Just Another Pink Pony
I’ve found a little magic that could greatly help art conservation for images and accounts already deleted from DeviantART.
Step 1: Go to the Wayback Machine and put in the deviation’s address if you know it, or try to navigate there via the deviant’s page or gallery (gallery offset probably won’t work, ‘solid’ links only). I was shocked to find that a no-name artist’s work had been archived in 2015, so it may well have been a site-wide backup; mileage may vary.
Step 2: Once the page with the image is loading, tap Ctrl+I to open Page Info (in Firefox), and navigate to the Media tab. Sort by file type and scroll down to the Images. Once you find what you believe to be the main image (it will share the name of the deviation’s link, and probably be the largest one), copy that link from the list (it will end in .JPG, .PNG, etc.). Don’t worry if the image isn’t loading in Wayback.
Step 3: Open Derpibooru’s reverse image search (or go directly to upload if you’re sure it’s not here already) and paste the link into the “fetch” bar. Remove Wayback Machine from the link so it begins with “http˸//img05․deviantart․net”, and fetch. As if cast by Star Swirl himself, the image should magically load in the preview! You can also put this link into your browser, to check the image at full size.
I have done this with two images now (albeit from the same artist), and for some reason it just works. Despite Wayback not being able to load the images, Derpibooru can somewhow yank them straight out of DA’s ancient cache. Give it a try and let me know if it works for you! As a staunch advocate for preserving all works of fan art (regardless of the artist’s wishes), I find this extremely exciting, and I hope others will make use of this method to preserve as much as they can!
Bonus Step: Thanks to the Wayback Machine loading the deviation’s page if not the image, you can also preserve the original description, which I highly recommend quoting in your upload!