ArtStation is one of the most important digital art sites out there, with a reputation for being filled to the brim with professional artists - but it seems to have grown the reputation that it's only for professionals.
Many younger artists I know are intimidated by the idea of sharing their work there, and think they need a professional-quality portfolio before they can upload anything to ArtStation.
ArtStation is not only for professionals - it's for artists of all skill levels. If you make digital art, then ArtStation is probably the best place on the internet to share it, and you shouldn't let yourself be intimidated by the quality of the art on the site.
What is ArtStation?
ArtStation was originally made specifically for artists in the entertainment industry, to be the best place on the internet to showcase your artwork. The original purpose was to make it so that art directors and potential clients could easily browse the work of thousands of artists to find people to hire for their projects.
Since its inception, ArtStation has grown into something much bigger than just a place to house an art portfolio - it now also offers print-on-demand services, a digital marketplace, tutorials, personal website and blog, and it also acts as somewhat of a social media platform for artists.
With its growth in functionality, its user base has grown as well - and spread from that originally-intended professional audience.
How do professional artists use ArtStation?
Professionals artists use ArtStation as another platform to share their artwork on, much like any other social media platform like Twitter or Instagram.
But the biggest difference between ArtStation and other platforms like Twitter and Instagram, is that ArtStation is much more actively browsed by art directors and independent creators looking for artists to hire for their projects.
This means that most artists want their profiles to look as professional as possible, and to only show their very best work - lower quality work might scare away potential customers.
An ArtStation profile is an advertisement of the very best an artist can do.
ArtStation is also actively browsed by people looking for art tutorials, so again professional artists who offer tutorials want their portfolios to look as impressive as possible, to appeal to buyers.
Most professional artists use ArtStation as a place to host a portfolio of their best work - and since ArtStation diversified its functionality, many also use it as a platform to build an audience, and to also sell prints, tutorials and other digital goods.
So, should amateur artists post on ArtStation?
Since its primary use is in connecting professional artists with clients and customers, it would appear as if amateurs have no place on ArtStation.
If you aren't aware, there are actually loads of amateurs on ArtStation already, and they far outnumber the professionals - the front page is just designed in such a way that the professional art work makes it to the front.
If you change the filter on the front page from 'Community' to 'Latest', you'll see a lot more amateur work.
In the article he argues that learning artists should not be posting their work that they've put in very little time and care into on ArtStation - your portfolio is basically your business card, not a place to receive feedback or a find a peer group, and it shouldn't be polluted with work that you wouldn't show to your potential employer.
He argues that, regardless of whether you are an amateur or professional, there are so many advantages to embracing ArtStation as early as you can, to showcase your work and create opportunities for yourself.
My opinion neatly combines these:
Why you should make an ArtStation account
If you have any aspiration of making money with digital art, whether that may be finding a studio position in the entertainment industry, freelancing, selling tutorials, selling art prints etc - you should have a presence on ArtStation.
Being around much better artists than you can pull up your skill level faster, as you'll be more exposed to their work and process - not to mention the connections you might make from being active in the digital art community.
However, ArtStation is a place for art directors and customers to see your very best work, so it should not be used like you might use Instagram or Twitter, uploading everything you make - this just makes your portfolio and the site on the whole harder for clients to browse.
So what should you do if your art isn't near professional quality, but ArtStation is too much of an opportunity to pass up?
I think a good balance to strike is to upload your best work, and if your best work happens to be doodles and studies, so be it! Upload them - that is an accurate depiction of your best. When you create new and better art work, upload it and then curate the older, worse work - remove it, or hide it in a subfolder.
This way you can begin to use ArtStation right now, and benefit from the various opportunities it provides - if you wait until you think you are good enough, you wont know how many followers, clients and job offers you might have passed up in the meantime.
Don't fret about your follower count or likes though - concentrate on improving your art skills, uploading your newer work and curating your portfolio as best you can.