Sunday 6 May 2012

My professional portfolio on deviantART - stay or go?

The last few years if you've looked at , it's whisked you away to the URL otherwise known as - I have been using the popular art site deviantART for my professional art portfolio hosting. I'm considering a change and would love some opinions. Below I have my pros and cons.

Before I say much more (an oh, I'm gonna), there is a big difference between a standard dA account page and their portfolio service. I'm not planning to leave dA entirely, just considering whether or not to stop paying for Premium and using their professional portfolios.

Here's the visuals:

Standard dA bio page

Portfolio bio page.

Standard dA gallery page.

Portfolio gallery page.

I pay about $30 a year for the Premium service (last year with some very welcome donations from fans for this new dad). The Premium Portfolio means:

  • I can customize the URL, hence the very original
  • No ads from deviantART appear on my page.
  • I can make new portfolios, add specific page URLS through my domain host (like
  • There's lots of image storage. 

Those are all decent features in the plus column.

Here's a couple of other things I like:

  • Layout forces me to stay clean and simple for potential clients. 
  • It really easy for me to change and add or drop artwork. 
  • Limits on how much art per gallery forces me to keep it fresh for return clients.
  • I occasionally add my entire resume to it as a pdf download - not there at the moment, but that's neat-o. 
  • I love how it looks. 

But here are the features in the minus column that have me wondering if my $30/year would be better served somewhere else. 

  • Not enough links. The text on the bio page is insanely limited and includes the HTML - so when something helpful to my business like say, Google+ crops up, I have to delete another important - actually important, not just for fun - link from the link list. They limit the text so that the whole portfolio has no scrolling. Yeah cool. But to link to my Scientific American gig and increasing Media list, I had to drop links to two other blogs I have contributed to. 
  • I pay for no ads, but I get pranks. This past April Fools' Day, deviantART thought it would be funny to pretend they were taken over by cats and there was a pop-up that if you wanted, would lead you further into the joke. Or you could disable it. Each time you went on dA on April 1st, it would pop back up. Kind of funny stuff, but I pay for no dA ads, and here's a silly joke I had no part in designing that any potential client was going to get stuck figuring out for a whole day. Pissed me right off. 
  • No links in art descriptions. Click on the little letter "i" under the art, get some neat info about the image. But no links to further information, and it's reduced to about two short sentences. I do science-based art. It sometimes needs a bit more explanation about the client, project, subject and materials. You know. The professional details. 
  • No statistics. This is the worst. The HTML I am allowed to use is on the bio page only, and is very very basic. No third party html widgets or gadgets to track stats using SiteMeter or Statcounter or even Google Analytics. When the portfolio service first launched I assumed this was coming at some point (dA offers crazy amounts of stats for their basic accounts). That was 2.5 years ago. Last year, when Annalee Newitz of the popular geek site featured Trilobite Boy and some of art in a fun article, they appropriately linked back to . And though I can see on the io9 article that it had over 14000 views (most just in those first few days) I have absolutely no idea how many went through to my own portfolio.

So. Do I stay or go?  If I go, does anyone have any good suggestions?  

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

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Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the Scientific American Blog Network!


traumador said...

That's a tought question. I just post my pictures on a dedicated Blogger blog. It doesn't have 95% of the features you listed, BUT the traffic tracking on the new Blogger is incredible.

As I'm not big on the over the top portfolio, I'm not the best guy to advice, but I'd say for $30 you shouldn't be in on the april fool's joke and you should be able to track your traffic. I only pay flickr out of all my sites, but that is because I am storing some 4000+ photos vs. he 200 you can see on them for free. I get great traffic monitoring from flickr for this cost...

Depending on how quick your renewal is coming up, I'd send an ultimatium to them saying they should considering updating the premium package to include the traffic tracking or you'll be moving to a different provider. Probably won't cause a change, but you never know. Squeaky wheel typically get the grease.

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Craig!

I've asked about it a couple of times in dA forums before. The problem is; "As of August 2010 the site consists of over 14.5 million members, and over 100 million submissions, and receives around 140,000 submissions per day. In addition, deviantArt users submit over 1.4 million "favorites" and 1.5 million comments daily.[5] The domain attracted at least 36 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a study.[6] As of July 2011, it is the 13th largest social network with 3.8 million weekly visits."

It's hard for the squeaky wheel to be heard over the squeaking, cheering, and explodiness of the other 14.5 million wheels.

Glendon Mellow said...

Hmm. I wonder if I should consider Blogger's own Dynamic Views to build a professional portfolio?

Tygenco said...

I have a free account with dA; it's working well enough for the time being, at least for myself.

I know that Yamino at one point did a HUGE overhaul of her dA account and moved the images around so that she could show it off as a portfolio without paying for the actual service.

Flickr is about $25 US per year for me and it works wonders. It allows for a lot of traffic (well, if I'm super lucky at least :P ) and it has great storage space.

I say do what you feel will work best. :) Have to say that I would miss you in dA though, if you leave for good.

Glendon Mellow said...

Tygenco, I wouldn't be disappearing from dA altogether (though I'm also not very active there at the moment). It's just a question of using their portfolio service as a professional tool or not.

I think I may stick with it for now. I've looked at Behance and a few others, and I still like the layout of dA's. But my eye will likely keep roaming.

Sean Craven said...

Hey, Glendon...

I was going to be asking you for advice on this one. Ha! Anyway.

My take on dA is that it's a good place for hobbyists, and that's the vibe it gives off. It does not specifically say 'professional.' Whatever you wind up doing SHOULD specifically say 'professional.'

Which is what I was actually trying to avoid admitting to myself when I was contemplating setting up a dA page...

Sean Craven said...

Cooties. That's the word I'm looking for. DeviantArt kind of has the cooties.

Glendon Mellow said...


The portfolio pages on dA are pretty sweet (and cootie-free) compared to the regular accounts, and I think they look really professional. The regular account galleries look like a junk drawer.

At the moment, I haven't found another site I like as much to make it worth the switch, so I'm going to extend on dA for another 3 months and keep checking things out. Behance portfolios aren't bad, but the interface seems kind of clunky to me.

Jim Doran said...

IMO, everyone's self hosted site should come first, and services like Tumblr, Flickr, DA, Facebook should link back to your home. Yahoo is slowly crumbling into the sea and new services like 500PX pop up all the time. As these self contained ecosystems thrive and fail, search engines like the consistency of an artist's home site.

I'm a big fan of using WordPress on your own host - it's easy, as customizable as playdoh and there are TONS of great portfolio themes.

Works great for me.

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Jim. Maybe that's the best idea. Use Blogger or Wordpress and build a site then transfer my domain over to it.

Sean, Jim, Tygenco, Craig, what do you think of the dA layout here?

Sean Craven said...

In my browser, the top bar is too crowded, so the title and copy type overlap.

Glendon Mellow said...

Really? What browser do you use, Sean? I typically use Chrome.

Sean Craven said...

I'm on Firefox 3.6.28.

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Posts over 14 days old have their comments held in moderation - I've been getting an unusual amount of spam for a guy who paints trilobites. I'll release it lickety-split though.

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