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The Dark Arts

An Apology

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We need to address the post at the bottom of the September Promotions topic announcement.


We recognise the message has upset and angered some members, and we apologise for this. We are truly sorry, it was never our intention to hurt anybody, and it never will be. Our members are the reason the site is still running.


We appreciate each and every member of the site, regardless of artist rank. TDA is first and foremost a community in which we’re all supportive of each other and help each other.


We’ve heard that some people feel promotions are harsh – and they definitely can seem that way when not many people are getting promoted each month. We appreciate that some people seem to fly up the ranks to staff, whereas it takes longer for others to be promoted. We truly try to make things as fair as possible; having 3 admins means that we all make a list, then compare the lists with each other. If an artist gets 2 or more ‘votes’ to be promoted, then they are; if they only have 1 ‘vote’, then they aren’t. This is the way promotions have been done for many years.


We’d also like to clarify that the specific artistic choices mentioned in the September Promotions thread, such as red graphics/multiple fonts/popular stock and textures, weren’t specific things that will prevent you from being promoted – this was hyperbole and the examples weren’t specific or targeted at anyone; rather they were suggestions of things that can make graphics look busy or not unique. If red colouring (for example) is part of your style, this will not prevent you from being promoted.


Furthermore, not having a MC promotion this month wasn’t in any way trying to be a ‘punishment’ or similar – we only run MC promotions when there are at least 4 artists in a rank that are very close to being promoted, so that there is a good amount of artists to choose from.


It’s also come to our attention that some members have been thinking about leaving TDA for a time, and this has been a catalyst for them to leave. I would hate for this to be the case. If you’re thinking of leaving TDA, that is of course your right and your choice, but please do know that you are appreciated and valued, and we’ll do all we can to improve your experience here.


As a result of what has happened, we’ll be putting together a list of what each of us looks for in each rank in order to promote artists. We’ll hopefully have this up by/at the weekend.


If you have any further comments, please leave them below, we would be happy to hear them and will read and take on board everything you say.

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I feel like I need to post here as well, since it was I who posted the notice yesterday. I want to reiterate how sorry we are that people got hurt -- it is never going to be in anyone's best interests to be harsh for harshness' sake, or to be mean, or rude. It wasn't a good draft, and I accept that.

When I mentioned that I'd be willing to give promotion critique, I meant it (and I already have to some people). We're not setting our standards any higher than usual, nor are we favouring some artists over the others.


I can't take back what was said yesterday, nor can we make people's feelings heal instantly. What I hope we can do as a site is move forward and communicate with each other more clearly, and bring back the community that some have felt has been lost.


Please feel free to PM me about anything, and I'll be replying to some PMs I got during the day soon (I've been at work all day).

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It's come to our attention that this apology comes across as saying anyone who reacted to the words in the September Promotions thread was wrong. That was not our intention at all. We really are sorry for the things that we posted in that thread and want you to know that reacting to them by feeling a certain way such as being upset or angry is not something we want you to apologise for. Every emotion is valid, and we made a mistake. We want to apologise to you for causing you to feel that way.

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Whilst I am not trying to be smart or upset anyone I just thought I would put this here to remind everyone.


Constructive Definition: Helping to improve or helpful advice without upsetting or being negative.


There are a number of us on this site who love TDA and have been here for many years, creating long life friends and doing something they love. What was said in the promos could have been taken a number of ways but this could have all been avoid if it had been worded properly.


Idea time - I know that this idea takes a lot of time to do but I think it actually manages to help people. When people are not promoted we are left to guess what we are doing wrong normally seeking out the help from other artists to give their opinion on our work. I think we need to bring back the rank by rank reason for not being promoted piece. I used to find this very helpful as it pin pointed what was wrong and gave me something to work on. I honestly don't know how others would feel but I think it needs to be done. People need to know what they are doing wrong instead of being left on the dark where more mistakes can be made.

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I didn't know that this was how promotion choosing worked, so thanks for telling us, Karine. (Or maybe it was just me who didn't know. Also, that wasn't meant to sound judgmental at all -- I'm just saying this appreciatively.)


One thing I appreciate about TDA is how strict it can be, but sometimes, I feel like it's a little too much. I mean, I do agree with the idea that we as artists should go looking for critique from other people, but the thing is, all of those other critics aren't the people giving promos. I feel like the little mini-advice the admins gave a few months ago (I haven't been on in a while, so I can't be sure if they're still around) were really helpful, like Gaby said.


It's easier to fix your mistakes when you know what you're doing wrong, you know?


But I'm not trying to attack you guys. I really appreciate what you do. Thank you, admins. <3

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I'm not usually one to comment on topics such as this so please forgive me!


I appreciate everyone's point of view but I'm going to go off topic here. It's related, I promise!


It's already been discussed and the admins are aware that the notice was poorly worded and have apologised for it sincerely.

I think a big part of life is turning a negative into a positive and I think we can move forward from this together :) Hurt feelings

will take time to get over, which is understandable, but it's something that we can try to mend TOGETHER.


To me, the biggest thing that stood out was the mention of "community" and how we should all be supporting each other. It was

mentioned that feeling has dwindled in general. Now, I think it's something that we should bring back and I have always been an

advocate of the warm, fluffy feeling TDA used to bring. This shouldn't just be a graphic community, it should be a place where

friendships and bonds through shared interests are formed.


We all talk about nostalgia and the past but lets make it the present. Let's all pull together, well together XD, and support each

other. That's not just something staff or admins can do, it's everyone. From validating to member to artist, we all need to support

one another. Comment in galleries, send PMs, make topics, discuss things. We are all equal here there should be no ranks when

it comes to friendship and WE are what make TDA a community. We need to make that.


What could bring back that feeing?


I understand that I'm a staff artist and promotions don't effect me any more, but I've been through promos before. I understand

how horrible it was not getting promoted and how real life gets in the way. Nobody should be judged for that - life is more important :3


PS: I am in no way demeaning any hurt feelings, I am just looking for something we can do moving forward because I love TDA

and nothing would make me happier than us all coming together as one again :D


sorry for all the words "together".

Edited by amoretti.
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Whilst I can understand that the comment posted under the list of promotions may not of meant to leave members feeling isolated, insulted and hurt, I feel it had every potential to do so. Perhaps the intention wasn't to do this, but when things like "It is a busy time of year, which we understand, but it's still no excuse for sloppy blending, or overcolouring, or over usage of textures." and "Having four fonts on one banner, or making a graphic that is flooded with red will not get you promoted. Neither will usage of trendy stocks and textures." are said I find it hard to see how it can be taken any other way. I joined TDA almost five years ago and my reason for joining was that it was fun, something to spend time on when I had time to spare alongside the whole community aspect of the site and the way the making of graphics encouraged people to express themselves in a creative manner.


All four of these reasons, I feel, are made null by the quotes I've posted above. The first suggests that I should be dedicating time to making my graphics faultless -- something which I feel is impossible when we all are, in some way, shape or form, still in the process of learning to graphic -- and that I shouldn't be making graphics which may not be up to the exacting standards tda has apparently come to hold and posting them simply because I'm making them for fun. It is a statement which suggests that tda should be treated with the same dedication a person would their education or occupation, rather than just a hobby.


The second quote, with it's extremely specific examples of what not to do, leaves me feeling that I can't do certain things that I may want to. It makes me feel that if I'm to overindulge in red colouring or experiment with my font and texture choices -- because I do tend to enjoy that sort of thing -- I don't belong on a website tda as it makes it seem like tda is an exclusive graphic forum that only accepts specific graphics. I understand that these may of been listed purely as examples, but if they are a real problem here on tda then why not post a topic detailing how people can help combat these issues? If they can really be considered issues at all, that is, as graphics, like most forms of art, are purely subjective and what may not be one person's cup of tea it may be another's. The second quote also rules out using textures if they are already popular on tda, a ruling that implies that those higher up in the ranks have some kind of superiority in a way -- aka the higher ranked get the higher rated textures and the lower ranked should stay far away for they are not 'worthy', and it is a ruling that I can't help but find hypocritical when tda, to me, at least, has always seemed to be a community that celebrates trends what with the digest posted at the end of the year having a section dedicated to the trends that have sweeped tda throughout the year. Textures and various other graphic materials become trendy because they are shared through people -- an idea that I feel personally promotes community rather than diminishes it.


I hope I have not come across as too preachy or rude as that was not my intention, I am simply trying to say what I found problematic about the comment and I do not mean to insult to disrespect the admins, I am just voicing my opinion on the matter.

Edited by felis catus
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Hi me again *waves*

When I was a maze master it was amazing. All the maze masters came together and we truely helped each other and Jess really got our motivation going. I was plesently surprised to see how many people actually got involved. I cannot remember the exact numbers. The maze was a bit of fun which helped people experiment whilst having fun. I'm not saying bring the maze back but it could be an idea in the future but maybe we can have fun monthly activities that a normal community (like a village community) would do.


A point I have always stressed is that I know that lower ranking artists are sometimes too nervous or scared to contact a higher ranking artist to ask for help because they feel higher ranking artists are better than them and will tell them that their graphics are terrible. Believe me I was like that back when I started. I think around the forum we need more helpful articles on things and maybe have some old ones updated. Old information may not be plausable for who ever the admins are now meaning that someone following it may be going wrong. Critiques are definitely needed, lots more. I know they take up time but that is the only way people will learn from their mistakes and how they can improve.

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Okay, I wasn’t going to comment anything here because I honestly just wasn’t sure if I cared enough to. I started writing a response to the September Promotions comment earlier, and I just gave up, because there’s a part of me that feels so done with all of this. But if adding my thoughts helps even a little bit, then it’s worth it, right?

I feel like the problems with what was written earlier have already been addressed a lot, so I’ll try not to repeat everything. I just think it’s sad that a comment like that was made in a thread that pretty much every single member on this site is going to check and read. I think it’s upsetting that there appears to be some kind of belief that TDA should come before…everything else. That being busy with actual lives is ‘no excuse’ for sloppy blending, etc etc

I am surprised to learn that artists on TDA are apparently frowned upon for using ‘trendy stocks and textures’. Since when has this ever been a problem? TDA has always been subject to trends, with regards to resources, fandoms and styles. It’s just something that happens in communities. I really feel that it is unfair to disregard artists for promotion simply because they are using the resources that are currently popular - it makes absolutely no sense, and it smacks of elitism, which has always been a problem within the TDA community. If that truly is a deciding factor in promoting people, then the lower-ranking artists are frankly being done over, because what on Earth else are they supposed to use in their graphics?

There are reasons why certain textures, stocks etc become popular - people like them, they look pretty, they work nicely in graphics, they give them a certain effect that people like to look at. What is wrong with this? What is wrong with liking what is popular?

I know that that’s all already been hashed out, and I know that there has been an apology posted for the way this was worded, however the fact that it happened at all shows that we have a very present issue within this community that I do think has existed here for a long, long time. TDA has always been very clique-y, I think, and it has always felt like the lower-ranked artists are just not as valued as the higher-ranked ones.

Personally, I think that the absolute focus on ‘style’ on this site isn’t good. I don’t think that achieving a certain style should be the absolute pinnacle of achievement. That’s just my opinion, but I feel like there are a lot of artists on here who are making graphics of an incredibly high standard - some even higher than certain-ranked artists - who aren’t promoted simply because they don’t have something recognisable as a style, when actually a style means a lot less (to me) than having a nice-looking graphic as an end product.

I really think we’re cultivating an elitist community and have been for years by looking for this as a major factor in choosing who to promote. I think, though, that maybe that also has something to do with the fact that there are only three individuals who make those decisions (I think there are currently three admins? Apologies if I’m wrong) given that things like this are so subjective.

Also, and I don’t really want to point fingers or anything here, but Violet’s comment completely undermines the apologies that have been posted, I think. Even in those, a lot of the wording was more along the lines of ‘I’m sorry you have reacted badly to this’ rather than ‘I’m sorry that my words have hurt you’, but advising people to move on from being hurt by Ayesha’s comment and just make more graphics isn’t a great response from a former admin. Talking about how these problems are ‘very easy to prevent’ also just dismisses the effort and difficulty of making graphics - maybe for those who have already achieved staff they are easy to fix, but people are still learning. We shouldn’t be discouraging that.

It is not the fault of the people who were hurt by those comments that they were hurt; it is the fault of the poster of those comments, whether it was intentional or not. I’m sorry if I’m now the one being too blunt here, but I really do not want to see this spin back around and land on the members who are feeling upset over this when it isn’t their fault that certain parts of their graphics have been picked apart and slated for the entire website to see. No names were called out in the thread, of course, but such specifics as ‘flooded with red’ and ‘using more than four fonts’ are fairly easy to locate in graphics, and that can make what has happened today feel like a very personal slight.

I feel like there’s a lot more I want to say, but this is already ridiculously long and I just don’t know how to word my thoughts, to be quite honest. I feel like it’s very easy to sit on top of the pile in this community and point fingers at what everybody else is doing wrong, and I feel like it’s very easy for little groups to form among the members and for everyone else to be excluded.


Also, I'm very sorry for how long this is, brevity is clearly not my strong suit!


I’ve long felt like this community only really caters to a select few, and stuff like this just fully reiterates it. I honestly don’t know how to fix it, either, because it’s long been a problem here. I’m just glad that people are finally speaking up about it.

Edited by salazar
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I can't really state more than people have said before and I've made it known before some of the bias I think regarding some of that - mostly in private - but I have one thing to say that I think is important.



I really think the promotions should have more of a rubric or some sort. And I say this just because of my last two promotions - I was active for months and months, wasn't promoted, stopped being active and only posting one or two graphics that month and then I was promoted - while the content of my gallery didn't change, or the only difference was I removed one or two graphics and maybe added one or two. So how did I get promoted when I statistically made no change? Not that I'm arguing about my promotions, because I'm finally my favorite color. But it has never made sense to me, so I think a lot of the promotional inconsistency could be solved with a rubric - and then, instead of full critiques, maybe just give quick review on the two weakest points or something.


Just a random thought I felt should be known - my promotions came when there was nothing significantly new, but it was the same people voting. So I think consistency should be added in aspect of that. I also think, as above, style is a little less important than having the technical ability to do creative graphics that consistently come out beautiful.



If you want the short version: the promotions have always seemed very subjective to me and I think efforts should be made to make them more consistent.


third edit is the charm? It should also be noted a rubric isn't necessarily the perfect way to go, I just suggest it because I'm very everything has its own box type persona - I mean, I'm specializing in tax law in law school. I'm very strange in my thought processes. I just mean some system of consistency rather than subjective nature - I like rubrics. I made a rubric for the class I'm TAing. And now I'm just straight up avoiding the reading sitting in front of me.

Edited by aurevoir
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I, too, rarely comment on things like this - and I can hardly be accused of being TDA's most active member. However, I feel the need to say something because I'm surprised it's taken this long for the whole "trendy stock images" thing to get some blowback.

Graphic-making is an incredibly relevant art in 2015 because so much of popular culture, media, etc, is done online. Every website has advertisements and banners, every movie has a poster, every television show has billboards down L.A. streets. The fact that this website is populated with hundreds of artists could easily put many people in the business out of a job with their talents, and yet are made to feel like powerless failures by those in charge, is one of the saddest things I've noticed on the website. (Again, I know so many admins, mods, ex-admins, ex-mods, from TDA who are the sweetest people imaginable. I don't think this is any one person.)

When was the last time anyone on this website took the top 5 or 10 oldest/highest-ranking artists on this site, who've been around at the beginning, and looked at their graphics from when they started? (Back when they were self-proclaimed Staff Artists.) Those graphics they made would not even qualify for Junior Artist level now. That sends one very clear message, at least to me:

Talent has always been subjective on this website. It makes me sad. Allow me to quote Maisie from above, since I can't quote the whole post! "There are reasons why certain textures, stocks etc become popular - people like them, they look pretty, they work nicely in graphics, they give them a certain effect that people like to look at. What is wrong with this? What is wrong with liking what is popular?"


A "style" that is recognizable within seconds is not something that can be, or should be quantifiable. And those who have not reached that point based on a handful of members' opinions should not be punished for it.


Again. I reiterate. More than half the members on this site are far past professional level. You could be making money off of your skills. That is talent. That is power. That is not something that should be discouraged.

Edited by vinewood
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Despite fearing this might sound like a broken record, I also wasn't going to comment, but I do agree that the comments made were hurtful and destructive. A lot of effort goes into making even one single graphic, so to hear that looking upon galleries full of hours of time and effort and beauty can be 'disappointing' is really quite staggering. However, the comment has been chewed apart enough, I feel.


I would, however, like to add to the discussion about 'style'. If we're going to be constructive in our response to this, I feel it is important to note that relying so heavily on 'style' for promotion opportunities is impossible and impractical. As someone who has been told multiple times that I need to 'work on my style' as the main promotion critique point, I understand how incredibly frustrating this is. For one, it is a very vague and difficult thing to tell someone to improve on. A lot of people focus and worry far too much about somehow magically finding a style, rather than experimenting and improving their technical skills. Since a 'style' is so hard to define, and is perhaps the most subjective, opinion-based part of a person's graphics, it is hardly a fair way to judge who is good enough to be promoted or not. Graphics should be judged individually, for their composition and their technical points, rather than for whether or not they fit into a 'style'. Technical skills are far more important, in my opinion, though absolute perfection isn't something that should be just expected. Mostly because nobody has it.


I don't have much more to add that doesn't just repeat the posts above me, so I'll simply agree with them wholeheartedly and leave it at that. I just thought I needed to add my opinion to the mix. Thank you for allowing us a forum to express our concerns and frustrations, since I think it's pretty clear it was needed!

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These posts about style make so much sense. Really, when we make graphics, we're just making them the best we can while trying to incorporate something we love into the graphic (such as song lyrics, screencaps from movies / tv shows, specific colors, etc.), and I feel like when we try to force a style through, it just clutters up our ability to love what we do and make good graphics in general.


So sometimes I think that telling people that their style is inconsistent squashes their creativity. If they make gorgeous graphics with a consistent style, fine. If they make gorgeous graphics without a style, fine. And in my opinion, people do have their own styles no matter what. I can always tell who made what because it's what they do with their graphics, and no one else. Honestly, as long as people aren't outright copying other artists, this whole style thing seems like a moot point to me.

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except style has always been a key factor in deciding who's staff-worthy. it's hard work to find your style? it's hard work to get to being staff.


the admins don't only look at style when promoting. technical skills also play a huge role (a point which people seem to be ignoring).


style is about being original. and standing out. no it doesn't happen overnight. i doubt anyone on tda wants their graphics to be interchangeably just another one in a crowd. if an admin gives a piece of critique that isn't clear, why not ask them to clarify?


we all wanna improve. so let's work on that.

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^ im sorry, but why do I need a style? Honestly, I LOVE trying out things I've never tried before. And if that means I'm never going to get promoted, that's stupid, because I could master every skill from photoshop, but I'm not allowed to be promoted because I like trying new things and don't have a "consistent style"? That doesn't make any sense to me. People get bored of trends in graphics, I get bored of trends in my own graphics, so I change them. THIS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED, not something we surpress.


That's all I'm going to say about the style thing because tbh everyone else has already said everything I wanted to say, and at this point, it would be preaching to the choir. There are the people that are upset/have been upset with the way TDA is being run, and there are those that aren't. And neither of us will be able to change the others mind.

Also quick add to my last bit- I think it is far more impressive of a talent to be able to master several styles of graphics than to just let yourself be very good at one kind.

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let's crush the assumption that having a style means making the same graphics over and over. a style is the je ne sais quoi that makes your graphics uniquely your own. which yeah, is a hard thing to pin down. but it comes with time and practice. no one's telling people to limit themselves. the way to developing a style is to try a lot of different things.


would you say some of your fave artists honestly don't have a certain something about their graphics that makes it theirs?


aaand to edit -- having a style doesn't mean you're only good at making dark monochrome banners. it means that whether you're making a dark mono banner or a bright flowery sig, it looks like something only you could have made.

Edited by love machine
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Maybe they do, but that's because they've been conditioned through the years to repeat their style.


-I- want to see a graphic and go, "wow, that's awesome! I wonder who made that?" Then find out it's an artist I already adore who managed to make something SO UNIQUE it no longer looked like it was made by them.

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