Sponsor Interview – Auryn Beorn of Black Tulip

Auryn [Black Tulip] Auryn Beorn (1_1)

HGE: Hi Auryn. We thank you so much for becoming a sponsor of the Home & Garden Expo (HGE). What led to your decision to be a sponsor this year?

Auryn: I’ve been participating in HGE since 2012 and it has always been a great event. Whenever possible, I want to contribute so that it continues. The previous year, 2013, I wanted to participate as a platinum sponsor, but my cat was sick with a malign tumor in his mouth when the registrations were about to be open, so clearly my mind was somewhere else. This year, all of my little furry creatures are healthy, and so I could decide to sponsor the event, and hope to do so in the future.

HGE: There are so many non-profit organizations represented in SL. What prompted you to support Relay For Life of Second Life?

Auryn: Health is the most important thing to me in life, physical and mental. Cancer is the opposite of this. It brings hell to the life of the person suffering from it, and to the lives of all that are close to them. Personally, I prefer that people don’t have to live hell in their lives.

HGE: Are there things that you most look more forward to at HGE this year?

Auryn: This year, I’m looking forward to the classes. I’m one of the instructors that will be teaching, and I hope that everybody will find the classes useful for their business/hobby/daily SL. I will also be visiting all the displays with time to enjoy them. The Expo looks really beautiful this year.

HGE: We would love to know about your work! Do you have any background in your First Life that suggested you would focus on the areas of design you have chosen for SL. If so, explain.

Auryn: I have been programming professionally since I was 23 years old, and as a hobby, since I’m 12. Despite swearing, since I had my good share of programming in RL, I would never, ever, script in SL, I ended up scripting in SL. “Never say never”, they say.

Apart from that, I’ve always “had a thing” for computer graphics and art in general. My first program ever was coded in BASIC when I was 12 years old, and it represented 2D closed curves. At the same age, I used to practice weekly with drawing and oil painting, modelling with clay and painting it. I haven’t had much time in my life to develop this side, but “the itch was there.” Finally, in November 2012, I could take a couple of weeks off and start learning Blender.

HGE: What were the origins of your store?

Auryn: My store started back in June 2010 with a scripted desk and chair, a scripted “living art” piece, a fractal tree and a bookcase. A month after I started teaching, some students suggested to me that I should have the contents of the classes available in the store for people that could not make the classes and were interested in them. I started adding classes and a few animations I was creating. Then, in March 2011, I developed the book script and started publishing all classes in book format.

At that point, I had several scripts that could make their way as commercial tools, and my partner helped me in preparing all that. He was the first one to tell me that every single asset of my products should have the brand name added to it or people would not relate my products with me or my store. I was very shy about doing this (weird feelings are weird), but he insisted. So I ended up renaming everything and making it a habit. After this, I started releasing new items more and more often and the story continues today.

HGE: Do you keep up with the latest technologies? Which do you consider most important and why?

Auryn: It depends on the technology. I will read about many things that are out there, but not necessarily adopt them. For example, I don’t own a smart phone. Now, if we’re talking about “most important”, I don’t consider any technology used for recreation to be “most important”. I consider most important the advances in technology that improve people’s health, that make it possible to grow and harvest vegetables for more people, that increases the safety of cars, trains, planes, houses, work environment and bring potable water to thirsty areas.

Don’t get me wrong here: the industry of recreation is big and many of us work for it. It is important because it has many people living from it. But as long as it achieves its function, which is to entertain people, I don’t consider their advances the “most important”, unless they open the field to other areas such as medicine. We could still be entertained with less powerful computers, video consoles, TV’s and so on. We were, indeed, entertained ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

I keep up the most, of course, with technology which is relevant for my work, and for now, that is keeping up with Blender and the changes in SL.

HGE: To what extent have technological advances impacted your work, e.g. creative process, workflow, etc.?

Auryn: I’m not sure how to answer this, because I feel, in my case, that I just adapt naturally to new tools that I have to learn and use. The way I do things changes, as I learn new ways of doing things and there are new tools. I don’t even think about it. It just happens.

HGE: What have you considered key to your success as a business person in SL? Do you have a business model that works for you? If so, what?

Auryn: The key to me has been working on it as a business, not as a hobby. I also try to find ways to get my work known. I’m constantly learning. The word “vacation” is a word I rarely use.

HGE: So many of us dream about having a business in SL but it’s harder than it looks! What are some of the things you would recommend to a talented individual who is considering embarking on starting a business?

Auryn: My recommendations would be these:

Learn to handle rejection as a professional since day one. We see our own creations in a different light than our potential customers do. What we think is the best we’ve ever created may just not fit among the public and they won’t buy it. We may apply to an event, thinking we’re good enough for it, and then be rejected. This is going to happen and we have to avoid throwing a tantrum and calling names. It will only show us as people who might be a little unpleasant to work with if we complain every time things go wrong.

Plan on creating a store blog and keep it updated. Add an FAQ section and a customer service form. Anything that could be useful to your customers, and that could save you time, should be there.

Speaking of customer service, make the best of your profile and see it as your business card. Put on your front page your store name and helpful links such as inworld store slurl, Marketplace link, Flickr link, and links to customer service forms. Then add  more about your store in your picks: store policies, your preferred ways to be contacted, etc.

Some people do not like that merchants have more personal picks on their profiles. Personally, I have no issue at all with this. I even like to read those personal picks because it makes me smile when people are in love or feel proud of their friends. Merchants are humans, too, after all. I see those picks like when someone has a photo of their family at the office. But since there are others that won’t like this, a suggestion is that you put your professional picks on top, and then the rest, for your personal things. This way, people who don’t like to know about your personal life will find your store information first.

Respect your commitments and the people you work with. RL happens, we all know this. But we can always have a plan B in case RL happens. It’s difficult to do, but working ahead will save you, and the people that work with you, a lot of trouble.

Accept criticism even when it is expressed without good manners. The manners aren’t important but the message behind them is. We cannot know if the person addressing us had a really tough day, if they are frustrated because of language barriers, or if their expressive skills just aren’t good. We have to always be the better person. Do not pay attention to the manners: listen to the message, because in it, you may find suggestions that will help you improve in your business.

Keep updated about events and fairs that are related to the kind of items you sell. For this, Plurk can be a good resource. Many event organizers are there and publish when applications for a certain event are open. But be careful: Plurk can be addictive!

And of course, keep up to date on what would make of your work the best possible. Create what you enjoy, accept suggestions if they tickle your interests, and give yourself 100% to it.

HGE: We would love to know more about you, ie, where you live, what do you do for fun in SL, etc. Anything you would like to say or share!

Auryn: Despite the RL tab of my profile says I’m from Antarctica, it’s not a secret that I live in one of the many suburbs of a village near Valencia, in Spain. I’m quite reserved and not open to talk about my life in that world we call “real”. On one hand, I don’t find my life to be that interesting, and on the other hand, I have a hard time trusting people.

I’m a workaholic, so my work in SL is actually a fun time for me. But it’s not the only thing I do. I love spending time with my partner, for example. I love thinking of short stories that I can represent in a series of pictures taken in SL. Following that, I like exploring feelings and trying to represent them in a picture, or short series of pictures, with just a short caption. I try to make them as vivid as possible, and at times I’ve been asked if I feel okay, if I’m talking about my own life, because of the intensity of the message I’ve transmitted. All I can say is maybe, but then, maybe not. Since I decided to expand from books, scripts, mesh and animations for designers, to also do poses and props, I’m having more chances of creating these stories because I can do the exact pose, and even prop, that I need. For example:

[AB] Life and Death - B (4_3)

“Certainty is Death. Life is only all the distressing questions that lead us to the end point.” (from the “So many questions” pose and prop.)

[Black Tulip] WGF 2014 - Despair - DISPLAY (4_3)

“Hopeless in her own denial” (from the Despair set of poses)

 

[Black Tulip] Poses - Action (DISPLAY 4_3)

“Fear me the most when I’ve fallen hard, because it is then when I’ll put all my effort in standing up again.” (from the Action! set of poses.)

I also like exploring and writing. There’s not a single second of being bored in SL. Anything that allows me to be creative is something I have fun with. Without a doubt, SL has filled a huge spot in me life. I have a personal blog where I share all this, as well as some musings and tutorials: http://auryn-beorn.blogspot.com/

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made you to read too much already! Thanks so much for your time.

HGE: Thank you, Auryn. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.

 

Special Programs at Home and Garden Expo (Part 1)

Photo by Fallacy DeCuir

Photo by Fallacy DeCuir

The 2014 Home and Garden Expo is chock full of amazing builds, serene parks and donation items which benefit Relay For Life of Second Life.  In addition to these main attractions, we have some very special programs which also benefit this worthy cause and/or the merchants and organizations who work so hard to make this event the premiere home and garden event.  You are cordially invited to take a look at these:

Books at Expo:

Nestled in the parks, visitors can find five SL-readable books, all beloved stories from the public domain.  Each book is L$100 (100% donation).  Over the years, Home Expo sponsor and New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole has imported these works for various events in support of RFL. Now you can take a tour of the 2014 HGE and collect all five:

Want more to read?   Check out this out:

The Silent Auction

This year’s 100% donation silent auction features an amazing array of rare first life books and opportunities offered by Michael A. Stackpole on behalf of the authors who supported the first ever Fiction for a Cure fundraiser this past July. This is a fantastic chance to get rare items for yourself, or to start your holiday shopping for all the readers on your list!  Items being offered up are as follows:

Lady Death #1, 20th Anniversary Emerald Edition by Brian Pulido
Illustrated by Steven Hughes. Colored by Brian Miller. Limited to 50 serially numbered copies. Actual metal cover. Signed by Lady Death creator Brian Pulido, this edition comes bagged and boarded with a custom Certificate of Authenticity.
Starting bid: L$12,500

The Jennifer Brozek Bundle
Tuckerization in the novel Never Let Me Leave, the second book of the Melissa Allen series by Jennifer Brozek, published by Permuted Press. YA, science fiction thriller.

The character is either a scientist or a teenager trapped in an underground lab with a murderous monster. The author will discuss description and name with the winner. If the bid is high enough, the character might even survive!

This package includes signed, personalized copies of the series: Never Let Me Sleep, Never Let Me Leave, and Never Let Me Die.  Shipping Date: Late 2015
Starting bid: L$12,500

The Dame by R.A. Salvatore
Saga of the First King
This is a hardcover book, from the author’s collection, personalized for the winner.
Starting bid: L$3750

The Sworn and The Dread by Gail Z. Martin
T
wo books, personalized by the author!
Starting bid: L$2500

Jane Carver of Waar Duology by Nathan Long
T
wo books, Jane Carver of Waar and Swords of Waar, signed by the author.
Starting bid: L$3750

Dark Storm Rising by T.R. Chowdhury and T.M. Crim
Trade paperback fantasy novel, signed by both authors.
Starting bid: L$1875

The War of the Seasons Trilogy by Janine K. Spendlove
Three books, signed by the author.
Starting bid: L$5000

 Important: 
You are bidding on real world items, not Second Life content. This means you will need to provide your name and shipping address to Michael A. Stackpole if you win. Mike has agreed to act as our fulfillment agent for signed books and merchandise. If you bid on a personalized item, your name and shipping address will have to be shared with the donating author, as well. There is simply no way around this. However, your privacy is important to us, and your identity and shipping information will be held in the strictest confidence by both Mike and the donating author. All items will be shipped no later than October 30, 2014 unless otherwise noted, to allow for the personal appearance schedules and other commitments by the parties involved.  We are acting in the best of faith, and expect you to do the same. As soon as the auction ends, your payment is due in full (without exception).