Pictorial by Sunday Whitewood
Isa: Generally speaking, where in the world are you from in RL?
Moustique: I'm from Belgium, the northern part more specifically, close to the border with The Netherlands. My native language is Dutch. But I also speak fluently French and English.
Isa: How did you get into Second Life?
Moustique: I saw an ad and simply got curious. So I decided to sign up. Even though my avi is already quite old, this isn't even my first one. I originally joined SL somewhere in 2006. I made all the mistakes a "noob" can probably make, and at some point got so fed up that I decided to leave SL again. I deleted the old avi. But after 8 months or so, I decided to make an alt and start fresh. That's when Moustique was born.
Isa: How did you get involved with modeling?
Moustique: That's actually somewhat of a coincidence. When I re-joined SL, I remember I was watching tv, and and America's Next Top Model (or a similar show) was on... and suddenly, I got this crazy idea of trying to be a model in SL too. If we had been watching Masterchef, I would probably have been an SL cook right now... Anyway, I started to customize and tweak my avi and applied at some modeling agencies and academies. There I almost got the chance to do my first runway show. "Almost", because on the big day a lot of models didn't show up and the show was cancelled. After that, I decided to continue on a freelance basis, which was harder to find jobs, but at least I was in control of my own agenda.
Isa: Tell us about how you got involved with fashion design?
Moustique: The first time I tried to do fashion design was already back in 2008, but I got demotivated because I saw all those great designs, and I could never achieve the same level of quality. Creating a simple t-shirt or a tattoo was easy. But back then, I didn't have the knowledge yet on how to add shadows and pleats-effect to the designs, or add details. It all remained very basic; so, after a while, I gave up designing, and focused more on the modeling. In 2010, I took a second SL-break, which lasted 5 years. I came back in 2015, and in the meantime, mesh clothing had been introduced and, in 2016, I decided to give designing another try. This time I was more successful. I've been doing this for almost a year now and still loving it!
Isa: Your pictures are really amazingly well done - did you have experience with photography in RL before coming to SL?
Moustique: I've been interested in photography for a while now, but never had a formal RL education in photography, nor Photoshop or any similar tools: everything I know, I learned by experience and trial and error. But I already had a nose for good pictures, angles, etc. When my oldest daughter was born: I simply loved to take pictures of her with my cheap Sony camera, then edit them a bit in a program like Photoshop, and some of the pictures turned out really nice. I guess you could say that was really what got me started doing RL photography. Other than taking pics of my kids, I didn't do much RL photography though. It was only some years later, that I started to also take pictures of random items, furniture, nature, etc. Last year, I finally bought myself a Canon DSLR camera, and doing more and more RL photography now too, and I'm seriously considering taking some courses later on this year to perfect my skills and knowledge on RL digital photography.
Isa: Most of your pics seem to be tied to your MP store - have you considered doing more photography for its own sake?
Moustique: I originally started to do SL photography for the MP store indeed. Those were mainly vendor pictures. But since I don't have an in-world store, I needed some more visibility. Simply putting some items in MP and hoping that people would buy them, is not a good business plan. So, that's where Flickr came into play, but not all groups allow vendor pictures, so I had to come up with a way to get around this. That's when I started to use my designs to make in-world pictures, still more as some kind of promo-material, but closer to photography, since I also started to edit those pics, add effects, etc. (which I rarely do in my vendor pics, since I want the people to see what they buy, not give an idealized image of it). Those I could start sharing in other fashion and art group. There I noticed the amazing works of others in SL, and simply got curious again: "How do they do that?!" I started to experiment with graphical settings, windlight, photo editor programs, etc. and that's how - last summer - I more or less got into photography that was not striclty related to my MP-shop, and I think it's fair to say that in the meantime, all of my activities (modeling, design and photography) are equally important to me.
Isa: What do you see as the difference between erotica and pornography? Can porn be artistic?
Moustique: That's a difficult question I have been struggling with myself, and I don't think the distinction is that clear-cut.
Isa: Describe a typical day in your Second Life.
Moustique: Mmmm... Some recurrent activities of mine are checking my Flickr and MP. But I don't really need to log into SL to do those.
In-world, I think my days mainly depend on the activity: I don't have a house or sim in SL, so when modeling or taking pictures, I mostly shoot on location, in a public photo studio or in some kind of "box" that a friend built for me and that I rez in a public sandbox. Some people may already be familiar with my "black box"...
The designing of clothing or post-production of pictures happens offline. Sometimes I "park" my avi somewhere and then go "afk" or set my status to "Unavailable", but those activities are mostly marked by myself being very inactive in SL, as some of my friends can confirm. In the past, I lost friends who - I guess - felt I was ignoring them, while, in fact, I was simply very busy.
Before I got into designing, I was a real shopaholic, always looking for new cool items. But since I don't have that much time, nowadays, most of my shopping i done in MP.
So, except for the pictures, the only activity I'm actually leaving "my sandbox" for, are the occasional group's parties.
Isa: What do you wish you were doing more of in SL? Less of?
Moustique: I think my SL days are pretty much filled atm.
As a photographer, I already try to apply pretty high standards to my own photography, but there's always room for improvement. And there's some great photographers out there I would like to meet and learn from. Or simply pose for... which brings me to my modeling: I wouldn't mind doing some more modeling for - let's say - the "bigger" designers or creators, or being the face of one of those brands. To me, that would be very cool.
Isa: Is there anything I haven't asked you about that I should? Is there anything you'd like people to know about you or your SL?
Moustique: Not really, except that it's important for me to always stay with both feet on the ground, and to not forget where you're coming from, and all the things you've been through to finally reach the point you're at now. I'm currently in that stage that I'm actually starting to get "fans". In the past, I was always the one looking up to others, thinking: "Wow, I wish I could do that!" Now, I am actually the one doing it, and I notice that people start admiring me and my work, which is nice of course, but kinda weird at the same time.