Many college students are familiar with websites such as Myspace and Facebook, but there are other online communities out there. These sites can range anywhere from fan sites to art, writing, or music communities. There is a forum for just about anything. Through my numerous years on the internet, I’ve been a member of multiple communities.
In my early teen years, the sites I visited were mostly fan sites. I signed on and talked with people who liked the same bands and television shows that I did. Now, I think I’ve graduated from that.
Instead, I go for the art sites. These sites are geared more towards meeting other people with a similar passion, getting inspiration, comments, and criticism. Yes, sometimes you do get criticism, but in all honesty criticism is the only way to get better.
Currently I am a member of a site called deviantart.com. I love the site. I am not the most talented photographer, but I put my photos up anyway. The site has a wide range of artists, from those who, like me, consider it a hobby to those who consider it a lifestyle. Some are younger than me and better than I’ll ever be, but the best feeling is when someone questions a piece, or adds it to their favorites.
I’ll give you a hint about art communities. Most people won’t give you feedback, unless you give it to them first.
I was on deviantart for a long time as a kind of “shadow user”. Most people didn’t look at my profile unless they happened to be on the second I posted a picture. Then, I started looking at the photographs other people were taking. I would add the ones I really loved, and secretly wished I had taken, to my favorites.
Adding someone to your favorites is a compliment. It becomes almost a necessity to say thank you. This act brings them to your page. If only for a moment, they look at the work that you’ve done. Sometimes they add you as a friend or a picture of yours to their favorites. If you give feedback, you will receive some in return.
Though photography is my main focus on deviantart, the community is not just for photographers. You can post poetry, prose, recipes, photographs of sculptures and other crafts, layouts, animation, and so much more.
There is a site for everything. If you are an artist or if it is a hobby of yours, I recommend joining an art site, for the inspiration and the feedback. Looking at other pieces will give you ideas for your own work and feedback will help you improve it. Joining, of course, is the first step, but don’t forget to give back as well.
(Photo: Shadowed Angel — Kathryn Lewis)