Welcome to my little corner of the web!
Hi! I'm Deven Rue, the official cartographer for Critical Role.
I deleted the information I had on here previously because I realized...I have a story to tell. I actually tell it often, however, I rarely have written it out entirely. Mostly because I forget that other people might be interested in learning about it or finding out why I do what I do. I always assume no one reads this page. But regardless of anyone reading it, I'd like to share my story...
It doesn't start with where I was born or how I grew up. It doesn't start with when I got into art or cartography. It doesn't even start with when I discovered D&D for that matter. No, it starts in 2016. November to be exact. I had been fighting with myself over my artwork. I was struggling with coming to terms with what I wanted to do. I love fantasy, it's where my heart is but I wasn't doing as well as I had hoped selling it. I had so many compliments on my maps but I fought against doing it for a living because I couldn't produce them quickly and I didn't think I would be able to sell a single map, a month of work, for enough money to actually pay my bills. Who has that kind of money to pay a person's monthly salary?! So I was struggling to find that place where things felt right as an artist yet still allowed me to pay my bills.
I then stumbled across Amanda Palmer's TED Talk about The Art of Asking. Now, regardless of how you feel about Amanda's music or art or personality or whatever, she made some pretty amazing points in her talk that really hit home for me. As an artist as well as someone who spent a lot of time with performers, I know what she meant and I totally connected with it. Listening to her talk about going from her label to one of the biggest success stories on Kickstart (and Patreon) just...blew my mind. She took a huge risk in putting her art out there for free and hoped her community would continue to support her (though she doesn't see it as a risk but more of trust, trusting in her community). And they did in a spectacular display of love and affection!
I wanted that as well. I wanted to trust my community, the RPG community. But I wasn't a musician with 25k followers to start with. I was virtually unknown to the RPG community at that time. Yet I was determined to make it happen and started researching possible ideas or examples. I came across Dyson Logos' Patreon. There was a real world example of several patrons paying an artist to create maps that he then released to the public free of charge (because the map was already paid for by his patrons). That was EXACTLY what I wanted to do! Only... with my type of maps which I was worried wouldn't work considering, unlike Dyson, I can only produce 1 or 2 a month.
After a bit of tweaking my business plan, in November of 2016, I relaunched my Patreon. I told everyone that they could download my art off of my website for free and if they liked what I created, to consider becoming a patron. I had very little to offer as rewards. By January of 2017 I was gifted a set of Earth Tone Copic markers and instantly knew what rewards to start offering.
Now I have several patrons that collectively pay for my art to be made every month and distributed to the RPG community as free downloads. Because of this spectacular display of trust and affection by the RPG community for my art, I try to give as much as I possibly can to my patrons. Not just because they help support me but because they are supporting the RPG community as well. They are paying for everyone to have maps and illustrations. They are paying to allow me to create not just for them but for everyone. And that is the ultimate goal for me and my art!