November 21, 2012
I believe in deviantART. Which is to more accurately say I believe in the concept and the reality of the deviantART community.
When in contemplation of the eternal wellspring that is the deviantART project and how it has become the engine keeping my heart and mind on a full burn as I strive to be an upstanding member of the community as well as a helpful architect and eager participant in the conversation -- my thoughts inevitably settle upon my attempts to define my concept of Gratitude.
No matter your medium of choice as an artist, your artistic intentions or the mystic guiding force that has led you to this community, there is one thing all constituent members have in common:
A first step into this world consisted of a simple return to the practice of saying...
Thank you for the fav, thank you for the watch, thank you for your comment, thank you for the points, thank you for the membership, thank you for the critique, and yes, thank you for the llama. The inverse of that exchange, your first act of faving another’s artwork was also a thank you. A thank you to that particular artist or writer for inspiring you, moving you emotionally, educating you, brightening your day, week or month, in some way large or small.
At its core, Gratitude is the life blood of what drives the support system that we all rely on as deviantARTists.
I have read so many deeply moving journals over the years with story after story of support and friendship both on the site between artists of every stage of development and off the site between friends, colleagues, lovers, co-workers, activists and everything in between. The connections made on other social networks seem so superficial when compared with what community members of dA share with each other, rooted in their passion for art, as a matter of due course.
But is the recognition of the gratitude that I and others have found in deviantART means, that one is also in a state of indebtedness?
Some refrain from gratitude as daily practice, not wanting to set mental shackles on their total independence.
They are wrong to do that – because it is only when aid of any kind is extended with an attached price tag that the line is crossed from gratitude to indebtedness. And the deviantART community has proven to me again and again that at core it operates on a currency of love – love for art and love for other community members -- with no price attached.
But mostly I feel genuine sadness for the independent-minded doubters who fear indebtedness so much that they are unaware of an essential human connection they are banishing from their life.
As humans and as artists we are living creatures who live off self-expression and feedback to that self-expression. When we make ourselves vulnerable in our outreach and offer art as representations of ourselves up for advice and criticism, we are at our most human, individuals in need of community, our art our bridge to the world beyond our own mortal coil. When genuine loving criticism of expression is received, and our souls are awash in a feeling of gratitude for the thoughtful acknowledgement of our being – it is in those moments that mere “gratitude” is transcended and transformed into human celebration of self and community. And that’s the sort of ongoing worldwide non-stop party that I’m so grateful to have found in deviantART.
The Gratitude Loopby Heidi
s the end of the year approaches, it's common for people to look back and reflect on things that we're grateful for -- good health, steady income, and cherished loved ones rank highly on "gratitude lists." Life can deal you anything at any moment, and those are big-ticket items not to take for granted. But what about the small things -- the person who holds the elevator, a fleece blanket on a cold winter night, the freeway that's magically lacking traffic -- that help you make it through the day?
I've been participating in online communities since the early 1990s and have come to sincerely appreciate the amount of time, effort, and consideration that content creators put into their work. Like many people, I work long, busy days and if I don't stop along the way to take a few moments for myself, life can become a blur.
When I see a breathtaking piece from an artist I eagerly follow or the next chapter from an author whose storylines I crave, my heart is filled with gratitude that is hard to describe to people who don't "live" online. The obvious gratitude is easy to describe: the happiness that goes hand in hand with awe over the creativity of the piece, the richness that resonates inside you.
Then there's a deeper gratitude. This person has spent countless hours pruning, erasing, editing, and perfecting to get to the finished vision delivered right to your Message Center. You're thankful they stayed with it and saw it through to the end, having no way of knowing if they second-guessed themselves or even restarted a few times. Perhaps they doubted anyone would care but submitted their work just for the heck of it, and it's here in front of you, the most beautiful deviation you've ever seen.
As anyone on deviantART can relate, it's a scary thing to publish anything online -- comments, artwork, prose -- and put yourself out there, but because creators like you were brave enough to let your imagination run wild, complete your vision, and share it with the world, people like us can be in awe of things we never even knew were the most inspiring, thoughtful things we'd ever experienced. Bravery, talent, dedication, creativity. Not only does seeing these artistic displays get me through my day, but it encourages others to continue to create and achieve, until it's one big loop of inspiration over and over again, infinitely. That’s what I'm grateful for.
What I'm Thankful Forby Ayame-Kenoshi
n reading this article, I was reminded how I got started in the deviantART community. I was initially amazed by the stunning art, on which I left comments to show my appreciation for the work the artist put into creating it and their willingness to share their piece with the world. To my surprise, I received comments right back. From the simple act of sharing gratitude, I formed long-lasting friendships that were incredibly impactful. An eco-system of gratefulness thrives on deviantART and leads to powerful human connection. Being a part of the deviantART community requires giving some effort, but you're certainly rewarded with more love and friendship than you could ever imagine. Or, as Heidi has taught me, you give a little, and you get a little back. This holiday season -- and always -- I'm thankful for the community's consistent and selfless giving back.
- Being thankful can be a private, almost hidden emotion. Having your heart filled with gratitude means wanting to celebrate, to express one’s thankfulness. How often does the community feedback and support of deviantART charge up your artistic batteries with the power of gratitude?
- How much does the acceptance and embrace of gratitude as an engine of creativity clear the way for a real creative freedom in pursuing artistic goals; i.e., the removal of the fear of asking for ideas or assistance?
- When was the first time you received a response from a deviant somewhere on the planet that really gave you your first inspiring blast of dA gratitude?
- What are the five things, art-related, that you are most grateful for on an ongoing daily basis?
- What are the most special formative moments of your life that you are now, upon reflection, so very grateful for having happened?
- What is it about giving and receiving favs, critiques, points and llamas etc that elevates the power and significance of that minor act so far beyond its simple intent?