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April 20, 2009

In the quest to find new ways to promote myself I’ve tried a lot of things. Internet galleries are a huge part of that, true, but there’s tons of other ways. Thought I’d take a minute today to talk about some of the ones I’ve had the most experience with.


DeviantART has been a huge, huge help in promoting myself as an artist. The community is vast, and if you are willing to participate it’s a great way to generate pageviews, get your name out there, and even sell your work. I started at dA back in 2005, I’ve had three Daily Deviation features in that time, and every year my watch list and page views grow exponentially. The key? Constantly posting new, quality artwork; journals; and networking with other artists. If you expect to just post a gallery there and get some exposure it’s never going to happen. The best way to move forward at dA is to bring as many people with you as you can. Feature other artists, promote and participate in contests, get involved in the forums, chatrooms and community, and comment and review. It’s not hard, and the rewards are excellent. The downside to dA, of course, is that it’s huge, it’s busy and difficult to navigate if you’re looking for something in particular, and it’s not taken very seriously by the artworld in general. Got a deviantART gallery? Don’t link to it if you’re looking for professional work most of the time. AD’s are wary of dA.
My deviantART gallery

I’ve been an Epilogue member for a long time. In fact, it’s the second oldest of all my galleries. A few years back I volunteered to be a forum moderator over there too. The best thing about Epilogue is, of course, the juried submissions. If it’s not the absolute best in sci-fi/fantasy genre art, it’s simply not getting in. The editors are pros in their field who do their best to objectively view a very subjective range of artwork and determine what can be improved, and what’s perfect for the galleries there. Getting in is seen as a high mark of quality. Getting rejected however causes all kinds of drama. I’ve seen it all: people who think editors have personal vendettas, “they don’t like digital”, “they just don’t like traditional”, “they don’t understand it”… you name it. Luckily the Epilogue forums are full of really helpful members who are there to help you improve your art. It’s a small community, compared to some of the other big sites, but we do our best to make sure that it’s a constructive community. No prima donnas allowed. Even if you don’t make it into the official art galleries, the forums there can be a great way to help you improve your skills. The bad part about Epilogue? Ads. I hate, loathe, despise the ads. Google ads, adsense ads… pop ups, virus checkers, spam blockers, and occassionally questionable content ads. It’s gotten so bad that I hesitate to link to my Epi gallery, and that’s not a good thing at all. On top of that the gallery and submission process are several years out of date when it comes to design, useability, and community integration.
My Epilogue gallery


Elfwood was the oldest of my galleries up until a few weeks ago when I finally went in and removed it. The first stop for many amateur fantasy artists, Elfwood is billed as the largest collection of sci-fi/fantasy art in the world. I have my doubts about that. What Elfwood is, and has always been, is a stepping stone. You’ve just drawn your first dragon in crayon and want somewhere to post it? Elfwood’s the place. Part of my problem with the site, however, is that despite some serious upgrades in terms of coding, the site is ugly. It needs a good designer to come in and wipe the slate clean and make it look professional. The other part is the moderation system. You have to submit your work in a ticket that goes into a queue. I’ve had work sit there for MONTHS before it got passed through a moderator. And the moderators themselves are volunteers and I’ve seen a lot of personal agendas get mixed in. Good artists harassed over really stupid rules: one who had drawn some random “rune” designs in her painting was harassed for not translating the runes into English in the description. Another was harassed for not stating that she’d referenced the fairy wings in her painting from her OWN photo of a dragonfly. I decided months ago to pass Elfwood up. Without an overhaul, it’s not the place to be.

If you’re looking to go into the world of professional illustration or concept design, this is the place to be. Right now it’s the one of the hottest sites on the web for up and coming artists. Massive Black entertainment is the driving force behind it, and they’re putting out some really exceptional resources for artists: DVDs, training courses, tutorials, and even a free artwork registration database that will hopefully help alleviate some of the Orphaned Works worries. Their weekly conceptart challenges are fun, entertaining, and surprisingly drama free. Some of their member sketchbooks are phenomenal records of artists who’ve gone from barely drawing stick figures to full master class quality skills. My only real quibble with CA is the lack of integration between the art galleries and the forums, and the difficulty navigating using teeensy thumbnail images.
My ConceptArt gallery


Much like ConceptArt, CGSociety is another big art community for those who are looking to head into the field of computer generated artwork. They focus much more on modeling and animation than does CA, but there’s still a fairly large base of 2D artists working in digital as well. CGSociety Challenges are awesome, huge events with amazing prizes and an impressively long roster of participating artists. Their portfolio section is also pretty impressive. Customizable, fairly clean and efficient. Again there’s some problems with integration with the rest of the community, but I’ve got less of a complaint with CGSociety’s navigation and search. Unfortunately their forums aren’t quite as welcoming as others, so while I love the portfolio aspect, I tend to avoid the community.
My CGSociety Gallery



I recently signed up for a portfolio through I’m impressed with how utterly simple the process is, how clean the portfolio pages are, and how slick and easy the design is. Really, as a portfolio site I have no problems with it. My complaints are mainly in the navigation process: it’s very easy to get lost in the shuffle there, and there’s no real community to speak of. It’s basically nothing more than a portfolio service–and I’m not quite ready to shell out $12 a month for something I could probably build on my own site just as easily. I’m testing it at the moment, but I’m not certain I’ll stick with it.
My Carbonmade portfolio


What’s Twitter doing on here? Well when it comes to self promotion, Twitter, for me, has made a HUGE impact. It’s simultaeneously a highly interactive community, a forum, a blog, an ad service, and chatroom. I can post about my live drawing sessions, then micro blog about an event I’m at or want to go to, I can post about an update to one of my real blogs or websites, post images of completed works and WIP projects, bitch about my daily life, chat with other artists, get critique (and give it), get advice or software support in real time, learn about other products and software or podcasts that might make my work better or easier or more entertaining… it’s an amazingly simple thing to use that has really benefitted me on so many levels. If you’re not on Twitter… you’re missing out. What doesn’t work on Twitter? Don’t use it for only ONE of the above. If I look at your Twitter page and all you do is link to blog updates, or promote a product or website… not interested. If all you do is talk about your dog, I probably won’t follow that either. You have to be flexible with it, and willing to interact with others to get the most out of your Twitter experience.
My Twitter page


If you’re not camera shy (or microphone shy) and have no problem living in a bubble for an hour or so every so often, UStream is a great way of connecting with your fans and other artists. I’ve really enjoyed my UStream sessions. It’s been a good way to get real time feedback on my work, and to give advice and tips and tricks to other artists. The pages are really customizable and you can make your show really work for YOU, if you’re willing to try it. The downside: it’s the new hot thing and pretty soon everyone is going to be doing this. In order to stand out you have to really nail what you want to accomplish with it, and make it work for your viewers as much as it does for you. Give them a reason to keep coming back.
My UStream feed (Shows live on Wednesdays at 1 pm EST)

There are a ton of other sites out there to help you connect and interact with your fans, with ADs, and with other potentential clients. These are just the few that I’ve got some experience with. Other things you might check out:

Just… whatever you do, stay away from MySpace.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2009 6:18 pm

    Very cool run-down of stuff. Isn’t there a free version of Carbonmade? Or do you just get a free trial? I kinda liked their ease and clean design.

    • mercuralis permalink
      April 20, 2009 6:51 pm

      The basic portfolios are free. The spiffy larger ones are $12 a month (which also gets you a customizable banner in their search results).

  2. April 20, 2009 6:27 pm

    Nice listing, Mel! I have the same issue as you with Epilogue – love the site, hate the ads. They’re not as bad with Firefox – I’ve got the adblock plug-in that catches the pop-ups, at least, but it’s still too ad-friendly for my tastes. I also agree about MySpace – I have really cut down my visits there from several times per day to maybe once per week – Facebook’s just better for connecting with people I actually know in person or from extensive contact online, and the ability to make a fan page or fan group means I can still interact with fans, but keep a bit of privacy via my personal profile.

  3. April 21, 2009 11:17 pm

    Yeah, Epilogue’s gallery administration problems (constant upload errors/timeouts and awful lag time, for me) are why I ceased updating over there. It’s a shame, but if the ads are that bad these days, I’m not really tempted to go back.

    DA is still tops for me in terms of getting paid work/new clients; is great, but it’s pretty easy to get lost in the shuffle unless you’re a known name.

  4. April 26, 2009 2:54 am

    You know, I wouldn’t rule out Elfwood as a inlet for professional work. Strangely enough, I’ve actually gotten some of my biggest jobs from clients who found me through Elfwood, including Harlequin (their fantasy line), and Impact Books. It always surprises me when I find out that an art director has come through to me from there, and it’s the big reason I’ve been keeping my Elfwood gallery updated.

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