I found Decoy first through my love of shoes seven years ago – not just seven years ago, but seven years ago this month. That means Annette Voight has been around creating through all the changes in design technology, learning new skills and adapting to the trends and revolutions of Second Life with élan. She started making hair just five years ago, but from the outset, her textures were great (redheads have to be picky) and her style casual, but always elegant.
It’s Only Fashion: What’s the craziest thing you ever did in Second Life? Most exciting? Silliest? Is there a story you can share that captures your Second Life experience?
Annette Voight: The most exciting experience for me was exploring Numbakulla, this awesome puzzle adventure sim that I stumbled upon around 2007/2008 when I was still pretty new to SL. I was bored of only hanging out at typical places like beaches and clubs, so this was one of the best hidden treasures for me. I met a lot of new people there, usually bonding over the amazing scenery or working together to figure out a puzzle before we all went insane. Each zone was a different theme with unique puzzles, so it was always thrilling when you finally solved one that let you into a new area. Numbakulla helped me realize that SL was much, much more than just a “3D chat program”. I really miss it and I’ve been thinking of making something as intricate as that soon.
IOF: What drew you to designing hair? When did you start? What are some of the changes that were most significant for you?
Before I even considered opening a store, I would sometimes sit in a sandbox and create hair for myself whenever I wanted a new style. I had used up my “newbie coupons” and was too poor to buy lindens, so I gave it a go. I knew it was free to create prims and there were library textures you could use, so I’d just use something like a grass texture, change the repeats and tint it. They weren’t quite ETD quality styles, but good enough! In 2009, about a year and a half after I established a clothing store, I decided to revisit making hair for a change. I was pretty happy with one style and sent it as a group gift in 5 basic colors (using actual hair textures this time! haha). I finally made my debut as a hair designer the following year at Hair Fair 2010.
The biggest change had to be the introduction of rigged mesh. I remember almost crying during the setup for Hair Fair a few years ago because I had already struggled making my first mesh hair style, and came to discover that the rigging was so very, very wrong. It was initially a nightmare, but since then I’ve learned more about different modeling techniques and it’s improved the creation process.
IOF: How did you choose your store name? Does it have a special meaning for you?
AV: I would listen to music constantly while I worked, so names were usually based on favorite songs. Once I finished creating my first clothing release, I decided to name my brand after the song I had on repeat the entire time, “Decoy” by Paramore. I thought this was also a clever way to describe my store as having the ability to lure people in. It definitely has nothing to do with ducks.
IOF: What is the most challenging part of being a creator in Second Life? What is most rewarding?
AV: The most challenging part for me is taking something completely unoriginal and figuring out the best way to put my own spin on it while staying true to my brand’s style. Sometimes I get stuck worrying over whether a release is original enough, but in reality everything has been done at least once before. It’s also difficult to keep up with the fast changing standards for content creation and distribution, like providing better support for fitted mesh for bodies now.
The most rewarding is seeing people genuinely enjoying the things I create. I tend to second guess myself with a lot of releases and wonder if anyone will love it as much as I do. Seeing the pictures, blogs, and getting personal IMs definitely makes the many all-nighters worth it!
IOF: Where do you get inspiration for your designs? What is your process like?
AV: I often search for images of various styles/themes and many times, something looks amazing in the thumbnail but the full picture isn’t at all what I thought I was seeing. I’ll make a sketch based on how I interpreted the thumbnail picture and use that to develop a new design. I also take some inspiration from character designs/personalities from various video games I play.
IOF: What sets your hair styles apart from other hair designers, in your opinion? What is your style or aesthetic?
I’m not really sure what sets mine apart, but as for style – I like to be able to relate to aspects of my avatar, and sometimes hair is one of them. I don’t have extremely long hair with intense volume in RL, so I tend to create soft, simple, casual styles that I would likely wear.
IOF: How has your second life changed your first life?
AV: I’ve met so many wonderful SLers that have become close friends in my first life. They’ve helped me be more open-minded towards things I would normally be pretty stubborn about. There’s so many different backgrounds and personalities, it’s great that we can explore different perspectives just through our small community. I’ve also learned so many different skills because of all the things I want to create and it’s helped me with my career goals. I recently learned how communicate with databases while working on SL scripts and it’s helped me tremendously with a new task at my RL job. Second Life has definitely helped me fine-tune who I am behind the screen.
AV: I have an incredibly long “To make for SL” list that isn’t limited to just avatar apparel/customizations. I’m often finding ideas for brand new items or improvements/new versions of old releases, and it’s pretty difficult to get me to give up any idea no matter how much time has passed. I’ll eventually get to those suggestions from 2 years ago! Haha
IOF: What does Hair Fair mean to you?
AV: Hair Fair has always been one of my favorite annual charity events to participate in. I’m a huge fan of the cause, but it also has some sentimental value for me as a creator. Sasy was kind enough to give me a spot when I signed up as a new hair designer without really any examples to show. It was the first time I attempted to branch out beyond clothing, and it was met with very positive feedback. Every year, it’s one of the few events that I get to finally hang out with my fellow hermit designers as we scramble to get set up before the deadline. Hair Fair has always been an enjoyable event for me, even before it starts.