Designer takes Deviant path to career success


DeviantArt celebrated its sixth anniversary Monday with Version 5.0, a redesign that makes the artists' social network site simpler to use, more pleasant to browse and easier to search. What remains unchanged, however, is the community that graphic designer Ryan Cosgrove credits as a critical part in building a career that now includes "CSI: Miami," "The Polar Express" and "Flight of the Phoenix."

DeviantArt CEO and co-founder Angelo Sotira describes the site's mission as a way of introducing all genres of modern art to the mainstream. Its more than 2.5 million registered users currently have 22 million pieces of art online for fellow members to critique and for anyone to peruse.

Cosgrove is one of many Deviants -- as DeviantArt users call themselves -- who believe the unbiased commentary and advice of his peers has been crucial in their professional advancement.

"I started posting things on DeviantArt and immediately got a tremendous amount of feedback right away," he says. "That was really cool and really captured me. From there I learned different techniques and experimented with style."

Having joined the site as an amateur, Cosgrove soon started sharing things he created in his professional life after he managed to get a production assistant job with production designers Rick Carter and Doug Chiang on "Polar Express."

Nothing replaces good old-fashioned mentoring like what Carter and Chiang provided, Cosgrove is quick to point out, but his online educational and supportive relationships also were valuable in his career development.

"I began posting a journal asking which 'Deviation' I should include in my portfolio," Cosgrove says. "The feedback was unbiased and brutally honest. Brutally."

Sotira recognizes the sentiment. "DeviantArt is a fire hose of creativity," he says. "Standing directly in front of it is only for the toughest of Deviants."

The site's new searching capabilities incorporate a new Moods feature that Sotira says will reduce misunderstandings of tone and make it possible to browse based on emotion.

A stint with "The Terminal" led to a position on "Flight of the Phoenix" working under production designer Patrick Lumb, art director Andrew Menzies and several other professionals that Cosgrove says guided his improvement in color, concept and composition. Along the way, he tried things out on his fellow Deviants for commentary unfettered by the need to spare his feelings.

Cosgrove now is a graphic designer on "CSI: Miami" under production designer Carey Meyer. He was introduced by art designer Martin Charles, who knew the show's production director, Stuart Blatt, to whom Cosgrove had to show his Deviant-influenced portfolio in order to get the job.

It's a perfect example of how being a DeviantArt member boosted the essential factors of paying his dues and getting to know others in the industry helped him on his career path, Cosgrove says.

He gives back to his online community by helping others just as they help him. Cosgrove has created a tutorial about what he does and studies tutorials fellow Deviants have posted. He also introduced Deviant photographer Gregory Kim to the "CSI: Miami" team, which now is considering purchasing some of his work for stock photography. Previously, he brought in photographer Fabrice Poussin, whose work was used as the character's in a "CSI: NY" plot involving a fashion photographer.

"DeviantArt is a great resource, especially for keeping track of trends that are going on around the world," he said. "But you know, I was very fortunate that my first job out here was 'The Polar Express.' "
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