I just got a Daily Feature for "What Love Means to Me" over at Shadowness, which made me ponder about the differences between my two major online art places -- Shadowness and deviantART.
"What Love Means to Me" (digital painting 2009) - Daily Feature 01-05-2012 on Shadowness
I've been a member at deviantART a lot longer and it's my primary art place on the net with far more friends whom I admire, adore, and interact with like real friends even though many are from outside the US (I seem to exchange season's greetings and gifts more with them than my real life friends and family...). I first created my dA account back in October of 2008 with 'collecting fan art' as the primary motive. I created my Shadowness account in July of 2011 with the purpose of 'being seen in more places by new people' as my primary motive.
There are distinct differences between these two art places (They are both art sites with social interaction features. dA offers journal/blog, print and other merchandise sales, option to give and ask for critiques, much larger membership base although a good portion of it is underage kids whose primary intent is for social interaction rather than art, lots of great art as well as lots of scribbles and other junk, while Shadowness has much smaller membership base, far less kids simply there for social interaction, no merchandise for sale, a game-like points and level system that rewards member interactions, and overall higher quality, and large number of photographs.), and I like them both, but I do find myself spending more time on deviantART, and the recognition that I receive there still means quite a lot more to me, mainly because of the competition that exists due to the immense size of its membership (and the sheer number of artwork).
"Santa Muerte" (traditional-digital mixed media 2011) - Daily Deviation 11-01-2011 on deviantART
Although anyone can argue that both places show what some would consider less than stellar pieces as their choice of featured artwork of the day, the majority of the pieces that are featured, I believe, certainly possess artistic merit that justifies their selection. (There will always be personal tastes and preferences that people are never going to agree on.) In other words, the moderators are doing a good job of what they're supposed to do objectively in a subjective field of art. ^^ And I do appreciate the recognition that I receive at both places. The selected pieces, however, show a marked contrast, which I find interesting.
Though I do not have the same number of featured pieces at both places, of the pieces that have received the highest honors (Daily Deviation for dA and Daily Feature for SN), I do spot a 'tendency'. And my personal experience is this; deviantART recoginizes good art AND 'distinct, individualistic style, regardless of media and overall style', while Shadowness seems to show a tendency of a preference for 'traditional, realistic renderings, away from manga- and anime-influenced style'.
Now, this is just MY PERSONAL observation, looking at the pieces featured at both places, mind you. And over at Shadowness, they have this lesser feature called 'Daily Inspirations' which are placed below the 'Daily Feature' pieces in their daily presentations. I've had so many of my fantasy pieces chosen for the 'Daily Inspiration' I've lost count. But I know I've only had two 'Daily Feature' awards and they have both been '(photo-)realism'. No denying there.
"Singing Lake"(100% colored pencil 1997) - Daily Feature 07-13-2011 on Shadowness
While I'm not against realism in art, and I don't dislike art done in that style, I have a definite personal preference and much admiration for whimsy and originality in vision as well as style. Rendering something realistically is a learned skill, and I believe anyone can do it, if they're willing to put their time and effort into learning the necessary skills and how to look at and see things as they are. But to have an original vision and present it effectively on paper or screen, I do believe, takes real creativity -- creativity from nothingness. And I think that's where my personal preference for originality in vision and style comes from. I value the artists' ability to really make something out of nothing, not just inspired by something tangible they see in front of them, and certainly not by their ability to present beyond any doubt to everyone's agreement of what it is that they're seeing as the end result.
There's no denying that a great number of people feel much more comfortable being presented with something they're familiar with or they can readily recognize, but I personally prefer art that gives me something out of the ordinary to look at and gives me a new perspective, a different way of seeing or thinking, or evokes a feeling (preferably something exhilarating or uplifting). I guess I tend to seek in art an experience that's outside of the ordinary, everyday experience. And that's where fantasy art comes in. Art, for me, is a fun and relaxing way to escape the mundane in my life. That's how I approach in the making of art and that's what I prefer when I look at other artists' work as well. Simply put, skills and realism alone do not impress me unless there's something really original and creative to go with.
"La Mer" (traditional-digital mixed media 2010) - Daily Deviation on deviantART 07-05-2011
"Pansy" (traditional-digital mixed media 2010) - Daily Deviation 09-12-2010
"Viridis Incendia" (pen on paper 2009) - Daily Deviation 09-24-2009
I'm far more fond of my pieces that were given recognition on dA than the pieces that were recognized on SN for the same reasons. I feel fortunate that I received my Daily Deviation honors for the original pieces and not for my most-favorited and most-commented fan art pieces that I made in my early days of membership. I feel that the proverbial 'pats on the shoulder' came at just the right times along the way to nudge me in the right direction so that I'd be the happiest doing what I find true to MY heart.
I almost forgot to mention another big difference. When an artist gets a Daily Deviation on dA, he/she gets inundated with thousands of 'correspondences' (notices of people favoriting their pieces and new watchers, messages, comments, requests from various groups for permission for gallery inclusion, etc.) and pageviews, the whole thing is quite an experience. In many cases, the ripple effects last for days. In my experience, these occasions have been genuine love-fests of good will and admiration from total strangers, the effect of which is a rise in self-esteem for a day or two, even for the worst self-critic. ^_^