Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Models vs. Mannequins

Ah modeling in Second Life. What can I say about this industry? Oh lot’s apparently. But first things first.

Girls, ladies, guys, let me just tell you something I used to tell the students of a class I taught in modeling on the very first day of class.

You’re never going to get rich modeling in Second Life. Nope, never. You will never become so sought after, so much of a star, so highly recognized that you will be able to support you, your family and your kids in the real first life, lifestyle you wish to become accustomed to.

Feel better? No? Oh, well I’m sorry if I popped someone’s bubble. Here, let me explain.

Modeling in SL is part of the fashion industry. Much like modeling in the first life. The difference is in the first life, models are highly paid, sought after individuals not only for their looks but their abilities as well. Make sense? Sure it does. One works hard to craft a certain physical look that is pleasing to the eye and suitable for showcasing a variety of fashions. Classes are taken to perfect a craft that will ensure one can not only walk down a runway without falling off but also know exactly what poses are necessary for print ads based solely on the style of the outfit given to wear. One also spends copious amounts of currency to maintain the most current trends and styles. So ultimately when faced with a runway show for a big name designer the designer knows when that model step out onto the runway not only will his designs be best represented but showcased as well. So, why shouldn’t the model be highly paid. They are, and it’s the right thing to do.

You see, people look at Vogue, Cosmo, Glamour and other fashion magazines to check out the latest and greatest new styles and where do they see them? On the backs of a model of course.

You know why? Sure you do. Because seeing them, on someone, styled complete with shoes, a hot new hair style, the latest handbag, jewelry that just screams I was made for this, and the most up to date, season shattering, you’ll be wearing this next fall makeup, sells.

And you want it. You want that look. The whole thing. The full Monty. You lust after it, you look for substitutes of it, and you want to emulate that look at almost any cost. Now... take that cost and multiply it by oh... I dunno... 5 bazillion. Well you do the math. That’s why models in first life are paid as highly as they are. They’re worth it to the designers, the advertisers, the magazine owners etc. Everyone makes money… at least in the first life.

Now see here’s where I’m about to make some enemies I’m sure. But lemme just say in advance I have no agenda here, I’m not out to get you… I’m not angry at the fashion industry in Second Life, on the contrary I love the fashion industry, I just think there are some things that can be made better, more equitable. And, I’m also curious.

You see, I’ve been a model in Second Life for oooh... I dunno... almost three years now and I’ve had the opportunity to see what goes on from this side of the runway.

Back in the day I kind of fell into modeling simply because I had a friend who was in the industry, and she was short a model for a RFL show, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

Like many newbies I was clueless. Probably more so, because I had never modeled before, taken a class or done any of the normal protocol that most models do now. I was handed an outfit, (it happened to be a gypsy style) told to obtain hair that would best match the outfit, be ready to hit two spots on the runway and pose at each one, and that folks consisted of my formal training and entry into the modeling world of SL.

Well needless to say I fell some what short of the task at hand. Not only did I crash horribly during the show which btw left my avi attached to the roof of the stage flaying about like a bug stuck to someone’s windshield at 70 mph before mercifully poofing, but when I finally was able to teleport back I had one shoe, one bracelet and the biggest baddest gypsy style hair stuck up my behind. Yes, that was back in the day when if you teleported somewhere, and there was even the most minor of glitches, one could expect to harvest a variety of inventory from ones butt upon entry. Oh yes, and on stage of course. Ah… good times.

Anywhoo... I did finally make it through that show albeit I’ve developed an eye twitch that when I remember that day tends get a bit lively and animated.

So I’m sure you’re wondering how I ever got work again right? Well frankly so am I. I never will know how I got that next gig. Well, that’s not exactly true. I mean, after that experience I decided I wanted to model in SL, but I didn’t have the money to take a class and buy everything I thought would be necessary to complete my look. So, I made the decision to just work on perfecting the look I thought would be best suitable to the industry here. I bought 500 shapes… none of them worked… you know what I’m talking about, finally opting to make my own. I bought decent hair, skin, shoes and accessories. I found a runway walk and modeling poses that didn’t’ make me look like I was having an epileptic fit. I bought detail items such as eyes that didn’t spin, flash or say “want sex?” when I blinked. I purchased sunglasses, belts, tattoos and a modeling HUD.

It was about this time I found out I had no technical skills whatsoever when I couldn’t figure out how to work that modeling HUD to save my life. So… ever diligent in my goal, I did a search for, and I kid you not, “Nerds” in groups, joined an open one, and publicly asked in the group chat if anyone could help me program this mother @#&^%*$ing HUD and I would gladly pay them, or have their first born child. That’s right, my first modeling HUD was actually configured by a card carrying, pocket protecting nerd who actually came to my HOUSE in SL and walked me step thru step on how to use it. Now is that not so freaking sad? But let me just say to that nerd out there, who’s name escapes me now, if it had not been for you I may have entirely given up because I was so frustrated by that time I was ready to take that HUD and shove it up the ass of the sadistic inventor who clearly thought his marketing slogan of “so easy even a prim baby could do it” was clever. So thank you nerd wherever you are!!

Soooooo in an effort to make this epic novel a bit shorter, let’s fast forward a bit. I made it into the modeling world. Yep, I worked hard, spent an embarrassing amount of money on my avi, was diligent, showed up on time, did what I was told, didn’t cause any trouble, didn’t gossip, was loyal, honest and dependable. That seemed to be enough to push me forward to enough agencies and production companies to keep me pretty busy in the modeling world for some time to come.

Goal reached.

Let’s fast forward even more to today. Now these days, I don’t model as much as I used to. Primarily due to time constraints with running my own business in SL. But still on occasion, I like to toss my hat in the ring and work a show or two. It’s good for me, it keeps me up to date and keeps me in runway form. And again, it’s something I like.

However, recently I’ve found myself in the position of being the ear and shoulder for the collective feelings of many other new and long time models in SL. So I figured if I’m going to do that, why not be a mouthpiece as well. Since I’ve been told I have a big mouth anyway… yeah I see you in the back, put your hands down, I said I have a big mouth. But seriously there are some issues in SL in this particular industry that need to be addressed. I’m not saying anyone will do anything, or that anything written here will result in any changes but, it has to be said. Because people, I’m telling you its being said right now behind your backs and in some cases not very friendly, with some seriously hurt feelings and occasionally some very angry models. So I’m here willing to say what needs to be said at the risk of alienating some people.

Again, let me tell you all I have nothing against designers, modeling agencies, production companies or the likes there of. You’ve been who I’ve worked very hard for in the past and hope to continue to do so in the future. You guys know me, I’m not out to hurt anyone.

But here’s the thing. There is no consistency in compensation for models in SL. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say sometimes there is no compensation at all. Shocking I know but a fact. It happened to me just recently. Don’t ask.

Now modeling came about long before I less than gracefully entered SL, I’m not sure how it did but it did. I do know I’m certain I wouldn’t like to see photos of some of those early days as I’m not sure I would be able to successfully control the laughing because as bad as it can be now, I’m sure it was much, much worse then and forgive me but how can you not see the humor in watching a Ruthed avi, who’s model AO is not working, waddling down the runway whilst Right Said Fred sings “I’m too Sexy” only to finally glimpse just a bit of her designer shoes and hair stuck up her butt as she uncontrollably tips over the edge of the runway into a fake serene like pond obviously set for the ambiance.

Come on! Sorry… I don’t know about you… but that crap killed me. I spotted.

Dang, digressing again. Anyway, so someone must have originally said... this is a great idea. A way to get a product shown to a mass of people thus increasing sales and productivity. Perfect! I mean that’s the business model you want. Absolutely. But somewhere along the line something happened or didn’t happen when it came to compensating the models.

Maybe it was because there was and is a glutton of wanna be models… maybe because there were so many hungry young avi’s eager to break into the modeling industry in SL they skewed the compensatory framework, I just don’t know but something happened that allowed for agencies and production companies alike to compensate their models as if they were a very simple cog, an unimportant element in the process that is fashion design.

Frankly speaking I think it’s time the modeling industry here in SL had it’s own union, or group whatever you want to call it that ensures some standards in compensation, hours worked, rights for petes sake. Something that would represent the great number of talented, hard working individuals and working together to secure their rights. Yes, their rights.

Let’s be honest here. Some agencies pay as little as L$400 for models to work a runway show. Said show may include 4 or 5 outfit changes. Which everyone should know requires each outfit to be styled, including finding a skin that best fits the style of the outfit, matching that with complimentary hair, choosing the right jewelry or accessories, securing the right shoes that don’t fight with the pant leg or distort the already lovely cankle, spend countless hours on a pose stand flipping thru poses to choose just the right ones that wont distort the outfit but rather show it in its most complimentary way, show up for 2 or more rehearsals lasting no less than one hour and more often like 2 or 3, be able to retain a maze of a sometimes ridiculous runway walk pattern and walk order, wake up sometimes at 4am to show up for a print shoot to accommodate the photographer of the show catalog, put up with impossibly laggy sims where the number of people set to allow is maxed out insuring numerous crashes and failures, horrendous attachment problems, teleporting issues, screaming stage coordinators and any other random acts of SL I’ve failed to mention in the longest run on sentence in the history of inkslinging, all for the glory of $L400.

Yes, I realize the models receive the designs for free. Let me just address that here. We love you designers. In fact I would go so far as to say models are some of your biggest customers. So, no offense to the designers is meant in any way shape or form in what I’m about to say. Please know that in advance. But let’s face it, if I had the choice between keeping the dress with the enormous sculpty dolphin hat and matching set of fin shoes and taking Lindens I’m gonna go with the Lindens. No disrespect intended designers but I just don’t have any use for some of the items I model. As with anyone, our styles and choice of clothing to wear vary from avi to avi in SL. While one might just squeal with delight over the dolphin hat the other would just as soon take the $L.

But it’s not the designers that make this process break down. Frankly I think it’s a combination of agency owners, production company owners and the models themselves.
The agency/production owners are out to make money just like everyone else. They get paid by the designers AND receive the outfits for free as well to showcase their hard work. The agency/production company owners get the fattest cut in this deal. There’s no doubt about it. And yes in their defense they have to secure the venue, do the advertising and generally bring all four corners together, I do believe however they’re getting the lion’s share of the funds and it’s just not equitable. Now the models themselves are to blame somewhat because clearly they/we’ve become complacent. Accepting what they give us for the face time, the glory, and our name in lights if you will. And while for some that might be enough, it pulls down the whole industry standard for the rest of the models.

Tell me, does this sound right to you? I mean honestly. If it does, it does because you’re entitled to your opinion. But to me… it just feels wrong.

I’m not certain what other models are thinking while they’re up there on the runway, I can only tell you what I’m thinking after all the hours of work that culminate in me stepping from behind the runway curtain, hitting marks, changing poses, watching the model in front, and ultimately ending backstage again without major incident, but here’s what I’m thinking.

Have I successfully put together a styled look for this outfit that will make the designer thrilled/happy/delighted? Are the people here going to run out afterwards and want this entire look because I made it happen? (No, I didn’t design the outfit, but put together a “look”). Are my attachments correct? Will my next outfit attach with no problems. What are my next steps should X, Y, Z happen. How will I go on if I can’t make something attach and still sell this to the audience?

You see, I’m up there selling this for you designers. I’m up there to make your product and any other accessory products sell. I’m up there for you agency/production company owners to make you look good with the designers.

Could you reach your target customer demographics using a hairy guy avatar in lingerie? Ok maybe some of you could but… ahem… let’s stick with the usual and customary. How about a mannequin that robo-automatically rolled down the runway? Well, I think you get my point. So to you the designers I say choose the companies that are supposed to be promoting your designs carefully. You wouldn’t use a sweat shop employing child labor to design your clothing in first life… why would you accept less than the best qualified individuals, working for your goals, your best interest, showcasing your hard work in SL? And why shouldn’t those individuals be compensated accordingly.

To you agency/production owners. I’m not sure what to say. Because frankly I’m not sure you really care. I’m not trying to be ugly/snarky or pissy, I say this because if you did truly care, your agenda would be different. Your goals would include not only obtaining new clientele.. but keeping your loyal employees and fostering the relationship. Now I know it’s hard to take a step back and reevaluate your actions perhaps resulting in a pay cut to your own pocket. It takes a big person to look at the ugly about a situation and their involvement in it and stand up to make a change.

Now all you people in the back jumping up and down, relax. I’m not saying every single agency/production company here is Simon Legree, I’m just asking why can’t we have some uniformity, some consistency, if the DJ’s can do it, then there’s really nothing stopping the models from doing it as well. But first, people have to come together and be ready to say no, I’m sorry that’s not acceptable.

I’m under no delusion that this article will have any great impact on the industry, nor will it change the answer of the new girl fresh out of modeling school, But I’m hoping at least someone recognizes something in this, can lift a little knowledge from it, and maybe just maybe start somewhere to effect change.

I’m not a mannequin I’m a model.

P.S. Again my apologies for bad grammar, poor punctuations and misspellings :)


Cherie Parker said...

Oooh I forgot something. I know what you're thinking. Using over 3000 words one would think I covered it all but alas I failed.

This does not pertain to charitable events. I think everyone knows models are more than willing to give of their time and of themselves towards charities. Thanks :) Carry on.

Anonymous said...

Supply and demand. If there was a shortage of models, then yes $L are the answer, but for every model who refused a job due to poor payment, there are 100 to take 'her' place.

What is the value of models? How much % business to a designer do they contribute

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you didn't read the whole article huh Anon? ;)

Anonymous said...

Frankly I don't see the point of models unless they do their own superior photography complete with post processing, and thus they are selling their graphic design talents rather than the aesthetic properties of their avatar.

Most designers I know use their own avatars for their ads, and fashion shows have a rather questionable return on investment. Maybe 40 avatars (tops) that aren't associated with the production of the show get to see it, and half the time the clothing isn't even rezzed in the lagfest. Unless there is a huge followup on the feeds with photos of the show, you just don't get a whole lot of publicity.

It really seems to me the more efficient way to promote your products (both in time and lindens) is just to drop some review copies on bloggers that you admire and hope you get picked up.

Anonymous said...

I did read the whole article.

Maybe you can highlight the pertinent parts about sales figures as a result of models for me, as the wall of text may have inadvertantly caused me to gloss over that part.

Liane Maertens said...

i hate being anonimous anyway, well i agreed if second life is to live what we wish and didnt in first life for sure i would love to be good payed as models in first life does. I must say i love modeling and i love do cause is fun and we do lots of new friends and get in touch with the new things but Cherie is right we arent payed with the among of work a model has to deal, i can count on my fingers goods shows well payed i had. Maybe mister or miss Anonimous is right if you say no 100 others will get the place but will them be that good i guess the thing is we offer quality not quantity, maybe will be a time that peopel will value that. Congrats Cherie you voiced what some models are afraid to.

Liane Maertens said...

ah and sorry the typos my main language isnt english :D

nemi said...

Cherie is one of the most generous and sincerely non drama, non diva models around. I agree alot of what she said but I also know models come a dime a dozen. Good models, and yes there is work involved are not so easy to come by.I never got formally trained either but I have spent almost 4 years modeling in sl and I know how much changes there have been. I believe in "doing my part", being on time, using poses that do not detract from the design I am selling like many who are good models do. Am I in it to make money?
Heck no, cause I know many of us put out much more than we ever see. I do it for fun and also becasue seeing someone in an outfit for me with rl visual issues makes buying one alot easier. It def is time for parity. Thanks Cherie. Its always an honor to model with you,and you too Liane.

Kay Fairey said...

I absolutely agree with you Cherie and I've been feeing the same. The thing is....there are agencies and models who offer free service to designers and as long as there are, this will be hard to change.

I have organized fashion shows in RL and in RL, it costs an anormous amount of money to do a show. So only selective designers who can afford them or those who wish to invest in the publicity will do shows. Here, there are simply too many shows because they are so cheap to do. No wonder models don't get paid.

So to set this right, shows must be more highly priced to compensate for the time and effort spent. This means less shows obviously which then means, the modeling industry will be more competitive, just like RL. And only a select list of popular and professional models will be able to model.

The number of "models" is almost unreal in SL and so are the number of agencies. If I threw a stone here in SL, I'm sure I'll hit at least one or two models.

So I have to say the whole balance is not right which is the reason why there are imbalance of pay here.

Anonymous said...

Anon I think you're missing the point. And you can hold on to that greed induced coma of yours regarding sales figures because darlin you and I both know there's no way to prove just how much of an impact us models do have on the bottom line now is there? :)

Kay Fairey said...

On that point Cherie, edo believes that "models do sell and make a difference in sales" which is a conclusion he has drawn from experience. If you go to his store, he posts the names of the models with certain outfits featuring the models in a big way. He says they sell. And that is why he wanted to do the "Top Girls Show" as he is convinced good/popular/well known models can actaully move his products.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was extremely nasty and totally uncalled for Cherie.

I am not in a 'greed induced coma' I am geniunely curious as to the value of the models you are holding aloft for more $L.

If you cannot discuss this without resorting to insults then there is no point.

Cherie Parker said...

Anon lemme quote something you said... "as the wall of text may have inadvertantly caused me to gloss over that part". I was only responding in kind.

Cherie Parker said...

Kay, yes there are a fine and reputable designers like Edo of whom I highly respect. I have no issue as I said with designers, simply bringing to their attention what really happens after they hire the agency. :)

Arya Markova said...

At the risk of contributing to the wall of text:

Modeling sometimes is time consuming and often expensive. There is a never-ending stream of people who will gladly play dress up and model for free, so good luck trying to get paid more than a pittance for this service.

Fashion shows are more often than not just an exercise in self indulgence, both for the models and the designers. Neither side expects a significant financial boon, or even a very noticable boost of publicity from them.

No matter how time consuming modeling is, ultimately it's not exactly a skilled trade. Anyone with a fast internet connection who can keep an appointment and has a decent inventory can do it.

People that are, in effect, unskilled labor get paid very little in RL and even less in SL. Ultimately, if you want the recognition and "SLebrity" of being a model, do it because you love it and because you have spare time. Consider getting paid for your time as spare spending cash at best.

The use of "name brand models" is not going to make any designer, nor even contribute much to sales unless they are a well read blogger.

Cherie Parker said...

I happen to agree with some of what you've said Arya, however some I do not. I've had the luxury of seeing many different models "perform" and there are some with lightning speed fast internet connections that have the modeling skills of a three toed sloth. I taught a class on modeling, I know how much work goes into learning everything one needs to know and be able to multi task while on the runway. Sadly some people just never can get it. As far as "unskilled labor" goes, well, that's a bit harsh. I challenge that comment as I know it takes quite a bit of skill to be able to pull off everything I described in the article to make a fashion show successful. It's not about the money so much as it is about standardization and finding a middle ground that works for both models and the agencies. Its the principal that should be considered here. Thanks for your comment, I do appreciate it.

Laura18 Streeter said...

As a model who knows the difference between doing a show, a shoot or any job with passion, I can see myself when I've worked hard to be the best that I can for that particular designer.
I believe this is obvious to others as it is to me, but it isn't always the case for some designers who will take a show where they find it.
Having also had over a year producing shows, I have seen both sides and I have had returns on that side too. Given proper exposure a fashion house will ultimately notice the difference - be it in traffic generated for the event, quality of the event, or sales. Otherwise some models would not be called back over and over and some forgotten.
I am proud in what I do in both fronts and passionate, and nothing gives me more satisfaction than a job well done.
I run an agency in which we teach not only the technical aspects but the more important other ones as well - the biggest of which is attitude.
Therefore I reject the unskilled labor view I've seen go by, like any job, you can do it right - or you can do it wrong. And when it's done right it shows.
Loved the article Cherie!

Mae said...

I think there are quite a few SL jobs that are undervalued for the amount of work and effort put in. Try being a dancer. Not only are you expected to look good, have tons of outfits and costumes (that you yourself pay for), work many hours, multitask like crazy (chat up all customers, emote, greet people as they come in, keep people interested, attend events, promote, deal with griefers, newbies, train new dancers, etc.), but you are also looked down upon by a huge percentage of the SL population. You work for tips, so you can work hours upon hours for nothing, and those tips very often go to buy outfits and costumes for work!

A lot of people look down upon dancers, have no respect for them, and make all kinds of negative assumptions about them, but some of us ARE actually good, intelligent people, who don't cover themselves in body oil and bling, take our jobs pretty seriously, and work very hard for very little!

Cherie Parker said...

Mae! I'm with you sweetie! I do believe there are plenty of jobs that are under appreciated and probably underpaid in SL.

In this instance I believe a more consistent, uniform system would be good not only for the models, but the agencies as well.

Sometimes as in rl companies need to weed out the serious employees from the not so serious. Those willing to work hard, perfect their craft who are loyal and dependable.

That should be rewarded by some type of benefit such as job security, appropriate pay, etc. It's a win win situation for everyone then because the designers end up with the best models to present their designs, the agencies end up with a stable, consistent, talented group of employees and the models end up happy to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

I think some of the same principals apply in your industry to Mae, and perhaps you can be the one to call for some uniform action in your area as well.

Best of luck and thanks for commenting! :)

Keltoi said...

Cherie, I would have to agree with you on this subject. It’s apparent someone is making some lindens out here in this fashion world and it’s certainly not the models. Most of the agencies I’ve worked with pay their models $500L a show, maybe more for the top models. Some you simply get the outfits from the show itself. So lets do some basic math here and see what we come up with.

Ok for the show itself, just how much time is involved from the models perspective. Lets see, this will include minimum of two one-hour practices, the show itself normally one-hour minimum not including showing up at least 30 minutes early. Then of course all the time you put into styling your outfits. So that’s 2 hours practice, 1.5 for the show. Now lets not forget about actually styling the outfits. Lets say five outfits and your amazingly talented and can actually put your skin, hair, accessories together and don’t forget the pose in say 30 minutes, wow your really good if you can do that! So 2.5 hours to style and I think we all know that’s basically impossible.

Ok so now the model has approximately 5.5-6 hours invested and that’s only if your amazingly fast in the styling department. If you take your $500 linden and divide it by 6 that’s right at 83.33 Linden per hour you’ve just made. And at the going rate of US dollar exchange 500L = $1.94 now talk about child labor pricing that’s $.32 cents an hour. Of course this doesn’t even touch the price of the skin, shape, hair, shoes, poses, etc… that you’ve spent out of your own pocket to look amazing on the runway. So lets face the facts here people models in SL really are not paid enough.

So what do you do? Well I recall being told over and over again if you’re into modeling for the money, well your wasting your time because you’ll never make money doing it. Yes you get some nice outfits, yes you meet some extremely talented people and yes lets not forget the fame and glory walking down the runway with all the applause and cheering. Can you demand more for your efforts, realistically there are so many up and coming models just waiting to fill your shoes and lets face it the agencies have their budgets I think Not.

I personally think it would be awesome to see an agency step it up a notch, pay their models more, put on shows that are a standard above everyone else. The real question is… would the designers pay what it would take to make this happen? Would the Agency owners be willing to cut down the profit margin and take care of those hard working models….

If your a model and don’t want to work for clothes, don’t, if you think your underpaid well then don’t model. If you enjoy the fame glamour and name recognition you receive then don’t complain. If you want to make a difference, then be the New Agency that sets its standards above all the rest and take your pick of the top models and give outstanding service so all the designers simply have to use you.

And for all you who think this is all silly simply remember this is only a game… or is it ?

Keltoi Recreant

Anonymous said...

As a clothing designer that once modeled, I agree that it does suck up a lot of time, but this is also an industry where a clothing maker makes a buck or two for an outfit that took several days to create. Sure you can hopefully make that up with volume, but for the most the average avatar doesn't want to pay more than a few dollars for an item in a virtual world, with some noted exceptions.

I've done several shows with various well-known agencies, as well as thrown my own complete with custom set, casting, etc, and for the amount of work and time that goes into them, it's simply not worth it unless you just want to do it for fun. You might sell a few extra outfits for that day, and maybe a mention on the feed, but nothing really noticeable actually translates into sales.

So I acknowledge that perhaps a lot of models are putting time and thought into their job, but the hard truth of it is that if they (and thus the cost of throwing the show) increased, people simply wouldn't do them. It's just a bad cost vs benefit ratio.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anon for your comment. I appreciate a designers input on this topic. However, it does make me wonder then why there are so many fashion shows if they do not contribute to the bottom line. I mean, they're not free, they cost money and time. Surely they must benefit some designers.

Anonymous said...

I paid for the first two or three, but I didn't really notice much of an increase in sales, so I just gave up on them, even though they were sort of elaborate social affairs. Fun, but not profitable.

The last 4 or 5 I've done have all been free. I get offers for free shows maybe once a month from various agencies, and generous as their offers are, I generally turn them down since I don't see the point of even a free show unless you have something brand new to unveil. The offers I did accept where points in time when I had a week or two to churn out some new releases. The hard deadline of a scheduled show is the kind of thing that kicks my butt into really being productive. I always tip generously to those involved, but I would never go out of my way to have a fashion show. These days, there are so many that it's hardly a blip on the weekend event radar.

Arya Markova said...

I think of modeling in SL as skilled a trade as something like gold farming in WoW. Both require some technical know how of the mechanics of the game, what you're wearing is important for your effectiveness at your job, and there are a ton of people that are willing to do it for practically nothing. In fact in China people get paid similar hourly wages quoted above for gold farming as models do in SL.

Think of it scaled in terms of the virtual world. You get paid maybe L$500 for 5 hours of work. That's generally enough to buy a dress. IRL say you make $10 an hour, 5 hours, $50 dress. To me it makes sense.

If you're playing the game anyway, you already know most of the stuff you need to do the job. You don't get bonus points for remembering a pose for more than 30 minutes. Use a modeling HUD or write it down. Having an organized inventory and going through your poses using a modeling table will also streamline your time down from 2.5 hours for 5 outfits. Focus on hair, skin and shoes. Most people don't appreciate their items getting overshadowed by accessories. If the designer included a texture of the ad for the item in the folder then style something similar to what is represented in that.

Most of that is just common sense. Yes that is sometimes sorely lacking in SL but I think that pandering to the lowest common denominator and including the people that can't walk a straight line and don't know how to sort their inventory in the argument isn't really effective.

Gamp Lane said...

I generally just keep my mouth shut like a sweet little Barbie princess. However, I think this topic warrants further discussion.

I have been around these parts (Second Life) since May, 2007. My first "runway" experience was in the Miss SL Tropics 2007 pageant. I will save you a blow by blow of that experience, but suffice it to say, it was pretty much like Cherie descirbed her initial venture I knew nothing about modeling, and I absolutely froze on that clam (don't ask) the point where I was sure I would never be a model.

Bruised beyond belief, but undaunted, I enrolled in a couple of modeling schools....shelling out those precious L$ in hopes of..I dunno..being an online Supermodel? A pipe dream right? Something that would never be possible for me in RL...what if I actually could have this faux experience? Would I get any similar kind of rush as a real life Supermodel gets?

Believe me, I have been through all the trials and tribulations that a real life model goes through...I came into SL much like a newborn babe comes into the friends, no connections, totally on my own. I am a rather shy individual, and I think a lot of model types are, so I have struggled every step of the way...and inch by inch, step by step, I made an inroad into this field. I still laugh when new models think I am special, a Supermodel. I'm just like everyone else..a person sitting behind a keyboard...playing a game. Do I hear screaming? Gamp, this is NOT a game...where is your head? People live REAL virtual lives here...and some even make a real living doing it! Yes, yes, believe me I know that. I am in Sl more than anyone really ought to be. I have lived and loved here for generally 12-14 hours a day for 2 years. Still, if SL crashed and never resurfaced...would we all survive? You know we would. It's a danged GAME, and the more we attempt to make it mimic RL, the more we end up with the same issues we are trying to escape by coming here...organized militant groups, unions, you name it. Lord knows there is already enough discrimination to go around in SL. Did you ever chuckle at a furry or an adult playing a child? Bet you did, didn't you?

Bottom line...I love money...I love being paid what I am worth. HOWEVER, I personally don't care if I get paid one single solitary L$. I am all about the fun, the glamour, the thrill of accomplishing something I could only dream about in RL. I know I am not alone. There are hoardes of new models popping up on a daily basis...nipping at our unsightly heels. We can form all the unions we like...but we are just handing over OUR jobs to the new guard, who will eat them up in record time...and we are toast! In your little Avi hearts you know I'm right, and it's freaking us the hell out. I go to a lot of shows...see all the new models gracing the runways. some are really good too..some suck.

Many of my friends really do need to earn L$...maybe even to stay in game. Some are attempting to make a RL living through SL. I respect that, but my belief is that it ain't gonna happen in modeling pursuits.

No magic bullet here...Yes I go out right after a show and buy outfits I have seen. Designers don't realize how beneficial it really is to have live (well kinda sorta live) models showing their designs in an appealing way. Have I been through long practices and learned complicated choreography, and not been paid? Oh hell yeah. Breaking it down incrementally gives us a really clear picture of what we are doubt about it.

Final analysis...I model because I love it. It's a feeling of success I have never experienced in RL...a rush beyond your wildest dreams. Can you put a price tag on that? If people need the pay, make sure up front that it is a paid show or event...then if it isn't, move aside and the rest of us will step in. OMG blasphemy from little Gampy? No, just a dose of reality I think.

Cherie Parker said...

Well kids, you can read it for yourself here in the comments just what some people think of models in SL.

Kinda sad because I know how much work goes into being a good model no matter how anyone tries to underrate us.

I'll admit to this, clearly I was naive. I had no idea models in SL were looked down upon so much. Who knew.

Anonymous said...

I don't look down on models nor do I elevate them to any particular status based on their chosen profession. I just think that in a fashion show they're not especially effective for sales and are thus *all* involved are paid accordingly.

It's not like agencies are making bank and not paying fairly either, I think I see some shows for about 12k. Let's say there are 10 models, each get paid 500L. That leaves 7k linden for the coordinator in the agency, the builder that is doing the custom runway, the DJ, the graphic designer making the promo art for the show, maybe an MC, and some amount left over to cover the cost of tier on the land and the rental on the shoutcast stream. All in all, everyone seems to be making pretty crap pay.

The sim severly limits the number of people in the audience, and for some non-insignificant amount of people the outfits aren't even rezzed. So let's (generously) say an average of 30 of those people manage to see two outfits in the show that they go out and buy, at 300L a pop. That's 18k in sales for the designer, at a net total of 6k profit. That's a little over 23USD.

Raise the prices on the models, which will then raise the price of the overall show, and the designer will be unlikely to even bother, as the profit margins on shows are so low as it is. It's just business, it's not personal.

Kasen Kazan said...

Let's talk about lag! I have yet to understand why a designer would pay 15,000 plus lindens to only have maybe 35 people (not counting the models and staff) to see their creations! I have been to hundreds of shows, 75% of the people that come to the show are friends of the models and staff. The lag is not worth it for me. half the time the models don't even rez all the way until they head off the runway. Fashion shows are a rip off for the designers for the amount money they spend. A designer would get more traffic running events, and having store models. Use the money having a contest or hire someone to run events and store models with it! I ran an agency for awhile in SL. Truth be told I got tired of taking the designers Lindens knowing that it was a waste of their money. Just got tired of ripping people off. As far as Charitable events put a tip jar out or donate proceeds from the sales. Sorry, but to think that the time and brains the designers use, seems they would catch on to pay Lindens for only about 35-50 people to see their beautiful creations!

Mallory Luke said...

This is a conversation sure to push a lot of buttons and get the blood flowing. The conversation has taken so many turns, I have to keep going back to the original post to remain focused on the initial subject of this blog post. I think the subject is about models being compensated for their time. I personally have always had a hard time with the value of a Linden vs. the value of a U.S. dollar. I get caught up asking myself "What is something worth to me?" Would I spend 20-30 hours a week working for 5K Linden (aproximately $20 U.S.) in my first life, not likely. In RL, I work in a commmissioned sales environment because I like the idea of writing my own pay check. Is SL about getting paid? Do we spend hours upon hours of our free time in SL to get paid? Some do, sure. And some are darn good at what they do. I applaud anyone that can make a little money off of doing something they love. Just as in RL, there will always be a handful of people that know
how to grab an opportunity and profit from it. I applaud them.

As a co-owner of a fashion agency in SL, I have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people that enjoy the fashion industry in SL. When interviewing new staff, we always ask them "why" they want to work for our agency. In the year we've had the agency, I have had ONE person respond saying they wanted to make money. One. More commonly, we hear how much they want to be a part of something. How much they enjoy fashion. Modeling is gratifying. Setting goals and accomplishing them. Working as a team. Making new friends. Sounds a lot like the reasons I competed on a swim team during my teen years. It certainly wasn't to get paid.

Some people get offended when SL is referred to as a "game". I'm not really sure why. Saying SL is a game isn't the same as saying the person behind the keyboard isn't real. People come to interactive, multi-player game sites for different reasons. I've always said, "I'm here for the relationships". I never logged into SL with the intention of starting a business. It's been a natural progression and I do enjoy what I do.

Fashion agencies making money? It's a nice thought. Some might. Many deserve to.

In RL, the purpose of a fashion show is to sell clothes. Buyers attend the shows and decide what items they will purchase for the next seasons store inventory. it's not only buyers sitting in the audience though. It's celebs that want to be seen. It's still a social network. There are some differences of course. In SL, most designers aren't selling to the middle man. Most designers are selling directly to the end user. So what's the purpose of a fashion show in SL? It's still to sell the clothes. It's still social networking, perhaps the most effective form of marketing of all. And while a designer might not make enough money to send their oldest child to college off of a single fashion show, it's still marketing. Every little bit helps.

It's my guess that when LL created SL, they didn't have fashion shows in mind. Nor car racing, or hockey games or even live artists that draw in crowds of 100 or more. The environment isn't the easiest to pull off a fashion show. Lag certainly being the biggest hurdle. I can say, with the help of a new laptop, I rarely have problems seeing the clothing rez.

So back to the original topic, what's the time of a model worth? Certainly more than they'll likely ever get paid. There's no question models work hard. The models aren't making money. The agencies aren't making money. The designers aren't really making money off a fashion show. So why do we do it? Because we want to.

Cherie Parker said...

First let me just repeat from my third paragraph about modeling and compensation, where clearly I state that one will never get rich on modeling in SL. That is not what this article is all about. Rather it's about uniformity, consistency some commonality in the industry.

Now don't get me wrong Mallory, having taught modeling in SL I too have asked the question you did and heard the same answer. Why do you want to model? Because xyz. However, if you think I wrote this article simply because I wanted to, you'd be wrong. Again, as I said in the article, I somehow have come to be the collective ear and shoulder to cry on about a number of issues in the modeling industry. Why? Well I don't really know.

Sadly, I've discovered that alot of people cannot or will not speak their minds to whom it will make a difference. They prefer to do so with someone else. I'm not suggesting that everyone's answer is less than forthright, but I know there are many that are not speaking their mind. So, you do the math. Use whatever formula you want, but remember there are a percentage of people that won't tell you what they're really thinking when you ask about monetary compensation. But they're more than happy to complain about the situation to someone else.

Is that right? No. Because I'm of the mindset that if something sticks in your craw, (Go ahead Google it, I don't know what a craw is either) then you should stand up and speak up.

I do think it would be a good idea to have a common minimum wage in the industry because this seems to make people happier.

Thank you Mallory for your input on this topic as it's always good to hear from designers and agency owners alike.

I just wrote this because I had a number of IM's from friends in the industry basically calling out for some type of action. And while they may have trouble articulating that publicly, I do not as I have nothing to lose or gain by writing this article. I'm not in modeling for the money either. And I believe I wrote this in a non confrontational manner with sincerity.

Mallory Luke said...

Cherie, I agree with most of what you've said. In fact, I have always loved your directness and ability to attack the problem, not the person. I don't believe you wrote the article in a confrontational manner. Regardless, it still will and has pushed a some buttons. Pushing buttons isn't always a bad thing. In fact, it can be quite motivational.

Setting industry standards is an interesting thought. Virtual World Fashion Union? We need a leader!Knowing you, the way I do, I'd say, "Cherie for president". Anyone second that nomination?