent. But young artists here have to stay strong by avoiding getting ALL ideas or style influences from dA; they need to let their own unique touch or thoughts shine through. I know I and basically everyone has fallen victim to this at one time or another.

But really, are people really getting that petty by basically bashing a community of practically millions of people? It doesn't matter what site you go on, when you're looking at an artist, for those moments you're eyes are solely on that one person and you're judgement of where their portfolio is located shouldn't matter. Compare it to real life: you should care only about your home and what goes on inside it, and not what crazy shenanigans your're neighbours are doing, right? I always used to worry about what site I'd end up on as an artist and frankly you've given me the answer ;) .

Illustration, honest to god, is such a scary, scary career to dive into, at least for someone like me in high school. I just know I have to try! I always love hearing what you have to say (and of course show) :heart:, thanks again!
DiiaR Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Lovely, journal and I agree completely, with you and with many of the deviants/comments as well, especially :iconlieserl: and :iconeshva:.

I think the "Draw This Again" meme is a little... useless. What's the point of re-doing a picture again, if you're going to keep everything as it was? Maybe if you went for a story or a feeling or some sort of expression that you wanted to draw before and failed, and trying to capture it again, then sure. If it's a technical error, like anatomy or something, then just fix it or remember as a mistake for another time. But then don't call it "draw it again". Re-drawing the same thing again without giving much thought to anything is really pointless. It's like trying to act cool when you're really not. I know the point is to show progress, but instead of drawing the same thing again, why don't you show it on a new and amazing piece which will show what you've learned and shine on it's own.

I'm pretty sure I have more opinions on this, but my brain is a little hazy, and I'm not even sure if that up there is coherent enough.
Thanks for the journal, it shows that someone is actually paying attention to important things in art, instead of the usual dA drama. :heart:
Palidoozy Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
This is actually an awesome blog post. I've never really been encouraged to do those "draw this again!" meme things until this, because you bring up a good point--improvement isn't just the ability to draw better, it's changing what you really feel and care about in art, too. Composition, lighting, flow--those are all incredibly different aspects of putting a picture together that I think few people consider when making those memes.
schmami Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I was just going to comment on this saying, "I wish you could favorite journal entries, because this is fantastic," but then I noticed you actually can favorite journal entries - huzzah!
I've never really given much thought to taste before, but you put it so well here. This is kind of a reminder to me of what I've gained as an artist by taking foundations courses at art school, and it also makes me want to improve my personal artwork.
Thank you for writing this!
athas Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional Artist
How refreshing to see such a well-written, well-thought out essay from an artist who really "gets" it. DA is a great resource for people who want to learn and grow, if they're serious about pushing their skills and growing as artists. I even landed some freelance work with a client in the UK who happened to take notice of my DA page.

That said, I still don't feel completely comfortable sharing the face that I'm a DA member with others. The DA community, by and large, is really being held back by young people (and some adults) who are obsessed with Japanese cartoons, cartoon ponies, llamas, and other things that don't bear mentioning. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but what makes it bad is the fact that many of these people aren't even interested in developing their skills and getting better. They're just here to post the same flat lifeless sketch or MS paint of Sonic the Hedgehog, and revel in the expected "OMG SO AWESOME!" comments. And don't you dare post any criticism. No matter how polite you try to be, crit is just flaming/trolling. "Yeah, well, that's just my style lol." Throw any of these kids into a university-level figure drawing course and they'd be crying in ten minutes. So much safer to stay in their DA hugbox and keeping doing the same safe things.

That's why it's so great to see work like yours here, *toerning. You recognize that to be an artist is to constantly strive to make yourself better, and the work you've shared proves it. Not only that, but it inspires guys like me to do better. I see your work and I just want to start drawing. I hope more visitors see this journal entry, because every DA member can learn from it.
Marmotic Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Your "THINK ABOUT YO' ART"-type journals are the only reason that i keep updated with your journals, you're serious and passionate about your work and that comes through in these 'preachy' polemics, and its great to witness such resolute passion on D.A.

As for taste, well, i have to agree with the quotation you cited, taste is the trap, a comfortable trap, the trap of comfort, and one i think has to be challenged as often as possible.

Personally speaking, i have made it part of my artistic practice to investigate the artists and works i do not like just as much as researching those who appeal to me... sometimes (most times) it is the works that initially rail against your sensibilities and your sense of taste that have more to teach you than those that you already know that you like.

Suiting your taste only reaffirms what you already believe, challenging your taste opens new possibilities for learning.

In this way i have learned to respect the work of many artists whose work i initially dismissed but which now count among my favorites and have proved to be major influences on my own development.
Tirael Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is the third reply I've tried writing to your journal post.
I can't properly express what I want to say, so I'll just say "thank you" for the reminder on what's important to me as an artist.
Metraxus Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
very inspiring :) maybe it is time to think more about my drawings and paintings other than what looks nice ;)
pireh Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I really enjoyed reading this! I thought kinda the same when I read Ira Glass' quote on tumblr, but you just put it to words perfectly! haha
Really thought-provoking (:
mscorley Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
well said, and I've never read that Ira Glass quote so thank you for sharing
KingJackalope Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I've been trying to enter the big, scary worlds of color theory and real media. I'm constantly floored by how much I just don't know. Reading James Gurney's books have been a humbling experience. However, the flip side is that it's really exciting and they are powerful tools once I learn them. Lighting, color, composition, they open up a whole new world of expression.

Sometimes it feels like I'm standing on the edge of a vast ocean of knowledge and I'm about to try and cross it in a dingy. Sometimes I really wonder 'Am I smart enough to actually learn this?" but I have to try. Because when I look at my art and think that something's missing, that's what that 'something' is. It's very encouraging and terrifying at the same time. Anyway, sorry to ramble. This is a very good and thought provoking journal!
Finnguala Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I was wondering whether you could suggest some reading material. I have come to a point where I really need to read some theory if I want to improve. I just don't know where to start or where to look. The things I struggle most with are composition and perspective. Thanks in advance for your time/help.
KingJackalope Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Those are areas I am trying to work on as well! I do have a few recommendations.

For composition "Picture this- How pictures work" by Molly Bang is good. It seems simplistic, but is a nice introduction to the subject. Here is a link to a partial PDF so you can see how you feel about it: [link]

The best book on composition I have personally read is 'Framed Ink' by Marcos Mateu-Mestre. Its focus is largely on storyboards, but the information would translate well to any visual medium.

As for perspective, I know this sounds like a joke but I thought 'How to draw comics the Marvel way' was a great ultra beginner's intro to the subject. It's playful, uses simple language, and doesn't assume any prior knowledge. You can also probably find it at a library or used very cheap. It has a lot of work with simple shapes that I found helpful. (Although it is only a small chapter of the book.)

From there I read 'The complete guide to perspective' by John Raynes. It starts fairly simple and works up to some seriously complicated stuff.

Of those books, Framed Ink is the most useful I think. I hope that's helpful to you. I'm far from an expect on the subject. =3
Finnguala Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! Now I have somewhere to start!
KingJackalope Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're quite welcome! Best of luck to you! =3
KingJackalope Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Also mentioning again the James Gurney books "Imaginative Realism" and "Color and Light" though neither are about perspective and only touch on composition. He also has a great blog Gurney Journey- [link]

His passion and excitement for art is contagious! He's sure to get you fired up.
Calcitrix Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Well said. And Ira Glass...*hearts*

I haven't uploaded to my gallery in some time...mostly because much of the work I've done in the last several months is so similar to what's already in my gallery. I feel as though the things I post elsewhere--fanart, mostly--is a mix of comfort work, things drawn for someone else, or something I know will get comments from people who like the characters, regardless of actual artistic merit. At the same time, I'm in that gap, but aware of it, and trying to step past it.

What I love about dA is that I can browse art for pieces that resonate with me and evaluate why they do that. Some of them, yes, are just because they are "pretty," but I like to think that I can also learn what works and what doesn't. That rarely has anything to do with the filters I can put on the "popular in X amount of time" front page.

So yes, thank you for putting so eloquently something I've been feeling but hadn't quite put into words.
Dannnn Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Very interesting! And so eloquently put :}
mlauritano Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Professional General Artist
You're totally right of course. But I'm sure you also realize that the democratic structure of this site means that it often seeks to please the lowest common denominator. Maybe it's pretentious or cynical of me, but I don't really have much faith that many of those fancy clothes wrinkle people have the will or interest or passion to develop and grow in the ways you're talking about. From my experience, the smallest fraction of the creative community, even in the RISD illustration department, really is dying to dig deep in to their picture and think about everything it's trying to say.

We live in a world where quick flashes of beauty or humor are constantly thrown in our faces. And if you're an illustrator who doesn't conform to that mode and style, who is intellectually and emotionally invested with soulful, time-consuming pictures, then a whole lot of art directors and professionals want to dismiss you as a fine artist. As if bringing illustration to the level of fine art was a bad thing!

I guess there's no harm in trying to tell people here to use their brains--clearly some of the people who commented here really take it to heart. But I have a sneaking feeling that this is a losing battle, even if it's one you, I, and others have to fight.
Kierach Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
Yes. Oh nice I can fav journals.
This is also the thing why I went away from very skill-oriented communities like Conceptart dot org.
Latley I'm bored to death by most internet communities and mostly only enjoy the professional or the really weird art. And the people of course C:.

Here's a nice article which tackles a similair topic as described in your journal entry, but it takes the idea further:
It's about unknown unknowns - about ignorance to the possibilities that exist.


(I just agree with you here, just describe the limits for taste growth that I see on Deviantart:)
One big drawback for artists who stay and rely too much on Deviantart is that it hinders the understanding of different kinds of art - Due to the internet format and the short attention span things can only be presented in small morsels. DA is really homogenic and excludes art which is best understood outside the interent (like sculptures, the tactileness of thick layers of paint, the size limitations, the presentation in galleries, performance art, seeing the artist in context with his or her art). It also excludes the commercial context of art and the form which is has to take out of necessity (the requirements for the character design for games and animation, the expectation from the editorial illustration market to finish a picture in under two hours after the client's call) and the better forms of story telling and long-time commitment to a project (sure the comic Blankets has nice art but what makes it stand out is the story - which is told in almost 600 pages. The same goes for Maus - who would read such an ugly looking style with such a heavy theme on Deviantart?). There's also no historical context of art on Deviantart, this is something which can be only experienced through living it, or reading books, watching movies or going to galleries. And without knowledge of the roots things stay without a history, without a subtext.
Especially a lack of subtext bores me, this is a little example on a common motive: On Da I sometimes see the motive of Saint Sebastian repeated, a sexy guy impaled by arrows. The artist likes to draw bleeding men and was probably a bit emo or in a phase of self-pity as he or she drew it. What these pictures lack compared to oldschool images of the saint is the context that these are mainly religious images but have the underlying layer of homoerotic men bodies in bondage. This makes the old pictures more witty, it reflects something that is so deeply human and says something about the people who did this/commissioned it.
maria-mar Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
I can relate to most of what you said... especially everything related to trying to outgrow myself.
This made me think and will definitely help...
Thanks for sharing your views <3
pantsreminder Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Student General Artist
I know exactly what you're talking about. I've been going through my favorites from just a year or two ago and thinking "why did I like this again?"
str4yk1tt3n Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012
So I think this is all based upon what you are in the community for. I, personally, am a huge lover of DA. I came into it with a love of art but still at a very ...mediocre skill level. But because of the openness of the community it was somewhere I felt confidant enough to post my work and get feedback (and no, not a lot of harsh critiques, but then again, at that stage I needed encouragement more than I needed my work torn apart) and a place where I could seen artists of high skill levels to which I could aspire to...and as a result, I DID end up pushing myself and eventually going to art school, and now, as a professional, I DO try to work on things like composition/color theory/concept, etc. I also try to draw eyelashes without erasing them 500 times.
But the thing is, and someone...I don't recall who...posted about the topic a while back, I think, in regards to getting critiques, basically saying that, if you are looking to improve, looking to really pursue a career in art or what have you, then you need to push yourself, get critiques, LISTEN to the critiques and not be a cry baby if someone thinks you need to improve in some area. On the other hand, if you are just a hobbiest, and you just like drawing, for example, pretty girls with big hair? Go for it. Learning and improving ARE hard and stressful and if you don't want that, if you are happy drawing predictable but pretty compositions and your favorite anime characters, that is FINE.

I guess, what I'm saying about the DA community is of the things I love about it is that you can be a member of the community no matter what your skill level, no matter whether you draw political cartoons or stunning original compositions or shabby doodles of video game characters. I've looked at other art communities and often was intimidated by the fact that everyone seemed to be a very talented either professional or aspiring professional, and gave harsh critiques only and it was a scary scary place. Deviant Art is welcoming. It has resources and inspiration for those looking to go forward, but if you just want to dick around with painter and look at anthro porn, that's okay too.
romantogob Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012   Traditional Artist
Finnguala Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It's funny that you should post this journal at this exact time. I'm quite unhappy with the things I've produced lately and decided yesterday that if I want to improve as an artist I need to stop doodling nothing but Benedict's face and focus on the things that I haven't mastered yet. I need to take a break from DeviantART because it tempts me to do shitty fan art so I get lots of favs. It is time to man up. Thanks!
mishelin Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
commoner-pocky Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Wow, probably the most well-written, insightful journal I've read on dA in a long while. I agree, I need to develop both my taste level and my skills; and dA does not really encourage branching out. An original work of mine can get maybe 100 faves, a lesser piece of fanart, 500. Why is that? I do try to challenge myself creatively and upload for the sake of having a personal portfolio now, though I must admit it can sometimes be difficult.
perushinkov Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What I just read will remain with me!

P.S. If I ever sense something like that happening I will recall what you said, and try exploring new corners of my taste and pushing it further!
blix-it Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012
Definitely an enjoyable journal entry!

Notably, it interests me that RISD students or professors actively frowned upon DA. While you were going to RISD, I was going to SCAD. There was some eye rolling at DA, but mostly it was regarded as a facebook. Go do it if its fun. If it isn't fun, it's a time wasting pit.

The self improvement memes I've always thought of as being self indulgent gloating. XD Which is fun enough and has a place, building self esteem, nothing wrong with being proud of improved fabric wrinkles - but I've never done one because it seems useless. 8( Too many other things that need to be drawn. Did that image years ago. Bored. Moving on.
Reluin Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012
I don't have much constructive to say, except I always really love reading these journals, great things to think about! Very true stuff, although the nice side of not having high standards is no one feels too intimidated. Great for beginners, less great for the really serious people.
Eshva Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Not feeling up to digging through comments, so if it's been said before, I apologize, but: what's important to recognize is that here on DA, there seems to be a particular *kind* of image that others will love. Like a guaranteed formula to get you watchers and comments. I'm pretty sure it goes like "pretty girl + cool clothes/hair + cool pose" and anything else is up for grabs. Double points if it's fan art. Of course we all want validation, and drawing specifically what will appeal to the DA mentality is an easy way to get it. I'm not jealous or trying to point fingers, but take for example, `charlie140588 : her art is BEAUTIFUL, I'm not saying otherwise, but I get so bored looking through her gallery because once you've seen one image of hers, you've seen them all. I'm only naming names because she's a perfect example. I guess it's mostly due to the culture here, and the fact that everyone seems to be a teenage girl? Or so it seems. So my point is... it's hard to develop taste, as you say, in an environment where the exact same kind of picture will always gain you more comments and fave than an original, skillful work. The mentality of "pretty girl + cool clothes/hair + cool pose" is just too prevalent, and that kind of this is was will get young artists the views they crave - so many won't break free of it for a long long time, if at all.
mickeythewicked Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012
I definitely agree that DA users tend to be sheltered from the real world of art. And yet, if Deviant Art users were more ambitious about composition/environment, I might not have joined (at age 12) in the first place, and thus I might not have pushed myself into art at a young age.
Right now I'm working on a couple "then and nows" and I'm definitely trying to engage environment and story and composition, but it's just so tempting to indulge in having a character standing around with a snarky look in a blank space.
Dreamflite Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2012  Student General Artist
I found Ira Glass' remarks particularly interesting (not that you aren't, they just happened to be what I needed to hear right now).

I find myself hating a lot of what I draw, or how I compose photographs, or my inability to just DO certain things that pop into my head. And yet people look at what I've done and are amazed, impressed, whatever.

It's heartening to know that the inability to meet my own expectations does not automatically equal failure on a grand scale or as an artist. As someone who does this on a hobby level, I'll be trying to put more effort into learning how the mechanics of art operate, rather than staying frustrated with my inabilities. There's no sense complaining about something that is completely fixable.
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