North

draw me a sheep...

I am putting together a new sim called North. It all started as an inspiration based on an ever-stronger desire to live away from the big city and move to rugged nature somewhere in the remote north. I created two other places a few years ago, one was Winter and the other Leka, both of which, looking back, I think I put together too quickly. So I knew I wanted to take my time with North and I have.

Inspired by the Shetland Islands in Scotland, where Scotland meets Scandinavia and the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, I envision North as raw, serene and still. While I want it to be as true to the original islands as possible, I am not set on having it be a perfect replica. Open space, remote buildings, nature, and ocean are themes, not part of a perfectly constructed reproduction.

I learned going through this virtual sim creating process that there are both practical and emotional aspects involved. The tangible characteristics require some virtual world technical expertise, like, for instance, terraforming. The emotional aspects of sim building have to do with introspection and personality.

Those of you who put together sims already know what the practical initial tasks at hand are; terraforming, ground textures, layout. Then the adding of objects; rocks and stones, grass and flowers, buildings and objects, animals and animate objects. It is important to me that the sim is unique and different and this, truthfully, becomes the greatest challenge of all. I keep reminding myself that less is usually more. If I can avoid it, I don’t use popular objects that are immediately recognizable. Not always possible, but I try. I am also selective when it comes to the quality of the items I place on the sim. This involves digging deep into my inventory and also a lot of running around looking for things that might fit.

Taking time to create provides the opportunity for things to enfold. Just like when creating a painting, or when editing a virtual photograph for that matter, things look different on different days. There are days when my imagination seems to know no bounds and my creativity flourishes. These are the days when I excitedly add to the sim an incredibly detailed sewing room or a dilapidated urban skateboard park. Then there are other times when I am overwhelmed by the entire process and just want to throw in the towel. On those days I seem to just be aimlessly shuffling things from one place to another.

When putting together a sim and the practical and emotional are thoughtfully integrated, I think the end-result becomes a meaningful and inspiring sim ambience that in one way or another reflects the creators persona. I hope to get this project done soon and I look forward to sharing it with you then.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

virtual photography as communication tool on Flickr

I’ve been thinking some more about virtual photography as a communication tool amongst people who post them on Flickr. A prominent aspect of the photograph in our new visual social media era is “showing-not-telling,” which replaces the outdated “reading-and-learning” predecessor. It’s now about photos, not about text. People show us with their virtual world Flickr photographs glimpses into their virtual lives. The choice of image corresponds with the message a person wants to send. I think on virtual photography Flickr especially we see all kinds of communication involving emotion, which probably has to do with the lack of means that we have in-world when it comes to expressing our feelings. So people in love post images of themselves in love. The slighted rejected lover posts provocative images with the simple purpose of cruel revenge. The sweet friend posts selfies of themselves and a best friend. The virtual world Flickr photos we post may also simply depict topics of interest, again, this I believe is an unconscious effort by the photographer to share an aspect of the self. Like the explorer of the metaverse posts pictures of beautiful destinations. The art fanatic posts images of virtual art. The designer posts incredibly detailed images of household scenes. And so on. The photographs we Second Lifers post on Flickr become an important part of our virtual world identity. When we have been on Flickr for a while we soon recognize which photograph belongs to which photographer. Each photographer has a style, a theme, and a mood. It as if we know them. And somehow mysteriously, without ever having met, we manage to move each other with the images we post.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

art in june

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There is certainly no lack of art exhibits in Second Life during this first month of summer.  Besides the recently opened The Swamp , by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu, the photograph exhibit MYdigliani by daze Landar, the permanent works at Gallery M by Mich Michabo, all at Berg by Nordan Art, there are several exhibits, as well as at least one major new sim-sized installation, to explore.

My first stop today is at dathuil where we find the exhibit Her and him, by Hillany Scofield, curated by Lucy Butoh and Max Butoh. This collection of photographs is the second part of a collaboration with moon Edenbaum, who showed his exhibit me_you here last month. I think there are sixteen color images here; some of them are very creatively mounted in the ceiling, I got dizzy counting, but I think I got it right. I really like this exhibit by hill.s. Not only do the images beautifully correspond with the works by moon, but they also convey a completely different kind of intimacy. hill.s notes about her exhibit that [o]n a day like any other she walks into that little café on the corner. She knows it`s never crowded at this time of day. when she grabs a coffee and her favorite lemon pie on her way home. But this day is unlike the other days and this man is unlike any other she had seen around here. And his presence felt different to all the others…. Each picture here truly does offer a peek into what feels like a deeply personal moment that is part of a story. There is also something homely about these photographs that I utterly adore. Head over and take a look before the exhibit closes on June 30.

There are two exhibits, one by Cipher and the other by Peep Sideshow, curated by CrankyGrit, in two small galleries on the newly opened sim The GoodLife.  The little galleries are located right after you enter the sim, nested in decayed builds, one on the left and on one the right hand side of the street. Both spaces are intimate, displaying a handful of really good images by each photographer. Looking forward to more art exhibit on this sim, this is a great start.

Sina Souza is showing a collection of her own most favorite photographs at the Art Gallery The Eye. I’ve seen all these images before, but honestly,  I never really tire of Sina’s work. Her painterly surrealist style always leaves me wanting more. Head over and take a look at these photographs, I am not really sure how long they will be up. Make sure to also check out Sina’s new work Mental Levels currently at MetaLES if you haven’t already.

Last, but certainly not least, there is an incredibly complex and beautiful installation, Flash Forward/Flash Backward, by Giovanna Cerise, curated by Dividni Shostakovich, at Split Screen. This is a multi-layered work, consisting of six connected parts; Dream, Point of View, The Desire, Lightness, The Impossible Choice and The Birth.  All parts are accessible either by walking through the build itself or teleporting from one part to another. Extensive information about the exhibit, including landmarks to each space, is provided at the landing point. Wandering through this maze-like structure made me feel like I was part of a dream. There were times when I took a wrong turn and felt lost, but then found my way again. The surrounding flickering, shifting images and colors further contribute to the experience of being in a dream state. Giovanna notes about her work that it encompasses imagery from the past, present and future: Everything appears and disappears, in a game in and out, in the will to create alienation effects, restlessness, suspended in an allusive and visionary atmosphere. In this wandering, however, intimate glimpses appear as flashes that isolate and force them to stop. They are moments of stasis, breaks that interrupt the anxiety of trying. Objects that are reflected or evanescent figures metaphorically produce in the present vague suggestions. The installation, formed for the most part from simple geometric elements , is thus presented as a destructured form, almost shapeless with the intent to create chaotic and changing moments. Inside there are spaces that vanish in the complex but depending on the angle they are perfectly visible. A fantastic show, great in every detail, bravo Giovanna, really. Head over and take a look before the installation closes on July 31.

There are many other exhibits I did not cover here because there is simply not enough time. Let me just mention here though Itakos Art Gallery and DixMix Gallery, both of which always have regularly rotating photography exhibits by great artists. Also, rumor on the street has it that there is a great new group show coming up at UTSA ArtSpace (I know my friend ◦⊱ Mi ⊰◦ will part-take) so please be on the lookout for announcements.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

The GoodLife

The GoodLife is a post-apocalyptic urban setting, complete with decaying houses and destroyed highways.  Abandoned vehicles, graffitied walls, piles of trash and shabby furniture are disbursed in between. Most of the builds are by the talented Death Row Designs team, but there are objects by other creators as well. This is an adult-themed sim where various sex poses can be found throughout. While I don’t visit adult-themed sims to engage in role-play, I generally find that darker places with post-apocalyptic and adult themes have more ambience and depth. They are excellent places to take pictures. The creator and owner of The GoodLife sim, CrankyGrit (aka Rwah, who also created the sim Purple Crayons), notes that [t]his build is based on a long time idea I have been toying with to combine things that are to my knowledge, not often combined. SL sports many luscious adult sims. Exquisitely decorated and well established. This little hole in the wall is not that. Nor is it exclusive, unless you call being a stickler for manners being exclusive. I wanted a sim where I ould enjoy the urban, post-apocalyptic sights with hangouts and adult nooks and crannies. A place where I can just be and perhaps watch or be watched or simply hang out. There are no expectations, other than that those who choose to visit here, are expected to behave and respect that adult RP could be going on. What I hope for this build, is that a wide variety of artistic souls, kinksters, out-of-the-box thinkers will come and visit and hopefully come back to dwell a bit longer. No doubt, Miss CrankyGrit totally succeeded in bringing to fruition her long time idea. I am amazed by this place and will keep coming back. A the landing there are notecards with information about the sim, the dungeon and about exhibit spaces that are also located on the sim. I will write more about the photograph exhibits in my Art in June post coming up in a few days. Head on over and take a look, this is in my humble opinion one of the coolest new places on the grid. Don’t forget to bring your camera, images can be posted in The GoodLife Flickr group.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

one family and art

Having an art sim I am fortunate enough to get to know the people who exhibit their work there. Everybody has a story and for a short moment we become part of each others’ stories. Some of the stories linger, or come to an end, others keep evolving. As of late, I find myself becoming a small part of a story so rich and meaningful that I want to share a part of it here. This is the story of a Portuguese family consisting of Meilo Minotaur, CapCat Ragu, Takio Ra and Rita Eustáquio. Meilo, in the middle in photo above, is the mother of CapCat, left in the photo. CapCat and Takio (right in the photo) are married and have a daughter, Rita. Rita does not yet have an avatar, and is not depicted above, but rumor has it that she is thinking about creating one soon. Meilo  and CapCat have been producing art in Second Life since 2008. Most of you probably know them as the creators of the sim Delicatessen. As of this year, they are also permanent resident artists at Berg by Nordan Art. Their first installation, in January 2017, was Penumbra and opening tomorrow, The Swamp. Remarkably, all four contribute to these installations. It is a joint family art project. While CapCat and Meilo create the visible work (terraforming, building, avatars, etc.), Takio is responsible for the sound and Rita does voice. The Swamp is dark and unsettling, a powerful metaphor for fascism inspired by Cap’s and Meilo’s first hand revolution and post-revolution experiences in Portugal; I’ve been told that sound and voice are a particularly important aspect of this work, so when you visit, please make sure to turn it on.

CapCat (Catarina Carneiro de Sousa) successfully defended her thesis Virtual Corporeality and Shared Creativity and received her PhD in April this year. She also published an article, Mom and Me Through the Looking Glass, in Metaverse Creativity in 2012. Her article examines the collaborative work of CapCat and Meilo in Second Life, integrating the notion of shared creativity; [t]he aim is to describe and analyse their cooperative creative process from the perspective of one of the artists/authors, walking through three artistic works that were made in the Second Life® region of Delicatessen: ‘de Maria, de Mariana, de Madalena…’, ‘Petrified’ and ‘Meta_Body’. These projects reflect two aspects of the artists’ work on the one hand avatar art, and on the other the creation of virtual environments. The text also reflects on the concept of shared creativity, which the artists propose through their avatar creations. The article is worth reading in its entity as it is a great source of information for Second Life residents, artist and non-artists alike. It is also beautifully written and in so many ways mirrors the work by Cap and Meilo that we see in-world.  To me, the work of these two women (and Takio and Rita) reflects the essence of metaverse creativity and, no doubt, they are virtual world artist pioneers. I leave you here with a quote from the first part of CapCat’s article:

We are two metaverse avatars. We are also mother and daughter; I am CapCat Ragu and Meilo Minotaur is my mother in real life. We are both artists, and as artists it seems that all through our lives we have been dealing with the same issues that we are now working on together in the Metaverse. When I was a little girl I used to love the Carnival holiday. In Portugal this is a time to dress up, and to imagine ourselves as the other… I remember my mother staying up all night working on these amazing seethrough butterfly wings for me. I think that these were the first avatars we ever made together.

 

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

coming up at berg by nordan art

There are several new exhibits coming up at Berg by Nordan Art . First in line is the new installation The Swamp by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu, which opens on Sunday, June 4, at 10 AM SLT. The Nordan om Jordan sim will be closed to the public on June 2 and 3 for installation so please make sure to check out Penumbra before then if you haven’t already. The Amona Savira Memorial will be removed at that time also. About The Swamp, the artists note that it is a metaphor for fascism, from the point of view of Meilo Minotaur’s actual experience of fascism in Portugal, the Carnation Revolution, and the actual lived experience of CapCat Ragu from post-revolutionary Portugal. At a time when the crisis is trying to push us back into obscurantism is the moment to resist, to fight against the totalitarianism of capital, but never to return to fascism! Sound installation is by Takio Ra and voices by Rita Eustáquio. As is also the case with the current installation, The Swamp avatars will be available for free for gallery visitors.

Currently on view in the main gallery since the beginning of April is the show MYdigliani by daze Landar. daze’s show will be on display until the end of June. Beginning of July we have an exhibit by Senna Coronet, followed by a show by moon Edenbaum in October.  Mich Michabo is finishing up her new exhibit for Gallery M. As always, all parts of the gallery are accessible via teleport from the main Berg by Nordan Art gallery. Please be on the lookout in-world, as well on Flickr, for reminders and landmarks as we get closer to the opening dates. Lastly, make sure to post your photos taken at the gallery in the Berg by Nordan Art Flickr group.

Poster of The Swamp by CapCat Ragu
Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

phabolaois strain

There is a new destination, Phabolaois strain, by the designer duo Miuccia Klaar and Squonk Levenque. This is a mostly flat space, but with a few hills, consisting of water and rain. Trees, boats, docks, benches, houses, seagulls, ruins, a light house and a large air balloon, as well as other objects, are dispersed throughout. The sim derives it’s theme from the island Phabolaois strain, founded in 1578: The discovery of large amounts of hephaestium due to the great meteor shower of 1862 made the island interesting to neighboring countries such as France that was not blessed in receiving this new and revolutionary mineral. After the failure of diplomacy France sent its troops in march 1865. A task force invaded Phabolaois stran finding only little resistance by the natives. The 1st batallion legionaires and the 4th senegalese tirailleurs occupied and ruled the land for a short period of time. Britain did not respond as most of the troops were involved in the African campain (1865-1877) which ended with the battle of Tripoli and with the Border and Sea Protection Act issued 1864 to respond to the threat of Germany and Austro-Hungarian naval forces. Indiscipline and boredom drove the french occupying troops out of Phabolaois stran to join the Belgian army as mercenaries. The island remained inhabited until 1928 when Gwynplaine, son of Lord Clancharlie, one of King James political enemies, arrived and established himself in a little surviving property, seeking refuge from the king’s men and Dr. Hardquannone and his ”comprachicos” (pirates scavenging the coast). Due to his disfigurement, Gwynplaine sought isolation and peace together with his blind girlfriend Dea, his friend Ursus and his beloved dog Homo. Only the mansion, a few wrecks from the french invasion and the remains of an unknown ancient city are still to be seen. Seagulls and a deadly and deceiving tide protects Phabolaois strain today.

Phabolaois strain has a set region WL, which I strongly suggest to use as it makes all the difference in the world. It lends the sim the foggy, misty and generally wet ambience I believe it was meant to have. While the theme of the sim at first glance is of course about the old island, to me the meaning of it also extends beyond that; the places created by Miuccia and Squonk are generally all about the inside and the outside. The outside, with  rain, grim, bare, cold, leaves the visitor feeling lost or, perhaps forlorn. The inside, which usually consists of interiors of decaying builds, piles of thrown together old stuff, but a perfect mess really, suggests belonging, warmth and comfort. The visitor’s experience of the interior and exterior spaces combined is a sense of poetic melancholy.

Let me also note here that there is no doubt in mind that this designer pair has found the perfect virtual rain. It is heavy and strong, pouring and wet, with just the right amount of feeling of wind. I am also in awe about the objects that are repeatedly used by them, mostly refurbished, scruffy old stuff. These are things that have been found in a virtual attic or flee-market, no doubt. Head over and take a look and make sure to post your pics in the Phabolaois strain Flickr group.

Addendum: Here are a few things I neglected to include: As of today, the sim is not yet open to the public, but it will be soon. Also, there will be moments, and I suspect this is dependent upon the tide, when it will not rain! Finally, and so glad to hear this, the cool space Le Petit Japon will still be accessible.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

the validity of virtual photography

I generally believe that misperceptions, or even conflicts, are not bad. If dealt with in a constructive manner they in fact often demystify things. In this post then, I address the common misperception that “real life” photography is more valid than virtual world photography. I look at some of the criteria that overlap in both. I address the difficulty of some critics to accept virtual photography as legitimate. I talk about virtual photography as the same and as different, and as a means of communication between people in Second Life. I consider that virtual photography, especially as perceived on Flickr, may in fact be a new form of art.

I am not a photographer by profession, merely a novice snapping pictures in the virtual world. But regardless, and again, as mentioned in my Le serpent qui danse May 11, 2017 blog entry, it seems to me a photograph is a photograph whether it is taken in real or virtual worlds. If not, would someone please explain to me what is actually the difference?

One of the reasons that I care about the meaning of virtual photography is because I am getting fed up with it being thought of as second best to “real life” photography. It just doesn’t make sense to me. In fact, there are many criteria that overlap when it comes to virtual and “real life” photography. There are virtual images that are of better quality than others, just as it is the case with “real life” photography. The question of what is art pertains to virtual and “real life” photography alike. The thinking involved in the creative process of virtual and “real life” photographs is the same. And so on.

Probably certain critics of virtual world photography, and of SL Flickr, have a hard time consolidating the fact that virtual photography is legitimate because they experience it as a threat. In their minds, this kind of photography must not be real because these days any novice has access to editing tools required to produce an image. But isn’t that great? Why condemn people who experiment creatively with photography? Shouldn’t we be open to creativity in all its forms? Why so frightened of the new and the undefined?

I firmly believe that a virtual photograph is just like a “real life” photograph. But I also believe that it is much more than simply an image; it is a tool for people in Second Life to communicate with each other about their virtual experiences in a virtual community space (Flickr). When we are part of a virtual world like Second Life, we communicate in-world via IM, voice, poses, profiles, and with our choice of avatar appearance. A big part of our communication with each other is also expressed creatively with our photos on Flickr. There are virtual photographers on Flickr who I have never met but I feel I know them because I know their photographs. They have become familiar to me.

Lastly, and boldly, I would go as far as suggesting that virtual photography as we see it and experience it on Flickr is art. So while the virtual photograph is just like the “real life” photograph, it is also not. It represents a new form of art with categories and criteria of its own. I will not go into this too much here because it is something that Tutsy Navarathna and myself discussed at length in the past and even considered putting together a publication about. We may still. It was during these discussions about virtual art and Flickr that Tutsy cleverly coined the term Flickrism.

In conclusion, I think it is safe to say that a virtual photograph is the same as a “real life” photograph. In addition it also serves as a communication tool for creative people occupying the virtual world. And we may want to start considering virtual Flickr photography a new virtual art movement in its own right. Virtual photography is not only the same as “real life” photography it is also different. Different is a usually a good thing, at least in my book.

Photograph by Kate Bergdorf

art in may

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As always when it comes to new art in Second Life, there’s plenty to see. There are at least three photograph exhibits that opened this month. We also have a new installation, Fade Away, by the ever-productive and talented Cica Ghost that opened on May 5. Cica offers a quote by Bob Dylan as a theme: Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it’s like they didn’t fade away at all. As so often when it comes to Cica’s work, we are not provided with any kind of extended artist statement from her end. But it doesn’t really matter, of course, as we can certainly derive our own interpretations from what we see. Fade Away comes in various shades of grey. Almost completely black trees, other kinds of dark vegetation, massive grey rock formations, as well as groups of solemn, hooded figures that are dispersed throughout, lending this space a feeling of hopelessness. There are single figures standing around too, some of them appear close to transparent, perhaps hinting at the passing of life. There are clocks dispersed throughout, indicating time, or, a loss or lack of time. Segments of fences are placed throughout, maybe suggesting a division of sorts. As commonly seen in Cica’s work, we also have little scenes scattered throughout, inviting us to take a closer look in order to find meaning. It seems this installation deals with questions about mortality and relationships, the passing of time perhaps, but I am not sure. These are just some feeble attempts from my part to make sense of it. Head over and take a look for yourself at this dark and very beautiful exhibit.

There’s a new exhibit, a Romance in Brooklyn, by Isa Messioptra, at Mirage Gallery, that opened yesterday and will be open for the next month. This is a great little gallery, set on the sim Mirage, owned and curated by Nicasio Ansar. The space itself consist of a maze-like set up of metal structures with divisions, a great back-drop for this playful exhibit by Isa. There are twelve large color images part of this show; with names like let him do the guessing, ….“only one drink though,” share a cab, and ok 3 drinks, each and every one of these photographs is subtly seductive and only leaves the viewer wanting more. Bravo Isa, a cool and sexy exhibit with great energy. A breath of fresh air for sure!

One of my all-time favorite Second Life artists, Sina Souza, has a new exhibit, Mental Levels, at MetaLES, curated by Ux Hax and Romy Nayar. Sina, who started producing art in the virtual world in 2012, also has her own gallery, Mind Factory. The images in the current exhibit at MetaLES are displayed in large black boxes, all positioned on different levels. I counted eleven boxes altogether and each level connects with stairs. The photographs contained in them are bold and strong. To me they feel like they have been painted, but they have not. This artist often addresses in her work societal issues and we see some examples of this here with works like democratic suicide or in the tact of society. A wonderful exhibit Sina, and it is great to see you work in-world again.

Finally, I just had to make a last stop to check out the exhibit by Magic Marker, curated by Sorcha Tyles, at the Artful Expressions Gallery. I believe this is the first exhibit by the talented Miss Marker. This show consists of nine photographs; one in black and white and the rest in color. Magic uses in her photographs vibrant colors, captivating poses and props which she combines to achieve a unique expression that is easily recognizable as hers. Her work is energetic, fun, and full of passion.

Photographs by Kate Bergdorf

Le serpent qui dance

For the past few weeks I’ve been completely caught up in finishing a collection of photographs for an upcoming exhibit at Itakos. The exhibit, The Dancing Serpent, inspired by the poem with the same name by Charles Baudelaire (Fleurs du Mal, 1857), is curated by Akim Alonzo. The opening is this Sunday, May 14, at 1:30PM SLT.

Baudelaire’s poem Le serpent qui dance is playful, filled with erotic symbolism and metaphor; it is an ode to desire and longing, no doubt, sexual and otherwise. It consist of nine parts. As the themes for my ten photographs I picked one sentence from each part, as well as the name of the poem itself. There are at least twenty translations of Le serpent qui dance; I ended up choosing the version by William Aggeler, translated in 1954.

Putting together this exhibit led me down a path of self-examination. I came up against content issues where I questioned my use of the female subject as a nude. I realized finally that adding a male subject in some of the images would add a much-needed tension. Also, during the weeks that I worked on this virtual world project I simultaneously had several deadlines in real life that needed to be met. I had to seriously consider the importance of time and how it was spent. I reached the conclusion that the process of creativity, regardless if in real life or virtual life, could only aid me in the sense that it provided a welcomed escape from too much thinking. Lastly, I questioned the meaning of the virtual world Flickr photography itself.

About virtual world Flickr photography then. I showed my ten completed photographs to several friends, all of whom I respect in part because they are talented virtual world photographers who I know will not hesitate to offer constructive criticism. I was pleased with their feedback and, yes, relieved, because like so many others, I never really know if my work is any good. I then showed the images to a friend who is a real life photographer, but does not himself have a Second Life Flickr account. He simply refused to comment. Once I got over his frustrating lack of response, I started pondering what some of his reasons for not commenting may have been. He did not want to offend me with negative feedback, could it be that simple? His only observation, which was something like “everybody on Flickr will love it,” referred to the fact that nude virtual world images receive a disproportionate amount of attention on Flickr? Or could it be that he had actually failed to comprehend that a photograph is a photograph, regardless if taken in real or virtual life? I don’t think I will ever know, but I believe this perhaps nicely illustrates a common reluctance of “real life” photographers to embrace and accept the newness and, yes, modernity, of virtual world Flickr photography. If I sound defensive, it is because I am. But it is not about my work, it is about feeling protective of virtual world Flickr itself. Because rarely in my life have I seen as much creative talent in one place as I have seen there.

This post ended up being much longer than I thought, lots of rambling here. Thank for reading all the way through if you did. Also, and finally, thanks to Akim, an excellent curator, for asking me to show at your beautiful gallery. Thank you also very much to Tutsy Navarathna and Huck Hax for posing; I honestly can’t think of two more patient posers. Thanks to pose makers Del May (Del May Poses) and Olivia LaLonde (Le Poppycock) for your incredible poses, without them, these images could never have been produced.

Poster created by Akim Alonzo