In 2005, broadband surpassed dial-up in popularity in the U.S., allowing the flow of faster and larger amounts of data, and facilitating the rise of visually oriented sites like YouTube and Facebook. Meanwhile, digital cameras had become more accessible and affordable in the early aughts, spurring the birth of photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Photobucket.
Sotira said that as the internet grew, DeviantArt lost the portion of its users who were using the site primarily to host images or chat with people. “We aren’t a photo-dumping site and we aren’t a social network—we are an art community,” he said. Though there is a case to be made that that DeviantArt is still a popular platform—it’s still one of the top 200 websites in the world—many artists feel that in 2019, the site is not the same.
“What I liked most about [DeviantArt] then was the intimate feel of the network because the audience was relatively small,” artist Aaron Jasinski, who joined the site in 2002, said. “That’s a hard thing to scale.” And Van Baarle, who has since migrated to Instagram, commented that “the user base is way less vibrant, young, aspirational, and motivated compared to before.…DeviantArt is sort of a dinosaur or living fossil in the internet world.” Kaufman had similar things to say about Conceptart.org, calling the site “an empty husk.”