I grew up on DeviantArt, an online community of artists and art enthusiasts. Now that might be a strange statement right there, but it’s true.

I’m not talking about spending countless hours on an art website, mindlessly clicking around. But a fulfilling experience of growing up around artists and creators; millions of them in fact.

It’s a part of the reason for who I am today. Engaging with creators, discussing art, curating them and collaborating on projects for the better part of five years shaped my sense of design. To this day I go back to my collections for inspiration.

Back in my schooling days I used to be your typical nerd-ish kid. Good grades, somewhat introverted and more of the sitting around all ghillied up creating something or gaming than being at any sort of real social gathering.

Somewhere along my –messing around on the internet– phase in 2009 (age 13) I discovered DeviantArt. This kicked off an on-again off-again relationship with the typography section of the website before I finally registered an account in 2010. Not sure why I waited that long, but considering how long it took my friends to convince me to setup a Facebook account, this was a quick conversion.

My first digital art piece on DeviantArt was created from scratch by following countless photoshop tutorials and many failed attempts. Learning to use blurs, flares and painting out dots with the brush tool…

The first two to three years on the community forced me to get better. Improve my art (or my desperate attempt at it) by creating one after another with little improvement inbetween. In the process I also fit in; to those admiring the super-talented, to the many community organizers, the critique writers, creators and niche interest groups the bigger community was built of.

The entrepreneur in me now has a lot of admiration for the product that is DeviantArt and the effort put in by the company to nurture this community – the hearts that pumps the activity into lifeless software – that’s taken a life of its own. It truly is a rare synergy.

I joined DeviantArt with the desire to create. I’ve just begun to love the process and feeling of building something out of nothing. It started with writing art features and curating good art and quickly transitioned to a magazine published with the support of some amazingly talented artists who offered to write, and even let me use their artwork for the first edition. That was also my first pseudo-step into entrepreneurship.

Designn: a magazine that started off as a micro-project on DeviantArt and grew to a non-profit venture with members from around the world, spreading creativity around the world.

Of course there have been the rare trolls and tough critiquers who in the moment have shred me of my artistic confidence. But it also exposed me to different perspectives, and in most cases forced healthy improvement. It’s helped me think from other people’s shoes in a creative sense – something that’s important when you build things for more than just yourself.

DeviantArt has always been a place that judges you on what you do. Your age, where you come from or anything else doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s through the veil of privacy behind a username or the simple nature of these communities it’s helped a lot of people express their creativity, share their ideas and grow far beyond their capabilities.

I’m forever thankful for the amazing people I’ve met on DeviantArt. The things we’ve been able to create together and all the reasons that led me to their corner of the inter-web.

– Stay devious.

Find me on DeviantART at ujz.deviantart.com

Featured image on post by Martina StipanTree Swing

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