Customize this!

I’d like to take a moment to talk about the business of custom creation. Now, I cannot create anything other than blog posts to foist upon all of you. But I have, just a few times in my virtual life, sought out a custom bauble from the content creators of SL. In fact, just recently, I was after a custom tattoo to match the one I have in RL.

After looking around, I found a parlor that seemed to be good at what they did and I read their custom request instructions. Per the instructions, I created a notecard outlining what I was interested in and including a picture. In the notecard I asked for more information, such as a timeframe for the creation and a price. What I got was complete silence.  Just when I had all but given up hope, I got an IM from the creator herself telling me my custom tattoo was ready.

Did you find something wrong with that last sentence? I did. But I decided on the benefit of the doubt and went over to view the item. When I got there, the tattoo was very oversized, the image was severly pixelated, and the creator seemed to have no issue with it (or the shady business practices) whatsoever. I politely inquired as to whether or not the size and quality could be remedied and was informed that it could. For a fee. So let me outline what I was being told here. Since the custom job was already complete (despite the fact I had not requested it to be done yet) I owed the creator for the price of the item already. On top of that, if I wanted the quality corrected that would be an additional fee. I was informed that the image I provided was not of a suitable quality, but it could not be explained why that information was not shared before the inferior tattoo was created rather than after.

I retained my cool, dear readers. At that point I asked if a better image would rectify the problem, and was told it would. The creator even asked if I had the original image from which the real tattoo was created in the first place. I did, and I gladly uploaded and passed it over, with the stipulation that if the image quality was not suitable, I should be asked to provide something that was.

More time went by with silence, until I prodded the creator again. At that point I was quickly rewarded with the “fixed” version. The tattoo was indeed smaller and better placed, but was even more horribly pixelated. I was so flummoxed that I decided not to even bother this person again, and since they never requested the fee for the “correction” I never paid it. But the experience left me with a decidedly bad taste in my mouth.

The obvious question is why anyone advertising themselves as an SL tattoo artist could not hand draw the very simple design that is my tattoo instead of relying on images which clearly did not meet their needs. But placing that aside, why was this item created in the first place when I was just making an inquiry? And why is this particular content creator so satisfied with passing off what was clearly a terrible product? Have other SLers had similarly awful cutom experiences, or am I just unusually unlucky? And furthermore, exactly where does one go to get a good custom tattoo where this is guaranteed not to happen?

Enlighten me.


October 3, 2007. custom, discussion.


  1. Annie Boccio replied:

    I haven’t experienced this in SL but I’ve often been amazed at the crap some people pass off as “professional graphic design.” I don’t get it either. When I design something I want to be able to point back at it with pride, not just make a quick buck. And that trick of doing the design based on an inquiry is just that- a trick. With no contract you don’t owe a dime- or a Linden I guess in this case!

  2. Crap Mariner replied:

    Hold on… let me flip a coin…

  3. Annyka replied:

    That’s just nuts. I couldn’t imagine doing business like that. I suppose in a place like SL, anybody can just hang a shingle and call themselves a professionals without any idea of common business practices.

    Even if the final product was acceptible quality, she had no business going ahead with the work without contacting you first. That’s like the windshield washer’s business model: Do the work first and unasked for, then guilt the customer into paying you.

    You shouldn’t have paid her anything. You weren’t in any way obligated.

  4. Ana Boogiewoogie replied:

    I had an experiance with this. Which is why I began creating things for myself if I wanted them. The best thing to do is research every single tattoo artist/clothing artist you plan on getting customs from. If you dislike noise and blurred, go for a hand drawn artist. (100% hand drawn to gurentee quality!) If you don’t mind photosourced, then go for it! Although, personally, I am against it! Though, if you want quality, always remember.. RESEARCH! 😀

  5. The Diva replied:

    Call me – I got connections 😉

  6. Annyka replied:

    I’m curious how much this woman was charging for this service. I actually considered for a minute doing custom work, but then I thought again, and realized that even to just scan a picture and clean it up to satisfactory quality, make the texture, upload, etc. etc would probably take something like an an hour altogether. Now for someone planning on selling dozens or even hundreds of copies at a real dollar or two apiece, this is a good investment of time, but for a one-off custom job, there is only the one fee.

    At US minimum wage, that’s about $L2000 for an hour of work. A more fair price would probably be about $L4000 to $L5000 and I’d double that for hand-drawn. And even higher for something hand-drawn and completely original. So I would think that for anything less than that, either the artist or the customer is getting ripped off. The only thing is, that kind of money seems hugely expensive in SL terms, so I’m curious as to what people are typically willing to pay for custom work.

    Now, another option for you, if all you really need is the photo of your design turned into a clean drawing and you don’t mind putting it on the clothes template in the forums of You’ll probably get dozens of really talented artists willing to do it for $10 to $20, and you can check their galleries first to see if they are any good

  7. Annyka replied:

    Eeep! I lost a whole half of a sentence on my post! The last paragragh issupposed to say:

    “if all you really need is the photo of your design turned into a clean drawing and you don’t mind putting it on the clothes template YOURSELF, THEN YOU MIGHT WANT TO POST A CLASSIFIED AD in the forums of”

  8. Madison Carnot replied:

    Unfortunately, for a simple design, the pricing you’re suggesting is way out of line with SL standards. I have bought entire hand drawn outfits for less than you are suggesting here. I’m not debating the validity of your logic, however it totally disregards the standards of the SL economy. The last time I paid $5000L for a custom anything, I had two people landscape an island complete with a custom built and scripted bridge.

    In the interest of protecting myself, I really don’t wish to share any details about the transaction beyond what I’ve already said. I think it was bad business, but I don’t wish to give any indicators that may point blame in any direction.

  9. Bianca Darling replied:

    I am actually currently working on bringing a RL tattoo artist into SL who will draw out custom designs by hand. He also KNOWS hes photoshop. He won’t be cheap by a long shot but he is one of the best in the best of San Diego, and works at Avalon 2 here in the city. Pay attention to the ASpiRE! blog to see when he is in. I think this will change the custom tattoo dilemma in SL in big way ;o)
    Bianca Darling

  10. Annyka replied:

    That’s exactly why I wouldnt go into custom design in SL. Its one thing making something special for friends, but once it becomes a business thing, then there are all sorts of real obligations and expectations. Its just not worth it for the few dollars that people are willing to pay.

  11. Annyka replied:

    Bianca, just out of curiosity, define “not cheap.” I would expect to pay a real life tattoo artist no less than $100 dollars for a handrawn design, that’s probably way low if he’s really good. But that will come out to about $25,000 Lindens for a single design.

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