Nylon Pinkney is the embodiment of creativity and freedom of expression that Second Life offers to all of us who come into its digital domain with an open mind and an imagination willing to take flight.
A resident of Second Life for more than ten years, Nylon is a veritable tour de force of creativity, be it through avatar creation, art, photography, content creation, region design, or her support of the creativity of other Second Life users. Not only does her home region, Tableau, offer an in-world presence for her own brands – which include Nylon Outfitters, Oh Lala!, Paper Couture, and the Wigglesworth Residence – it also offers a place where other content creators can host their stores, and provides a live music venue.
And it doesn’t end there: the entire region is itself a unique work of art, drawing together content from around the grid and combining it with Nylon’s own eye for design and layout and her natural talent as an artist to present a whimsical, photogenic and delightfully artful environment, which she refers to as her take, as a woman from New Jersey, on a “bombed-out” town in the south-west USA.
Given her talents – which even extend to having supplied Linden Lab with some of their “classic” starter avatars and the fact her creativity has oft been subject to the attention of US comedian Drew Carey (who admits to still hopping into Second Life as and when he can) – little wonder that episode #27 of The Drax Files: World Makers settles down to profile her.
In a world which naturally lends itself to the fullest range of digital manipulation and photo-realism, Nylon’s work is a fusion of digital tools and freehand artistry. “Instead of taking a photo and trying to make it squash onto the avatar base,” she says in describing her work, “I actually hand-draw all of my textures. It’s not perfect, but I don’t have any interest in perfect.”
Perfect it may not be, but it is authentic; and it is the authenticity and fun evident in her work that has made Nylon’s designs so popular among SL residents. In a world where perhaps a little too much emphasis can be placed on digital perfection, she offers a pleasantly natural look and fell to her garments and designs. This is further reflected in her Wigglesworth Residence range of older avatars, which breaks the mould of SL’s eternally youthful population in a light-hearted way.
In the physical world, Nylon notes that she’s been very much a part of the family business, with Second Life providing the kind of creative freedom she was seeking; but as is so often the way, the physical world and the virtual have combined somewhat to make her Second Life businesses something of a family affair, with Nylon’s sister, Polyester Partridge, producing all of the accessories for their various brands.
Nylon is keenly aware of the platform’s potential to encourage learning and growth – something Strawberry Singh incidentally touched upon in one of her recent Monday Memes – noting how it has encouraged her, through her businesses, to develop her skills and art. This also again reflects a theme very much evident through the World Makers series, with many of those participating in the show pointing in some measure to the platform’s innate ability to encourage people to learn new skills and discover new abilities within themselves.
Obviously this is something well known to all of us involved with Second Life; it’s often the reason many of us actually become increasingly engaged in the platform, whether or not we have any form of in-world business; Second Life helps fulfil those inner desires for creative expression and freedom that might otherwise remain hidden or stifled. As such, it is an important point to consider when looking at the platform in terms of its potential for teaching and learning, quite aside from the more recognisable or considered uses for the platform as a more structured educational medium.
As Nylon points out, that SL is so rich and diverse in the opportunities it presents, makes it all the more ridiculous that so many outside of the platform are so quick to point to it being the “underbelly” of the Internet, as if it the the single repository for all that is “wrong” or “bad” or “upsetting” on the web. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Given the fact that those behind the avatars who roam this virtual world are actual physical people, routed in reality and carry the fullest range of human ideals, desires, foibles and more into the virtual, it really should come as no surprise that Second Life presents the widest possible range of human experiences. But it does so to no greater degree than we might find elsewhere in life or on the ‘Net; so the fact that some do persist in getting so hung-up about it being some kind of all-encompassing 2underbelly” perhaps says more about their perceptions than about the platform.
As Nylon says in the video, the reality is that Second Life is about, “wherever you want go.”
“Are you going to reveal everything about you real life today?” Drax asks Nylon at the top end of the programme.
“I don’t know,” she replies. “I’m not that interesting.”
Disarming as this reply might be, I would dispute its veracity. Through her in-world creativity and her words in this video, Nylon demonstrates just how engaging and enriching involvement in Second Life can be, and how the time we spend within it can be a rewarding journey of discovery. And is doing so, she becomes another ambassador for the platform to the world at large, a further welcome voice added to the powerful chorus Drax is assembling.