Official Statement

October 26, 2008

Yesterday GREENE concept in general and me in person got accused by a former contractor of “ripping off” her designs. The person set a 24 hour ultimatum and threatened to take the issue to the public if we do not take down the allegedly ripped off work. For reasons unknown she decided to take the issue to the public only 6 hours later (give or take due to timezone conversions and Daylight Saving time switch this night). As much as I would prefer to not comment this issue at all, the public defaming of the GREENE concept brand and the work of a contractor and friend requires an official answer.

Important: the allegations were for the advertising images only, and not – as some people already thought – for the furniture itself!

Timeline of events:

  • In June I asked said person if she wants to become product photographer for GREENE concept
  • On June 21 I received a commercial proposal from her, outlining the work she intends to do and a price for her services. This price was beyond the budget we had for GREENE concept, and I made a counter offer. This counter-offer resulted in her offering her services for free: “I would like to be the official photographer for Greene concept, at no charge to you guys. In exchange you have to tell everyone I made your pictures; how good my service is; how satisfied with my work and customer service you are (that is if you are really satisfied); and that you would highly recommend my services (if you really would).
  • Our official reply to this was: “I’m very pleased with you becoming the official photographer, however
    I would at least want to cover the upload charges AND want to grant you free picks from our items whenever you want some for your personal use. However please keep in mind that – even though it does not look like it right now – GC might generate substantial revenues in the future. Therefore I would suggest we revisit this agreement in – say – 6 months?
  • Her answer to this was: “Again, I can totally do this at no charge, and I agree formalities are not needed.
  • The advertising photographs were developed in close communication with me, with samples going back and forth. I received a lot of prototypes, and new prototypes were usually based on direct feedback and suggestions by me. A very good example is the product display for the Berlin sofa, where the designer initially only had one image in the center, but the second closeup and the person sitting on the sofa was a direct request by me, which I illustrated with my own doodle. In fact, the designer initially refused the idea of having a person sitting on the furniture at all.
  • As per agreement we received full-mod textures in-world as well as PNG images via email. On several occasions the images needed to be altered by myself – all cases were acknowledged as being in my room for decision by the designer. In one case she even specifically asked me to do some changes as she had no time to do them.
  • In August, the commercial agreement got rediscussed, and a price for the photographs was agreed upon. The first payment of 1130 L$ was made on August 18.
  • On September 10 the designer resigned without explanation. Her resignation consists only of 7 words: “Please find another photographer for Greene Concept.“. My counter question if any payments or issues were still open never got answered.
  • On October 2 we announced Trinity Dechou as new product photographer. During the preceeding weeks we were without a photographer and could not bring the Halloween products to market due to lack of decent product photos. As the Halloween preparations were in full swing since mid September we missed out on two weeks of potential sales due to that fact.
  • Already on October 1 the first images using Trinity’s design work got published on the blog and on Flickr – also to a group said person is founder/administrator of.
  • The task given to Trinity was to “bring the product images to the next level”. As the existing designs were made as requested, guided contractual work and were developed in close cooperation with me, no problems were expected to base the new design on the existing one. However a few new requests were made, the two major ones being to show more details of the intricate fabric textures and to show the products in a home/office environment.
  • On October 25 I received an email from the former designer, accusing GREENE concept and myself to have “ripped off” her designs. The email contained a threat and an ultimatum: “You have 24 hours counting from right now 11:30 am SLT to remove those pictures from your store, if you don’t I will publish a copy on Flickr and Plurk and let people judge whether they are rip off or not.
  • Upon reciept I contacted Trinity and tried to contact Ivanova. The former designer is well aware of timezone difficulties, and also knows that Ivanova is almost never available during the weekend. We came to the conclusion that her allegations had no basis, and since Trinity got inherently accused, we decided that it was best that she asks ‘from designer to designer’ which parts she felt had been “ripped”. Trinity sent an email saying “As the newly appointed GREENE concept designer I would like to know where you feel the images have been ‘ripped off’. ALL images were reshot by myself, evident in the different angles in Berlin shots and the times on the clocks. The only continuity I see in your designs and my designs are the logo (designed by Ike) and the products (owned by GC). I now ask for your professional explanation as to how my designs are stolen from yours.” This email was sent about 2 hours after the initial email.
  • About 4 hours later and in fact closely after I went to bed (as said person is aware of) she decided to disregard her own 24 hour ultimatum and went public with her allegation on Plurk and Flickr, quickly getting a lot of sympathetic comments. She also claimed “I sent an email to Peter asking to have the pictures removed and the only response I received was an e-mail from Trinity. The message I received was that I was wrong, and that Peter was not going to answer to me.” which does not reflect the facts. Neither did Trinity or myself say I would not reply, nor did Trinity’s reply say she was wrong by default.

I deeply regret that this issue became so emotional. I am sorry the designer feels she got “ripped off”, however I am convinced her claims do not stand up to inspection. It is only natural that even a virtual company gives the branding aspect a big significance. As we have ordered and very closely influenced the design of the former photographer, as we have also paid for it, partly modified it ourselves, we see ourselves as the owner of the work. It is only natural that a design evolution gets based on existing foundations. We also think that Trinity’s new design exceeds the initial design in all aspects. This is not to say the initial design was bad – it is just natural to develop the concept further. On the other hand a photographer who stops to work for a company can not assume that this company will relaunch itself with a completely new visual concept after that.

I am deeply convinced that we did not “rip her off”, and the unprofessional manner in which she has handled this issue makes me sad. I would have preferred a personal discussion about this instead of public accusations. Unfortunately I was not given that chance.

Below please find a side by side comparison of her designs (left) and our new designs (right). I think this neutral comparison should bury all allegations.

With the position of our photographer having become vacant, we looked who among the people whose works we know might be suitable to ask, and very quickly decided that Trinity would be the perfect candidate. She was both excited and reluctant at that offer, due to her time constrains. But after a long time of consideration she finally agreed.

“Having been a long time supporter of the GREENE Concept, concept, I was thrilled to be asked to take over the design of product imagery. With such a range of innovative products and the appointment of a new designer, I discussed the idea of updating the product designs and taking them to the next level. The impending Halloween Specials allowed me to test a few different design treatments.

I am no stranger to the original product designs and subsequently I found it a little difficult to steer the newer designs away from that look. I decided at this stage to take a step back, speak to Peter and reassess what the brand wanted to portray.

Many issues face product images; for instance the constraints that SecondLife/ XStreetSL/ OnRez place on them. OnRez for instance forces square image listings, therefore a landscape or portrait shot appears squashed. It’s a rather annoying, yet unfortunate fact of life. So at this stage I designed a square template. It will not be squashed online and is also straight 1:1 proportion in-world.

Obviously GREENE Concept prides itself on low prim sculpt furnishings, that speaks for itself in the images. I wanted to draw attention to other main key elements in the GREENE Concept range. Firstly the wonderful variation of sit poses and how these products look in situ and secondly, the amazingly detailed hand drawn textures on all of these products.

From here the new design template was confirmed and now the update of older image shots begins over the coming weeks.”

As our San Jose informal meeting couch/sofa is released and available for purchase, I wanted to make a post with a picture of all the different colors here.

San Jose color swatch

These are all twelve designs we have available. There are a variety of colors. Hopefully, we have enough to please most people. They were a joy to make. 🙂

Cumulative details

June 3, 2008

I am back from my vacation. And I spent all Sunday lazing around recovering from my vacation. Playing can be so taxing.

We are changing and adding some fine little details on our San Jose sofa and the Berlin sofa. We’re fine tuning things like the shadow plane of the sofas for realism, randomly changing the animations on each sit position, and some other small features to make using them easy for the customer. Peter asked me on one or two of the details whether anyone would notice them. My reply was that while one or two small details might go unnoticed, everything we make will have an overall look and aesthetic feel that is the sum of all the details, no matter how small, that we will put into it.
We don’t think perfection, or as close to it as you can get, is too much to ask when it comes to item creation in Second Life. The L$ price tag you find on most things in SL may not be much in real life value, but you’re still asking someone to spend their money for your products. We will expect customers to expect high quality.
We hired a Second Life graphic designer to help us come up with a logo. His first draft design is, in my opinion, a stroke of inspired artistry. It felt good to be striving for a quality product and to receive a quality product from someone else.

Logo Design

June 1, 2008

Now that Ivanova is refreshing herself on a well deserved vacation, I focused a bit on logo design. I tinkered a little bit myself, but I also asked a graphics designer for some suggestions. Let’s hear which one you like best.

Anticipation

May 20, 2008

This is so exciting for me. Every day we are getting positive comments from different friends and associates, and constructive criticism from friends with a variety of tastes.
I have to admit, when I first began designing a 270 degree circular, backless couch. I had no idea how well received the San Jose might be. It just seemed like a nice idea to have a single seating solution that allowed a number of avatars to face each other in a sociable setting. A seven prim couch that can seat five avatars is a bit more useful than I first believed.
One of our working conventions is the creation of quality, low prim furniture. The use of sculpts to this end has led to me to consider the best creative use of them. Should we find ourselves looking at a target market allowing freer use of higher prim counts, I realized today that this practice will increase the skill with which we can create very detailed products more quickly.

Thank you all for your input and friendship.

And I’d like to announce that, thanks to Elusyve Jewell, I now have toast.

Pretty rust

May 19, 2008

[13:36] Ivanova Shostakovich: What about a rusty texture for the handle?
[13:36] Peter Stindberg: mhmm
[13:36] Peter Stindberg: The idea is not bad
[13:37] Peter Stindberg: Of course it must not look rusty
[13:37] Ivanova Shostakovich: I know what you mean. It has to be a pretty rust.
[13:37] Peter Stindberg: 🙂
[13:37] Peter Stindberg: Shiny rust!
[13:37] Peter Stindberg: Smooth rust!
[13:38] Peter Stindberg: lol, I’ll put this dialogue on the blog!
[13:38] Ivanova Shostakovich: Trust in Rust!