DeviantArt today has become one of my most used sites, second perhaps only to Facebook. In fact, I now use it more than I use Tumblr. But it wasn't always this way. Here's a brief history, to put things in perspective:
Born in 1983 in Florida, my life was frequently a mobile one early-on. When my parents received a call to teach at a Lutheran school in Kenosha, WI; they jumped at the chance. But it wasn't great pay. Rental homes weren't cheap either. The family moved to three different homes in Kenosha before finally being able to settle at one on 65th St. Growing up joined by three siblings in a very short amount of time, life was chaotic to say the least. But a few things stood out to me. The most prominent was the TV. The first words I learned to read were "Play," "Stop," "Pause," "Rewind," and "Fast Forward." By age 3, I knew how to operate the VCR pretty much like a pro. I wanted to go into the entertainment business, or at least attempt it. Star Wars in particular whet my appetite. I envied what the Lucasfilm crew could do, and wanted to top them. Even at the age of 4, I had ambitions to have my own brand - though I knew not where that wold lead me.
In late 1989, I began the grind of what was grade school. It was a very grinding several years from K-8, but I made the most of it. In 1993, I'd dabbled a lot in making serial runs of comics in my spare time. Not quality work, per se. But it was a start. President 42 Horror. Annihilators Aerodynamics. Defenders of Stick-Man Village. The 2-Headed Turtle.
I decided to start the brand that would house works like this around 10:30-11:30-ish on October 10th of 1994, in the hallway outside of my 5th grade classroom. The brand underwent several evolutions from its inception in 1994 till it became the Dozerfleet Productions it is today. But much like with DeviantArt itself, the brand had to figure out its niche. It needed a way to get feedback; to know what works and what doesn't, to gain perspective on how to move forward. DeviantArt may have been founded in 2000 or so, but that was of little comfort to proto-Dozerfleet in 1994. Feedback was limited to a very narrow sampling pool of classmates - most of whom were brats and bullies that I didn't get along with. The world was not an option. Internet was something the parents did to collect business e-mails. CompuServe dial-up was the way things were done. Digital art was limited to MSPaint for Windows 3.1.
Clearly, this was not adequate. The year 2000 saw me get an upgrade from a Compaq Presario from 1995 to a horizontal Dell desktop. With a tape drive. Running Windows 98 and MS Office 2000. At the time, it seemed like a great leap forward. But it still lacked that crucial element that my brand needed: feedback from a global sample. How was I to know what was a good idea and what wasn't, if there was no way to get feedback on this from a global sample not biased by way of knowing me personally?
There were both textual and visual needs to sample. But no way to get both serviced. That is, until 2002. Being allowed access to the college labs meant access to the web. And the world was changing rapidly in that time. By late 2003, there was EZBoard. But where to save images for use in sampling? Along came Photobucket. Yet, both services were very limited. They lacked that special touch.
By 2005, I decided to enter the world of machinomics, keeping pace with the machinima scene. But that proved a more daunting task than I realized. And no task was more painstaking than the one of keeping facts organized so franchises could track their own evolution - and reasons for it. Things would have to grow and change before anything could be published on a grand scale. Not just continuity of actions, but of universal rules and character motives, needed to be kept organized. Even a blog didn't seem an adequate tool. That's where wikis entered the picture.
However, feedback on the art and visuals itself required high-resolution viewing options. Wikis are not geared toward that, as they are more for the textual needs of Dozerfleet. The list of needs was becoming more refined as of 2006. By 2007, the first version of DozerfleetWiki began on Wikispaces. But it wasn't enough. The site moved to Wiki-Site.com in May of 2008.
Two franchises began to stand out as needing particular attention: Stationery Voyagers and The Gerosha Chronicles. While the former seemed to practically write itself at times, the latter proved to be the bigger child in need of more special care. Two failed attempts at a Ciem webcomic led to a third and final try. By January of 2009, that try was done. However, that try became what is known in Gerosha multiverse history as "Classic" Gerosha. It was replaced with the Comprehensive Gerosha timeline in 2010.
For Comprehensive Gerosha, it became clear that several things needed to change. First off, DozerfleetWiki moved off Wiki-Site to the more-stable Wikia. Second, Ciem was going to be made into a novel. Ciem: Vigilante Centipede still needed its characters and artwork to be looked into. And that was when DeviantArt entered the picture. There was simply no site more tailored to testing out the visuals and seeing what readers liked/wanted and what they didn't. It also became a great way to test out every other franchise I was tampering with, such as a Q-Basic Gorillas fanfic.
Since these initial tests with DeviantArt proved very useful in helping me find my niche from 2010-2012, I knew it was the ideal go-to for the Cataclysmic Gerosha timeline. No challenge has been more grueling in that time than Sodality And no site has been more ready to help me with what I needed in relation to Sodality than DeviantArt. In addition to this, DA allowed me to both test out and find an audience for my miscellaneous experiments in anaglyph 3D. While I was not a fan of the Stash system at first, I've grown accustomed to it and have found it quite useful.
Freemium Day was my chance to experiment with subfolders, an experiment I don't regret in the slightest. While I have yet to "knock it out of the park" with an audience, I know there's few tools better for testing with than DeviantArt. And as long as that remains the case, I intend to make the most of it.