Once upon a time on deviantART, I was kind of a big deal.
Now, I am hardly a bargain, though I am acquaintances with several big deals.
But for reasons, I have been hanging around this website for a solid ten years.
It began with drawings, I suppose. An acquaintance wanted to show me some of his own drawings, and he had hosted it on deviantart, which was a very different beast at that time.
In the summers my family would go to a cottage on a lake in a rural area, and besides reading, I found that the most entertaining thing I could do was make art.
One of the first serious paintings that I did was and is probably still my most popular:
I know it's not a technical masterpiece, but I would have been 15, I think, when I painted it.
The imagery has stuck with me, and it became like a kind of touchstone for me in all of my creative endeavours.
I had also been drawing on a pretty regular basis at school, and produced this:
I guess, as a theme, I was working through ideas about wasted potential and loss of innocence - which I still think are themes I use in my work.
I also wrote some poetry and short stories, most of which are embarrassing.
In 2004, I was given my first digital point-and-shoot camera as a high-school graduation gift.
I used it very frequently to take photos of scenery and my girlfriend at the time. Most of those have also been stored or deleted.
I think of them as practice for what was to come later.
Here's another early photo that was rather popular at the time.
One of the key moments in my history with deviantART was when my relationship with the aforementioned girlfriend ended, and I needed to express myself. Besides taking some somewhat artsy self-portraits that would be written off as selfies by today's standards, I asked an acquaintance I had only just met whether she'd be interested in posing for my first real nude shoot. I had always wanted to do get into that, because it seemed to me that if I had a palette of paint with every colour of the rainbow on it, and I had never used red before, it would be pretty foolish not to use red. (Red is nudity, apparently).
However, here's where things get dramatic:
Not long after I took those photos, and put them onto deviantART, the model put one or two of them onto her Facebook account (this was 2006, I believe) thereby alerting pretty much everyone she knew that she was naked on the internet. Her parents threatened that they wouldn't help with her next year of tuition for school unless I removed them, and of course I did - but I wasn't very happy about it. Besides that, a shitstorm of humiliation was rained upon me on account of the location of the shoot, but that's another story.
But anyhoo, I wanted to pursue more of that kind of photography with more people, and I did - though I refused to do the shooting in any setting I couldn't control, which meant that my next few nude shoots occurred in my dorm room:
One was an acquaintance I knew through that first girl, and the other was my best friend of the time, who had been experimenting with nude self portraits anyway, and so I asked her. These sets gained me lots of watchers, faves, and views, and I realized then the power of boobs on deviantART. The more boobs, the more fans.
So, naturally, nobody ever agreed to shoot nudes with me again, and I shifted my focus.
I tried to get more involved with the community by joining a chatroom on dAmn.
The one I joined was #UnknownPhotography, and i made a few friends there, and sank a lot of time into just sitting in there chatting.
Unfortunately, the life kinda died from that chat, and though I stuck around, eventually I gave up on it.In 2008
, I bought myself a slightly better point-and-shoot, and used it frequently to document the walks I took with my girlfriend and her dog:
As you can see, she was a freckly redhead (though, in truth, her hair was "dirty-dishwater blonde") and my appreciation for those two qualities led me to start a feature in my deviantART journal where I'd post photos I'd collected and favourited that featured people with freckles. I did something like 30 of those features before I ran out of steam on it, but doing that got me the chance to co-found the group redheads-n-freckles
, where we still feature real
redheads and freckles in photography and art (to the exclusion of all others)!
Eventually, one of my self portraits garnered the attention of a model I'd been following, Carla Johnson - a unique and beautiful 65 year old woman who had decided to enter the world of nude modelling. She was also quite an intelligent and interesting blogger, and contacted me via dA to interview me about my self portrait for her blog. I answered her questions, and through keeping up with her blog and commenting on it, I made a few more friends and acquaintances in the nude photography community.
Also around that time, I discovered the self portraits of create-illusions
, and after communicating a bit on deviantART, we became very close friends, and these many years later, we still communicate on a daily basis. I have never met my best friend, but deviantART is where I found her.
In 2010, I bought myself my first dSLR, which I'm still using.
Just for the sake of brevity, I will sum up this section by explaining that I tend to go through cycles of productivity, with maybe four legitimate photoshoots per year, interspersed with self portraits as ideas come to me. That cycle has basically continued to this day.
I'd like to think my style and skills are evolving and improving, and I use the self portrait as sort of a way-marker for where and who I am in my life.
deviantART has facilitated that evolution and growth, and while I've never really hit it big or got much back, I feel like it's the place I am most comfortable just... putting my work.
While it's not the same place it was ten years ago - or 14 years ago, for that matter - it's still a place I love.