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Adoptables or Adoptable Art are digital artworks of original characters that are listed for sale online, allowing clients to purchase ownership of the character and typically use them however they see fit. Adoptables are prevalent among furry communities and users on DeviantArt and, as opposed to commissions, come ready-made by artists. Versions of adoptables can be found online as early as the late '90s and early 2000s and have been compared to NFTs in the 2020s. In 2023, DeviantArt opened a shop section specifically for trading in adoptables, which garnered some controversy for allowing users to sell AI art as adoptables.
One of the earliest examples of a preliminary form of adoptables online can be found on Draconian.com, which includes an "Adopt a Dragon" page that advertises artwork of dragons that have been adopted from as early as June 1997. The page includes a link to an AngelFire website that allows interested parties to fill out an adoption form for dragons. While this process is similar to current adoptables, it is unclear if it is ownership of the rights to the dragon characters that are being offered or if any monetary transactions are involved.
Another early example of adoptables can be found on icyworlds.net, which posted several adoptable original characters (shown below) in 2004, however, the characters are only meant to be used as avatars or reposted in their original form according to the rules, which read, "I retain the copyright, meaning you may not claim that you made the graphics. Please do not alter the adoptables (like re-colouring them, editing parts of them, using them in other graphics, or such). As a single exception to that rule, you may resize them to suit your needs."
Adoptables became increasingly popularized on sites including DeviantArt and FurAffinity and became more malleable over time, with some artists selling the full creative rights over the character to customers, allowing them to use the character however they see fit (writing fanfiction with the character, creating original artwork of the character, etc.). The specific rules regarding this differ from artist to artist, with some still wanting credit for designing the character.
Numerous guides and explanations of adoptables have been published online. On July 10th, 2011, DeviantArt user starshinebeast posted a guide to adoptables that explains the concept of "open species," for example protogens and "closed species," writing:
When an artist creates a unique species, they can choose to label it "open" or "closed." An open species means that any other artist can create a character themselves but have it be the same species that the artist originally created. For example, an artist creates a species that is the mixture of a cat and koi fish. Another artists likes the species and wants to make one similar, but wants to make it like a beta or goldfish instead. Because it is an "open species" this new artist is free to do so because the original artist has given permission for others to use the idea or design.
However, a "closed species" is when an artist creates a design or series of designs and other people must gain use of this type of adoptable either through an adoptable auction by the original artist, commission the original artist to create a unique version, or pay the original artist a fee to create their own. Sushidogs are an example of a closed species adoptable.
On September 28th, 2018, BoozyBarrister of lawyersandliquor wrote an article about adoptables and what it means to purchase an adoptable from a legal standpoint. On February 4th, 2019, YouTuber Sushirolled posted a video titled, "SO YOU WANNA MAKE ADOPTABLES," garnering over 54,000 views in four years (shown below).
The idea behind adoptables has been criticized by some, particularly throughout the 2020s with the rise of NFTs. For example, on November 13th, 2021, Twitter user @SketchyMouse posted a meme comparing adoptables to NFTs, garnering over 1,200 likes in just over a year (shown below).
DeviantArt Adoptables Shop / AI Adoptables
On April 4th, 2023, the @DeviantArt Twitter page announced the opening of their beta adoptables shop, allowing users to buy and sell adoptable artwork directly through the site (shown below).
DeviantArt is excited to announce the ability to buy and sell unique creations with Adoptables! Learn more about this easy and automated way to get one-of-a-kind art securely.
🎨 Learn more: https://t.co/sgdLb7RIyX pic.twitter.com/fUQg67iSU6
— DeviantArt (@DeviantArt) April 4, 2023
The announcement was met with support from some artists, but criticism from others. That day, Twitter user @V4N4NITE made a post criticizing the guidelines and price cuts for adoptables on the site. That same day, Twitter user @TartiiCat made a post suggesting much of the artwork being sold through the shop is AI art rather than true original content. On April 10th, YouTuber Duchess Celestia posted a video about the drama, garnering over 1,700 views in an hour (shown below).
 Draconian – Adopt a Dragon
 Angelfire – crystal castle
 Icyworlds – Avatars and Adoptables
 DA – search for adoptable
 FA – search for adoptable
 DeviantArt – starshinebeast
 Lawyers and Liquor – Adoptables, How The F*** Do They Work.
 Twitter – DeviantArt
 Twitter – SketchyMouse
 YouTube – Sushirolled
 YouTube – Duchess Celestia
Apr 10, 2023 at 05:06PM EDT
Apr 10, 2023 at 07:32PM EDT
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