Gone are the days when you could go by the sketchbook forum and see the 75 threads on page one get turned over in 15 minutes. Gone are the days when you could see dozens of industry professionals rubbing elbows with (and sometimes helping) the n00bs among us.
For whatever reason, the powers that be over there decided they needed a design overhaul. They wanted (apparently) something that looked good on iPads.
So for approximately the last 18 months or so, that site has been through about a half dozen revisions... some of them very jarring and habit-breaking. (I hadn't been to the site in nearly a year because of all the upheaval). I'm guessing many other artists have left the site for similar reasons.
Recently I went back to kind of see what was up with the forum, and saw a sad shell of what remained of CA's previous glory.
I made a post lamenting the loss of the virtual art community in the open discussion forum, and started to get a little feedback from people who remained. Yet... apparently that post offended one of the higher ups, so it was summarily deleted.
I happened to capture the post from Google's cache after it was deleted. Here's what I wrote that was deleted:
ConceptArt.org has been an amazing place to visit and be a part of over the years. Members who have been here few years will remember just how vibrant a community it was for the longest time.
So many professionals and dedicated students sharing their work here seemed to overwhelm the site--the sketchbook forum alone getting enough posts to completely 'turn it over' in a matter of minutes. This was fantastic! In short, it was the people more than the format that made this a great site.
In contrast, we have deviantArt... which seems so much less personal. It seems too big for a community to form around a group of professionals and dedicated students like we used to have here.
If you post something on dA, your work must be good enough to capture the attention of people immediately and it must be tagged correctly, or it will quickly get lost.
Posting on dA is also more piece-centric, meaning that you post one piece at a time and your work is aggregated in a gallery instead of something like a sketchbook... which provides a nice chronology and conversation along with it.
Hopefully this post doesn't come off as a bemoaning of CA.org because the tradition of this site is something to be greatly respected.
However, as an artist I feel a lot more disconnected from the "community". At this point, I'm still interested in getting my work out there and hearing back from the community as well as seeing what's new out there from the greats as well as the hard working, dedicated student. It's not so much about critique as it is about the interaction with people who are 'doing it'. For others, I'm sure more critique would be welcome too.
Granted, it seems CA.org still has a community but whereas the activity here used to be a raging river it sadly appears to have become a trickle.
It seems unreasonable to me that such a beautiful community could have simply dried up and gone nowhere; has everyone gone on to something else? Is Behance the new/old CA.org? If there are other options out there, what are they?
Let me know your thoughts.
I went back to look at what remains of the once vibrant sketchbook group tonight... and it was a sad story. The thread bottom of the page was 18 hrs old... again, it used to "flip over" in about 15 minutes back in the hey day.
Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what the overall "level" of the artists were.
A quick "polling" of the data showed:
57 artists of amateur level
17 artists of intermediate level
1 artist of professional level (snatti)
This in stark contrast to what one might have seen even in 2010... where those numbers might have been flipped around a bit: 57 professionals, 14-5 intermediates, and 2 or 3 amateurs.
ConceptArt, I think, has changed visually too much for its own good. Why break what wasn't broken? The visual "upgrades" did really nothing to help the community... all we have as a result is a fraction of the community, which is mostly made up of amateurs now.
I long for the days of a good, solid artists community made up of people who were both skilled and hard working. Perhaps such communities (online) are gone forever.
BTW.... my portfolio is now online