The skillful and multi-talented Wicca Merlin has been a mainstay of the Second Life® fashion industry for over a decade. Since her origin on the grid in January of 2007, Merlin has blazed her own distinctive path from model to photographer to content creator, all the while remaining true to herself and her unique vision. After gaining notoriety across the grid’s runways as one of the original “supermodels” and mentors to many finding their start in the SL® fashion world, Merlin experienced quite a journey which led her to where she is today: famed blogger, photographer, and designer of her own eclectic brand featuring genres such as cyberpunk, steampunk, fetish clothing, and much more. AUDAZ is proud to count Wicca Merlin as one of our contributors, and because of all of the ways in which she embodies tenacity, talent, and the beauty of celebrating one’s own individuality, we invited her to be one of our first featured designers.
Wicca Merlin and Redclaw Inshan
AUDAZ: Can you discuss your evolution from model to photographer and artist to designer, and how you took that path?
Wicca Merlin: “To be honest, I never thought about that path or planned it – it just happened. While I was, I felt the desire to conserve my looks and I wanted to document my personal modeling journey in SL. Another reason was to honor and showcase the designers who gave us clothing for the shows. That was the beginning for my blog. Over time, the desire grew to say something more with my pictures. I didn’t just want to showcase something; I wanted to add an artistic touch and some kind of emotion, as well. With that, I started to polish my Photoshop skills. When I realized that Photoshop can do so much more than just the basics, a whole new world opened to me. Since then, the desire to learn more tricks and techniques [has] never stopped.”
“Later, I started to make poses for my pictures. After a while, friends tried to talk me into selling them. It took some time until I really listened to them and opened my first pose store. With starting to create something on my own in SL®, it didn’t take long, and I wanted to do more than poses.
Back then, more and more templates arrived on the grid, and I started to texture some of them – first for my own use, and then just as with my poses, I started selling them. After another period of time, the templates didn’t satisfy me anymore and I wanted to do something more unique and creative. I took my first steps in Maya [and] later I switched to Blender, as my partner (RL/SL) discovered his creative bents using Blender exclusively.“
“In the end, I guess it is a natural thing for humans to have the desire to develop and learn new things, and that has happened to me, as well, in Second Life®. If you do something for a longer time, the desire grows to do and learn something new – at least it was like that for me.“
AUDAZ: When you think about your image as a longstanding member of the fashion world, both as a stylist and as a designer and beyond, how would you define yourself?
Wicca Merlin: “It is always hard for me to define myself. I usually allow life to lead me and my moods and mind and to show me where I want to go. I never aimed to go a certain way; I just listened to myself and the inspiration I felt. I was called so many things in SL… “weirdo,” “crazy,” “crazy German,” “ugly duckling,” “fierce,” “different,” “unique,” “special,” “outstanding,” “disgusting”…”
“As a human, you feel hurt by some of those “names.” It took me quite some time to find out for myself that “special,” “crazy“or “weirdo“ aren’t that bad in the end if you know how to take it. Even the “ugly duckling” became lovely to me, when I remembered the fairy tale by Hand Christian Andersen and what that ugly duckling became. So, if you want me to say how I define myself, it would be “Me,“ “Myself“ or “Wicca.“
AUDAZ: Your work is recognizable even without a name attached, which is what many aspire to. What was this journey like for you?
Wicca Merlin: “It was a very interesting journey as it was not just the journey about my SL life but as well a personal one, that even reached me in RL. I was never really comfortable with the mainstream. I tried for a long time, as I wanted to be part of the “modeling society“- it was a little bit of a rocky road in the beginning.“
“When I started modeling, the big numbers were gowns, elegant jewelry and glamorous updos. Tattoos, piercings, wild makeups – those were things primarily for the urban roleplay circles, but not for modeling. I disagreed and was told many times if I go on with what I am doing, I won’t make it anywhere. I said fine… I do not need to get somewhere; I just want to have fun in my Second Life. The more that was going in the more I became stubborn, as I did not want to let anyone dictate my Second Life – We have enough of that RL where we have to go along with some people even if we do not like them. But in my mind, Second Life was always a place where I could express myself no matter what, as long as I did not hurt anyone. Maybe it wasn’t the easiest way; there were ups and downs, and often I thought it would be so much easier to just go with the mainstream. But it all was worth it as I am still really happy with my Second Life after nearly 14 years.
I do not want to complain as all that helped me to become what I am now and how my work looks nowadays.“
AUDAZ: Tell us a little bit about Wicca’s Originals. What is your original vision and where do you find inspiration?
Wicca Merlin: “First of all, Wicca’s Originals isn’t only me. I never could do all the things on my own as I do work in real life, as well. The creative process and the creating is done by my RL/SL partner Redclaw and myself, and we do have Consuela, Hayden and all our amazing bloggers to help us with promoting and showcasing our creations.“
“The vision was to create something I would like to wear and [could] not find; to express ourselves and to have fun with creating something and see it coming to life in Second Life. We all get inspiration from real life, as we all live in the real world. Sometimes things come to my mind when I listen to music. Sometimes we see several little things we want to combine to something completely new, or something inspires us to create our version with our own twist. So, the inspiration itself is taken from music, nature, Pinterest – the world that surrounds us.“
AUDAZ: Tell us some fun facts that most people don’t know about you.
Wicca Merlin: “I am shy as hell. I have a hard time talking to people I do not know.“
AUDAZ: As a real-life musician what influence if any has music had on your photography, art and design-work?
Wicca Merlin: “Music is my life; everything I do is easier with music, and music is probably my biggest source of inspiration. I love many different music genres like Hard Rock, Metal, Rock, Funk, Fusion and Independent Rock. I do love the softer side of music, too, like singer songwriter[s] or Sade. This diversity as well reflects in my pictures. I can have the darkest bloody picture one day and a pink and sweet one the next day. These changes always depend on [my] feelings and moods.“
AUDAZ: You have been around a long time; what thoughts do you have about the evolution and changes we have seen in Second Life fashion?
Wicca Merlin: “It has changed a lot. When I started in Second Life, modeling was important for promoting designers and their creations. Back then, designers made collections to be released with a Fashion Show like in RL. Nowadays, events have taken over. Designers no longer do full collections but every month release new creations for events. That puts bloggers in the place of models. As well, the economy has changeda lot. In the past, clothing was way more expensive in SL; you had to pay a minimum of 1000 L$ for a full gown while you can find the same now for 299 L$ on MP. Runway shows are expensive; you need to pay someone to build a set, someone [to write the script, as well as the models (yes, I do believe that models should be paid for the time, effort and the cost to keep their avatars updated) who showcase the creations and someone that coordinates and develops the walks and Djs and/or hosts. With the fact that the main grid users seem to be tired of “walk-out-pose-walk-back“ shows, it even gets harder and more expensive if you want to produce something unique and exciting for your audience. For me, the modeling business that I experienced when I started is kinda gone. Not many designers use models for their vendors and ads anymore. I rarely see real store models or store assistants anymore (I am not talking about bots or afk static models) and only a very few agencies made the jump to develop their shows and events to something that attracts more people than the models and staff of their own agencies.“
AUDAZ: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time when you are not designing?
Wicca Merlin: “I enjoy shooting pictures and post processing them.“
AUDAZ: What advice would you give to aspiring designers OR stylist/photographers or both?
Wicca Merlin: “I would say this: be yourself and do not hesitate to ask if you need help or inspiration.“
This is sage advice from a genuine and inimitable woman who has forged her own path, being absolutely true to herself and her personal ideals in every way. Wicca Merlin shared with AUDAZ that as she continues to learn and grow, she hopes to also continue to create items instilled with her brand of fun and passion, items that others enjoy wearing as much as she has enjoyed creating. Step into her world by visiting Wicca’s Originals in Second Life where you can a mosaic of clothing, footwear, accessories, and the items featured here by our stylists and photographers.
Wicca Merlin and Redclaw Inshan
Photographers and Stylists: blackLiquid Tokyoska, Honey Bender, Israel Gant, Khronoz Darkness, Melinda Bayn, Salvo Waydelich, Wicca Merlin, Xandrah Sciavo
Featured Designer: Wicca’s Originals