Up next in the “Side-Hustle” series is Angelo Sotira, CEO of deviantART, an online community and marketplace for artists to showcase and sell their art that was founded in 2000. Angelo founded deviantART at the age of 19, but it wasn’t his first company. At the age of 15, he built and eventually sold a music file-sharing site called Dimension Music. We discussed the idea of community and how “side-hustling” has changed today’s marketplace.

How do you define your “personal brand?” What does it mean for your company?

Community. I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life building communities. DeviantART’s single most important attribute is our culture. The meaning behind “deviantART Loves You!” has been very important from the day we began.

What gave you the inspiration to build your company?

DeviantArt was started to service the community of artists who, at the time we started, didn’t have a place to congregate, share their work and publish what they were doing. We set out to change the world. I think there’s a blind ambition around these things.

What has been your experience with the “side-hustling” trend in Gen-Y? How do you see it impacting the marketplace?

We have always encouraged artists to reach audience through deviantART to promote any project they might have, on Kickstarter, Etsy or any other “side hustling” site. We also have a print program which can provide very substantial revenue for artists and a digital platform where artists can sell any digital download and take advantage of deviantART’s virtual currency for micro-payments. The next step for dA is to provide artists with sustainable income.

How can someone balance the responsibilities of a “real job” with a digital side-project? Not just from a time perspective, but to avoid negative criticism from employers?

I think it’s somewhat understood in the arts community that many people have extracurricular projects, but meeting and exceeding expectations at any job is imperative to succeed.

What are 2-3 pieces of advice you would give to someone who is stuck in their career and looking to take a step to the next level?

Look to the defining moments and challenges of your life and reexamine those lessons to recognize your passion and your skills. Use all of the resources around you. Technology has made huge developments and today’s entrepreneurs should capitalize on them.

Thank you to Angelo Sotira for taking the time to share his insight.