This is a guest article contributed by Mariana Ashley*.
These days it seems like there’s virtually nowhere to hide from social media. Every couple of clicks, you will see it, or someone will comment about it, or someone will use it to comment, or someone will put a hashtag on something not even close to a tweet. You might even say, this overabundance of social media has become … somewhat annoying?
The Next Best Social Media Thing
I’ll admit, when I heard about a new social media website and network, my first thought was to ignore. But then my eye caught a glimpse of the homepage of Dribbble. While it’s not always astoundingly beautiful, it often times is.
Dribbble is essentially a visual Twitter; the artist’s Twitter, if you will. In essence, artists post (or “shoot” as the site calls it) their images, their followers see them and comment (and sometimes “rebound” with images of their own that are related), and the entire value of the site is held together by this self-sustaining network of idea-sharing. It can even get you jobs.
The homepage of Dribbble is essentially a repository of their most popular image shots, and boy do they always seem to look good. Could you imagine a repository for the most popular tweets? I can tell you that it’s not nearly as pretty, and there’s actually an interesting reason why.
Social But Not Equal?
Social Media and equality or freedom or democracy tend to go hand in hand. Anyone can use Twitter to say anything, even if they might get fired for it. Dribbble is not a democracy but more of an aristocracy. While anyone can sign up for an account on Dribbble, you will soon find out that not everyone can post images.
When you create your account, you are known as a prospect. You put your website on your profile, find artists you like, and follow them. Try to comment, interact with people, and get noticed because, to become a shooter, you have to be drafted by a member of the site. Dribbble periodically issues invitations to members so that they can draft prospects. This idea of quality control through exclusivity is very new to social media, though it seems to work well for this site, at least in terms of keeping it looking good.
But that’s not all; even once you get drafted by a member of the site, you are only recognized as a “Rookie” while members with multiple shots are called “All-Stars.” At first I saw this as a strange tiered structure for a social media site, but I then realized that it’s more of a funny way to recognize and welcome new draftees to the site and give them a little more exposure.
How New Designers Should Use Dribbble
As for budding designers, this drafting system might become a bit of a challenge or even barrier to get into the social aspect of Dribbble. But do remember that the fact that Dribbble has such a unique and semi-exclusive drafting system makes the images on the site more striking and relevant. Artists have to earn their right to post images on the site, so they won’t just throw them away (plus they are only limited to 24 a month).
I’ve found that this site works phenomenally as a source of inspiration. You can browse images by project, bucket (which is essentially different types of projects such as branding, typography, and many more), color (which can be extremely useful if you feel confined to a certain dominant color on a current project), and tags which cover virtually anything in an image.
Of course, the idea that you can find several artists whose work inspires you, and follow them through one network is indispensible. Just finding five artists to follow can completely change the way you view and perceive graphic art. This will in turn change the way you create graphic art.
And while you’re following and admiring the work of the “All-Stars” of Dribbble, be sure to like and comment on what you see. It will increase your chances of being drafted, as will working on your own graphic creations and uploading them to your own site for potential drafters.
Win A Dribbble Invite Winner announced!
From Jacob: I have a Dribbble invite up for grabs. To go in the draw to win, simply leave a link to your Dribbble profile in the comments below, and follow me on Dribbble. I’ll email the winner next week and update on here also. Good luck!
Congratulations to Andres, the winner of the Dribbble invite!
*Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be left in the comments below. Dribbble shoe artwork by Joel Glovier.