A little while ago there was some discussion over on the Tapland forums about how it was such an unusually good online community, with so many intelligent and helpful members. This got me thinking a bit about another community that I have had the privilege of being a member of.
Back in the days when I was still studying art at RMC and just beginning to get into digital art, I had found one particular "online gfx community" which really stood out. This was none other than Toeng.com. It seemed to be filled with so much enthusiasm then, and I think much of that was because of the man in charge. Al "Toeng" Wijoyo was an enthusiastic digital artist himself, and really made the place come alive.
Eventually I became a moderator on Toeng, with the power to accept or deny the work being submitted to the site. It was a good place to put my art education into practice, and my critiquing skills to good use. Being one of the few members with a formal art education, I would like to think that I contributed to the community something that would have been otherwise lacking.
So in my nostalgia I decided to see what else I could dig up on good ol' Toeng.com, knowing that the site itself is no longer up. A few traces still remain, such as Toeng's member profile on the Graphic Forums, and a thread about the community at CGSociety.
Further digging revealed a website called Splash Challenge, which still contains two of Toeng's very own walls. The other works on the site are a good example of the type of submissions you would have seen on Toeng.com as well. I still have a soft spot for this type of digital art, and it really felt like we were a repository of a pioneering new art medium.
What made Toeng.com special was not only the art, but also its members. Even if most of us were quite young, I think that everyone was there to learn what they could and teach what they knew. The purpose of the community was to provide a place where anyone interested in digital art could come to learn how to create it, and then turn around to upload their work for everyone else to see. It was always a collaborative effort, with members giving advice and providing support for each other.
These days, a few of us are still up on the intrawebs. Joylee still has her site up, and you can view her most excellent vector work there, but I have not seen any updates for quite some time. Some members, like Ashveen, Axii, Holoden, 9thProphet, Matanza, Yajido, Iced02, and Xiaoyu, went over to DeviantArt. Still others, like Silver, Javen, Spoon, Chrono, Trunxz, and Chisa are nowhere to be found. It seems that when Toeng went away, despite our best efforts to stay in touch the whole group fragmented and just evaporated like so much rendered morning dew.
Al had gotten a demanding tech job in CA, and was unable to maintain the awesomeness that once was Toeng.com. Little by little members began to break away, and towards the end the site was riddled with PHP and MySQL errors. Only a handful of die-hards remained, but ultimately even they left. So rest in peace Toeng.com, you will be missed. And the best of luck to Al, and everyone else from the community, wherever you may be.