Wow, I actually have TIME available to me to participate in a deviantART community event! HUZZAH! And what a great even it is too, celebrating deviantart's 14th birthday and telling my deviantART story of growth. And I've been a part of deviantART for 11 of those years so this is a milestone for myself as well!!
Every good story has a beginning, and this is mine.
I started off here as most do, a fan. A fan of art, a fan of entertainment, a fan of LIFE. I was into anime and manga, anything Japanese related was awesome to me. I was in the later years of High School, hanging with my friends, trading stories and books and drawings. Creating stories all our own. Often times they called me Zamba or Z, though I had given myself that name several years before. I had natural talent in the arts, but only my friends knew. Sure my parents knew too, but they didn't know. This was how it all really kicked off for me, friendly encouragement and nods from my parents as I drew fan characters, characters from anime and manga, and images of how I saw myself "online," the inner me. I even went on to "publish" a tiger that in drew in the school yearbook. But it was friend's encouragement that I started my story here on deviantART.
At around the same time, I was starting to show an eye for photography. I started carrying my little Hewlett-Packard digital camera around with me everywhere I went. I used it to capture images of myself, my friends, and life around me. It was around this time as well that my parents took a bit more notice in my art, but really only my photography. Until I posted the images here to deviantART. The community here helped me begin to realize that I had something, something worth keeping. Even if it only was a hobby.
Then came college and my studies to become a marine biologist. I excelled in my science classes but math royally kicked my butt. That lead to me having to give up my dream and move onto my other passion: art. I did surprisingly well in all of my classes, frequently thinking outside of the box and surprising my professors. I was often the oldest, by about 2 years, in most of my art classes due to most everyone else being freshman and I a junior. So goes life though. It was here that people started to look at me differently, very differently. It was like everyone around me, everyone that had watched my grow up over the years were finally realizing that I had artistic talent. People were in awe and asking how I had kept this hidden. My answer was always the same, "Well don't you remember? I was always, constantly doodling and drawing. I always had a small sketchbook with me. You saw it, but never paid attention." But in another world online, on deviantART, I had LOTS of people commenting and favoriting my pieces that I posted to showcase. I was starting to get a little fanbase. It made me feel good, it made me move from the heartache of having to set aside my marine biology dream to pursue art. Something I had only gotten better at.
[[Creepy isn't it?]]
But it was my parents that had the biggest shock. This self portrait was what made them finally realize, finally admit to me that I was talented. My mom even cried a little when I brought this home to show them, still a work in progress at the time. They were proud of me, something I often wondered I lost when I had to change majors. It was a happy day. This portrait now hands in my parents bedroom, and they proudly show it off to guests all the time.
Nowadays I am a 911 Emergency Dispatcher, doing photography and graphic design/painting on the side for people. I have acquired better camera equipment and a full blown studio in my house to handle any art project I set my mind too. I don't have a lot of time to post to deviantARt anymore, in fact I should probably consider myself a lurker sometimes. But I'm still here, checking my messages almost daily, commenting on art that makes me smile. Because I remember what it was like 11 years ago when I was still a novice artist. You may not always have encouragement from the people around you, but you can always expect encouragement here from the great community that is deviantART.
So new people only just starting your deviantART journey? Stay active. Stay positive. Never give up. Join some of the smaller clubs/communities! They'll be some of your biggest supporters! I'm a yearly participant in Shark Week Sketch Jam. This is my Spotted Wobbegong from last year. I'm excited to see what this year's sketch jam will bring, and am completely ready for next week! [[Gotta fresh sketch book to start doodling sharkies!]]
...And Keep Your Roots! I'm STILL a fangirl, creating fanart!