Friday, November 14, 2008

On ironforged velvety ocelot paws: Here comes Vry Offcourse...

Posted by Alpha Auer

Basically I bought so many skins from Vry Offcourse that in the end the poor thing had no choice but to befriend me. So, now I am very proud to be able to say that I count Vry, whom I consider to be one of the most inspired of NPIRL designers in Second Life® amongst my personal friends.

Like myself, Vry is a graphic designer who says that her real life profession deeply affects how she proceeds in her virtual design work: "large & long projects have trained my mind to think systematically when managing a project". Like every good designer Vry "start(s) each project with research, and then play(s) around with assets, look(s) at styles". But, subsequently, in a manner somewhat uncharacteristic to hard core Real Life design practices, she proceeds to "just have fun, never really knowing what I will end up with."

When I asked Vry what the impetus behind Starfuker, her stunning skin shop in Harajukobox had been she told me that she started to design skins because she could not find the types of skins that she wanted. Although she admits that she initially turned her output into a business with the objective of making an income she adds that "after reality set in, it just became an artistic outlet for me", the inspiration for which comes from many diverse sources but "as far as SL goes...there is nobody more inspiring then my friend ColeMarie Soleil".

The Zebra Skin

Some of Vry Offcourse's skins are inspired by nature and yet others have their foundations in metal. While skins such as the Ocelot skin, the Zebra skin and the bewilderingly complex Reptile skin are examples of the former, the recently added Hybrid skin and my long time favorite the Ironforge skin fall into the latter category. And then, of course, are the oddballs, as would be the case with the Fragile skin:

Fragile: An almost translucent layer of cracked porcelain glaze...

The Ocelot Skin (steampunk attachments: Lucia Cyr)

The Reptile Skin. (dress: Andie Ramona, hair: Hern Worsley)

The Ocelot skin, along with the Reptile skin, for me, are amongst the most uncanny skins that Vry Offcourse has designed. Unlike most zoologically based skins that are out there, Vry has not superimposed a mere feline/reptilian pattern onto a humanoid base layer but has actually blurred out the area surrounding the "human" eyes in such a way that they blend in with the animal pattern, whilst leaving the lips more or less intact, thus creating a bizarre hybrid, half human half feline/reptilian experience both for the user as well as the beholder.

The Iron Forge Skin. (hair: Elke Banting)

The Hybrid Skin. (apparel: four Yip, Phantom Kabuki)

Indeed the whole Hybrid experience seems to be very much on Vry Offcourse's mind: Her latest creation features yet another such experiment - this one between the mechanoid and the humanoid, following up on one of her earlier designs, the Iron Forge skin, which is almost entirely mechanoid, save for the bizarre pink lips that refuse to blend with the metallic remainder, thus creating a very startling design dichotomy.

You can teleport to STARFUKER, Vry Offcourse's shop directly from here. You can see many more photographs of her skins, which I used as one of the main elements of a somewhat bizarre research experiment of my own called the Uncanny Valley here.