About popularityMany people out here, sign up to DeviantArt (or any internet art community) in order to publish their work on the internet. They've probably looked around for a while already. They saw those amazing artists that had millions of pageviews, and secretly hoped that by putting their art on the internet, they would be able to do the same. To become madly popular -- a community icon.
Well, sorry to burst your bubble; but it's probably not gonna happen. And if it's gonna happen; it's not going to be soon.
According to DeviantArt, the website has over 31 million registered users.
To have an idea how many people this is; look up the average number of people that live in your town/state/country and compare the number with that. It's a whole damn lot of people! I'm currently watching about 1000 of them; getting a lot of artwork in my inbox every day. But the number of people I'm watching is not even 1% of the total amount of people on DeviantArt. That's how big the number of people here is! Those amazing artists that have over a million pageviews, are even less than 1% of the DeviantArt community. To you, it might seem as if there are many popular artists out here. But as a matter of fact; there are only a few. The popular ones stand out. That's why you know them. But by far the largest amount of people aren't anywhere near popular. You don't know them at all, and you probably never will.
While these numbers might seem depressing, they're actually very liberating. Knowing this, it's easy to rationalize not being able to get immense popularity. I mean; with that kind of goal you haven't exactly got statistics on your side...
Popularity is a fleeting thing on DeviantArt. Being one of those 1% users often required a very precise cocktail between having good art, being social, and having people help you on the way up (because it does help if the staff puts your image on the front page). The first 2 things are things you can influence. Making good art is something you can learn. Being skilled in social media too. The last one; having people to help you on the way up -- you can't control that at all. So there's no reason to fret over that. You can't control it anyway. Why worry about it?
Even knowing the science behind all of this; it's a matter of trying and a bit of luck.
There are many people that are very skilled at making art, yet not very popular. There are people that are very social, yet not very popular (although being social is one of the most important things when it comes to popularity). And there are people that have been promoted by the staff, but still aren't well known.
What is important, is that popularity shouldn't be a goal in itself.
Because if it is; you've basically set yourself up for major disappointment.
And despite all that; being a popular person probably isn't all that fun either.
It's true that you might get a lot of feedback from people, and it's nice to hear compliments. Yet there are major downsides to it that are often underestimated by many people. Once you get reasonably known (let's say; 10.000+ watchers), you can't express everything freely anymore. Popularity comes with expectations. People are going to judge you. Your every artwork you post. To check if it's 'good enough' to justify your popularity. If not; people will be angry. The number of messages you get will explode. Prepare to answer 200+ messages a day. And if you don't answer; people will regard you as arrogant, because you "don't want to talk to them". And you'll get haters. No matter how nice you are; you'll always get haters. People love to hate on those that have accomplished things they haven't yet.
All in one; popularity isn't all that fun. It's something made big by people that haven't got it yet. Just like having a relationship is made big by desperate singles. In reality, it's not even remotely worth it to get depressed over. Seriously not.
About skillSkill is something we all want to acquire. Because art is the best when it looks exactly like the image we have in mind.
In reality; this is often not the case. Even the greatest artists out here (the pro's, that work for huge company's) struggle with this issue. So exactly what makes you think you won't ever face this problem?
Skill is something that people build over years.
It's not like you start with art, get yourself a paper and pencil, and make amazing artworks all of a sudden. No matter how much talent you have; nobody is able to pull that off. Meaning; you aren't able to pull that off either. If you want to get good at art, you have to work for it! Study anatomy, light, color, composition... and everything that applies to your type of art. Practice. Work your ass off. And don't expect results until you're at least a few months in.
No matter how intelligent you are; the human mind isn't some sort of supercomputer.
It can only pick up things so fast.
Have some patience. Don't get frustrated if it doesn't work out. Just put it down for a while and try again tomorrow. We all have good and bad days.
Instead of dwelling on things you can't do, take the time to look back and appreciate how far you've gotten already. We all move forward. But most of the time, it's hard to see. And that's what getting you frustrated.
Like popularity, skill alone shouldn't be your goal either.
It's easy to become disappointed when you judge art by skill alone. But luckily, there's more to art.
The process of creation. The interaction with other artists. The idea of actually learning something. There are so many small things to be appreciated when making art!
When you feel jammed, look at those small things, rather than the big picture. It'll make you feel comfortable and will encourage you to go on.
Have realistic expectationsHaving covered both popularity and skill, there's only expectation left.
Disappointment is an emotion coming from having your expectations set far too high. It's like expecting a new iPhone for your birthday, but all you got was an old flip phone. It's still a phone. You can still make phone calls and send messages. And at least someone was kind enough to get you something for your birthday. But it's not what you expected, so you're disappointed.
Art works the same way.
If you set your expectations too high, it will only leave you disappointed.
Have realistic expectations. You won't get professional skills in just a year. On average, it takes at least 5 years to work yourself up to a level that's good enough to get a position in the industry (this due to the high demands of the industry). And that's only when you dedicate yourself fully to art, spend all your time painting, and are serious as hell. For popularity goes the same. A while ago I started to be more active on DeviantArt, just in order to see what would happen. Yes, I have a lot of followers now. But it took me over a year to get that far. And if you take into account that I've been working in the web industry for years already, where I had all the chance to study internet and social media... then it's even a lot more years.
Having realistic expectations also means looking at yourself and your situation in life in a honest way.
Yeah... there are people that get good at art very quickly. But what did they do? And what are you able to do? Can you even begin to compare that?
I used to be really sad over the fact that many people that were (semi-)professionals all surpassed me with their quality of art. Then I realized they were painting more than 12 hours a day, while I live with a handicap that limits me to painting 1 hour a day as a maximum. No wonder that they improved much faster than I did! I couldn't even begin to approach their level of practice. I might actually praise myself for the fact that even despite they were getting 12 times as much practice, I was able to keep up at least a bit.
Not everybody is able to dedicate their selves fully to art.
Many people have obligations in life; like going to school, having a job, or taking care of kids. Some people have illnesses or handicaps that limit their time. And that's totally fine.
What isn't fine; is that we compare ourselves to people that don't have these limits. We shouldn't do that. It isn't fair to ourselves, and by doing so we're basically sabotaging our own happiness.
Yes, I realize society works in such a way that other people pass this judgement in such a way as well. However, do realize that every person that has a bit of common sense takes these kind of factors into account when judging another. If they don't, it's their lack of experience -- and it's up to you if you want to have anything to do with people that judge others like that.
Realize that people that get really good at something, often sacrifice a lot for this. Like those young, talented, sportspeople that spend their entire childhood training.
You can imagine that painting for 12 hours a day doesn't leave you much time to see friends and family, and it doesn't allow you to socialize, party, or do other things. Yes, they are very good at something, and you could be too. But are you willing to sacrifice so much for it? Despite what people think, it's not a shame to admit that you rather spend some time with family and friends, than practice every day. It's only human to do so. But if you do, accept the consequences. There's no need to feel bad or guilty about it.
Remember what got you startedWhat helped me most, when I felt depressed about my art, was thinking about the reason why I started doing art.
We all started doing art for a reason; and most of those reasons don't include mad skills or massive popularity.
We started doing art because it somehow felt right to do it.
Remember that feeling you once had when you finished a painting.
When you showed your art to your parents, your teacher, or whoever would like your painting.
It's that feeling that got you started, and it's that feeling that will keep you going! Inspirations change over time, as do fandoms. But the very reason you make art, won't change that much.
Ask people for helpLast but not least, I want to highlight the fact that DeviantArt is a community.
We are all artists, and we all have our own skills. But we're all together here, to share experiences and learn from each other.
There are many helpful people on DeviantArt. People that have invested their time in helping the community by making all kinds of helpful texts, tutorials, or lists with resources.
Make sure you check them out. They're here for free. Why not use them?
Other than that; there are many people here that take commissions or art trades.
If you feel like you can't do something yourself... why not ask a fellow artist to help you out with it? Either in exchange for money, or in exchange for something that you're good at (if the artist in question accepts that, of course).
Social interaction is the one thing that makes DeviantArt stand out from doing art on your own.
Make sure to use this feature!