I’ve had a pretty crap day today, feeling decidedly under the weather, and it threatened to get even worse when I received an e-mail from Cyberpink telling me that someone had slated my shapes….
“Oh bloody hell, ” I thought “That’s all I need after the day I’ve had today”. Fact is, nobody likes to receive criticism do they? We all have our egos well-tended and cared for, and any bruising I may receive at the moment is quite frankly something that I can do without. But the world, real or virtual, ain’t fair like that is it…and when you enter the market as a content creator you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth. Quite honestly I should have expected this, being a reviewer myself I’ve often been the one to dole out the blows, although to be fair I’ve tended to be pretty diplomatic. Perhaps that’s to my detriment? I dunno, but I do know my heart was in my mouth as I waited for the blog in question, Banana Vella, to load on to my screen.
First things first, this is a good blog. I don’t know why it has never appeared on my radar before, but I really rate it. A great writing style, similar to my own in some ways, and a well-presented blog make it a more than worthy addition to any virtual blogroll. Biting my lip and dreading the tongue-lashing I was about to get, I commenced reading…
Banana begins by stating that she thought my ‘Betsy’ shape looked pretty cool. Thanks for that Banana, because I think she does too…then she went on to say that she thought the picture was distorted. Nope, I try to make all my images look good using Flickr, but not Photoshop, and I don’t distort sizes on posters because, well, that kind of negates the whole point in selling shapes if you’re going to make them look different for display. She then went on to describe Betsy as a short, stumpy avatar…which kind of made me wonder what she was expecting when she purchased the shape? I wouldn’t describer her as short and stumpy, but ‘Betsy’ is a different to SL average shape. A plus size if you will, and gorgeous with it:) I don’t think that was what Banana was expecting, but as she pointed out it’s all in proportion. She also mentioned that it didn’t fit her AO, but that’s something I can relate to myself, which is why I have a variety of AO’s in my inventory, including one especially made for curvy avatars. When I use that when I’m wearing my larger shapes I have no issues, and quite a few creators stock them these days, acknowledging the fact that there is indeed a market for larger avs on the grid. But I digress – if I had the epic skills required to make an AO to fit my shapes then I happily would, and include it in the package with each…but alas, I don’t. (However, I do know that there are many AO’s on the market that are free or very cheap..the Fabfree group recently dispensed a list) So That’s one down..and I think the criticism here was founded on an expectation, rather than anything to do with the finished product.
She ramps it up a gear though..describing hourglass as smexy, but then going on to say that she felt her waist had been pulled through an hourglass ( I liked that-made me chuckle) and that the hips were too wide. Again, there’s an expectation here that wasn’t met by the shape, but the shape is called ‘Hourglass’ because it is quite deliberately made to have a waist that echoes that theme. It’s a good shape for girls who are into wearing corsets for example, because they can result in some pretty extreme body shapes and having dressed this shape in a Gothic corset dress I can say from my own experience it meets the hourglass brief head on. Again, the poster quite clearly shows these details, and it also shows a seriously gorgeous face too. Look, I know I’m being biased, but it is a pretty face! I do like the way that Banana accompanies each block of text with an image of her wearing the shapes, and you may think that I’m bound to say this but I think she looks great n both!
The next couple of points I need to take on the chin, because I think Banana has hit on something here and I’m going to take action next time I’m in world. Banana picked up the dollarbies and freebie, ‘Statuesque’ and ‘Loved’. She quite correctly stated that the former features a notecard, but that it says ‘Classical, well proportioned and dare I say it, chunky?’ As she rightly points out there’s nowt remotely chunky about this shape and therein lies the problem..basically I’ve written some rogue text that I’ve included with the shape, and woe is me, I’ve not blinking well checked it. That’s a newbie error if ever there was one, and so is the next one, because as Banana points out ‘Statuesque’ has big hands. Now, I can appreciate that criticism. These were created not long after I’d first started making my shapes, and I don’t mind admitting that I was finding hands hard to grasp..literally. See, look at your hand-if you hold that up to your face in RL you can practically cover your face with it, sort of like a face-hugger from ‘Alien’, so I applied the same principle to my hands in SL. Only I didn’t realise that it doesn’t work like that in SL..hands need to be smaller by definition or else you really do look like you were born with shovels at the end of your arms. I take that criticism on board Banana, and I shall remedy it, by checking the hands ( and the notecards!) on each of my shapes when I next get in-world to make sure that they look ‘right’. Finally, when it comes to ‘Loved’ it would appear that Banana takes issue with my Elle Macpherson reference. I wrote that purely because the photograph I took for the shape reminded me of..well, Elle Macpherson! I guess it doesn’t come across so well on a small box, but I did used to have a wall-poster in my original store that featured a larger version of the image and honest guv, it looked like Elle! Methinks that it may be time for a change…
Our reviewer also makes a point that the faces are practically identical on these shapes. The faces are very similar to each other, and again that’s because they were created back in the mists of time and also because I have a particular Kittylicious! face style that I work with. I do change the face shapes and styles but I have a particular ‘look’ that I work towards because, put simply, I find that it works very well. The new year will see new shapes and new faces emerging but they will all have one thing in common: classic style and proportion, as do all my Kittylicious! faces.
Banana ends her critique stating that even with a sale on, she won’t be returning. It’s sad that her piece ended on a sour note, but at the same time, I hear what she’s saying. The world would be a shitty place if we all liked the same things wouldn’t it? And as much as I dislike criticism, I do agree with some of her points. If she’d never made them then I wouldn’t be able to take steps to rectify the issues highlighted. You see, that’s the whole point: it’s not about the criticism per se, it’s about the results that it generates and that’s why I appreciate her blog-post. Even though I don’t agree with it, I’m still glad that she visited my store, made her purchases and then wrote her piece. In fact, I have to say that I really appreciate the fact that she took the time to wear the shapes and photograph them, because I think the photo-montages she has produced for ‘Betsy’ and ‘Hourglass’ are great! You know, that must have taken a while to do, and blog writing takes effort full stop, so I commend her for that:)
But I’m going to end the post by making a few points of my own about my Kittylicious! brand. Indulge me, if you will, the opportunity to save face here. My shapes are doing really well, better than I could ever have hoped. I think this is because my intention was to create something slightly different from the norm, and that’s why you’ll find slim and plus-sized shapes all in the same store, and often on the same wall. Women don’t have bodies like models in real life, so the same logic ( to me) applies in Second Life. There are far too many super-skinny, gaunt looking clothes horses in world, and I create shapes that do not fit into that category. My shapes will have lumps and bumps and bellies, pendulous norks or accentuated waists, long legs and big bums. Just like real life they are all different…but if you aren’t happy with them you have the ability to modify them to your particular liking. You know, it took me a while to realise it but when you buy a generic shape that’s not the end of the story; in fact you should modify it and tweak it a little to give your avatar that individuality that you have in real life. Even if you just change the scale by a few points, you’re still making your mark. Of course, if you don’t want to tweak the settings that’s fine too..but you are missing out on some fun. Shaping yourself successfully and being really chuffed with the results is what Kittylicious! is all about. I’ve always intended that my shapes be the starting point for the adventure, the template that gets you going if you will, and that’s the reason why I refuse to charge silly prices for them too. All the shapes in my Harlow store cost L$50. New releases at Malt cost either L$150 or L$100, and that’s it. I don’t believe in charging a small fortune on a shape. I think that it’s unfair to charge, say L$800 for a shape that matches a particular skin brand..you should be able to splurge your hard-earned Lindens on the quality skin, the shape should either be included or at least be financially accessible! Also, Banana only reviewed 4 shapes from a range that stretches up to thirty. I don’t have all my wares on display at once, I tend to cycle them around, but there are far more styles to choose from-some are larger than ‘Betsy’ for example, and some are slimmer but with different proportions to ‘Hourglass’. Finally, my work has been reviewed on other blogs, especially Sydd Sinister’s, and has received a favourable response because the shapes are different from average. I guess it’s all about expectations, and looking at Banana’s style on her blog, I don’t think my shapes would have necessarily ever met her criteria.
I’ve gone-off topic a tad here, but I do want to make one final point. This is the first criticism I’ve received, hence my responding to it on the blog. In contrast, I’ve received reams of compliments and thank yous from satisfied customers in world for which I am eternally grateful. But I am equally grateful to Banana for her critique, and I wonder in the longer term which will prove more valuable to me, the glowing praise or Banana’s disappointment, I guess only time will tell..but I’m thankful for it regardless.