Online Artistic Communities and Their Impact
Last year, the very popular online artistic community CGHub.com was disbanded. My heart broke a little when I saw this, because I recalled just how much of an impact sites like this had on me as a young artist.
It began with Neopets, where art contests and “pet pages” were the thing to get you noticed. Basically, you gave your character a mild back-story and drew cute pictures of their little mutant animal selves for which got you in-game rewards, and built out-of-game friendships. After “graduating” from Neopets, I discovered that the popular 2D MMORPG Ragnarok Online had spawned an offshoot forum site called Go-Gaia. Gaia appealed to those who liked building elaborate dolls, or avatars, that reflected the user. Again, in-game currency to buy these fancy additions to an avatar’s build could be garnered in drawing other people’s creations, and having them pay you for your work. People put so much time and effort into making their avatars unique, and I absolutely loved celebrating that through illustrations.
In tandem with these two smaller ventures was the big kahuna of my artistic growth, Deviantart. Deviantart remains one of the top artistic community forum sites on the internet today. The vastness and variety of artists participating make it a limitless pool of open-sourced knowledge, from hobbyist to professional, and offers great inspiration for beginners, or those just looking to improve. Through exploring Deviantart, I learned about such groundbreaking tools as WACOM tablets, Photoshop painting techniques, Copic markers, and Flash animation. It’s hard to say whether I would have still discovered these things on my own without the help of the forums and community on Deviantart, but I certainly wouldn’t have utilized them as quickly.
This bring us back to CGHUB, a site which I considered to be a gamut of artistic talent and insight into the 2D and 3D world of creation. While CGHub’s disbandment had little to do with lack of community support, it brings up how important these sites are, especially after they have left such a big impact. Without sites like this when I was growing up, I would be an entirely different artist, and I imagine for other young, growing blossoms of creative energy, the same could be said, more so than ever in this digital age.
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