So it's late but I thought it would still be a nice thing to do.
I have been on Deviantart for four years now and I know it has really helped me improve, although things have got in the way a bit more recently. I don't think I can show a series of deviations that show a clear progression of skill like many people, in fact, the first thing I ever posted remains one of the most popular ones. I also feel there are too many people who have been an important part of my time here for me to name them all, so I appologise to all those who I have left out.
I joined after being encouraged by a friend at the end of my GCSEs, several of us joined together although I was the only one who went as mad with it as I did. I drew all the time that summer desperately trying to outdo or even just recapture the success of the first thing I posted, but it ended up being years before I did so. The first friend I met was r3n33gurl101, and there were a lot of collabs and silliness involved. Her character Mizu was one I drew a lot and After originally drawing a mix of cats, wolves and dragons I rapidly shifted to being mainly a dragon artist.
I did also meet one of my closest dA friends early on, BloodLust-Carman, but at the time I knew her as 'the one who took forever with her art trade', since at the time I had very little to do and wasn't that good so I could just finish everything the same day I agreed to it, so the concept of taking time over art was still odd to me. I have since then kept her waiting for some impressively long times myself XD Her characters and her world inspired me to work more on my own one. And on that subject...
Wyvernadas was one who I encountered her art first and was very intimidated, I thought she was incredibly popular and would have no time for a silly thing like me. After a while of watching her I gradually got rid of that illusion, and her world has been as much an inspiration as Carman's.
To return to art, during my active phase I attempted to start a comic and held a contest to design characters for it, I was rewarded with an entry from Amadoodles that just blew me away. I'd thought that Wyvern was out of my league, but Doodles was giving her advice. She then went though my gallery and gave me lots of critiques that really helped, and since we started talking she has made a huge difference to my skill level, as well as providing lots of entertainment with her comments (although the same could be said for most of the people I have mentioned so far)
And of course there was Keberyna. Kebs was one of the best friends I could have asked for, we planned a mad space ecosystem and got enthusiastic over each others monsters.
Then I discovered Rrkra, I noticed one of her DDs and I suddenly realised there was so much more that could be done with beading than I had ever tried, and also that beading was something you could put on Deviantart, I hadn't considered that before. Both things meant that I started beading again, and for that I am very grateful.
The next person I don't think I have ever actually interacted with, but has had perhaps one of the most striking effects on me of all of those I have mentioned. I was drifting around, looking at random things when I first encountered Paleogirl's plushies. Then in a sudden rush I remembered how much I loved prehistoric creatures, and it lead to another mad summer, this one where I spent my time making prehistoric creatures out of beads, after first buying a Dunkleosteus from her. I even tried setting up an Etsy shop too, but I didn't have any clue what I was doing and I ended up shutting it down. Thanks to her I am now known ofline as 'the one who likes fossil fish too much'.
Then the unthinkable happened, I drifted away. I went from being online all the time and having most of my socialisation happening here to having no time at all and an actual offline social life, which sort of squeezed out art in the middle. After two years of that I am now trying to stage my return, I hope that next year I will be able to balance things better and will be able to enjoy a lot of what I have missed about this place.