Art communities can fill you with inspiration, motivation, and make learning and creating artwork really fun!
As like any hobby, the value of surrounding yourself with circles of like-minded individuals can have an overwhelming positive effect, especially if you strive for improvement like I do. Feedback and critiques are powerful. Here is a selection of my favorite online communities that I frequent regularly. I warn you, though, they can be highly addictive!
The design of the site is functional and intuitive. The message and notification system is nice, as is the favorites system for collecting and organizing your favorite finds. There are areas to view all the new, unseen works that the people and groups you follow release, so you never have to miss anything. The front page can be sorted to reflect your personal feed (of the people you follow), “Whats Hot” for that day, the featured images of the day, and a few other categories. Each user gets their own homepage which can be customized nicely with various widgets.
When you follow another user, you can choose to follow their deviations (images), journal posts, and forum posts if you want to, so you truly refine your level of stalker-ness per artist. The “groups” feature is interesting, allowing members to make or join groups of users with similar interests and share/collect artworks.
Deviantart is a big, active community in which you can showcase your work and easily find others who share your interests. Most registered users are hobbyists so most of the artwork isn’t so great, but the cream swiftly rises to the top.
If you’re serious about improving your art (be it digital, 3D, design, or fine art) consider making Conceptart.org one of your main communities. If you ask for critiques here, you will get them, and you will get good and honest ones. You might even get your art ripped apart, so don’t be too sensitive.
The site is forum-based and is packed with information. Users can create their own personal sketchbook threads and have their own “showcase” gallery. There are always community activities and challenges going on and lots of great art discussion. Conceptart.org also hosts a great fine art class system called “Level Up!”. The reviews I have read about the Level Up classes are very positive and compare the quality to taking accredited college classes.
There is a huge amount of talent here who are always striving to improve, so it is a great place for honest critiques. The site has also been undergoing a lot of nice modern design changes and is currently in a beta.
Tumblr is a fun way to showcase your art and share/reshare the art that you like and what inspires you. The user base is enormous and there are countless different communities to fit into. Consider it a twitter-like blogging platform. Your new content from your personal tumblr will be put into the main feed of all of your followers, and then your followers can reblog those posts so all of their followers see it. Tumblr can be a great place to showcase your art, especially if you have many followers that reblog your work.
Since Tumblr is reblog-based, it can be a tough place for interacting with people. There isn’t a very good comment system, and your posts can get buried very quickly in people’s feeds. However, it is a wonderful place to share and discover.
CGSociety is a great site populated by a lot of 2D and 3D professionals. It is filled with tons of great articles from the digital entertainment industry about the latest up-and-coming artists, the latest behind-the-scenes secrets for movies, and coolest new short films.
They have multi-month classes called “CGWorkshops” that are taught by industry professionals. The classes are definitely catered towards people who serious about learning. They are pretty expensive, but I believe they are of a higher quality than any college can provide.
The forums are a great way to showcase both 2D and 3D work, to ask technical questions about software, find fun challenges, and discuss stuff.
If you’re interested in 3D art or in the game industry, Polycount is a great community to join. The forums are incredibly busy and it is a great place to learn. People are more than willing to give critiques here and answer technical questions. Since Polycount is such a staple community, they host a lot of great competitions with awesome prizes, but watch out – the competition is fierce!
Behance is probably the most professional way to showcase your artwork. All of the other communities I have listed so far have been more casual in nature, friendly to beginners and professionals alike. Behance, however, is mostly designed for professional-quality work. By joining and creating your personal galleries, you are maximizing your professional exposure and your work can be distributed to curated online galleries. Are you a serious artist? Join Behance!
I placed these two sites under the same category because of their similarities. Both Artstation and Drawcrowd are beautifully designed sites that are geared more towards skilled artists. On both sites, each user gets a beautifully designed homepage that can easily function as a professional portfolio. You can comment on people’s artwork and follow your favorite users. Both sites are pretty new (and are still technically in beta), it seems like they were both built to fill the void that the CGhub closure left behind.
With Drawcrowd, there is a favorites system that allows you to collect your favorite images. It doesn’t seem that Artstation has that yet, instead using a “like” system and encouraging users to follow their favorite artists.
If I’m not careful, I could get lost in both of these sites for hours.
Pinterest is a great place to share artwork and find great reference and inspiration, but I put it last because the “community” isn’t that great because there is not a very good social system.What is cool is that your posts won’t tend get buried under content, which is what happens easily with sites like facebook, tumblr, and twitter. It is a great place to find tutorials and inspiration, and it is very easy to organize your collections (or “boards”) of favorite images.
Did I neglect to mention any great communities? What is your personal favorite? Please let me know in the comments section!