Once I got over the feeling of wanting to figure everything out by myself, I took the plunge and joined an art community - it was one of the best things I ever did for my art.
Being able to talk with other artists about the artistic journey is not only enjoyable, but it accelerated my growth as an artist - art communities have had a huge impact on my art, my confidence and my success.
I first started with lurking on the amazing ConceptArt.org forums, which have sadly been closed. After that, I moved to Facebook groups but they all felt too impersonal.
Then I stumbled on Discord, and it is now by far my favorite way to meet other artists and hang out.
Scroll further down the article for my list of recommended Digital Art Discord Servers.
But first, for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, a quick explanation of what Discord is and why it’s so useful:
What is Discord?
Discord is a mobile, desktop and browser app designed to enable people to easily host and join communities.
Typically these communities, officially known as Discord servers, are built around shared interests.
You can find servers for a myriad of different interests and hobbies out there.
If you're familiar with Facebook groups, or with forums such as Reddit, a Discord server is pretty similar, but in my opinion simply better for a few important reasons
Why is it better than Facebook groups?
A major advantage that Discord has over Facebook and forums is completely instant messaging, with full mobile and desktop notifications. Keeping on top of your conversations is much easier in Discord.
Secondly, all of the Discord servers you have joined are available from one single app, meaning all of your conversations happen in one place.
Importantly, it feels much more personal and immediate than Facebook or forums, and the conversations you will have there are usually more satisfying.
Discord communities provide a great place for like-minded artists all over the world to meet, help and encourage each other.
In most art discords, members give each other advice and feedback, share useful resources, and even work together on projects.
- If you feel like you are lacking feedback regarding your art, or are confused about your direction,
- If you have questions you’re struggling to find the answers to and could do with other opinions
- If you feel lonely on your journey and would like to be part of a group of like-minded people
Then I highly recommend trying out the servers below.
My favorite Digital Art Discords
I’ve joined many, many Discords, and the following are my most recommended for digital artists - in no particular order:
1. Art Corner
Click to join Art Corner - share an introduction to get full access
This reasonably sized server is generally skewed toward fantasy and science-fiction illustrators. There are quite a few professional and higher skill-level artists talking, giving critiques and helping push each other forward.
The server does have a gateway to ensure all members are legitimate - to gain full access to the server, you will have to verify that you're a real human and introduce yourself in the introductions channel. Include a link to your art portfolio, social media, or attach some images of your work - there are no style or quality requirements to join, this is just to keep out trolls and bots. Moderators approve every member by hand so it may take some time after you post your introduction to be admitted.
2. CG Core
CG Core is another large server filled with a lot of professional artists, mostly in the games and film industries. There are a lot of notable names in there, you'll probably recognise a few if you scroll through the user list.
There's also a lot of discussion channels, ranging from discussion of specific art softwares, to mental health, to international voice chat channels for 10+ different languages.
There is LOTS of advertisement, for example artists sharing their latest twitter, instagram, and artstation links, youtubers sharing links to their latest videos, courses posted by the mods and senior members, and importantly there are industry jobs posted most days.
Note that it may be hard to build friendships here due to the very professional atmosphere, but because of the wealth of advanced industry experience and the job and learning opportunities, if you want to work in games or films this server is a must join.
3. Lightbox Expo Online community server
This is a relatively new server that has exploded in member count (10k+ members) with the creation of the Lightbox Expo Online, a virtual convention celebrating the best in the live-action, animation, illustration and gaming industries. It is filled with aspiring artists of all types, all there to learn from the presentations put on by established professionals during the expo. While the expo isn't on, the discord is still very active with artists frequently streaming their work and hanging out in voice chats.
Like the event itself, the discord is divided into 8 'halls', each dedicated to a different sector of art, including illustration, concept art and storyboarding. Each hall has its own sub-community with chat rooms, art share and draw-together channels.
4. Art commissions
This is a giant server with tens of thousands of members, all with one thing in common - they are all there in the pursuit of getting art commissions. This means a lot of advertising and talk about how to find clients and commissions.
The age range is generally younger and mostly consists of less experienced members - it’s an extremely active server with multiple critique, feedback and advice channels.
It’s probably best suited to young artists who are still finding their feet, especially those who would prefer just to lurk in a large community, and keep an eye on other young artists on the same journey as they are.
5. Burger Bar
Coldburger is the online alias of Christian Fell, a splash artist who has worked for many games including Dauntless and League of Legends.
He owns a server with a higher average skill level than most art communities, with an emphasis on developing the skills necessary to become a freelance artist for the entertainment industries i.e film, TV, games etc.
You can find critique from experienced artists here, but with the expectation that you contribute some useful critique to others first.
How to find more Discord servers
If none of these seem right for you, you can search through hundreds of art Discords to find the right fit, using these websites:
You can search for public servers from within discord itself too - once you’ve downloaded it just click on the compass symbol at the bottom of your server list on the far left of the app.
Also, don’t forget to check if your favorite artist already has a Discord server! There’s a decent chance they do, especially if they are a Twitch streamer or YouTuber.
How to join and use Discord
Discord is available as an app on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS, as well as usable in web browsers without having to install anything.
Head to Discord.com to download Discord to your device or access it in your web browser.
If all else fails, make your own Discord!
If you think you might want to run your own discord server, its really easy to make one - whilst time-consuming and sometimes hard work, it can be very rewarding to manage and grow a healthy community.
Once you’ve installed the Discord app just click the little + at the bottom of the server list on the left, click create server, name it and you are away! Now you can design the category and channel layouts, and even figure out how to get bots to automate tasks and instructions for you!
Well, there's my recommended list. Like I said, I've been in possibly hundreds of servers at this point, and I'm always checking out new ones. The above are, in my opinion, the very cream of the crop.
I hope to see you in one or all of these communities!