I am totally into these bangles. Like, almost hypnotized into. Seriously, I mean, just look at them. Is that like a cat or something in there? I could be, I mean, is it supposed to be there? Do you see what I'm talking about?
Maybe it's not actually there. It could just be an optical illusion... y'know, like when you used to make faces in the clouds all summer? It could be something like that.
Whoa, see what I mean? You can totally get sucked into these, right? Wow. Hypnotic. Totally. How is that even possible?
Seriously, this is Second Life, right? It's two-dimensional. It's not real at all (wow, now there's an argument I don't want to start!). So how how how is it even remotely possible to make something like this? What can I even say to add to this?
Simply, Faery Sola makes some of the absolute best accessories in SL. I'm always blown away by her detail and prim work, and of course Studio Sidhe is a bling free zone, which is always WIN! Faery's 'Flower Bangles' are so real you can almost feel their cool touch on your wrist, and the painted designs are just perfect.
So... just go there. I'll grab you by the arm and take you there myself if you're nervous.
I think real artists are never really happy with themselves. I know it sounds cliche, the whole 'tortured artist' thing. Maybe they're not all about to slit their wrists in a fit of existential torment or anything, but most artists I know just are never 100% happy with their own work. Nothing's ever finished, and even if it is, it's more like 'well that's about all I can do' instead of 'YES, PERFECT! I may now retire...'
Of course, it doesn't matter at all if we're happy with their work. We. Us. The consumers. Nope, we can compliment them or throw all our money at them and a lot of times, it just doesn't matter. Even worse, usually we don't understand WHY their so unhappy all the time so we just call them divas or something and write them off as artistic weirdos.
Personally, I think it's awesome. I want my artists to be unhappy. Not like suffering unhappy or anything, I'm not a sadist, but unhappy enough to keep working to make their work better or different. Unhappy artists are innovators and explorers. Kallist Burns is one of those. She's awesome, artistic, fun, witty and creative... but she's unhappy enough to be constantly looking at her work and portfolio and finding ways to make things better. Which is great, because no matter how good her work has been in the past... well, I've been a huge fan for a while, and mostly featuring her unique and VERY well made braidwork. Avril is something new.
First, of course, Avril is NOT braided, but I think it's a really good example of something else in Kallisti's work. Art, building, all that stuff are more than just about technical skill and personal obsession. There's a character in the work, a feel and a mood. Styles don't need to resemble each other overmuch to be recognizably something. Avril is a really lovely, shaggy shoulder length style that just screams rockstar. Simple but filled with character. It's got a personality all it's own; a little bit of Kallisti I'm sure.
Technically, I can't really call this a departure from her normal work. Discord Designs has had many straight styles before. It is, though, something new and very very cool. It's a total rockstar afterparty feel with texturing that's very natural and enough flexi bits to keep the hair feeling authentic. Of course, the menu driven sizing menu is really cool too and makes modding a snap. Avril is a very real-world style that anyone can wear. It's casual cool and fun.
So yah, love it. Avril is a new experiment from Kallisti, and if there's more on the way I can't wait to see it.
Look it up, seriously. It's nice to share. Share with your sister! your mom used to shout, be nice! Wikipedia even has an entry on it. Yah, it's THAT important.
Second Life is kind of an experiment in sharing. I mean, sure, there's the whole economy thing. Of course there's buying and selling... not exactly sharing there... but every once in a while a designer or artist decides they want to share something with the rest of us. When we're lucky, they're sharing something beautiful.
Now Gala Phoenix, well, her mother taught her well. Last week Gala decided to share some of her new skins with group members. Some? Okay, a TON of skins. And of course they're gorgeous. The timing was perfect for me too, since I'd just recently started playing in my Curio folder and wearing some of Gala's older skins. Still lovely, still cute, still fun. Beauty seems to be the standard for Gala's skins, and her attention to detail and just lovely makeups are just soo much fun.
Freckles? Yah like em? She's got em. And not just a few scattered about the nose like a few skin designers. Nooo, Gala's 'Frex' options have a very natural full-body covering. Maybe not liking freckles too much? Well, whatever, but you'll be happy to see really nicely drawn and shaded textures along the skin... naughty bits and all. The new skins come in tones like Acorn, Sundust, Moonbeam, Petal and a few others, with freckle and plain versions for each along with 7 or 8 makeup options.
Sharing is nice, definitely... but even if you missed the gift, Gala's skins are definitely worth your $L. With a huge range of makeups from clean and cute to sexy glam, Gala Phoenix has created a line of skins that I think add a lovely touch to our shared universe. It's a vision I'm glad she's let us take part in.
No matter how inspired or creative a designer seems to be, sometimes the hardest part of a new release is just coming up with a NAME.
There's a lot of places to find them, of course... some designers have releases named after a friend or partner. Sometimes their named after a favorite song, or even maybe the name comes from whatever inspired the outfit to begin with. Sometimes... well, sometimes it's just totally random.
Poor Kai Heideman... He ran out of names.
Oh, ideas? He's got a TON. Some of the best latex and fetish clothing in Second Life? AB-SO-LUTELY. Names? Wellll, I guess that's a bit of struggle. He even blogged about it here, if you don't want to take my word for it. Honestly, there are worse problems he could have. The lovely textures and designs at his shop,Powers of Creation, make it pretty easy to forgive him.
Today we're looking at 3 outfits: Watch My Back, Dirac and Fermi. As far as names, well, Watch My Back makes sense. WMB is a full-length full-body latex 'hobble' style with a dangerously sexy open back laced from hem to neck. The gorgeous shiny latex texture is just perfect, and Kai manages to put the system skirt to good use.
Soo, then there's Fermi and Dirac. Ummm... what? Yah... physicists. Now, Fermi I'd heard of, there's a whole government lab out by me that's named after him. Dirac? I don't know, maybe I'd heard the name before. Who knows? Anyway, they're both pretty important names in the whole science world; this, I'm pretty sure, is the first time they've been associated with fetish wear. (of course, I COULD be wrong. Is there such a thing as a physics fetish? 'oooh, make my molecules GLOW!' or 'YES YES, I'm MELTING DOWN'). Either way, while MAYBE Kai was grasping at straws as far as coming up with names, it really doesn't matter. Dirac and Fermi are some lovely releases with a lot of options. There are a lot of different ways to wear both, with bodysuit and catsuit cuts and just some different color combinations. Each outfit comes boxed really with so many different looks it's almost 2 or 3 different ensembles in one.
Love it... it's not about the name anyway. It's about quality, cut and design, and whatever Kai wants to call it, it's sexy.
Well, its not really that it took a whole week... more like it's the result of a combination of things that happened to me this week. Not totally rare, actually... I mean, I usually do a post and then add a little bit of whatever's on my mind at the time. The thing is, generally it's the look that gets the thoughts going, not the other way around. I'll play with an outfit and take some pics and while THAT'S going on the first little bits of a post start percolating. This post is backwards. It's inside out.
So how did this happen?
Well, I'll try to start at the beginning. I guess it started with Yukio Ida from Illuminati Designs dropping the Jolly Tank on me last week. Kind of a new thing from Yuki, who might be a little better known for his more exotic visual kei inspired costumes and weirdly gorgeous skins. Jolly is a simple, but really well made, sleeveless top with prim collar. Inspired too from Japanese fashion, just a bit more punk than his usual releases, the texturing along the fabric has a really natural feel to it, and looks sooo real. There's some very nice detailing along the collar too, with laces and just a bit of mesh on the shoulder.
So, I have this top... oh yahhh, and there's a caveat, right? It's not released yet. 'Oh yah?' I said,'when's it coming out?'. A shrug. An 'I don't know'. Hmmm... So what can I do? I've got this really cool top but do I post it? I mean, what can I do? Well, what I did was file it quietly away in my inventory for a 'post to be named later'.
THAT didn't last long... I decided this week I had to share it. So I'm going through my inventory for the perfect ensemble for it. Maybe a skirt with stripey tights... maybe some big boots... it was a project. ANYWAY, so after I FINALLY have a nice ensemble I get an IM from Yuki AGAIN. 'Oh here..' or something like that. Oh, JEANS... a folder called 'Filth in the Beauty' magically appears. 'Wow', I say, 'awesome... so when's it coming out?' Do I even NEED to tell you? I do, I can tell. 'I don't know' he says. Now, one of the things you might not know about keyboards is this: you can't stab anyone with them. Seriously. I looked around. I think this may be one of the secret reasons computers are so much more popular than pens or pencils. We're not just saving trees here, we're saving people.
So OF COURSE the jeans are gorgeous. A really lovely ripped look and prim cuffs that look just beat up enough to feel like that favorite pair of jeans. The texturing is especially nice, especially along the seams and stitching. There are even some cute patches.
So there I am, I've fallen in love with this new direction from Illuminati. It's different, yes, but made with the amazing attention to detail that Yukio Ida puts into all of his clothes. I love them both, and of course the jeans look perfect with the tank; but I have no idea what to do.
In the meantime, there's Plurk. You know Plurk, right? I think, a million years from now, when alien archeologists are digging through the ruins of our planet, they'll find proof that the reason we're all dead is because of Plurk. It's horrible, I love it... anyway, so Plurk. I spend way too much time there, philosphizing and carrying on really serious and important conversations with other creative minds and intellectuals. Oh yes, it's what we do. So anyway, I'm popping through plurk 'profiles' and run across Ivey Deschanel's page. Wow, the hair. Well, it's a great pic actually anyway, but the hair! Perfect, it was one of those moments... all the sudden I saw the top and the jeans and the shirt... I'd pulled a Gala Phoenix skin out of my inventory and DONE! There it was... I knew exactly what I had to do.
So, here's the pic, and the post. Jolly and Filth in the Beauty should be out this weekend, I had a late update... so no, they're not there now, but maybe they are. Still, I'd stop by Yukio's shop anyway. Illuminati is one of my all time personal faves in SL, and even if Jolly and Filth aren't maybe there, there's PLENTY of gorgeous goodness for you to explore.
There are a few morals here too I guess... there should be, after a story that long anyway. First, artists are totally unreliable and frustrating (actually, kinda like drummers I guess), but I love them anyway. Second, an overly caffeinated Minx writes REALLY LONG posts. Third... well, Plurk is a horrible, addictive, possibly planet-destroying timewaster that I could not have finished this post without.
As in: oh gawd, that's SO last year. Like, look at those shoes... look at that hair... Really? I mean, really really? Hmmm... I don't think fishnets have EVER been out of style. They're either current or retro chic as far as I'm concerned... Sexy and ironic all at the same time. There's real history too, with fishnets, from the Flapper Jazz divas of the twenties to the goths and ravers of NOW... well, I don't know, maybe the name is a commentary? Fishnet could just as easily be called 'so next year.' *Shrugs* Look it up, the fishnet has a long and lovely history in fashion.
Of course, Sn@tch's 'So Last Year' is all sexy and no irony, even though the name might be. Fun, definitely, but THAT'S something I've come to expect from designer Ivey Deschanel... but who doesn't want some fun with their sexy?
It's not so much SLY is as sexy and fun either, it's the totally AWESOME selection of styles in the release. Maybe THAT'S why it's called what it is... maybe Ivey decided to jam an entire year's worth of schmexy lingerie into a single pack. I don't know. I actually could have solved this whole mystery by just chatting her up but honestly, it's more fun to just make stuff up.
SLY has multiple cuts on multiple layers; from the g-string bottom or booty shorts to bikini tops and baring boybeater style cuts. There's two versions of stockings that go along with it too. Great selection, love it.
As for the name? Who knows. It had to be called something I guess. Doesn't really matter... it's a sexy number and a rose is a rose is a rose and all that.
Daarc Dagger from ElfPyre designs is weird, and I LOVE it!
There's a LOT of weird in SL. Lots. Funky avatars. Strange sims. Odd dialogue. It's all there, weirdness. There's a range of weird, of course: Good weird and bad weird.
Bad weird, well... it's just annoying sometimes. Bad weird is the stuff that makes Second Life scramble to do some PR fixing and image maintenance. Bad weird is the stuff that makes us shake our heads and sigh while we try to explain this obviously demented virtual universe to our skeptical RL friends. Bad weird, well, sucks.
Now good weird, well, THAT'S a lot more fun. Good weird is the sims and events that make us laugh and share LMs. Good weird is the stuff that makes Second Life a more interesting a beautiful place.
So yah, Daarc's got her finger on good weird. She'd never admit it, of course, but Daarc's designs are a little bit of that weird art that I think adds to the unique world that we all love.
Example? Well, here's ElfPyre Productions' True Love skin and Punked prim ears. A really interesting and weird skin... NOT for the type-A modelesque clones running around Second Life STILL. True Love is bright, colorful and definitely weird. The Punked ears are scripted, so you can change the tone and even the piercing sets to match your mood. It's a look that's easy to have fun with, and a very interesting offering from a designer who definitely deserves your attention.
So yah, be weird. Be good weird, anyway. Hollywood beautiful's been done. Beauty in SL is pretty much cliche at this point anyway, isn't it? Try something colorful and adventurous... try something ugly/beautiful, weird/beautiful.
My inventory in Second Life is a mess. It's horrible. I try so hard to keep it organized, spend an hour or so trying to put together folders sorted by outfit or designer or even layer. There are 'top' folders and 'skirt' folders and 'jeans'. There's folders sorted by hair or skins or accessories. The problem is, I've tried so many times in so many ways to sort through everything, it's still a total disaster.
In the end, it's hard keeping everything straight, but I keep trying anyway. I keep trying because every once in a while I'll find an outfit or a landmark to a shop I haven't stopped by in a while and I'll find something and go "WIN!! Looky here!!". It happens a lot. It happened last week when I remembered Goth1c0 and popped over to take a look.
Goth1c0 designer Keishii Roo has been doing goth for quite a while in Second Life, and I'm happy to say she's a gracious and creative designer. One of her latest releases, Agent Provocateur, is a fun, sexy punk ensemble that goes beyond just funky patterns and cuts. It's punk, yes, but it's punk with a classy edge to it. I really love the textures; the jacket comes with little touches like safety pins and skulls or it can be worn without to show a sexy midriff baring turtleneck top with some really nice detailing in the fabric. The skirt has a nicely drawn belt feature and could really be worn with anything, if you're not feeling so rock and roll. Seriously, I put this on and started looking for a new band to sign.
Sexy without being slutty, daring without being over bare... agent provocateur is a really interesting and unique look from a designer with a huge range of goth and punk styles. I'm a fan, and can't wait to show you more from Keishii's line...
There's a lot of 'pretty' in Second Life. Pretty model skins, pretty dresses, pretty prints, pretty flowers. (You're very pretty, Pretty-Pretty). A lot of pretty well made stuff too. So many options.
Of course, one of the reasons we love Second Life so much is because it opens up so much of the world to us; there are so many ideas and stories we haven't heard before, so many styles... so many different ways to see pretty. When we're lucky, we find designers and builders looking to share maybe a slightly different idea of beauty and style than maybe we've seen before.
Honestly, I didn't know too much about the whole gothic lolita culture before logging into SL. I'd seen it, of course...well, maybe not exactly, I mean there's no small number of goths and punks here around Chicago, just not sooo many of the lolita type. I do know the scene is much bigger in places like Japan... just watch Japanese cartoons like Hell Girl or check out Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls for that. I've only started exploring the fashions and styles recently in SL myself, so maybe the social commentary part is a little lost on me, but the fashion... well... this is fun.
We're used to seeing neo-victorian loveliness from Morrigan Denimore of The Black Canary, and his latest release, Divine Right, fits nicely in his existing catalog. YES, this is definitely gothic lolita... while some of his previous work might not be strictly so. Morrigan has managed to create within a genre without limiting himself to a narrow definition. Even better, there's a definite learning curve here too. I've loved The Black Canary's textures and primwork since I first laid eyes on it, but Divine Right is so well done, so real, I have to say this is not only my favorite piece from TBC, but probably Morrigan's best work. The lace trim long the skirt and the folds and sheen in the satin are just lovely. A prim bow and fun flouncy skirt keep this outfit so interesting to look at.
Definitely a gorgeous and fun lolita look from a designer to watch.
I look for a couple things when I'm shopping for hair. First, there's the whole originality thing... or at least variety. There are a lot of the 'same old same old' hair designers working in SL. Working hard, YES, absolutely. Hair is hard to make... but the creativity of the styles I think is something not enough hair designers are spending time on. I'm not even talking about crazy weird styles or anything. They don't have to be, but even flipping on the 'makeover' episodes of America's Next Top Model will show you a range of styles that some of even the best hair designers in SL just don't think of.
(Yes, fine... I watch ANTM. Ugh... it's horrible. They've been running this whole marathon thing on the weekends I guess building up to the new season starting soon. I have to say that YES more than one or two bottles of wine have been opened to watch the whole train wreck. I hate Tyra... I swear, but I CAN'T LOOK AWAY. Whatever, call it research. :p)
ANYWAY, we're talking about fashion here, right? Second Life is all about possibilities, and I love designers and hair makers who really push not just the whole technical part of content creation but also the design. That's the second thing I look at.
Third, well, quality. How does the light hit it? How does it move? Is it real?
Tukinowaguma Hair Styles has been consistently one of my 'go to' hair shops in SL, just because they feature a huge variety of well made, unique and beautiful hairs. Today I'm wearing Queque, Yard and Natty; 3 new styles from Tukinowaguma. Lovely textures, very exotic styling and Tukinowaguma's signature 133 color change feature that's as easy as clicking on style and opening the selection menu. Each hair comes in usually about 4 or five shades, so the color changes can change the effect depending on which base you're wearing.
I love these hairs, the textures and movement from the flexi bits is VERY realistic I think and the range of styles goes from sexy everyday styles to more dramatic haute couture perfect for any runway.
There are a couple things virtual lingerie has over it's real life counterparts. First, fitting is a breeze... no need to mess around in a dressing room coz it fits well here but not there. Second, you don't have to worry about the pervert dog grabbing your underwear off the floor and ruining it... yah.. ok, it's not MY dog, it was HIS and well... whatever, we've made peace.
Anyway, with Valentine's Day coming up this weekend, romance is in the air, both RL and SL and it just seemed fitting to feature Belladonna Mureaux's 'My Bloody Valentine' set from Nightshade Designs. Simple and sexy, MBV is a panty and bra set that comes with thigh highs in deep crimson loveliness. The sheer platform bra has some lovely texturing, and some nice scalloped lace along the top. The matching thong is sooo cute and the stockings have a nice fishnet texture as well. Very cute, very affordable... and naturally just in time for that most confusing and emotionally chaotic of Hallmark holidays.
I'm also wearing Nightshade's 'Emilie Autumn' skin... a sexy homage to, you guessed it, Emilie Autumn... Who rocks by the way, and if you don't know her music just go here. Punky, goth while not too 'undead' or anything, it's a gorgeous skin and I've been wearing it a LOT lately. I always love when a designer brings a little of their love into their art, it let's us know just a little bit more about them and since this IS the season of LOVE... well... nuff said.
The hair is Tukinowaguma Hair Style's 'Hilary' in white. Soooo cute and over the top... Hilary has a menu-driven color change feature that offers 133 different shades per tone.
Change of topic a bit here, but if you've been paying attention AT ALL, you've heard about the horrible fires in Victoria, Australia. Over a hundred dead and it could get worse. There are a number of designers working to try to raise money in SL to help the recovery effort once everything's under control. If you're interested in donating or helping at all, Aemilia Case of Philotic Energy, Faery Sola of Studio Sidhe and Shelly Toonie from Moonshine Designs all have special items and kiosks set up. Kallisti Burns from Discord Designs is working to be set up with something by tomorrow too... It's an awful time, and if any good can come from it it will be that we have the opportunity to help and come together...
If you know about any other designers or benefits going on inworld to help the victims and families in Victoria, Australia, feel free to leave a link in the comments section.
So let's say you go on vacation... someplace nice. Maybe someplace with really interesting architecture or art. You've brought your camera, of course, because 'hey!' it's a vacation right? You want to remember it. So, you land and check into the hotel and then get all set to go out and tour the city. Not that you HAVE to go to the city, but it's my story, so deal with it.
You're walking around and WOW look at that sculture. It's soooo cool! I have to take a picture of it!! So you snap the shot and it's yours. Now, here's the thing... you didn't design the sculpture and you certainly didn't build it... but you've got the picture. You've got the picture like 1000 other people did when they walked around the corner and said 'WOW'. Yours is still different though. You're a different height. You took the picture from a different angle. Maybe it was a different time of day or it was cloudy. Maybe you like to take black and white pictures. There are a million different reasons your sculpture is different from everyone else's. Some of it is just time and light, some of it is personal preference. Some of it is that whatever that says 'I need to see this this way'.
Either way, it's pretty much the same thing no matter what you do. Everything is yours in the end, right? At least, it's your version. So let's talk about style.
Designers design. They build, they make things. They made that 'wow' sculpture, they make those 'wow' clothes. Something inspires you to take that particular picture, and something inspires you to wear something that certain way. Fashion in SL is even more like that than in the real world even, because in Second Life you're always in third person. You actually are the sculpture. I don't know, I could have taken Moonshine Design's Placid dress and put on some nice heels and gotten ready for that Spring Formal... but it inspired me differently I guess. It's beautiful, gorgeous... the details on the fabric are sooo meticulous, and the lace netting layers in the skirt add a lovely touch of color. There's a rose colored satin trim along the top and connecting to the collar are lovely spaghetti straps of the same material. Designing outfits that are sexy, fun and always well made, Shelly Toonie is nothing if not consistently inspirational.
I think quality inspires the most. We don't take pictures of mediocre art, after all. So here, the art is ther already... Shelly Toonie's made it. It's not finished though. It's not finished until you do something to make it your own.
Oooo I love Rezzable. It's pretty much a household name in Second Life. Events, builds, vendors... Rezzable does it all. So when I got an invite to their Digital Alchemy: Ancient Egypt Designs blogger and press fashion show I knew it would be something special. Featuring designers like Sysy's, Sn@tch, Exxess, Stringer Mausoleum and others showing designs 'inspired' by ancient Egypt...well.. just 'yay!'.
The show started at about 2:00PM SLT yesterday, and after just a few hiccups trying to TP in (TP's were weird ALL OVER Second Life yesterday) I managed to finally arrive. No seats left, of course, but that's ok. I can stand for a little while. Lot's of fun, really... models descending out of a golden sun and all that. Very dramatic.
Now, I don't know THAT much about Egypt. Sure, there are the pyramids and there was Cleopatra and all that. Most of the history I know about it is sort of half remembered from college and then what I picked up from the HBO series Rome and then there were those Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser. So, yah, as far as actual accurate knowledge, well, it probably isn't there (although Rome was supposed to be pretty much on target). Anyway, it's not like there was a pop quiz or anything after the show, so I was pretty ok on that point. What I DID manage to pick up from my experience was the exotic costumes and fashions of the era... sooo, maybe glamorized a bit in Hollywood, but of course it's what I expected in the show.
NOT disappointed. My personal faves were Ivey Deschanel of Sn@tch's Bastet, which opened the show and Mereret from Ghanima Uriza of Blue Blood. Ugh, I just didn't have the budget to grab everything I loved there, so I ended up leaving with Nepthys from Layja Vidor and Exxess Designs.
Gorgeous... Nepthys is some of the best prim work I've seen, with beautiful gold and red textures and a shimmering glow to the whole look. I also left with a skin, called Akhet from Wasabi Pills, which is a skin designer I haven't paid too much attention to in the past but I'll definitely be stopping by her shop for more. The skin pack came in Sahara and Sand tones (get it!?) and are lovely. I put on Tukinowaguma Hair Styles Divine style to complete the look; which of course was supposed to get it's own post later this week but when I saw the outfit I knew it was perfect.
Oh what an awesome afternoon! Anyway, There are about 26 designers in all involved in this event, and soooo many interesting interpretations to choose from, you need to get down there. Digital Alchemy has another show open to the public tomorrow (February 6) starting at 2:00PM SLT. Get there early if you want to get a seat... TP directly here.
I had a conversation the other day with a designer friend about art in Second Life. Well, art and design actually. Ok, art, design and content creation in Second Life; and technically it wasn't a designer, but they work for a designer. Whatever. There was a conversation anyway. Basically, we ended up getting to the subject of how important commerce was within the artistic community in Second Life. Would content creators create if there was no profit incentive.
His response was kind of cynical: "No," he said. Now, I'm not a business owner, and so I know there are a lot of technical things that probably go into it. 'No' is probably not as cynical an answer as I thought at the time.... sooo, of course I posted the question on Plurk. There I got more of a 'yes, kinda' list of responses, but of course things like covering tier costs were mentioned and I get that. I think the whole point of my original conversation actually was just to explore the idea of art for art's sake. I'm not anti-capitalist or anything... and of course I think there are a LOT of designers in SL who certainly deserve recognition and even compensation for their work and contributions. In that group, though, I think there's love too.
Twyla Tharp said "Art is the only way to run away without leaving home", and I think that's a pretty good definition of Second Life. If SL was only an artistic forum, who would be left? How can you tell?
Quality, basically. Anyone can find a way to make a few $L in SL, if you work at it. The designers that go a little bit above what they need to I think understand that it's art. Faery Sola from Studio Sidhe falls into that group. Not just happy to make accessories and jewelry, Faery makes quality accessories and jewelry. Not only that, it's work that is so unique and detailed, it's more than just something to buy, each piece is a little story about the designer herself. YES it's for sale... but it's more than just products. I think this would be something we'd see whether or not there were bills to pay.
Studio Sidhe's Silver Nose Chain with Bells is a gorgeous, quality piece made with obvious attention and just screaming Faery. Easy to accessorize with her Silver Filigree set I blogged back in December (see it here), the work is beautiful, and the detailing is something totally amazing. It's art.
You can spend a lot of time in Second Life searching for that just right 'look'. I know I did. It's hard finding the 'you' that you want to be in SL. Not because there are sooo many options either. A lot of times, actually, it's just because there's so much of the same thing.
Definitely, there are different skill levels. No doubt about that. There are some really talented designers in SL. A lot actually. The thing is, there are actually very few artists.
You could put together a list of 10 hair designers in SL, pop in and out of each of their shops and find a pretty much identical selection. Now, YES you might find different levels of quality, but the same styles pretty much hang on everyone's walls. It's not always their fault, I guess... the designer's I mean. A lot of what's for sale is what there's a demand for. Can't fight that. Is it for you though? Is it for me?
It wasn't, and still isn't. If it's for you well, then it's for you. I know from experience though, it's not for everybody... and there are a lot of you desperately TPing around Second Life looking for that one thing, that look that just doesn't seem to be anywhere.
Alternative, well made and definitely sexy, Kallisti Burns' Discord Designs has a huge range of weirdly beautiful and exotic hairs. 'Sasy' is one of her latest releases, and once again her braid work is absolutely lovely. Available in Monochromes, Reds, Blondes, Blue Greens and more, Kallisti's hairs are something I guarantee you won't see much of elsewhere in Second Life. The prim braids are very realistic, the color options are huge, and the menu driven hair sizing menu is a lot of fun.