Lately I have felt that deviantArt has lost some of its appeal. I can't exactly pinpoint why this feeling has hit me, but it may have something to do with Instagram. I don't want to seem ungrateful to dA, but let me explain.
I've always loved deviantArt for facilitating the connection with other similar-minded artists and how it has helped me branch out and learn from other people. Integrated print-selling services, blog-like journals and the ability to customize your page with CSS are also great features, but in the age of mobile computing I feel like dA is getting left behind. Another gripe I've had with dA is that artists are essentially selling prints in a vacuum. You are selling to other artists, who most likely don't have the expendable income to buy a $150+ canvas print. Whereas having your art found on fineartamerica.com (also know as pixels.com) or arttraffic.co.uk is a stronger possibility since these sites are designed for the art aficionado (people with money) and are well indexed on Google. (example: In the United States, a search for "print for sale dog" shows fineartamerica.com in the first 5 results. Where is dA?)
Instagram's advantages are huge. The speed with which one can upload an image, tag it, comment and connect to others is breathtaking. The inclusion of allowing video uploads takes away the elitism of video uploading for a select few on dA. "Tribes" of artists have already been established on Instagram, forming themed groups, doling out awards and recognition to those they deem worthy. It's a quick and breezy experience, and one that excites me in a way that dA used to 5-10 years ago. And let's not forget the tons of applications for Android and iOS that give users the ability to customize how images are framed and presented, including video. More and more people are making art on their phones and tablets (some of it quite impressive) and putting it on Instagram seems to be the most logical place to present it and get instant feedback.
On the other hand, Instagram is limited by a 640 x 640 pixel screen resolution and a somewhat flighty, selfie-taking audience. Seeing your art in bandwidth-crushing high resolution is something to behold, but one might consider this limitation a benefit since few are going to rip off a low-resolution image and try to sell your work on Ebay. The lack of promotional tools or the ability to sell prints is somewhat disappointing. But other services have filled these gaps and made this a moot point (i.e.: Twenty20.com)
I don't want to harp too much on dA, since it's still an amazing service. I just want to see some of the cobwebs get blown out. Maybe dA should create a separate public-friendly gateway to sell artwork, or collaborate with another print selling service. A fresher mobile site could be launched, or perhaps an app, making dA the "artist's Instagram"?
What are your thoughts?
bkenney_ on Instagram