What is DeviantART?DeviantART is the largest art gallery site online at the moment. I've had an account there for almost exactly three years. While I have tried other sites (e.g. Elfwood, RedBubble, Artician) and have continued to return to DeviantART as my 'main' gallery. It is where I upload my scraps, my sketches, my gift art, my projects, my fanart, my fantasy, my realism - from pencil sketches to digital art, it all goes there.
It has a large and active community - very active! A common complaint of the more long-standing members is that they can't keep up with their inboxes. DA tends to roll out new 'versions' quite regularly, which tend to have a few bugs, cause a fair few complaints, but generally improve general site usage, such asmanagement of notifications, browsing, uploading and so forth.
What is a 'deviation'?Deviations are the general term for any art or other media you upload. DeviantART hosts stock, paintings, fanart, film, emoticons and animations, internal DeviantART media such as stamps and journal skins, downloadable wallpapers, photomanipulations ('manips'), photography, literature (from non-fiction to poetry).
The User Base - Who Are the DeviantART Community?The majority of deviantARTists are 15-20 year olds, uploading their early works and hanging out with their friends. However, there are also many older, and/or serious artists, many of whom 'grew up' in the DeviantART community (I would consider myself one of these). There are also professional artists who simply enjoy having a DA account for fun or promotion, or genuine feedback (including some famous graphic novel illustrators, and big name nature photographers and models), and older artists looking to establish a presence online.
There is always a new, amazing picture to look at. Oh, there's a lot of crap, and terrible anatomy, and occasionally tracing or art theft - but there are some truly amazing and inspiring artists. The DA community is large, and well established and you can find a picture of almost anything on there (even porn, although that's not supposed to be there!).
DeviantART CodeDeviantART has it's own internal linking system - this allows users to post icons, emoticons, and thumbnail images of their pictures in the forums, and (for subscribers) their journals and deviation description boxes. It uses two colons to indicate start and stop - for example :thumb159971149: is the THUMBnail code for the deviation with that number.
Subscriptions and Free AccountsDeviantART accounts are completely free, however a subscription (how they make their money) offers more options and features, a generally nicer and ad-free browsing experience, and the ability to opt in to Beta testing. They use to have print accounts as well, but these were pretty useless and have recently been amalgamated into the normal accounts. Because the versions keep changing, so do the subscriber features, but some of the consistent ones include: access to a 'secret' forum, the ability to customise journals and feature thumbnail images in journal and deviation description, and more 'toys' and module sections on the user's profile page. Subscriptions can be given as gifts and are a common prize in the many community competitions.
GroupsOne of the recent introductions was a much desired feature - group accounts. Previously, users made makeshift 'Clubs' by creating another user account and reuploading submitted art. This had a lot of problems, from being very labour intensive to people never going to the original artist.
Anyone can create a group, although requests are moderated and the number you are allowed to 'own' depends on whether you are subscribed.
Emoticons and Plz AccountsDeviantART has a large array of custom, internal, emoticons - some are created by users and 'adopted' officially. They can be created by using the internal-DA code, for example :mwahaha: or :ninja: or :bounce: or :shakefish:.
DA'ers have created their own makeshift versions, by creating PLZ accounts - user accounts whose only purpose is to have a relevant icon. The 'plz' is often tacked onto the end to distingish them from normal accounts that simply had that username. The icon shows up in comments as an image, so offers a wider and more flexible array of illustration! Plus, some are rather funny. Examples include :icondarthvaderplz: :iconbroomplz: and :iconsaysplz:
A good way to find some to use is to type something you think should work, preview the comment, and then go to that account (if it isn't a plz account, it is probably a dead account) and other users tend to post comments on the PLZ accounts, showing off related icons and emoticons.
External LinksLinking out from DeviantART is a little annoying - they installed a security step (due to too many spam links and 'log out' links), which means that you get a 'you are leaving deviantART' screen whenever you click on an outside link. This renders referral stats nearly useless! (Although not entirely).
DeviantART LiteratureDA has a small but fairly successful literature community. Due to the nature of writing, fewer people read and comment, and it is difficult to garner serious critique without participating in a close-knit and active sub-community. However, DA recently introduced the option to opt out of having your literature indexed by search engines. This means that they will not be found and considered 'previously published' by editors, so serious writers can safely use DA for real critique of their work.
The latest update also made the writing a lot easier and nicer to read.
Stock and PhotomanipulationsStock is (usually) photography uploaded for others to use as is, for illustration, or in creating photomanipulations (editing various photos together to create a new picture). DeviantART has a huge stock and manip community - a lot of beginner artists start out making 'soulful and gothic girl on generic nature background' photomanips, but there are some extremely impressive, innovative and beautiful creations.
They are currently planning changes to the Stock system, to try and find a way to allow stock artists to charge a fee, as well as to have more control over how their stock images are used - one of the attractions, and the problems, is that anyone can upload images and designate them as stock, however should they become good enough to charge for their work, it becomes quite difficult. They have to engage in work-arounds such as emailing 'packs' of images.
The rules for stock usage vary and are entirely up to the artist. Many are not-for-profit, which is fine as a lot of artists are simply practicing and not serious about selling. Often, use is limited to within DA, unless you ask for permission, or no mature art.
Daily DeviationsEveryday, a small selection (around ten to twenty) of deviations from various categories are featured. These Daily Deviations bring the artist a huge amount of attention. They are selected by DA staff and volunteers, who are each responsible for specific gallery sections. You can easily suggest work, by noting them with a link to the artwork and an explanation as to why it deserves a DD (they only pick the oens they think truly are amazing). Artists can only recieve a DD every three months. I've had been awarded one - on the stock image of the waterfall you can see above! (but sadly, nothing on my paintings...) and suggested a large number, about ten of which have actually made it.
PrintsSelling prints on deviantART wasn't worth bothering with for a very long time, however very recently they've changed the commission structure, so that the artist actually gets money. I haven't paid much attention, as I tend to sell a fair bit through my Zazzle store, so didn't need to set anything new up. But I do intend to explore this further!
Adding a deviation as a print is optional - members can request that you make something available as a print, and you can upload a higher resolution file afterwards.