Cajsa Lilliehook covers the best in virtual world screenshot art and digital painting
Vogue was one of the magazines I continued subscribing to after most of my magazine consumption became digital. I love to page through, enjoying the highly editorial styling, poses, and photos. Wicca Merlin’s fashion photos are like that. There is an edge to her photos, with sometimes outré poses, innovative styling, and high concept fashions. Some of her images evoke Czech Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha; others call to mind the angular poses employed by Vogue photographer Terry Tsiolis.
Since Wicca is also a designer and a photographer, I was curious how she managed to keep all those balls in the air, and what drove her to continue blogging and photography after she began designing. I was even more curious after finding out she does all this in Second Life while touring with a music group in real life.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity:
Your photos are very editorial. How do you go about putting together your shoot? Do you have a theme you want to express? Do you put together your outfit and then think about your photo or do you have an idea and go about assembling the outfit and background?
I do not have a plan or any structure when I am preparing for pictures. Sometimes I want to express something. Sometimes it is just a challenge to myself. Sometimes an outfit is how I find inspiration. Sometimes it just happens while I am cleaning my inventory and find interesting things that I forgot about. That is the reason why I sometimes post older things as well. I never had the desire to blog new releases only and sometimes it is just a song that inspires my stylings or pictures.
I am a very impulsive and emotional person, and that is usually the "engine" that makes me do what I am doing.
How do you describe your style/aesthetic?
It is hard if you follow your feelings and emotions to describe style or aesthetics. I love expressive poses, poses that show any kind of motion or activity. I love to put opposites together and make them look like they would belong together, anyways if it is clothing, background, furniture or colors. Usually I do not really think much about it and just let happen, what comes to my mind.
I know very well what I do NOT want in my pictures usually. I am not a friend of point-blank nudity without any artistic background...it is the same with dull pornographic themes or any kind of blunt violation against humans or any kind of animals and creatures with a soul...Not saying that all that should not be done, or that I dislike it if others do it, it is just not so much my cup of tea.
To me aesthetic is everything that does not hurt anyone on purpose and something that can be different for everyone.
Much more after the break!
One way I recognize your photos without even seeing your name is how you limit color without going to black or white or a duotone, but through the styling, lighting, and background. Is this something you do unconsciously or is it a deliberate choice?
That is an interesting question, as I never really do it on purpose. I do like limited colors more than if it gets overloaded by different deep hued or vibrant colors, as well in my real life. I think that I can express more, if I want to tell something with my pictures, if I am not overloading the beholder with too many distracting colors. I can focus more easy on a certain part or expression. So I would say it is more unconsciously most of the time. Even if I had certain ideas or challenges that asked for more colors or more vibrant colors (like a color blocking style or the typical Sin City (black, white with red accents) but that's more rare in my case. In general again, I just follow my likings, emotions and moods in that very moment, when I do the pictures.
You use some very expressive, editorial poses. Who are a few of your favorite posemakers?
Poseidon, HelaMiyo, Del May, Bauhaus Movement and Foxcity are probably my most favourite ones but that does not mean I am not using others at all. PosESioN, DARE, Corpus and EverGlow and BellePoses are some that I do like a lot too. It is hard to just give a few names as I have a huuuuuge pose stand with about 30 folders, that each hold 300 to 500 poses and I go through a lot of them before I find the one that works for my picture, if I am not ending up making the one I need as I do not find what I am looking for.
You are sort of a triple threat, a photographer, a blogger, and a designer. It's not that common a combination since you blog other designers, not just your own designs. How do you divide your time and how do you find the time? And what else do you do?
That is something I heard a lot lately. How I could promote other designers besides our own creations and if that would not be a conflict of interest. Or i was rejected from a designer as a blogger, because it would be a conflict of interest being a designer myself.
I never saw it like that to be honest. If you make the effort and take a look at my blog you will see quickly that I probably promote others more than our own store.
To me it is sad if designers limit themselves and do not enjoy the designs and creations of others. SL is so huge and there is all kind of designers out there, who all have different skills, creativity, ideas and likings. Why I should just limit myself to our own creations if I can enjoy a huge variety of things? That would mean we would have to create all the things I would need for my pictures. That would put a big duty and burden on us and we could not create things out of our own creativity and imagination and I would be way more limited in my pictures only using my own designs. Plus why I should make something myself that already exists? I never wanted to copy something, but we all being inspired by everything around us in RL and SL. Inspiration is great, if you have idols or role models, if a certain design inspires you to create your own thing, but why I should make a pair of jeans if other brands can do that way better? Why should I copy something someone else made it before already to have the 1000000000000th T-shirt on the grid?
Time management is a big problem sometimes especially if I have an idea for a blog post and have to finish something for the store first *giggles* and having ADHD is not a help on that either if you anyways have a hard time focusing on things.
I am very grateful for my RL/SL partner Redclaw Inshan, who always reminds me, to not forget the important things and deadlines if I am losing myself again in ideas, visions, imaginations and projects. He is the one, that usually tells me "Hey you need to finish this one first before you do something else again!" and I guess my time management would be way worse without him and nights/sleep would be shorter as well*laughs*
What would you share about your first life? How much of SL reflects your first life and vice versa?
I am a musician in real life.
I was on tour with bands as a guitar technician and road crew, played in bands myself, and taught kids on instruments for nearly twenty years as an independent (self-employed) artist.
Since about three or four years ago, I started teaching at a regular school. First it was only music and musical projects, but recently it got more and more and as well other subjects like English, Maths and Arts.
If you are on the road traveling for years and traveled a lot, at 40 it does not feel bad to calm down a little more and spend time at home with your partner. I am very happy with how my life developed over time and I would not want to change anything of it so far.
I think it would be not honest to say that SL and RL do not reflect on each other at all, if you are more than ten years in SL. But I try to separate RL and SL to not lose reality and as well to keep SL as "holidays" for my brain when I log in. I had times where I wanted to escape my RL and was in SL way more than I am nowadays (around about 2009/2010), but those are over. I do enjoy my real life very much again for years now and would not want to change it back, even if I had great times back then, too.
I often was asked why I am not doing anything with music in SL but to me music was/is my job and I did not want to spend my free time with my job in SL too. Maybe in the future since my RL is more calm now and things change –who knows..."Never say never."
I learned a lot in SL - nice things and bad things. I never would have learned Photoshop without SL and without that I never would have designed RL CD covers. I never would have learned Maya without SL and I never could have used it at school with the kids–that are just examples of the impact that SL had on my RL, I am sure I would find more if we dig deeper into it.
The impact that both lives have on each other not always were positive either.
I lost a lot of trust in other people in SL and I became way more careful in RL because of that. RL as well is part of my SL as it is me behind the screen and keyboard and I never tried to play a character. (Yes i tried roleplay as well but that felt more like theatre to me usually.)
As a musician you do not have much limits clothing wise or in the way how you express yourself or act in your everyday life. Maybe that is part of why I love to push boundaries in SL as well with my stylings and pictures and go even more beyond the ordinary sometimes. For people who work at a bank in RL I guess it is way more fierce to run around in SL with a strapped funky outfit than it is for a musician–if that makes sense–and I do not mean that bad in any way, I just tried to find an example.
As well I met a lot of new people even in RL that I got to know via SL and the range of where my RL friends come from, increased a lot since I joined SL, even if touring with the band already gifted me me friends from all over Europe.
I really believe being more than ten years in SL makes it impossible to say one world does not reflect on the other in either way.
What tips do you have for photographers and bloggers?
Enjoy your SL, do what you like and live the dreams you might not be able to live in your real life. Do not be scared about things, that you never tried. In SL (as long as you do not hurt someone else) you are free to be, to live and to love whatever you want.
I do believe, that it is to see especially in pictures, if you enjoy what you are doing or if you don't. I would love to quote the band En Vogue. In one of their songs they said it so well... "Free your mind and the rest will follow."What do you want people to know about you?
I guess I already told a lot about me, but if people have questions, or if they want to know something special about me, they always can shoot me an IM or Flickr mail or what ever works for them. Other than that I am easy going, like to meet new people and make friends.
I try to respect everyone and in return I ask to be respected for who/what I am.
To see Wicca Merlin in action, check out:
- Blog: https://wiccamerlin.de/fashion-addicted/
- Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wiccamerlin/
- Store Page: https://wiccamerlin.de/wiccas-wardrobe/
- Store FB: https://www.facebook.com/wiccaswardrobe
Cajsa Lilliehook joined Second Life in 2007 and has been enjoying the art of SL ever since. Disliking the common practice of critiquing poor photos, she decided to highlight good ones and explain why they work in hopes of inspiring with praise instead of criticism. Follow Cajsa on Flickr, on Twitter or on her blog.