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Type of site
Artistic community
Dissolved2016; 4 years ago (2016)
OwnerUsify AB
Created byThomas F Abrahamsson
LaunchedMay 1, 1996; 24 years ago (1996-05-01)
Current statusDefunct

Elfwood was a popular web-based alternative art gallery and online community devoted to original science fiction and fantasy art and writing.[1][2] It was started 1 May 1996 by Thomas Abrahamsson[3] and claimed to be the largest science fiction and fantasy art site in the world.[4] Gradually overwhelmed by its competitor DeviantArt, Elfwood was eventually shut down some time in 2016.


Early years[edit]

Elfwood was founded on May 1, 1996, by Thomas Abrahamsson, under the name of the "Lothlorien" project and was aimed at amateur high-fantasy artists.[3] The site was hosted by the academic computer club Lysator of Linköping University in Sweden.[5] At the time, its gallery consisted of three artists (including Abrahamsson), and all submissions and updates to the site were managed directly by Abrahamsson, with the individual users e-mailing Abrahamsson with their requested submissions or changes.

As the Lothlorien membership and gallery expanded, Abrahamsson developed the site's extranet in August 1997,[3] allowing Elfwood members to manage their own individual art galleries and account information directly, without requiring webmaster assistance.

After a while, "Zone 47" was created for science fiction and modern fantasy art, and two years later the "Wyvern's Library" was created for written science fiction and fantasy submissions. A few months later, FARP (Fantasy Art Resource Project) was created.

In April 2000 the ERB (Elfwood Review Board) was founded; it is responsible for maintaining the rules on Elfwood.

Temporary closing[edit]

In June 2001, Elfwood was closed due to death threats and reopened a month later.[3] In July the FanQuarter area was opened. At the end of 2001 changes to Elfwood were put on hold so a more manageable system could be created. Elfwood was reopened in February 2002 with a new moderating system.[3] After that, every update has had to go through the Elfwood moderators. Along with the new moderating system came Mod's Choice awards. These awards are designated by a star on the thumbnail and an icon of a phoenix feather on the page of the artwork. Each day's Mod's Choice awards can be found on the Elfwood homepage.

In January 2004 the sections known as Zone 47 and Lothlorien followed suit with the Wyvern's Library, merging to create the current SF&F Art area. Along with the change came a new layout for the whole site, as well as revisions to the rules. In November of that year, Elfwood artist Paul Cameron Bennett was charged in League City, Texas for kidnapping a 14-year-old girl, Margaret “Katy” Catherine Wilkerson, whom he met through a chat-room linked through Elfwood.[6]

Elfwood had a major crash, dubbed "the infamous April Fool's Day Elfwood crash,"[7] on the first of April in 2005. All data was lost and the last backup was from February. The site came back with a timewarp to February and the rules were again revised and rewritten. Archived copies of the Elfwood statistics counter from the Wayback Machine show 8000 fewer images and 200 fewer stories between the 1st and 10 April 2005.[8][9]

Elfwood celebrated its 10th anniversary in May 2006, and to commemorate this anniversary, the Opus Fantasy Arts Festival held the very first Elfwood summit in conjunction with the festival. A guest writer and guest artist was featured at the summit.[citation needed]

Commercialization and afterwards[edit]

After 11 years as an amateur website, Elfwood was transformed into a commercial community in September 2007,[10] adding new features for creating user profiles also for visiting users, tagging of favorite members and works and much more. Founder Thomas Abrahamsson said, "Cost for hosting and servers had become too high to handle as a hobby project."[10] With this came the move of the servers from Linköping University. Before the move, Abrahamsson was frequently physically unable to access the servers to maintain the site due to their former location at the university grounds, which were locked down during the holidays.[3]

In April 2009, Elfwood was re-launched in a new look and feel, with several important improvements at the site.

In May 2009, Elfwood launched a completely revised set of simplified rules, accepting a much wider range of works and even out-of-genre items under a special 'Other Works' tab. The Extranet was taken down its functions fully transferred to the main site, replaced by a more user friendly upload interface and simpler moderation process.

Site content[edit]

Artistic Display Areas[edit]

Elfwood had three main display areas for creative work:

  • SciFi & Fantasy Art is the main section (it was formerly divided in two sections, "Lothlorien" for high fantasy art and "Zone 47" for science fiction and modern/futuristic fantasy art).
  • Wyvern's Library is for sci-fi and fantasy themed stories and poetry, including short stories as well as longer novels broken up by chapters.
  • FanQuarter is devoted to fan art based on sci-fi or fantasy themed visual media such as games, movies, cartoons or TV-shows.

As of August 16, 2010, there were 941 separate galleries in SciFi & Fantasy Art[11] and 148 galleries in FanQuarter.[12]


The Elfwood ezine Woodworks[13] was started in January 2002 by Georgette Tan, which featured articles, reviews, artwork and tutorials by Elfwood members. Tan later retired as Editor and Megan Larson took the position, leading Woodworks to its final issue in December 2004. It is now hosted in an inactive state at the main Elfwood site after the domain was finally shut down in late 2006.


In 2003, Elfwood had 6700 artists and 1300 writers. It logged 14500 sessions per day, each averaging 35 minutes in length. Sixty percent of the users were in the USA and most of the rest in Canada and Europe.[14]

Date Number of Members who Publish Non-publishing Members Total Comments Written
SciFi Fantasy (# of Images) Fiction (# of Stories) FanArt (# of Images)
2003 6700 artists and 1300 writers - - -
5 Jun 2004[15] 22417 (383239) 4822 (30947) 3508 (32467) - - 9183329¤
1 Apr 2005[8] 24984 (434163) 5406 (34431) 3943 (37210) - - 11286593¤
10 Apr 2005[9] 24523 (426700) 5338 (34228) 3879 (36668) - - 11002115¤
Dec 2006 26285 (451312) 5771 (36182) 3836 (36740) - - 11002115¤
May 2008 25867 (441332) 5773 (36055) 3595 (33830) 35451 70686 4014119
25 Feb 2009[16] 25685 (434637) 5767 (35853) 3472 (32479) 48622 83345 4165282
20 August 2010 28841 (488826) 6419 (37056) 3810 (-) 61580 100650 4134721
29 March 2011 29436 (494174) 6463 (37296) 3843 (-) 66463 106205 4063941
29 April 2012 29393 (498269) 6494 (37429) 3791 (-) 79735 119413 3984801
* Notes where data may have been left unchanged from previous recording in Wikipedia in error.
A major Elfwood server crash on the first of April in 2005 wiped out 2 months of data.
¤ This number may include posts from Elftown before the project split from Elfwood. Also, it did not appear to change after mid April 2005 until late 2007.
This number, from the ticker on the top right corner of the Elfwood site, may be counting SciFi Fantasy and FanArt together.

The Elfwood claims that it currently gets around 3,500,000 pageviews a day and around 3,000,000 million unique IP numbers (visitors) every month. In December 2006, these numbers were around 80000 daily unique visitors and around 2000000 web pages daily.


Elfwood has been praised as an outlet for alternative beliefs.[2] The community has been described as a "very interactive place where people are very supportive," in a quote from the San Jose Mercury News.[17]

The FARP section of the site has been frequently recommended as a free resource for tutorials in a wide variety of creative topics.[18][19][20][21] For example, TeachEngineering.org cited two of FARP's tutorials as "excellent guides" for figure drawing and writing about action, Figure Drawing: Basic Pose and Construction by William Li and Writing Action by S. B. "Kinko" Hulsey.[22]


Each piece was reviewed by moderators before being displayed in a gallery, and profanity and provocative language were not allowed.[23] As of August 31, 2005 the rules were simplified, and in May 2009 they were further streamlined allowing also Non-Genre contents under a new "Other Works" tab.[24]

Notable artists[edit]

The following are some notable artists from all over the world who contributed to Elfwood at some point in time:


  1. ^ "Elfwood.com - Fantasy Art Community | Visit elfwood.com". Killerstartups.com. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Rupp, Crystal. Mitchell's voice rooted in art Archived 2013-01-31 at Archive.today. Tribune-Review. Wednesday, November 10, 2004.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Exploring Elfwood With Thomas Abrahamsson & Eliza Leahy". Gamegrene. 2003-08-04. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  4. ^ John R. Hall; Blake Stimson; Lisa Tamiris Becker (2005), Visual worlds, ISBN 9780415362122
  5. ^ "Lars Aronsson's review of". Amazon.com. 2004-01-03. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
  6. ^ TJ Aulds. "E-mail tips off FBI on teen’s location Archived 2004-12-08 at the Wayback Machine." The Daily News. November 26, 2004.
  7. ^ Allison Kathleen Whitby. "Allison Kathleen Whitby, Allison Kathleen Whitby profile page at Elfwood. Allison is an artist-type person with a strange little world in her head". Anahut.elfwood.com. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
  8. ^ a b "Elfwood". Archived from the original on 2005-04-01.
  9. ^ a b "Elfwood". Archived from the original on 2005-04-10.
  10. ^ a b Sloan, Sam. Slice of SciFi News Briefs for September 5, 2008
  11. ^ "FanArt Galleries". Elfwood.com. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  12. ^ "SciFi and Fantasy Art Galleries". Elfwood.com. Archived from the original on August 22, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  13. ^ "Woodworks". Elfwood.com. Archived from the original on August 10, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  14. ^ Johan Aberg; Nahid Shahmehri (2003), "Live Help Systems", Human factors and Web development, ISBN 9780805842210
  15. ^ "Elfwood". Archived from the original on 2004-06-05.
  16. ^ "Elfwood". Archived from the original on 2009-02-25.
  17. ^ "Try This, Elfwood". San Jose Mercury News. December 20, 2005. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  18. ^ [1] Archived January 28, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Links to Dollmaking Tips, Techniques and Tutorials". Doll Designs. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  20. ^ "A Variety of Free Courses for your enjoyment". 1-internet-courses.com. Archived from the original on June 24, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  21. ^ "Digital Art Techniques and Tutorials". Graphicssoft.about.com. August 12, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  22. ^ Integrated Teaching and Learning Program, College of Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder TE Activity: Wow! That Captures It! Archived 2007-07-14 at the Wayback Machine TeachEngineering.org
  23. ^ "Rules Introduction – The Common-Sense Rules of Elfwood". Elfwood.com. Archived from the original on August 19, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  24. ^ "Discuss Elfwood News Item: Elfwood Rules Simplified and Revised". Elfwood.com. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  25. ^ "Alena Lazareva". Alena Lazareva. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  26. ^ "Interview With Digital Artist Alena Lazareva | NYC Graphic Designer Roberto Blake". Robertoblake.com. Archived from the original on July 26, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  27. ^ "Blog Archive » TT: Interview with Natalia Pierandrei". Texty Ladies. July 7, 2008. Archived from the original on September 8, 2010. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  28. ^ "let yourself daydream ...natalia pierandrei's portfolio". Nati-art.com. Archived from the original on August 3, 2004. Retrieved August 16, 2010.
  29. ^ CG-Node: Interview with Andreas Rocha Archived June 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Dark Wolf's Fantasy's Reviews: Fantasy Art – Andreas Rocha". Darkwolfsfantasyreviews.blogspot.com. 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2013-05-21.

External links[edit]