Thursday, March 23, 2006

Designer Spotlight: Fallingwater Cellardoor, Simone Stern and hyasynth Tiramisu

For the second installment of the Designer Spotlight, I sat down with Fallingwater Cellardoor, Simone Stern and hyasynth Tiramisu (listed in alphabetical order and oldest to youngest in SL time). These are three talented designers who provide an interesting spectrum of styles. We did not have a huge amount of time to go into depth with three people, but the conversation took some interesting turns, and we ended by listening to each creator discuss a new or favorite item. The below has been edited for clarity and flow.

Forseti Svarog: I would like to kick off with a short intro from each of you. What you focus on here in SL?
Simone Stern: *cricket cricket*
Fallingwater Cellardoor: ok I’ll start because I’m the oldest
Fallingwater: I run 2 businesses -- Shiny Things which is mostly shoes and jewelry and Fallingwater Flowers which is garden flowers and bouquets and related things -- and it's all my full time job
Simone: I'm the head cheerleader for the store Simone! I design clothing. I'm also teamed up with hyasynth Tiramisu on a joint venture for limited releases. We hope to make it long term. And I am a member of Prim Divas, a collaborative effort of designers. This is also my full time job.
hyasynth Tiramisu: And since I'm new , I get the simple response. *winks*
Simone: "Ho, my name is Bunny... I like cats, and Bon Jovi, and Payless Shoes.."
Fallingwater: haha
Simone: *ducks*
hyasynth: I am the creator/designer for ~silentsparrow~ which is for the moment is a women's clothing line. ;) As Simone mentioned before...we are collaborating on a line of clothing as yet to be named :)
Fallingwater: bunnyhos

FS: can I ask what tools you all use?
Fallingwater: I mostly do prim work, but also use Photoshop to make my own textures. I also love my pen tablet!
FS: I know Simone uses gimp primarily no?
Simone: Yes!
FS: How about you hya?
hyasynth: For the most part Photoshop, I also use Adobe Illustrator for the manipulation of lace/ruffle pieces if the need presents itself. And long live the tablet! *smiles*

Fallingwater, Simone, and hyasynth

FS: what do you think of the fashion market in SL right now? is it too crowded? are there opportunities for newcomers? is it fun?
Wow is it crowded. :) But that's a good thing, I think.
I don't think it's too crowded, there's a ton out there but there's always room for more high-quality original stuff
Well as a newcomer I think there are plenty of opportunities for new designers. :) Everyone has their unique perspective to bring here.
Yeah, I still vote for saturated, but the reason I say that's a good thing is that it offers shoppers a lot more selection, and puts creators in the position of having to be even more creative.
FS: what have your big challenges been hya?
For the most part...self confidence. With so many established long-term designers it can feel very clique-ish.
Fallingwater: on the other hand, look how you've been welcomed by us established people, hya!
hyasynth was typing that :)
Fallingwater: sorry:) I type too fast!
hyasynth: Yes Fally, and Simone and Hosey, and Zyrra to name a few have been wonderful :)
hyasynth: But I consider myself blessed... to have met them. I spent many a month with my little 512 plot and store with no contact with other designers ;)
FS: how did you meet them hya?
hyasynth: Simone I met in Fallingwater's Associates store.
Simone: Yep. The day of the prim skirt lesson :D
hyasynth: I think I had just stopped by to take a look at the new build and Simone was there.

FS: Fally do you do any marketing?
Fallingwater: I've only recently started marketing, with an ad on snapzilla... and experimenting with the classifieds. It's my weak point, marketing.
FS: You're not alone in that Fally... common with creative people. Do ya'll think a single main shop works best or lots of locations?
Fallingwater: For my flowers, a single main shop is the only practical thing. My main shop is important as a showcase but my connection with more successful designers has been enormously helpful in getting my work out there
Simone: Depends on what stage you're in and whether you've connected with more established designers.
FS: hmm yes Simone, I can see that. How about for you now?
Simone: For me at this point it is better that I draw people to my main location to see the bulk of my work. There's really no way to effectively show all I have done in a little rental spot with prim limits, etc.
FS: how about random rentals around the grid?
Fallingwater: traffic to my main shop is growing though. Random rentals are less valuable, I’ve found.
Simone: Connecting with other designers is essential, though you are better off showing your things in a store that doesn’t carry anything like what you already do.
Fallingwater: you don't think there's synergy when you're with people who do similar things?
FS: how about renting in malls?
Simone: Malls are okay when you're starting out. They get your work seen, and that's the thing: to get your work seen.
hyasynth: I think it is best to limit the amount of stores you have a consumer, if I see a shop too often I'm likely to not stop in. The Starbucks effect maybe?
Simone: *chuckles* Not me, man at one time I had like 40 locations. It was insane on update new items day. It worked short term, though, in getting my things seen.
hyasynth: 40 Wow… I would be doing nothing but flying, especially before p2p
Simone: I did a lot of flying. =/

FS: do the forums work or help?
Fallingwater: yes
Simone: Yep, I think they do, to a certain extent.

FS: let me change gears. What drives you to do what you do? Why is it fun? IS it still fun?
Simone: Yes, creation is still fun for me. I love making things that I envision come to life.
hyasynth: Well for me it's really exciting. To be able to create something and have people want to buy it and adore it is so rewarding. There are few ways in RL to expose so many people to your artwork and get immediate feedback.
Fallingwater: it's still fun for me too. When I started in SL I got hooked on building. I never imagined I’d make it a business. I’m always finding new challenges and new ways to express myself. And yeah, the fact that people want it is great.
FS: that feedback loop can be rewarding. It's hard to create in a silo. Simone, what keeps you going in the creative process?
Simone: I haven't figured that out yet. There are days that I absolutely HATE the thought of opening GIMP, and yet there I am, dinking around, drawing. At this point I seem to be trying to create without deliberately setting out to create something, if that makes sense.
Fallingwater: Simone I think that's the way to do it. I go through uncreative periods so I just force myself to play with prims and I end up coming up with stuff
Simone: I get a lot of ideas in dreams, I wake up with solutions for design obstacles I'd had the previous day. Honestly very little of this is 'conscious'.
Fallingwater: wild
hyasynth: I haven't reached the point where it's difficult....yet.
FS: nice, hya. I hope it keeps flowing.

FS: do any of you work in RL mediums? fabric? paint? sculpture? etc
Fallingwater: nope
Simone: Yep -- knitting, crochet, tatting, needlepoint, sewing... I loved all of it.
hyasynth: I paint whimsical birds and do illustrations of fey creatures. My outside artwork has gone on the backburner since I’ve started creating here though.
Fallingwater: and you use the word fey!
Fallingwater: I don't have the patience for RL crafts. Somehow SL is different. For me working with prims is somewhat an engineering challenge. There are rote aspects to what I do, but it's puzzle solving too. That's what keeps it engaging.
Simone: Sewing, tatting, detail work like this... demands an incredible amount of focus and patience. It can take months to make a single item. It was almost a test of will, with me, and I just was determined to not let a slip of cloth or a piece of thread kick my butt. :D In the process, I think I developed even more patience and focus.

FS: let me flip the earlier question around: what *bothers* you about being in fashion in SL?
Fallingwater: nothing bothers me!
hyasynth: is the men's mesh an appropriate answer? :)
FS: For example, all the finger pointing about "who stole what" bothers me, unless it's a clear-cut theft situation like your belt Fallingwater
Fallingwater: oh I decided if things like that happen again I’ll let them slide
FS: can I ask you to speak more on that?
Fallingwater: it feels petty, I ended up feeling petty. My work can stand on its own, it doesn't matter what other people do.
hyasynth: The original will always have the genuine quality of inspiration. :)
Simone: Word gets around, though, about who is the originator of something. Either way, copied or not, it plays in the originator's favor. People get around to coming to see the work of the innovator.
hyasynth: Well not having experienced someone "stealing" design… I'm not sure how I will react. I'm sure Fally and Simone will help me see things in perspective though.
Simone: Don't worry, hya, your turn's coming. :) You're too good at what you do to NOT be 'borrowed' from. ;D
Simone: The best way to handle it is to go to a friend that you KNOW has the discretion to keep his or her mouth shut, and bitch. No posting in the forums, no fit throwing. Blow off your steam with friends, and then go back to creating the NEXT innovative thing.

FS: I know Simone's been working with prims in clothing. Do you do prim work too, hya, or stick to the texture side of things?
hyasynth: I've made two prim gowns, a feather plume, and a wee little top hat. Prims are a challenge as I am very much a two dimensional artist...but hanging out with these two is good motivation to give it a try. ;)
Fallingwater: I find clothes-making to be incredibly hard, that's why I had to start making shoes! There were almost none I wanted to wear. Same with jewelry actually.

At this point we shifted to discussing an individual item presented by each designer.

Simone: this lace shirt I am wearing -- I LOVE this shirt.
hyasynth: the scalloped edge on the neckline is perfectly executed Simone
Simone: this is one of the things I am most proud of.. the detail, the shading, the ... sheerness that seems to make the shirt appear to float away from the skin. This one almost didn't go to sale. I walked around with it in my inventory for months :D
Fallingwater: why?
Simone: Well, look back away from this top. Can you see the detail till you zoom?
Fallingwater: it's subtle, but still has enough variation that you can tell it's fancy.
Simone: It also took days and days of work :D
Fallingwater: I can imagine
Simone: One piece with 30 or so hours in it. That's NUTS.
Fallingwater: we're all nuts
Simone: So. I gave it to a few friends, and left it at that for a while :D And it still doesn't sell well. I think two people have bought it :D Just goes to show that what I think is good isn’t going to be popular with others. That is one of the many aspects of design here that keeps me humble.
hyasynth: I love it when something you don't think is good enough becomes a product because your friends and passers-by insist it's great. We really are too harsh on ourselves sometimes.
Fallingwater: yeah, some of my favorite creations haven't sold well
Simone: It's subjective. Art is subjective. And we as artists need to decide whether we're creating to convey something to ourselves (designing in a silo) or if we're creating to convey something to others. I decided I am not here for me expressly. I wish to share, and be a good artistic communicator.
hyasynth: I alternate between outfits, or try to ... It's hard for me as of yet. Separating the two is very new for me…never having produced art for a commercial market outside of SL.

FS: do you want to walk through your process of creation on that shirt?
Simone: I actually started out trying to make undies for another set I was working on. But my mind somewhere took a left turn and I went in another direction.
Simone: About creating this shirt.... sometimes when I am working on something, my head, or my mind, whichever, 'tilts'. It's like I'm seeing it from another perspective, and off I go, following that perspective. My better works usually happen that way.
FS: how about the creation process for the shirt? did you draw from scratch, collage from a photo? grab from net sources?
Simone: Oh, I started with drawing. I always do.
Simone: I get an outline and start to fill in the lines, either with hand painting or textures. Once that's done I go through and add shading or whatever, by hand or with a filter. If I'm happy with the end result, I load it to SL, and once there, make a decision about whether it's shite or not. :D

hyasynth: This is my favorite outfit so far...though I think the gowns Simone and I are working on may trump it. There is a Circus that performs every year around Halloween here. Very much a Tim Burton inspired performance. The costuming is always amazing. So the idea of a "gothic" circus outfit kept running about in my head. This was a matter of create or go insane thinking about it!
Fallingwater: what do you love about it?
hyasynth: Well it's one of the few times where the idea in my head made it to SL completely.
Fallingwater: well done -- that's hard!
hyasynth: *nods* impossible for the most part. thank you :)
FS: what was your creation process?
hyasynth: *smiles* in general I start with the base "fabric" -- I tend to create like it's real clothing, even though it's not needed obviously. I hand drew the striped pattern ..aged it with paintbrushes... tinted it to look a bit more moth eaten. Like Simone, it's a lot of hand drawing. The plume is the first prim anything I made in game beyond a wall :)
Fallingwater: the folds on the back of the skirt, are they hand painted?
hyasynth: *paint and motion blur and paint and motion blur and stretch" over and over and over. More than I would like to admit to.. :)
Fallingwater: they look awesome. I've tried doing drapes/folds so I can imagine the time it took.
hyasynth: I only wish I had saved it in it's original un-edited form ;) First lesson for anyone making clothes here should be...if you think you can use it later save it! haha
hyasynth: This outfit just makes me feel happy. :) Also not very popular either. Though I'm not surprised not much call for "gothic circus performer" here.
FS: any other lessons to pass on to other clothes makers hya?
hyasynth: Read the forums :)
Simone: HA! I would tell them to avoid the forums like the PLAGUE.
hyasynth: Fally and Robin and Chip and many others are the sole reason I didn't go insane learning to make clothes.
FS: you mean the design & texture forum then?
hyasynth: ok read the Design and Textures Forum
FS: any other advice hya before I let you off the hook? Don't be shy
Simone: *coughdontgiveupcough*
Fallingwater: haha

Fallingwater: ok hmm, talking about shoes… I spent 5 days on these, including 1 1/2 days choosing just the right colors and making the textures, plus some thought in my 'off time'. I wanted them to be perfect -- no flaws, as much as possible. I'd been wanting to make pointy toes for a while but didn't have a technique I was happy with. After my last project I gave it another shot and came up with something just right.
Fallingwater: one thing I try to do is think about how a real foot is shaped and bent, and force the prims to work for that. SL feet are horrible so you've kind of got to fool the system into making real looking shoes. I've gotten better at that over time as I make more shoes and refine my techniques.
Simone: *nods* Same with the SL female torso. Don’t get me started on the inaccuracies of SL boobs. =/
FS: do you texture as you work or after the prim work is done?
Fallingwater: usually after. I can reuse textures I’ve used before, but I usually find myself refining those too and making new colors. I'm weird, I think some colors are only good for some shoes, so like I may try a color and not like it or try one and revise it 3 times before its right

FS: I find it interesting how different people do prim and texture work.
Fallingwater: oh for large builds I sorta texture as I go along. I can't envision my work without that. I can't see where it's going without that, but for shoes it's easier.
FS: do you do all your own textures? or purchase any?
Fallingwater: I do all my own...with jewelry for gems I photosource and modify. I've made about 1000 different metal textures from scratch and they all suck in some way
FS: lol it's hard without dynamic light. Do you have any lessons for those starting out in any kind of fashion area?
Fallingwater: toughest question yet
Fallingwater: make what you love and be patient and experiment with prims as much as you can stand if you're doing prim design. It takes time to learn the subtleties of what you can do. There's some good info about microprims on the forums. Don't expect whatever you do to be easy money.

FS: does anyone have any additional lessons for new people to add before we wrap?
Simone: Hmm, that's a big one! There are all sorts of people who will tell you that you suck, but not how to make better. Determining from early on you're not going to give up till you CAN convey what your inner vision is telling you to create gets you through the 'I suck' stage.

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