Saturday, February 25, 2006

Creator Spotlight: Lo Jacobs

This is a first in what may be a sporadic series of interviews with Second Life content creators. The goal is to not only highlight an interesting craftsperson, but to discuss the challenges and opportunities relevant to all. My first step was to sit down with the talented Lo Jacobs. Sadly, there has been a large time delay due to work load preventing me from blogging, but I wanted to get this up nonetheless. Lo is one of those people who places a definite stamp on her creations – you can usually tell something is a Luxe (her store brand) product right away. So with no further ado, here is our conversation, edited for readibility:

Forseti Svarog: I always like to hear how people get started in SL. How did you hear about it, and were you hooked right away or did it take a while?
Lo Jacobs: I was going through the Internet .. probably looking for a game walkthrough for PS2, which is in itself unusual since I'm not much of a gamer in general. I saw an Internet ad for SL on some site like Gamespy or Gamespot, and I clicked on it and there I was!
LJ: I was definitely hooked right away. I have been looking for a game like this for a long time -- one where I could make my clothes and avatar and stuff like that. Have you heard of the Palace? Palace chat? It's this 2D chatroom where people have little 2D avatars set on a .gif background which can be anything (the interior of a castle, for instance).
LJ: Now people had these little 2D paper doll avatars, and you could actually make your own and make your own clothes. Tiny, tiiiiny pixel drawing, really --- most people on Palace are teenagers. Anyway, I always liked fashion and stuff, it was always my intention to make clothes here as soon as I learned that I could.
FS: did you do a lot of non-digital art or craft (including clothing) before SL?
LJ: Hmm… well I have always drawn and taken art classes and all that, and I do websites, so yes. My drawings are usually young women in fah-bulous clothing :P
FS: so you were already proficient with some graphics tools I imagine?
LJ: Yes, though it's thanks to SL and PSP being impossible with alpha channels that brought me to Photoshop.
FS: I've seen some of your tablet drawings from Nylon & Toast's threads. Is that your primary tool -- Photoshop?
LJ: Yes ... for clothing design I don't use anything else. I am interested in trying to use 3D programs for lighting and things like that. But I just don't know anything about those programs. I got Lightwave but I really need a comprehensive tutorial or something for that. I have no clue how to do anything in those programs and I don't really know if it's necessary.
FS: Can I ask if you opened a store right away or did something happen to make you do so?
LJ: No, I actually flew around being a newbie for like 3 months, and went to Show & Tells and newbie Q & A even after I didn’t have to because everyone was so friendly there. I went to a lot of Siobhan Taylor's events, then she stopped having them *sniff*.
LJ: I started doing skins first, actually, because it just seemed ... well, whereas I was familiar with the human body, I was not familiar with how fabric looked in SL. It just seemed easier at first for me. So I started up a skin shop in Galleria City with some really dreadful skins and just worked up from there. No one ever bought my first things or my first clothes, lol.
FS: how long did it take, and what do you think helped you crack in? Just improving?
LJ: Yeah -- I found some helpful tutorials and stuff, but clothes-making is really not a ... I mean, there's many ways to skin a cat, which is why it's essential that you do it yourself and figure out what works for you. I'm still trying to improve.
LJ: One thing that definitely helped me was that I also started hanging around the forums some more and posting. Sounds silly, right? But considering the amount of people who lurk there and read stuff you post, it helped me with visibility, which I think is a big reason why people started buying stuff from me. They were like, "Hey, it's Lo Jacobs who said that mildly interesting thing the other day and now she makes clothes."
LJ: Anyway, before they stopped the bumping and commenting of the Classifieds, I got some comments now and then. When I was new I didn’t get *any* comments (which also had to do with the fact that my clothes were complete crap). It didn't happen fast; it happened slow.

FS: do you have any interest in describing a typical Lo "process" from idea to completion?
LJ: Sure. One thing I looooooove is fashion (well obviously) but I just LOVE it. I always have fashion magazines lying around, and I like to read through them and get inspiration. I also get inspiration from movies, music, and other decades.
LJ: I get an idea in my head and then I draw an outline of the outfit in Photoshop and I try to make what works within the confines of the SL avatar. Like, it is impossible to make a perfectly draped off-the-shoulder dress in SL, so you don't make it. I make sure it works, and then I start in on it. Sometimes I use fabric swatches found on the Internet.
FS: your work seems more hand-drawn than photosourced a lot of the time.
LJ: I have never photosourced anything. What I look for is fabric swatches if I need them -- like if I am making something plaid, I look for a big square plaid picture and then manipulate that plaid image in Photoshop.
LJ: I use a lot of layers, because I mess up a lot. It's easier to add buttons on one layer, collars on another, etc. I recently have been having fun with the drop shadows. I love drop shadows. I love dodge and burn and I got a Wacom tablet in August for my birthday so most of my shadows and highlights are done by hand using the tablet.
LJ: So once I get down my shadows and highlights and stuff, once it looks "good enough" I then upload it onto SL and see if it looks ok. Sometimes it is perfect, sometimes it takes a few tries especially if I am trying to match up important seams. I try to match up seams as closely as I can but if it's not paramount to the design it doesn't matter. Vertical seams are important, like in jackets, but horizontal seams aren't *that* important for me.
FS: do you do prim clothing -- skirts and such?
LJ: I don't really like messing with prim skirts
LJ: I never really tried. It's just that, it's hard for me to make something look exactly the way I want it to with prims and I am so picky about the way things look -- like a fit. Some people are amazing with prim dresses.
FS: do you do season collections or just release constantly?
LJ: Oh man, I would like to do season collections but that's just too much work. I make what I am in the mood for at the time, and that usually goes with the season, so yes I do keep the seasons in mind but I don't really release seasonal collections at once.

FS: do you have any thoughts for new designers thinking about trying it out?
LJ: Hmmmm… basically, just do it for yourself. Read the tutorials available and ask for help on the Design & Textures forums -- people are friendly there. But no one should hold your hand -- only you can improve yourself.
LJ: One thing that is also very important is that you think of a store "image" for yourself. Make a logo and think of a good name. Keep it short too. Don't call it "Jenny's Fashions" or "Jenny's Designs" -- those are boring names. You can name it after yourself but there shouldn't be a "Designs" or "Fashions" after it because a lot of people here in SL do that too. Try to be original.
LJ: Pick a color scheme and stick to it. If you want a change, just pick a new color scheme and stick to that one too
FS: for the store and advertisements you mean?
LJ: Yes, for the ads, and the logo, and the building's colors should complement them too.
LJ: Malls are bad. It's best to buy your own plot of land and set up there, or rent from someone like Azure Islands or Hiro Queso. Just make sure you show up in Find if you do a search. Include keywords in your store description, but don't just have a bunch of keywords without any description.

FS: what's up next for Luxe? or what kind of fashions or era's really have you jazzed right now?
LJ: I would like to do more complete outfits. I'm also just in love with the 70's and 40's. I am probably going to be doing more dresses because that's what I wear a lot. I really wish they would have some sort of draped fabric capability. I don't know if that's possible… I mean I just love draped dresses and loose things. You can't really do that here.


  1. This is a test of the public comment system. This is only a test. In case of actual comment, you will hear a loud beep before panic ensues.

  2. Thanks for this wonderful interview, Forseti, and for giving Lo a platform. She surely is one of the best fashion designers in SL and does not get nearly enough recognition.

    I have loads of her stuff and often are amazed by the level of realism she achieves without photosourcing. Actually some of her fashion looks more real on my AV than some cheap photosourced stuff.

    Like her I am waiting for the day where we will have more options for womens fashion than only tight clinging stuff and stiff prim skirts. We don't have to run around in tight tees and spandex tops all day in RL. And I would not want to. Just imagine: a loosely draped silk blouse or a a Little Black Dress from heavy jersey ... *melting*

  3. Great to hear more about Lo! She's always done it the right way: through work and persistence. And it shows in her clothes.

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