Launched in 2000, DeviantArt is the largest online social network for artists and art enthusiasts where artists (“deviants”) of any kind — illustration, photography, film, anime, cartoons, and more — can exhibit, promote, and share their work (“deviations”). DeviantArt counts with 32 million registered members that attract and generate over 65 million unique visitors per month and upload over 160,000 original art works every day. (Those are some pretty crazy numbers). Last week, DeviantArt introduced a new logo and identity designed by Moving Brands.
There’s no other place like DeviantArt. We are an unapologetically addictive experience. Our world is a prolific orgy of originality where creatives enjoy freedom of artistic expression. We are the deviation of creativity that shatters the confines of expectation.
I had no idea DeviantArt was so big. I’ve never really paid much attention to it and part of it is because its brand, from logo to web design, looked and felt cheap, like a remnant from the early web days. For non-members, who appear to be quite passionate (like any other community built by the community), this outer layer hasn’t been the best first line of promotion but the opposite. For me, it was always “How quickly can I get out of here while I get what I came to see?”. I thought this site was going to look as it does now forever and is the last place that I would have imagined to go for a comprehensive rebranding job with a large agency. Yet, here we are.
DeviantArt’s strength comes from it’s phenomenally large and loyal user base. They consider themselves a community, not a business, united in love and support of art and artists. In partnering with DeviantArt to redefine their core beliefs to enable growth, we were ever-mindful of their relationship to their community and the impact of changes to the brand and experience.
To guide these changes we defined and articulated their core story — “Bleed and Breed Art.” This is a bold promise and challenge from the world’s largest collective of digital art and artists to nurture creativity and spread art throughout the world.
The logo is a careful evolution of their existing mark and a literal representation of their desire to turn the art world upside down. This is further articulated with a unique brand pattern made from the symbol that reveals the both the right side up and upside down “A.”
My previous paragraph was as diplomatic as I get about the old look. The previous logo was terrible. The “da” monogram was absolutely unpleasant, from its basic construction to its unfortunate angle to its color palette. The typography was passable, only because it evolved from other graphic catastrophes. The new logo evolves the “da” monogram in a rather obscure way — watch for the key frame at the 0:08 mark in the video a few images above — by making a ligature of a lowercase “d” and an uppercase “A” and then slicing off the sides, leaving behind an alien-like mark.
Paired with the way DeviantArt is describing itself now, and clearly presenting a more rebellious attitude and voice, the bold and angled logo comes across with an anarchic tone that works much better than the completely voice-less logo of before. I don’t love the new mark but I think it’s really good and it has some of the same qualities of what I liked about the Airbnb logo which are (1) the simplicity and reduction of the mark into a stand-alone unit and (2) the ability for the mark to be uniquely identifiable to its service. Because of its huge audience, all tied to the online product, the new logo can be instantly deployed and embedded in the daily machinations of its members; a few months from now I bet no one will remember the old logo.
Angles within the system are derived from the 62° angle of the symbol, including brand typography and a fully customized iconography set for the website and the mobile app.
The wordmark and identity, set in Klim Type Foundry’s Calibre, aren’t revolutionary. In the logo, it serves as a sturdy complement to the mark and in general use it serves as a workhorse font that can withstand the cut angles, which is a relatively interesting maneuver to establish a recognizable visual language for DeviantArt. Coupled with the right artwork from members, the type looks pretty convincing. I do have a conflicting feeling about the solution for the “A” which is the only one that has been italicized to solve the left-handed cut; I totally get why they had to do it graphically, and it works great in the logo, but it’s the only letter where it happens as an alphabet and that’s kind of odd.
The brand’s color palette was evolved to present art in its best light. The hero DeviantArt Green was made more vibrant but used sparingly for effect and highlighting, while carefully selected dark neutral grays are used pervasively to showcase art.
All I can say is Hallelujah! for the new green and gray hues that replace the mix of puke greens and booger greens that currently adorn the website. Sure, it’s trendy, but I’ll take that over the current palette any day.
Another great thing about our symbol is that it can tessellate to form a beautiful pattern. It is particularly powerful because, when the symbol tessellates, it allows the two “A”s to become more clear.
Turning the logo into a pattern clearly turns the mark into an “A” for Art but as a pattern it isn’t particularly successful. It feels clunky and forced when small. The effect seems to work better when it’s the giant marks creating a single “A”.
DeviantArt is yet to enter into the app world; with more of its users accessing the site from mobile devices and eager for a suitable platform, the stage is set and the audience primed for a revolutionary new mobile experience.
The mobile app looks promising. You can see some motion captures in the video below.
Overall, this redesign feels very well thought-out and positioned by Moving Brands and I think there is finally a great visual payoff to the “deviant”-ness of the name and the community that was missing all this time. The more “commercial” look of it I think will also benefit the members who have to compete against rising visual art communities like Behance and Dribbble whose much more polished look gives more legitimacy to the portfolios and galleries they host. In other words: Nice deviation.