Introducing Monica Balut

You may have guessed from the blog title that I’m Monica Balut. I’m a SecondLife avatar. I’ve been in SecondLife since February 10, 2007. I’m just as excited by it world today as the first day I joined. This wonderful virtual world has provided me a medium in which to learn new skills, meet new people and explore new “career paths”. Where else could could I become a teleporter tycoon and a fashion model?

I spent my first year doing all the usual newbie things. In addition, I learned how to build my own house and I learned how to write scripts, those computer program in SL that give life to objects. My goal for the first year was to become economically self sufficient in SL, that is, to not have to put in any RL money to support myself. I created the Beam-Me line of teleporters that gave me a solid source of income. I still sell these in my shop at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sekmet/171/241/61/.

On a whim one day, I signed up with the Face-2-Face Modeling Agency to take modeling classes. I was immediately addicted! It’s something I had always dreamed of doing. But, just as importantly, it pushed me into having to learn a whole new set of skills like coordination, adjusting to the changing circumstances of the moment, art, and of course, a greater fashion awareness. My real life motto is “Life is not worth living unless I can learn something new each day”. SL, and particularly modeling, has certainly provided me with that opportunity.

Monica Balut - Closeup39

After graduating from two more academies (Instyle (now Uvogue) and Ewing) by mid summer 2008, I started out in my career as a SL model. I began looking for a job as a runway model. Not knowing it at the time, it turns out that I did this the complete opposite from the way most models do it. Most models start with store modeling and out of that comes photo modeling and then runway modeling. I instead followed what I wanted to do, and that was to be a top notch runway model. I viewed that as the most challenging and exciting. When it comes to standing around a store, I’d prefer to watch paint dry.

Of course, convincing an agency CEO or other management to hire you just out of school is a daunting task. Everyone wants experience but very few are willing to give you a chance to gain that experience. One thing about me is that I’m persistent. Despite many discouraging rejections, I kept at it. One day, I walked into Duettmann and Fraenkel and just happen to run into Helke Duettmann. She saw my enthusiasm for the work and was willing to give me a chance. I also learned a lot by watching Nash Fraenkel put on a show. Duettmann and Fraenkel no longer exists as an agency, but I will be forever grateful to Helke and Nash for my first break.

Shortly afterward I got a second break with the Miramar Modeling Agency. Miguel Rotunno and Shalimar Novi took me on as a model and I was quickly doing shows with them. I continue with them to this day.

While getting started as a runway model, I of course searched SL for the necessary equipment to play my modeling poses on the runway. I tried the Huddles Quickpose and the Runway Kidz HUD, but found them rather primitive. I know that many models played their poses “manually” by just opening the animation and playing it. All that seemed so primitive and unnecessarily burdensome. I started getting ideas of what I wanted to see in a complete HUD to manage my runway work.

I wanted one HUD object that would do it all … manage my walks, my default stands and all of my poses. I was never inclined to want to count time. Besides the computer is much better at keeping time than I could ever be. I wanted my Runway HUD to do as much of the work as possible so I could concentrate on the art of modeling rather than the drudgery. After four months of scripting work I released The Balut Runway HUD for general sale at the end of November, 2008.

It’s been a great success and has gotten excellent reviews as a reliable, lag friendly, tool to manage your runway routine. It’s even great for store modeling and photo modeling.

I next decided to create a pose playing HUD that would be direct competition to the Huddles Quickpose. Although The Balut Runway HUD is a complete and powerful device, it does take some work to get it set up. Many newer models are overwhelmed by that and want something simple to set up. The Huddles Quickpose is indeed simple to set up although limited in functionality. Also it is sold as a no copy item, requiring you to buy several of them for different occasions.

The Balut EasyPose HUD does everything that Quickpose does and more, and it can be copied. Coupled with the Balut MultiWalk Replacer, it can be a very good solution to one’s modeling needs. I sell all these products at the Model’s Workshop Boutique at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sekmet/154/244/61/

Monica Balut - FullStand12

All of these scripting projects kept me pretty busy through the winter of 2009. During that time my modeling career was picking up speed as I gained a reputation for being a hard working, reliable team player wherever I worked. I considered taking more courses with other agencies during this time, but I was rather “schooled out”. I knew there was still a lot I could learn, but going to a formal school just didn’t appeal to me any more.

I’ve always believed in the collective power of a group of people. There’s always someone who knows something I don’t know and I’m sure the same is true for all of us. What if I could get a group of people together who would be willing to share what they know with the others in the group? I began talking with people about the idea and got generally good feedback and encouragement.

In February, 2009, I gathered together a group of my friends for a workshop about hair led by my friend Melinda Jensen who I had met at Miramar. Out of that came the Model’s Workshop group. See http://modelsworkshop.wordpress.com/. The group has been a phenomenal success, beyond my wildest dreams. It now boasts of a membership of 160 people. We have held a workshop or activity on one aspect or another of modeling every week since then.

A lot of people have contributed to the Workshop’s success, foremost among these has been Herradura Baar. The Workshop would only be a shell of what it is today without Herra. She has more energy and ideas than anyone I know. I could name countless others who have contributed in one way or another to this project, but that would take up way too much space. Needless to say, my belief that people are willing to help each other in a shared interest has been validated many times over.

My teacher and mentor at Ewing, Tiffany Dragonash, use to impress upon us the importance of networking within the fashion industry. I quickly learned that who you know is just as important as what you know in this field. The Workshop has also provided a forum for people to get to know each other. I personally have developed more good friends out of the Workshop than I ever dreamed.

It also has fulfilled my dream of being a supportive environment where people can grow. The Workshop is now approaching its eighth month of existence, and I still manage to learn something new from my colleagues every week. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” If you would like to join the Model’s Workshop group, you can do so at secondlife:///app/group/0b48687e-b400-6d60-5547-48b114c49c8c/about

Modeling has been one of the most difficult things I have attempted in SecondLife. It seems like everyone and her aunt wants to be a SL model. The huge number of aspiring models coupled with limited opportunities makes this a very competitive field. The financial investment is also pretty dear. You need an infinite supply of skins, hair, shoes, jewelry, clothes, to say nothing of that perfect shape.

Some people have had some RL modeling experience. Many people have a well developed sense of fashion. Many have excellent innate artistic skills. Those were not areas where I had much RL experience or innate ability. So my learning curve was perhaps steeper than others’. I am no more intelligent than most other people in SL. SecondLife is filled with intelligent and gifted people. What I do have is persistence, passion, confidence and a joy for learning and taking on new challenges. That more than anything has gotten me where I am today.

Personality is also an important factor. If you are going to succeed as a SL model, you have to know how to get along with people and be a team player. I’m no great socialite. I do treat people fairly and try to be helpful, and most of all stay away from drama at all cost. Remember, it’s about getting along and not about winning.

Monica Balut - Swimsuit04

My advice to those who want to get into this field: follow your passion. Do it because you love doing it. You will spend far more money than you ever make in this field, so money can’t be the motivator. If you have a fragile ego and can’t deal with rejection, this may not be the place for you. At the very least it will give you many opportunities to confront your limitations. Do what you love to do. Be nice to people and help them when you can. Avoid the drama. Most of all be persistent. Persistence is perhaps the most important quality of those who succeed at realizing their dream.

Lately my modeling career has been picking up speed. I am an active model with a number of reputable agencies including Opium, UVogue, Jenna Coppola Studios, TOMA, Timeless, Face-2-Face, Miramar. I’m an instructor at the SuperElite Fashion Academy. I continue to do photo modeling for 3 Star Designs.

Well, that’s the story of my SL life. Where do I go from here? I’m still working toward being a better model in SL. I’d like to earn more L$ with things I create. I want to became a better SL photographer including beefing up my Photoshop skills and becoming more competent at using my PhotoLife studio. I’d love to learn how to make animations. Most of all, I want to have fun. Now that I’ve finally gotten this blog going, I hope to add to it from time to time. I’m not sure where all this will take me, but I’m sure the journey will be fun.

By the way, if you’re interested in knowing more about me, I try to keep my resume current at

http://www.flickr.com/people/monicabalut/

and my portfolio at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/monicabalut/.

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~ by monicabalut on September 22, 2009.

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