Take it from us, SySy Chapman (pronounced Sai-Sai) is one of the sweetest people on the grid and great fun to hang around with. She is one of those people whose answer to almost every question is yes – and not just yes, but an enthusiastic yes. She is a whole-hearted, jump right in with both feet sort of person. For example, when mesh came along, she deleted all her system clothing and started fresh with mesh. But do not let me tell you, you can see it for yourself when you read her interview.
It’s Only Fashion: What was your first day in Second Life® like? What made you stick it out through the learning curve?
SySy: A real life friend of mine told me about Second Life, she said “you have to try this chat game out, it is like an extended MSN messenger”. Little did we know at the time…. Because the fact she was already a week or two old in SL®, she found most of the basic things like teleporting, saving landmarks, change outfits, how to buy things etc., so i skipped the whole orientation island thing. I landed in some shady club she had found and was immediately intrigued by avatars we saw visiting the club. How come some had moving hair and why was i wearing an orange-non-movable-helmet type of thing on my head? Where did they got those pretty clothes? Which basically immediately set the tone for me, to begin creating.
IOF: What’s the craziest thing you ever did in Second Life? Most exciting? Silliest?
SySy: Oh boy. Where do I even begin? lol…. The most exciting things are definately some awesome projects I was involved in. For example the First Fusion show, back in the day organized by the Ewing Fashion Agency in SL, it was the first cross-over fashion show in real life and SL at the Amsterdam Fashion week. A year later, we did it again as Second Fusion, where a real life fashion show was held at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, and simultaneously we did the SL fashion show, at both places visible on big screens. We even created the exact designs the real life designer had created. A big challenge, but an absolute honor and privilege to have been a part of!
As I’m answering these questions, my mind goes back over the years and I’m realizing how many awesome things i’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in SL. Also, the Relay for Life events every year. Whether it’s the Fashion for Life event, or the Clothing Fair how it was called back in the days and the amazing RFL campsite ending weekends. How amazing is it to do something you love and at the same time making some serious money for a great cause?
As for the silly and crazies….hahaha…too many to name! It’s mostly in the little things. Visiting high end fashion sims dressed up like a sausage with friends. Making prank jokes with people who are afk. Having my workplatform spiderwebbed (Right, Whimsy Winx?) Go completely insane when my country (The Netherlands) is in the worldcup soccer leaque and making everything orange! I could go on forever, but lets not. 😛 Things like that 🙂
IOF: When did you begin creating? What was the first thing you made. Did you save it? Did it work?
SySy: I began creating about two or three weeks after entering SL. As I said i was curious as to where all the nice content came from, and began to investigate what was needed to create things of my own! As you previously asked how did I stick through the learning curve, I had some photoshop experience and I used to make websites. Which is entirely different then SL content creation, but at least I was no stranger to working with graphics on a computer. The real steep learning curve came much later, when mesh hit the grid. I’ve literally took about a year and some classes (I can highly recommend the classes of Cyclic Gearz) to be able to learn how to model and rig mesh and work with programs such as Blender. What made me stick with it is my stubbornness — lol —my determination, a LOT of help from my friends and my hunger to always learn more. Then in 2012, i literally deleted everything I had in store, and began fresh with mesh-only creations.
The very, very first thing i’ve made (pre mesh and all that fancy stuff) was a short strapless top, which I called “cream top” for the lack of a better name, and you know what? It actually worked! To my own big surprise. (Lots of not-so-succesfull releases have been out there, as well though). I lost the actual top, but I have a link to a fabulous fashion interview I did with Angie Mornington (anyone remember our SL “Oprah”?) back in 2008 or maybe even early 2009 I think it was, where that is featured. *blushes*. Lets just say we have come a long way in SL since then.
IOF: How did you choose your store name? Does it have a special meaning for you? If your stores is named after yourself, how did you go about choosing your avatar name?
SySy: No real exotic answer here! When I signed up for SL, i had no idea what it was actually about, leave alone I’d be running my own brand for all those years! So what i did was put my nickname SySy (in RL, alot of people call me Sy for shorts cause my name is a bit complicated) and just randomly chose a name from the options without even thinking about it. So naturally, my store was named S.Y.D at the first year (short for Sy Designs) but changed that into simply “SySy’s” later.
IOF: What is the most challenging part of being a creator in Second Life? What is most rewarding
SySy: Let’s begin with the most rewarding part, cause thats easiest: First and foremost, the amazing friendships and fellow creators i’ve met along the way. I have an insanely awesome and talented “support system” around me, and some of these people became real friends. Chandni Khondji, Sasy Scarborough, Sachi Vixen, Zaara Kohime, and Whimsy Winx to name a few names. It is amazing to get so much help and support in various ways, design wise, but also just for a nice chat. Working together is also much better then on your own, even if its just having someone standing beside you on a workplatform sometimes! Even Sasy’s man is pretty damn amazing and always willing to lend a helping hand, Mel vanBeeck. I’m trying to refrain from too many names, because i know i’m gonna forget folks. But these are the core of people who i really can’t imagine my SL without.
Second from a designer perspective: seeing avatars enjoy my products. There’s nothing more rewarding then seeing a blogger blog about my items, making beautiful pictures with it. Or encountering avatars “in the wild” wearing my things! I’m a kid in a candy store then!
As for the most challenging: For me personally that would be promoting, marketing, you know? PR. I find it hard to keep up with what’s out there, with blogging, sending group notes and then specifically to come up with catchy texts. As a creator i make things, and then i’d love it to magically pop in my store and thats that. When I finished a dress or a pair of shoes, its hard for me to come up with much more towards my customers then “i made a dress, come buy it?” lol. But I’m still learning, and I get a little help here and there.
IOF: Where do you get inspiration for your designs? What is your process like?
SySy: Inspiration for me can come from everywhere! Something I see on tv, a magazine, music, even a walk outside sometimes. The ideas just pop in my head. Lately, encouraged by some fellow designer friends, I’m looking at RL pictures of designs as well, not to directly copy them but to help me understand how certain light falls, where certain folds go etc. to try and make my creations more realistic.
IOF: How do your first and second life design aesthetics resemble and contrast with each other? How would you describe your design aesthetic? Who is your customer — the person you are thinking of when you design?
SySy: As for my RL aesthetics: my SL creations don’t resemble me in RL a lot. There’s of course always a little whip of taste in there, but overall i’m more dressed down in RL as I am in SL. Specifically the more glamorous dresses and gowns, its obviously not something I’d wear in RL, haha! In RL, I wear a mix of comfortable clothes such as jeans and simple top, or I tend to go a bit boho-stylish. Way more casual then what i make for SL.
Though I’m trying to reach a broad customer base in SL, with having some staple items, I tend to go a little bit more to the glam side of things. Just because i can and its fun! I’ve been venturing out lately to do more things which are not specifically “SYSY’s”, such as making fantasy themed items for events. I’m having fun with that, so i might make even more different themed items in the future.
IOF: One of the challenges of creating is Second Life is dealing with IP theft and the DMCA process. Many of those problems are due to flaws in the DMCA legislation itself. What changes within the control of Linden Labs that you would like to see?
SySy: Thats a tough question. I’m fortunate that it only happened twice to me that someone stole and blatantly copybotted my items and was selling them, but both times i could talk to the person and was able to resolve the issue like that. I have no solid answer…as I’m also wondering what Linden Lab actually *could* do about these issues. The fact they made the marketplace changes is a good step forward, imo.
IOF: How has your second life changed your first life?
SySy: Immensely! It’s not exactly a secret that due to some health issues I wasn’t able to continue my RL job all those years ago. And, even though I’m in a much better place health wise right now in RL, SL still helps me to do things which wouldn’t be achievable in RL for me, it gave (and gives) me a sense of doing something useful, it’s an outlet for my creativity, it’s a place where I can talk to some real friends. The fact i have a very loving and supportive husband (who’s not in SL) is something I’m very thankfull for. He encourages me and supports me all the way, even though sometimes he has no idea and his fashion sense isn’t, ehm, shall we say exactly suitable for SL?. Or RL — hahahaha! (kidding, I love you anyway babe!) I think for many of us, it is a challenge at the beginning to find a good balance between RL and SL, and, for a part thanks to my hubs, I think i’ve found that balance.
IOF: Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
SySy: Yes. That i’m gratefull that I get to do what i do, for the loyal customers and their support (you’re encouraging words do NOT go unnoticed!) and that I’m by far not done with creating in SL yet. For newer users I would say: Go and explore SL. Go see what’s out there! And if you want to step into creating things, don’t let anything hold you back. Live your dreams! I’m living mine 🙂