I was delighted to spend last evening hanging out with designer/ master builder / cool chick Aimee Weber, as part of the Kuurian Expedition. The Kuurian Expedition is a group of researchers and academics exploring what they call "Synthetic Worlds" i.e. virtual environments like Second Life and Worlds of Warcraft. Aimee in her talk gave some background on how she got started as a virtual clothing designer, her early marketing efforts, developing her rep as a business person, and then expanding into more legit operations like the American Apparel store and the NOAA Tsunami simulator.
More pics and quotes (slightly edited) below.
"Basically most of my fashion was to please myself. I was interested in the NYC club kid look. I make all my own stuff. It wasn’t until after I got repeated requests from people to purchase my items that I realized that my work in SL had value. And so *PREEN* was born."
Aimee rezzed in some examples of her marketing efforts, which in themselves were parodies of real world marketing. Very pomo.
"Let’s start with some photographic fun. For lingerie, I tried to go with campy polaroid style photos."
"So this is… pretty damned playful. This advertisement caused quite a stir actually, many people loving it and hating it. But the bottom line with this whole ad is ‘Preen doesn’t give you generic PRETTY GIRLS. We know you think advertising is stupid and manipulative…. so lets make fun of it together.’"
"For Resident Marketing, you can see I took a lot of liberties that I wouldn’t normally take when my focus shifts to RL companies, especially since the demographic widens. Outside of SL we may find issues like religion and morality are more important. And of course in corporate America, professionalism. I don’t know how they would feel seeing me on a toilet. LOL."
Aimee outlined later how she made her SL business more professional, including setting up a website and branding her image. Lots of those tips are in the New World Notes story on her.
On the protection of the intellectual property of SL artists and designers:
"My personal policy is, that I am going to provide a SERVICE to companies who want to have something built. While I will do whatever I can to prevent theft, I am pretty much assuming it will happen. If you make something really great, you need to assume it will evenutally become public domain. The benefit is to be the authorized seller of the product… and of course the first."
Aimee closed her talk commenting on the need for real world connections within SL, to give people a sense of wonder and joy.
"With my NOAA build I tried very hard to present my visitors with a very common, every day beach side housing experience. Something everybody can remember from SOME trip to the beach… and then I demolish it with a tsunami! LOL. If the homes were sci fi, I fear the experience would not have been as real to them."
After the meeting, Aimee gave us a guided tour of her tsunami and Hurricane Hunter simulators.
Hanging out on the wing of a plane as a simulated hurricane whips around you, telling stories and cracking jokes with residents from who-know’s-where was one of those SL experiences that just makes all the other minor annoyances worth it.
ADDENDUM 8/31/06: Here’s a full transcript of the event created by SignpostMarv.