A Valediction for Parenthood

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I watched the penultimate episode of Parenthood last night. It was emotionally exhausting and I cried far harder than I probably should over fictional characters in a television series. When I watched the first episode of Parenthood six years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into. It was such a quiet show that seemed to have such humble ambitions – merely telling the story of an American family. I think there was a clue right from the start, though, that this was going to be more than a post-milennial Eight is Enough. After all, their last name is Braverman.

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Braverman! That name must be something to live up to. I actually looked up the name’s origin because I was pretty sure it did not originate with some courageous Saxon stalwart holding off a Viking horde and being called a “braver man” than most and then passing that name on for generations. It turns out to be Jewish surname from the Ukraine, a form of the Yiddish word braver which means good or honest. At least that is what most of the sources say, though one source says it means distiller. Well, the Braverman family does like their spirits. The name is perfect, though, there is something good and honest about this family and their quotidian dramas.

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All that is solid melts into air

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Art has many purposes; one is to make us think. If the greatness of art is measured by how much we think about it, Whiskey Monday is a great artist. It is difficult for a virtual artist like Whiskey Monday to get first life recognition for Second Life® art, but it is not impossible. I certainly think her work merits exposure in the broader world beyond our pixel borders.

Meanwhile, it is good to know that the powers that be in our world recognize her importance and have granted her LEA10 – one of the Linden Endowment for the Arts sims, to create art for the coming month. She’s working away and generously allows people to go there and use her builds in their photos.

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Where I first saw this build, I thought  of “Things Fall Apart”, the title of the book by China Achebe that a lot of us read in high school. By the way, if you have not read it, you should. I thought of coming undone, falling apart, coming apart at the seams; metaphors for the fragility of life. I do get the sense that Monday is tackling the big questions with her work.

Then I thought of creative destruction and Karl Marx’s quote, “All that is solid melts into air.” Marx believed the cycle of innovation, recession, then innovation, the boom and bust, would lead to the eventual collapse of capitalism. Free market fundamentalists love creative destruction believing it always leads to innovation that will always lead to more productivity and more wealth and so on. The computer destroyed the typewriter industry, factories closed and people were laid off. That is creative destruction. All that was solid about the typewriter industry has certainly melted into air. Even on a massive corporate scale, there is fragility.

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I wonder about creative destruction at the personal level. Is there something freeing about coming undone? Can losing it spark personal innovation, re-creation and growth? Probably, for some people. But not for all. Even the strongest person has points of fragility.

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Shooz Nooz #6: 21Shoe For Me And You

21Shoe kicks off tomorrow for 24 hours of shoe shopping goodness. Today I’m bringing you two morsels, YS & YS and Bliensen & Maitai to show off some really diverse offerings this round. First up above, the classic oxford with a wicked hud and sock option from YS & YS. Wear them how you like for lots of different looks.  Continue reading

Shooz Nooz #5 : 21Shoe PREVIEW – Ingenue & Miamai

There is a great lineup at 21Shoe this month and I’ve got two previews for you today.

What’s 21Shoe? 21Shoe is a montly event held at each creator’s mainstore. They release two exclusive shoes that are for sale BOGO for 24 hours only. After the 24 hours POOF they’re gone. So if you fancy them, you gotta step up and go get them!

First up are some wicked dotted heels from Ingenue. These fit SLINK, Maitreya and Belleza in the HIGH foot shape. They are pretty wicked and personally I’d put them on my “must have” list. Continue reading

Monday Morning Grind

I had to hit the studio early this morning as it’s going to be a busy next 48 hours. 21Shoe is coming and that can only mean one thing – awesome shoes are coming and I’ve got lots of shots to get done before 1.21. So I loaded up my lunch and other necessities for a day in the office and got in shortly after dawn.   Continue reading

I Could’ve Danced All Night

The first problem with dancing all night when you aren’t used to it, is that it’s actually quite exhausting. I’m having a lot of trouble getting going this morning. In fact, so say I’m wiped out might be an understatement. I have a lot on my plate today so I’m perplexed how I’m going to make it all happen. Continue reading

New House New Light

The first things I unpack in both lives are kitches and bedroom. You’ve got to eat and sleep. The rest is negotiable. I moved into a new house from Scarlet Creative and I’m perplexed with my love for it. It’s not my style yet I can’t get over how amazed I am by it. Continue reading

Creators Roundtable #5

This is the fifth and final installment featuring Second Life® creators discussing their work and the limitations that determine what is possible. This final post is drawn and synthesized from several comments by many different designers. I synthesized their comments in a plurk asking for their suggestions. That is followed by additional commentary from the participating Roundtable designers. Again, I thank the following designers for their generous gift of time and willingness to participate: Cyclic Gearz (CG), SySy Chapman (SS), Tyr Rozenblum (TR), Siddean Munro (SM), Anya Ohmai (AO), Shai Delacroix (SD). 

For the complete series, see Creators Roundtable #1 , #2,  #3 and #4.

What do you, as designers, wish your customers knew?

1: The cost of producing an item is a lot more than the 10 linden upload fee. Including in the cost of production are software purchases, licensing fees for design elements such as textures, animations and components, and above all time. There is an opportunity cost to all the time spent developing skills, designs and creations. When you buy a dress in your real life, you don’t object when it costs more than the thread and fabric. You understand you are paying for the experience, skill and time that went into making it. You understand the cost of production includes things like utilities, insurance and labor. Second Life businesses are businesses and have overhead costs, production costs and labor costs just like any other business.

CyclicCG – Consider that SL for most creators is a fulltime job, spending 40+ hours a week including weekends creating, for less than minimum wage a lot of the time. Someone who works doing something similar RL would be earning a lot more and at least get the weekends off.

 

2: Marketplace transactions are handled by Linden Labs, not by us. We are not informed of failed deliveries or other problems. If you don’t tell us about a problem, we don’t know about it and can’t fix it.

3: Just because our store is open 24/7 does not mean we are online all that time. Be patient when requesting customer service. When requesting help, read the profile. Before requesting help, read the notecards that came with the item. Perhaps you missed something. Some designers prefer notecards, some prefer IM. Some have customer service staff that address problems and do not want to be contacted. When you make contact by IM, start with your request. Don’t just say hello and wait for a response.

TyrTR: I want to add to this, just because stores are open all the time, and we are online, doesn’t mean we are working 24/7. We came to SL for the same reasons our customers did, and thats to have fun as well. Unfortunately we can’t put a closed sign up. So if something happens late one night that can’t be fixed until the following day, please try to understand, we do have lives.

Cyclic
CG:
Also think about timezones – not everyone is on SLT time.

 

 

SySy
SS:
 That. We’re not machines. We eat, sleep and have RL. Also: a customer is not the ONLY customer we have to deal with ;)

 

Shai
SD:
That we appreciate your feedback. Not only does it help us improve, it makes us feel better about our work. We love that you took the time to message us about errors or colors you prefer. Thank you.

 

4: Understand that there are script limitations. They cannot fit every person and every shape and height. Pose engines have adjustment options and customers can use them, but even with adjustment options, they will not fit all torso lengths, arm lengths and so on. It is not possible.

ShaiSD: That even if we make the mesh and rig it, we cannot possibly account for all animations in SL to work well with the rigged mesh item we sell. Some animations rotate/deform on places that affect our items. Unless both are purchased from the same creator and was made to work together. Same goes for AO creators who cannot adapt their work to all rigged mesh clothing. Its not all bad rigging or bad animations. Ideally, we should be working in the same studio swapping meshes and rigs, using the same simulated scenery and tools.

5: Read the ad before buying so you know what the perms are and are not surprised. If it says skin not included, skin is not included. If it says no trans, it’s not transferrable.

TyrTR: With gacha being as popular as it is, it’s important to note where you purchased something from. If you find an item labeled after a store on MP, be sure to read the sellers name if a transaction goes wrong. We unfortunately cannot help with third party purchases. It’s really important to be responsible about your purchases.  This goes for anything too, KNOW who you are buying from. Lots of shady sellers on MP will sell empty box products and dupes. Both things original creators cannot do anything about.

 

 

 

 

The Folly

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When Inex Hax shared her newest release for The Secret Affair on Plurk, I had to comment that it looked like it might just be my favorite of her designs ever. After getting in world and trying it on, it turns out I was right! It’s yummy and comes in white, black red, yellow, pink and blue. I loved each and every one of the colors.

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Creators Roundtable #4

This is the fourth installment featuring Second Life® creators discussing their work and the limitations that determine what is possible. Again, I thank the following designers for their generous gift of time and willingness to participate: Cyclic Gearz (CG), SySy Chapman (SS), Tyr Rozenblum (TR), Siddean Munro (SM), Anya Ohmai (AO), Shai Delacroix (SD). 

For the complete series, see Creators Roundtable #1 , #2 and #3.

Why do so many designers use really bad templates? Isn’t that in some way considered cheating? If you do use them, why charge so much when i can find the same outfit on marketplace for less?

CyclicCG – This is a pretty contentious area, there’s a lot of for/against when it comes to templates. They can be very good starting points for creators who aren’t confident with mesh skills, in learning how UV maps work, and learning about texturing. There isn’t really anywhere you can go further than that without learning mesh and making it yourself though. ‘Bad’ templates are usually seen as bad because of the rigging being a rush job I guess, but they’re often cheap and thats an easy in for new store owners.

TyrTR: No, it isnt cheating, in the real world if you worked in a studio, you would be doing one or two jobs max. You would be a texture artist, an asset artist, environment artist, animator, character modeler and so on. While I do think that everyone COULD learn to model if they wanted, I know people have their strengths and sometimes its just not learning a complicated UI that on some occasions feels like a 3D math test. It comes down to customers do not care. They want a hot looking item, with good texture, they don’t think about who made it, who took the time to be a unique snowflake. They want to pay their lindens and go. And really it shouldn’t matter to creators either. Everyone starts somewhere. I was a mesh snob when I finally learned, and that isn’t okay, because I went from templates in 2011 to doing it myself. I think the only problem with templates isn’t the templates themselves. I imagine it gets hard with events to see the same template recolored. Which is the ONLY reason I really suggest people learn, or maybe find a store partner who knows how, and then do texturing.

ShaiSD:   As a consumer, I prefer to pay for items who are made by the artist themselves. SL is for me is about the artists and being true to your craft. I feel like I cannot ask someone to pay for something I didn’t fully create myself. At the end of the day, your audience will have confidence with your work as you find your unique look. They know how you failed at this part of the construction, feedback is instantaneous in SL.  When you use templates, that feedback and responsibility falls on a third party.  Art, anatomy, and mesh proficiency is developed through time and consistency. There are no shortcuts.
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