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About Graphic Design

I decided to become a graphic designer in 1970 after seeing an exhibition of Polish theater posters. And although I found out very quickly that the job wasn't really about designing cultural posters and book jackets, that instead it was really all about the advertising industry, that was still perfectly acceptable: All those brilliant British commercials back then? And - yes, of course one put one's services to Capitalism, but Capitalism was not the monster that it has become today. There were countries (in Western Europe especially) where the system appeared to be working out OK. And then the profession itself was highly creative. The likes of Milton Glaser and Herb Lubalin all over the place... Not a single "template" to be found. Not even a notion of that. Every thing thought out, deliberated upon as a unique problem. Every solution distinctive.

So, I think about this a lot. Would I have decided to become a graphic designer today? No, probably not. Not in this neo-liberalist global disaster. But then, what would I have decided to become? An architect (which had been my original intention before graphic design)? How is that not about putting one's skills at the neo-liberal corporatist's disposal? Artist? I don't think you "become" that. So, why study it? What? Engineer? Lawyer? Doctor? Social Scientist? All professions as much implicated in propping up the system as advertisers, if you ask me.

Unless you work for a non profit place. But you can do that as a graphic designer too.

So, every year I give my students a "good bye" talk at the end of their time with me. And for the past several years that is what I tell them to do. You will have a shitty daytime job where you will be doing things that you do not believe in. That may in fact go against your very grain of being. So - get a second "night time" job. Go find a good non profit, civil society whose mission resonates with you, and put your profession at their disposal. The day time "soap bubble" stuff will melt away, but what you do for them will stay and make you happy.
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So, as predicted...

I have had a whale of a time making things for the imaginary alpha.tribe RL store. No idea what this store is supposed to be all about at this at point - they seem to be selling everything.

It is a bit like making things for a doll's house, playing around with these mockups inside photoshop. And I am not even done yet - more stuff out there that I can slap my "identity" on to. Pathetic for a 65 year old woman, you would say? You may not be too far off, I am saying it quietly to myself as I sit here glued to what, at the end of the day, is nothing but a totally useless exercise.

And no, it is not like making stuff in SL. There, there is a purpose. People come visit, play, buy things sometimes. There is a "life" there. This?
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alpha.tribe branding

And now for something completely different...
Why would I do a 'real life' branding for alpha.tribe - a virtual fashion store?

Answer: Tutorial for my students on how to assemble a behance project page, complete with an issuu flipbook whereby they show their branding manual. Which I ended up really enjoying. Obviously alpha.tribe does not need letterheads and what have you.

But, it was so much fun doing them that I think that I will go ahead and add some more while I sit here thinking about my 'minimalist' conundrum.
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From Azimuth to Cypher

Once upon a time there was a great free app called with which one could create boards. I assembled the material of a research project on just such a board. The full board looked like this:

And here are the detail screenshots:

No other place to really put this, so it goes on this blog. And also, it kind of plays into my 'minimalist and yet not minimalist' musings.

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Curio is playing into my 'minimalist and yet narrative' obsession in a way that the others aren't. Here, the 'tale' is in the steampunk textures with which I clothed the basic prims - mostly cubes actually. And the avatar, of course.

I am not sure I want to do it with lots of textures when it comes to this new thing rummaging around in my head. But still... Could something this elaborate be combined with dot arrays and nod and link abstractions? No idea. But then I usually get my ideas once I start to make things. So...

She has it nailed

I am listening to her right now and - yes! For anyone who has any sort of hope of salvation for the system we are all subject to, what she says will be very hard to take. She is hardcore. And, from where I am sitting here on my sofa, she has it dead to rights.
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Scrounging around for minimalist stuff

I am still preoccupied with my building stuff in SL. How to improve on it, how to bring myself up to scratch. The complex mesh stuff is really not for me. So, maybe taking the minimalist route I was talking about before is a good idea. But how? Same as before? I think not.

Wandered off to one of my favorite hangouts, Vecteezy, to see what they have on offer that might inspire me. Do not let what they display on the homepage (Christmas paraphernalia right now) fool you for a nano-second. This is a great place.

I found...

Super cool backgrounds...

dot arrays...

and link and node diagram abstractions.

So, what can one make out of this stuff? How does one combine it? And, more to the point, what else would be needed to make this come alive like a 'storyworld' does? Or should one even try for that? To make it come alive?
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Going back to minimal?

While I was putting together images for the new ShapeShifter 2012 site I re-rezzed some of the stuff that was on that sim in order to photograph it  (yes, don't ask - I was inexperienced and silly enough not to have made an OAR). And I remembered that I really liked what I had done back then.

I am not sure if this stuff was as popular with visitors as the more 'storyworld' type of stuff that I also do. I am fairly certain that when this stuff was rezzed at alpha.tribe there were not too many photos of it on Flickr, which is always a good indicator as to how much people like what you make.

Does that matter? Well yes, of course it does. I want others to come and enjoy my sims, tell their friends, come back to play some more.

But, I do want to make more minimal things. Because I really like them. Truth be told, I like them much better than the storyworlds. So, could there be a way to combine these two really different approaches?
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The Symmetry book

Thinking of things I could do next, I keep coming back to graphic design. I made these pages a year ago for a project that was later published as an insert in a Turkish art magazine. We did not use this set but something else entirely. But, I liked these. More so than what the curator actually decided to go with. So, I sometimes look at them.

So, maybe I should do an imaginary picture book? But, no, somehow I do not think I want to do this. Too intellectualized. Too artsy somehow. I want to do "real" graphic design. Logos, packages, branding applications. And then the question becomes - what would you do a branding of? What's your product? Have to invent one I guess. 

I have been sitting right here on the sofa, listening...

... to progressive commentators. For almost 3 years now. Turkish progressives. British progressives. And especially American progressives. Real ones. Not a bunch of mealy mouthed faux-liberals and such.

On youtube - given that none of them are allowed on regular TV. Anywhere. I thought that it was just here in my country, where we do after all have an acknowledged authoritarian at the helm. Turns out it is the same everywhere. Why am I not surprised?


So, why these wilted flowers inside what appears to be a fancy porcelain jug?

Because I think they do a very good job of symbolizing the end point we are at. Not just here or there, but everywhere. Not because of Trump or Macron or Orban or our own fearless leader over here. It is game over. Globally. But the thing that is dead - dead like these once beautiful roses - is still being presented in precious receptacles. "If only we could get rid of Trump (or x y z - doesn't matter)" - that is what that signifies. "Actually", they say, "this is just this one guy. Get rid of him and all will go back to how it used to be - which was great, wasn't it?" "After all, we still have the lovely jug, don't we? We will go find something acceptable to put in it."

No, we won't. Sorry - but we won't. Oh yes, some of us will find something to put in the jug. But, it will be just as wilted, just as rotten, just as decayed as what was thrown out.

Because it is the system that is kaput folks.


And that is what progressives are screaming about all over the globe it appears. Mostly they are much younger than I am, and consequently they are also more naive than I am. Age does teach you to be somewhat careful with your optimisms, you know?

They think that something may change. I, sitting here on my sofa on the other hand, know that it is extremely difficult, almost impossible for this to happen. At least for it to happen without some cataclysmic event that will destroy the horrifying edifice that has been built over the past 50 years or so and that has come to bear full fruit over the past decade. A war. A total economic meltdown. Something like that.

It won't happen through elections. That, to me, is very obvious. And I do not think that mass movements that aim to overthrow the status quo in its entirety are likely to happen either (this is what quite a few of these youngsters seem to be pinning their hopes on). Small movements will of course happen here and there. But when they do, they will be suppressed brutally enough for them to not to take hold any further. And please don't say yellow vests to me - those people are so not about overthrowing the system. They simply want more "in." More goodies.

What we have facing us now however is not about more goodies. Or forget goodies, it is not even about the necessities of life. We are facing something far more fundamental. And again - I am NOT talking about Trump or Putin or this person, that person. I am talking about a whole comprehensive, systematically built and propagated "thing." Not a person. A thing. They built it very efficiently. Planned its workings down to the tiniest detail. Took their time putting it together. No conspiracy theory or anything this, btw. It is there to see with the naked eye. It is called neo-liberalism.


I will probably write more about this later. For now, it is what it is. I am not hopeful.

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The Miro Sphere

I had forgotten about this. It was a self contained environment inside a sphere filled with 3D objects that were inspired by Joan Miro's critters. I made this 4 or 5 years ago and the objects were in fact mesh. Made in photoshop where I could be intuitive, by which I mean following what coincidences or even accidents give me. And back then they gave me these guyz. Could I reproduce them or make something similar today? Probably not.

I have made quite a few things in SL that were based on Miro's paintings. 2 avatar outfits, the second of which actually carries some of these 3D critters. And I may make another one at some point.

I am not sure if liking Miro is still considered to be cool. Too many reproductions and posters of his paintings floating around and so his work is probably considered to be somewhat banal by art aficionados. But since I am thankfully not an art aficionado, what do I care? I have always thought he was great. And still do. 
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So - what next?

During these past few years that I was away from virtual worlds, it wasn't just making things in virtual worlds that I lost interest in. I lost interest in making things - period.* What has been happening recently however is that my appetite for making things has been coming back with a vengeance. 

The island is now done and I am scrounging around as to what to do next. And, probably also because of what I wrote about my lack of 3D modelling skills for present day SL, I keep going to graphic design. And I do mean graphic design, with typography and everything. And not some abstract stuff either. Real design work with problems to solve, designer briefs, products and what have you. The stuff I that I teach my students, in other words. 

In order to do that I would have to become my own client. And that is what I am now thinking about. What project should I give myself? What product? A branding project maybe?


* My country was (and still is) going through turbulent times and I wound up spending most of my time watching opposition discussion programs on youtube. Initially just local stuff, from where I moved on to international things. Especially the USA. The American progressives. I will probably write more about this at some point, but not now. 
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Self Evaluation in SL

The new island is more or less done. It looks OK, but it is nothing like what I achieved with Fool's Gold in 2015. The dark sky level is probably the best part visually speaking, and the ground level seems to work, if not entirely from a design point of view (lots of flaws that I see but can't figure out how to fix), then in terms of being a weird little playground.

However the thing that makes me write this is not really about my building skills. It is the way in which the whole SL platform has progressed during the time that I neglected it. When I look at the work of someone like Cica Ghost for example, I do see that I fall short. Not so much in terms of concepts, or being able to create playgrounds or storyworlds (which, at the end of the day, is still what SL is all about for me) but in terms of technical skills.

The world has transitioned to mesh. And very skillfully created mesh at that. And I do not have that skill. It involves learning a confounded software called Blender, which is the one that seems to meet SL requirements the best. I suppose 3D Studio Max or Maya would do as well. And they do have much friendlier user interfaces than Blender. But still, even contemplating learning them gives me the chills. Blender, I don't even want to think about.

Computer software has always been about intuition for me. Which is why I adore photoshop. And, if I say so myself, that is why I am also very good at it. Because photoshop is an intuitive software. These 3D softwares, on the other hand are not. Blender is a complete nightmare anyway, but the others are not exactly monuments to intuition either.

So, I do not know if I want to torture myself to learn them. But without that skill I am not at all sure that I can continue to build in SL. Well, I can continue to build, but would anyone ever come over to look at what I made? And while I build primarily because I have fun while I am doing it (major fun, in fact), I am not going get all snooty and say "who cares what others think?" Because, of course I do.

So... This last build may in fact be a natural parting of the ways between me and SL...

We shall see.
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Arcadia's avatars...

As I wrote before I have used Arcadia Asylum's prims for many builds. Fool's Gold, the best sim I think I ever built was made almost entirely out of them, and this new one has quite a few as well. I am a big believer in remediation, in reworking and modifying things to make my own stuff. Not to make everything from scratch but to build upon the foundations that others have set for me. Which is actually called Produsage, and I have even written academic papers on it.

That said, when it comes to Arcadia's things everything I use gets completely retextured. Amazing builder that she was (probably still is somewhere away from SL) her textures leave quite a bit to be desired, I find.

I feel funny saying this even, given how much I like her stuff. Indeed depend on her stuff for my own things. But, if you look below you will probably agree with me.

I filled the grab-a-duck gallery with a lot of free avatars this time around. And almost all of them are retextured Arcadia Asylum products. I am so grateful to her that she made these. Not to even mention her generosity in just putting them out there for the likes of me to play with.

God bless Arcadia Asylum!
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Midnight Wastes

I have gone back up to the towers that I had started to build a few weeks ago. But, like most of what I do, things did not go quite as planned and I ended up adding things that I had not thought of when I was first thinking about this level.

There is a legendary builder in SL called Arcadia Asylum. She built many many different things, from avatars to whole cities. And she had this thing about giving it all away for free - to be used and redistributed as one saw fit. With one caveat - one could not charge any money for it.

One of the "cities" that she built had to do with pirates for which she made all these buildings, from shops to bars, to a whole courthouse, that have this nautical theme. So, her city has snuck its way among my weird towers. They are still there, as is the transparent city plan through which everything is reflected, and as are all the trees. But now the center stage are these hilarious pirate buildings.

I made this level quite dark by using a sky preset in the SL library. And since this preset is called "Midnight Wastes" now this new city is called that as well.
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The crazy cat lady parlor

A while ago Eupalinos Ugajin gave me the sofa as a gift. And I was so delighted that I immediately rushed out to get the matching arm chair and put together a special parlor for cat lovers on the island.

And so, these were among the first things that I rezzed in this re-build. They are on a special platform that is actually above water. I did of course build a ramp to terra firma so that the cats can come down and wander around when no one is around. After all, everyone knows how they hate to be confined, right?

Play play play!
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The Hextraordinary Cat

Naxos gave me a wonderful gift. Just look at this little guy! And when I walk he walks right along with me. When I stop he immediately plops himself down and sometimes he swishes his tail. Not the upcoming animesh, the creator made the animations by using instances and transparencies.

He truly is the hextraordinary cat. And I don't just mean his movements, that face! The grumpiness. What a cat!
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I have decided to build a playground

From the sky tower city, which I am leaving alone for now, I have moved to ground level to put together an amusement park of sorts. Ferris Wheel, carousel, bumper cars, some rides and a shooting gallery. Or rather a grab-a-duck gallery - no killing on my land - you just get to grab a duck and if you catch it the kiosk will give you a gift.

So, I am back to "play" as a basal concept.

We also have magic lantern show, a gym, and a Chemical lab.

No gold - I am sticking to that. But, I can't seem to stay away from precious metals entirely, so now we have silver, I'm afraid...

Am I liking it? Sort of. Is it as good as the sim before? Nope. But, it seems to be the best that I can do at this point.

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First trial - building towers

I have started at a sky level. The idea is to build another "city," but one that is quite different from Blueprint City where the whole idea was to use only cubes, rectangles and cylinders that were covered in textures that distracted from their being nothing but basic geometric prims. With this one I am actually using quite complex elements out of which I construct towers that are combined with flora, specifically trees.

What I have carried over from Blueprint City is the "reflection" effect that I also used with "from here on there be dragons."

Not sure yet... 
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But, it isn't just the gold

I am finding it quite hard to rebuild the island. Nothing seems to work quite how I want it to. And the truth of the matter is that the island that I built 3 years ago is probably the best thing I have ever made in Second Life and it is quite hard to even try to get close to that. Gold or no gold, the place had a mood. And it told a tale. Which is quite a hard thing to pull off - as I am finding out, trying to set up another "mood" now.

Which is probably why I put off rebuilding it for as long as I did. Knowing how hard it was going to be to perform the same trick twice. 
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Too much gold...

When I built alpha.tribe in 2015 I even called the sim "fool's gold" - there was so much of it.

But it isn't just that one sim. I also went completely overboard when I built "from here on there be dragons" for Dividni Shostakovich a couple of years later.

Of course I have been around long enough as a designer to know to combine it with plenty of neutral colors so that it doesn't get completely out of hand. But nevertheless, I cannot deny the obsession.

Also here, for example, when I built an annex to ShapeShifter island:

The thing is that it is getting somewhat boring. And although it is nice to be told that I use gold really well, I still do not want to be pegged down as "Alpha the gold builder."

So, now that I have finally started to rebuild alpha.tribe island I am making a conscious, concerted effort to keep away from gold. And, believe it or not, it is proving to be quite difficult to stay away from the stuff. :-\

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While transferring the blog...

I encountered myself from years ago. There is even a photo that Lanfranco took in Singapore in 2008 where I look not just 10 years, but 20 years younger than my current age of 65.

I could not transfer the blog from wordpress to blogger with an xml file, like one would normally do, but had to bring the posts over one by one. And, I ended up reading a lot of them, of course. For the most part, I cannot believe the naivete. I certainly cannot believe how shut off I seem to have been from world affairs. Which is probably the biggest change that I have undergone in the interim.

Did I finally grow up then? The person writing before 2012 sounds like a teenager, quite frankly. I hope I did grow up.

We shall see...

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After 6 years...

I want to start blogging again. shorter posts this time around. Mostly, just jotting down ideas, really.

But maybe sometimes a bit more. During the years that I neglected this blog I became engrossed with how our planet is run. How totally screwed up it is. It started out with my being no longer able to ignore what was happening in my own country. But, then from there I quickly spread out since I came to realize that what happens here is completely tied to what happens "there." So, there may be some occasional ruminations on that also. But, by and large I think I will write about making stuff. And also teaching, probably.

So - here I go. After 6 years.