Monday, April 4, 2016

The Business of Stardoll, An Interview with Jailer

As of this month, I've been on Stardoll for nine years. Regardless of recent sporadic activity, that's still, in my opinion, a huge milestone, and I think is a testament to Stardoll's successes since its inception all those years ago. While we may plague Stardoll with hundreds upon hundreds of complaints each and every day, we still choose to log into both the site itself and the social scene, rather consistently I must add, to keep it up with it all. Over the years I've amassed a colossal collection {hyperbole alert, but you get the picture!} of reviews and discussion posts on this very blog, ranging from collection reviews to Stardoll project discussions, so nothing would feel more fitting than for my first real post in almost two years to be a return to what I know best. And with the ever changing Stardoll scene finally making somewhat of a comeback with new collections and blogs popping up, what better than to discuss of the most intriguing new projects on the social scene, VIS.

VIS creator, Jailer/exodus27
Somewhat of a cliche question to begin with, but first and foremost, what inspired you to create VIS? Clothing lines and magazines have all been created before but never a project quite like yours.

VIS was my breakthrough moment, for sure. You know, a few months ago I started loitering around the .swf database links (which is where people find spoilers) hunting down old links to LE collections - to my surprise, I was able to find the links to all 27 seasons (so far), and I screenshot every item in HQ high definition, saving all the collections in folders. I now call this my LE Archive. I went deeper, and I looked into the sheer essence of what makes LE so palatable to our users. The business side is what intrigued me most, and so I wanted to replicate that in my own way by selling a limited number of passes to gain access to my collection. It's the economics. After ushering in the concept of creating PNG stores 3 years ago with my original X Apparel collection, I knew it was time to change it up and create something new, considering how many others had latched onto my idea.

For those unaware, a pass to VIS costs 333 stardollars, or 111 to renew for the latest collection. How did you come up with said price point for VIS? I'm sure to some the prices would seem steep for clothing not available on the Stardoll website, but to others absurdly cheap considering the quantity of items created.

At the start, I was selling passes for random prices ranging from 200-400SD, but I decided to set the price down as 333SD. For me, it's not about the money I earn. All I know is that I want to earn some profit for my hard work. If people think it's too expensive, then that's fine, nobody is forcing them to cough up the SD. But I, and others, know that my work has a certain worth. Like I said in a previous interview also, nobody is interested in freebies nowadays, there's no appeal to getting a handout. When you pay up for something, you feel included and entitled to what you've bought.

Would you say your vision for VIS is more as an artistic venture of a business model?

It's both, definitely. The artistry behind it is a massive element, which drives the concept and makes VIS what it is. The money, on the other hand, is the fuel. When you look at LE, there can be a dress priced at 200SD with 1000 copies available, do the math and thats 200,000 Stardollars paid back into Stardolls pocket after already taking your money to buy those Stardollars in the first place. Support your communities designers and you're not feeding into that corporate greed that we're all rebelling against. My business strategy is one I pride myself on, considering I'm the first person to ever market a graphics collection like this. I'm not going to say that VIS is just a fun little venture that I'm slaving over simply for the satisfaction of the consumers, because at the end of the day it is a money making scheme, but one I can justify given my talents and commitment to the project.

On the topic of LE, a brand that evidently offers a lot of inspiration in terms of your branding structure, what was your favourite and least favourite collection? Do you have a favourite piece?

This is such a difficult question! My all time favourite collection would have to be Season 4, just because it's the collection that I find holds most of my favourite items. My least favourite collection is definitely Season 12, it was an absolute shambles. And my favourite LE piece by far is the "Wild Rabbit Ears Cap" from Season 8.

A floor from the fourth edition of LE
How do you think shows like 'RuPaul's Drag Race' have influenced both your identity and the work you produce?

This is gonna sound crazy, but back in 2012 when I started making graphics, that period overlapped with the time I started to find myself interested in Rupauls Drag Race, and in turn, becoming a drag performer myself. I studied the makeup process, and it helped me massively with my graphics technique. When you break it down, it's the same; creating layers of shadow and highlight, blending and pulling elements together to create one "big picture". I also take so much style inspiration from my favourite movies such as "Girl, Interrupted", "Thelma and Louise", "Kill Bill", and "Gummo". My identity is a mash up of every piece of media I've ever consumed and found myself to love - I am a product of my self controlled environment.

As someone who's been around since projects of yours like Drug and L'Enfer, I've watched a huge amount of your growth as an artist. You speak of your creative interests and influences in your previous answer, but what started you off in graphics? Have you always been interested in art and fashion culture?

To be honest, when you've been hanging around on Stardoll for as long as I had, you begin to get bored. I saw graphic design as a creative outlet, calling my name. Back when I started, I went through all the motions; dodge and burn, rough layers, the rookie mistake of making everything look plastic or flat, I did it all! I definitely jumped into the deep end with it. I always felt so influenced by the work of two particular designers - Alice (hunnigall) and Eliza (wooldoor), so I began to study their work and try to apply it to my own style. I never really asked for advice, or tried to "copy" anybody elses style. I am proudly self taught in my profession. Going back as well, magazines really dominated the scene, and I wanted a piece of that. X Magazine was the pinnacle of my career, and every failure I put out before that led up to it. Since then, I feel I've gone on to explore my strengths and weaknesses as a designer, and apply that to the type of projects I put out now. The culture and exclusivity of fashion has impacted my life from a very young age, rushing out the supermarket to grab my monthly issues of Vogue and Elle, practically slumming in the crevices of (RIP </3), I was built for a life revolving around fashion.

X Magazine FW '13 cover

Reality television is an integral part of our society today. How do you feel about its representation for our generation?

The whole reality television takeover in media is crazy, it's all about famous for being famous. I think there's an essence of that around lately, too. That kind of concept of knowing so much about someones life plays a massive part in how we put ourselves out there, people want to be seen! The amount of Kardashian/Jenner inspired dolls I see is ridiculous - not that I have anything against that! I'm a huge Kylie Jenner fan myself. But I think fame is easy to gain now, not like it was back 4 or 5 years ago when I was chasing it. Notoriety and fame are two different things, though. Climbing up the ladder has become a task easily conquered by people with very little talents and ingenuity. So, when you finally get there, and you have what you want, the rest comes to you - and I think this ties incredibly well into a favourite quote of mine by Salvador Dali; "There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction." When all you know is glorification and adoration, even your failures are a success in the eyes of your fanatics. Likewise, some will stop at nothing to drag you down and spit poison of your reputation. It works both ways, I suppose. There is no easy way out of the spotlight.

On a final note, what can we expect from the upcoming collection of VIS?

Expect the best, and prepare for the better. The colours are beauuuuuuuutiful! The colours... are gonna wake you up! They're gonna be like, wake up... you guys! I'm feeling so optimistic about it. The amount of excitement thats been built up is already a massive cloud hanging over me, but I'm determined for the sun to shine down on my efforts once I release the collection.

1 comment:

  1. VIS Is A cool idea.. But idk, we will See with DIOR!