Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a little yellow alien named jark.
Wait, this is not a fairy tale so let me dispense with that.
This is an attempt to explain some of the history behind the founding of deviantART. I have no desire to hide a thing and therefore make of this what you will.
“Back in the day” I used to run a little known MP3 website called CyberTropix. I used to hang out in #mp3 on [link]
, where all the big named MP3 webmasters were. There was a fairly large following in the channel on this small network.
It was here that I met Angelo
, who used the nick “spyed” in the channel. He ran a hugely popular MP3 news website called Dimension Music
. The site would eventually be bought by Michael Ovitz
. I have no details surrounding the acquisition therefore will not speculate.
Interestingly enough, back during the #mp3 days, Angelo
was living in New York. He had a girlfriend named Sarah, who showed up on IRC every now and again. Sarah’s mom, with her nick of “mp3mom,” popped in to the channel almost daily. She was a great person to talk to.
It was “mp3mom” that ultimately introduced me to Angelo
. I complained to her one day that he was pretty condescending, and acted like an ass to many folks in the channel, but she talked me out of those thoughts. Not sure what she said to Angelo
but somehow dialogue between us started.
At some point there was this plan to converge some MP3 websites in to DMusic, which is what the original name was changed to, in order to make one really large site with a unique vision among all the chaos of the MP3 revolution. CyberTropix was one of these sites.
In exchange for a monthly “salary,” the site became part of the “DMusic Network” and I ultimately ended up doing development on both CyberTropix and DMusic. This was back around the 1999 timeframe.
After working on DMusic for almost a year, while nothing but failed promises, things started to look very bleak. This disappointment could not be attributed to any one individual with the exception of Michael Ovitz
. My relationship with Angelo
was starting to worsen because of the stress of the setbacks on DMusic.
Nonetheless, all of us pressed on in the most professional manner we could.
In the spring of 1999, while in the process of rebuilding DMusic, it was decided that the site needed the ability to host skins for all the popular MP3 applications. This was at the height of Winamp’s fame, before it was bought by AOL.
I had written a user authentication system, news system, and other such features, on CyberTropix. These were merged in to DMusic and a couple other sites in the DMusic Network. The shared backend made it easy to propagate news on multiple sites simultaneously while offering a single sign-on for the network.
At the time we thought it would be useful to build in to DMusic a skin section. Sites like skinz.org
were experiencing many issues. DeskMod had problems handling their growth and ultimately saw many of the same slowdowns that deviantART saw. Skinz.org and the whole eFront debacle will go down in history as one of the oddest events in the customization community. Customize.org
was gone as it was bought by someone who ended up not having the expertise to comprehend the Perl backend.
The customization community was up in arms. Nothing was going right, per se.
Having run a skin site for a short period of time in the 98/99 timeframe, in a site called screenphuck (which I still own the domain name for BTW), I had experience that I wanted to put to use. I thought it would be smart to start a new site and use portions of the shared backend idea we had going on with the DMusic Network.
The basic premise was the new site would use the user authentication and news system I wrote while the skin submissions would be integrated in to DMusic. This would give DMusic, and Angelo, the much wanted skin “solution” that he sought.
I started hunting for ideas; a way to make a unique vision that incorporated some fun in the name and the ideals of this newfound site. After some hard thinking, and some hard-fought domain name locating, the name deviantART was the name I settled on.
Initially I wanted to use deviate.com but that was taken. The idea of using .org, which was open at the time, did not appeal to me. deviantART.com
was open so that is what I selected.
The thought pattern was as such, since the roots of deviantART
were with the skinning community. When you skin an application you eventually end up “deviating” from the normal look and feel of Windows. Skins are, at the end of the day, works of art. By putting these two thoughts together, I surmised, that deviantART
was the ideal name.
To make things even more fun and exciting I thought that calling the visitors “deviants” and the submissions “deviations,” as opposed to skin, would be a nice play on the name. A kind of branding, if you will.
I ended up pitching the whole idea to Angelo
, who was in charge of DMusic at the time. He liked it and, basically, gave the green light for me to migrate from my duties at DMusic in order to concentrate on my vision.
So I did.
I worked on a basic design for the site, which offered a revolutionary menu system for the time. This is where “deviant green” began. It was shown to a couple folks, one of which was my friend, and co-founder, Matt Stephens
. We met on IRC somewhere. My senility does not allow me to remember the specifics; point is that we met and, in due course, worked together to bring the deviantART
vision to fruition. Matt’s
idea was to open deviantART
up to the masses by way of allowing any type of art submission, without moderation, rather than be confined to skins. Together we brainstormed and added to our vision for this “utopia” of the art and skin community.
Then one day I had a career shift
that had me move from one prefecture (the Japanese equivalent of a province or state) to another. During this change of residence, and the stress associated with it, I got severely ill. For weeks I had fevers of 102, or higher, compounded with lung issues.
It was during a long weekend, with a rather bad fever, before August 7, 2000 that deviantART
was born. deviantART was coded from the ground up by myself, in its entirety, throughout this hot summer weekend.
The consciousness of the “Collective Rectum” was conceived.