Meet our World Builders – Lauren Thibaud

Interview by Dagmar Haiku

Lauren Thibaud is a Faire Elder. I think that is an appropriate title to give her for all she has done in helping to grow the Fantasy Faire to what it has now become in its fourth year of existence. Lauren is an original member of Friends Fighting Cancer, the Relay for Life team that produces Fantasy Faire. She, along with FFC Captain Ember Farina and Co-captain Zander Greene, were the three who together predominately made the first Fantasy Faire happen.

Often found working on projects with Zander, her long time build partner, she has been involved in building for Fantasy Faire, Relay for Life, and several Universities. Pulling on her Real Life experience as an interior designer, Lauren also builds and sells furniture and decorations in her own store. A talented builder with an eye for creatively using and combining textures, Lauren’s vision for Devil’s Locket shines with eclectic brilliance.

1. How did you get first get involved with Friends Fighting Cancer and the Fantasy Faire?

I’ve been with Fantasy Faire since its conception by our Relay for Life team captain Ember Farina. That first year Ember had an idea of reaching out to the fantasy community with an event that would bring them all together for a week of shopping and concerts that were geared just to them- something that had never been done before. We were a very small and new team with big ideas and I feel lucky to have been a part of it from the start. We still sometimes call ourselves “the scrappy little team” although our numbers have grown amazingly since then. I think the idea of us being scrappy related to those people who told us there was no way we could pull off a 9 sim event that year with only a couple of designers and Ember as our administrator. We did, and now I couldn’t be happier that the Faire has become such a wonderful time that lots of people look forward to all year.

When I  arrived in Second Life I met someone the first week who became a dear friend. When he asked me if I knew about the Relay for Life,  I said that I did but was surprised to hear that there was an active RFL here. He brought me to a meeting for Friends Fighting Cancer and I’ve been with the group ever since. I asked Zander if he’d be interested, and he joined too. That year we were asked  to help create the team’s campsite for the relay. Friends Fighting Cancer was the very first group I joined; the people may have changed a bit but the spirit of our  group is what keeps me involved.

2. Do you remember why you joined Second Life? Did you plan to become a builder here? Do you remember the first item you sold?

I kept hearing about interactive online environments- I thought if  it was possible to bring your own work into such an environment that it would be a perfect venue for walking my clients through renovations so they could visualize changes before they committed. A great deal of my work is drawing up perspectives and elevations (the old way on a drafting table) and there’s a limit to what you can show in a 2-dimensional work. I had some CAD experience so I thought to give it a try. It was a great success- not just for the ability to walk through a room or home in real time, but for fast changes that those trial runs brought up as necessary. I didn’t plan to be a builder here for the SL community at first but friends I made here pushed me to do it. I’m so glad they did!  I met Zander when I bought a plot of land next to his- he had a great open space castle the likes of which I’d never seen with gorgeous landscaping. He watched me building my first house and asked me to team up with him. We’ve been great friends and build partners ever since. Our collaboration on a club was the first thing I got paid for- my store came about a year later. That club is still one of my favorite builds of all time; sadly it’s no longer on the grid.

3. What inspires your designs?

I am mostly drawn to the idea of evolution and necessary change. The best elements of things stay, the unusable and outmoded get discarded. I love primitive art because it appeals to a visceral or subconscious part of me; I love the ultra modern because it pares it all down to that. When I can mix those principles of new and old I feel  like I’ve done a good job for the day.

4. In your own store most items are very realistic and in your profile you also write that you adapt designs you created in real life. How do you merge your interest in realistic recreations with building the Fantasy Faire sims ?

I have things in the store from real life designs that had to be created in order to complete a walk-through, and those are a good base to start from. When I began working in  Second Life I was sort of stuck in the idea of reality- my houses had to have working kitchens and bathrooms which I have now completely abandoned, although if someone wants them I can create just what they imagine. I think if you want to iron and fold clothes here you might be a little crazy, although coming in to design homes and furniture has gotten me accused of being on a “busman’s holiday” more than once. To be able to work here while disregarding laws of nature and gravity is very, very enjoyable! When you are called to create a fantasy sim, it can be hard at first, but once into it you find yourself firing on all cylinders. One idea leads to another, and then what if- and you go on and on.

5. The name of the sim you are going to build this year is Devil’s Locket. Do you already know how the sim will look like? And what was your inspiration for the build?

I was asked to create a build again this year; I’m one of only a few “staff ” builders who won’t also be the sponsor of the sim. I have been campaigning for a steampunk sim from the first year, and we were finally able to add one in 2011. To be asked to create the steampunk sim for 2012 was a big thrill for me, and even though I was given an additional requirement of a desert theme I knew it could be fantastic. I liked the idea of an oasis. My ever-present theme of old and new brought me to an old mining town with a population of people living amongst ancient architectural styles now reworked in pipes and metals, and then sinking it into the water was just good fun. The name reminds me of locks in a manmade canal- but also of secrets, treasure and danger if you can withstand the tests to their discovery.

6. Coming into your fourth year, you must have many Fantasy Faire memories, what are some of your favorite Faire moments? What are you looking forward for Fantasy Faire 2012?

Thinking back on those Faires past is so bittersweet- we love the time we have there- then it goes by so quickly and  no one wants to pack up and go. There are moments every day that are so special and bring me to tears thinking of them all. I remember when the dragons came- we all cried when one beautiful lady dragon bowed to everyone on the stage. Seeing the doors open and watching the dots on the map when everyone is at a fever pitch waiting to arrive on the first day, and I remember a crazy man running through the sims with a shopping cart. Getting monkey hugs and draggie kisses….One of the DJ’s playing “That’s What Friends are For” at the end of a set…and  meeting new ones- and always the tinies- anything they do, whether it’s an impromptu dance party or a jail and bail is sure to have us in a collective puddle by the end. I love it all. If this Faire is like all those past I’m sure we will take away more memories just as special.

7.  Fantasy Faire is an excellent way to educate and inform people about RFL. What would you like to see people take away from the Fantasy Faire? And why do you Relay?

I’d love to see designers and event planners from other walks of Second Life come and be inspired  by what we do- there are so many other fields in SL that haven’t been tapped yet as a way to fundraise, and above all make it fun. I’d like our process of dealing with designers and merchants to become the status quo for event planners and have them realize that getting stores out to merchants ahead of time and in the actual orientation of their store on the event sim means more money saved and that much more to go to the cause- stamping out cancer in our lifetime.

Why do I Relay? Because my mother has a memory for dates. She was always reminding us of anniversaries -both happy and sad. We’d say a prayer for her aunt- her grandmother- a cousin to honor the day they had died. As a child I  prayed for people I’d never known, but when I grew older death became more of a reality. I lost my grandfather, my grandmother, a 7 year old cousin, then my mother’s sister-  my godmother. Next an uncle -then another. The family on my mother’s side dwindled- and always to this same enemy- Cancer. It wasn’t just one kind, either. The variety of them was unbelievable. One had lung cancer. Another had a malignant brain tumor- they developed leukemia and colon cancer. The thing about my mother’s family was that they were all dying from it- but there wasn’t one I could hold onto and claim as “my family’s cancer”. We got them all. Then my dad told us that he had leukemia- and not long after that he found out he had prostate cancer too. “Don’t worry” he said- “they are just conditions- not life threatening.” And it was true- his cancers were managed well- when he died it was his heart that failed after all; but we wondered what the stress of those conditions had added. Today I don’t look at cancer as something in my family’s history- I see it as my own and my siblings future. We have the legacy. I Relay to save their lives, their children’s lives, and my own.

Thank you Lauren for the sharing your thoughts and creativity with us.

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