Filthy Fluno: An Artist's Life in Second Life™ and Virtual Art Exhibition Opening

The Interactive Media Design Center hosted Jeff Lipsky (aka Filthy Fluno) at a guest speaker event March 25, 2010 in the Center for the Arts at Towson University. Criselle Anderson, an IAMD student, records her reaction to the event. Filthy Fluno is currently exhibiting his work on the Towson Innovation Lab island in Second Life.

Artist Jeff Lipsky has successfully merged his real life art into Second Life artistic success. As someone new to SL, it's hard to believe the amount of time Lipsky spends in his virtual art world. The link between the virtual and tangible world separates SL from other virtual worlds such as World of War Craft. WWC users can spend an infinite amount of time but make limited connections with the tangible world other than playing the game online with other users. In Second Life, users can make own land, interact with other users on an intimate level and make transactions with real money. Jeff Lipsky's SL avatar, Filthy Fluno, has an outrageous look that is the complete opposite of the artists appearance. It is incredible to learn that a profit can be made from selling art in the SL sizable enough that Lipsky resigned at the director of a art non-profit to work on Second Life and his art full time. As an artist, Lipsky has bridged that gap between selling virtual art and selling tangible pieces. According to the article in the New York Times, Lipsky experienced the same roadblocks that artists young and old run into, "Before creating and inhabiting Filthy, Jeffrey Lipsky had little luck working his way into the inelastic hierarchy of art dealers, critics and high-end galleries who sparingly turn painters into stars. But transferred to the Internet, elitism is little more than a poor business practice."(3) His model selling in the real and virtual world should be an influential to artists looking for non-traditional way to promote their artwork. Skeptical of articles about people making substantial amounts of money from SL, Lipsky has proven that can be the case. I have read articles in the past about people making real money in the virtual world but thought it was a small amount and in no way could support someone like it has in Lipsky's case. His lecture was a interesting way of conveying issues of surrounding Web 2.0 and the arts community as well as general issues about artistic promotion in the 21st century.

Second Life's virtual world has technological limitations but are out-weighed by the possibilities of SL that Lipsky demonstrated in his lecture. For artists it is important to seek new ways to promote their art and artistic promotion through SL is new option. Sara Corbett, writer for the New York Times sums up the opportunity that Second Life provides for artistic promotion, "Every day he makes new friends and cultivates new contacts, edging himself and his work — a collection of expressionistic oil paintings and vibrant, graffiti-laced pastels — just a little bit farther into a universe that to others might appear huge and indifferent, but as Filthy sees it is stuffed with possibility and also potential customers.
To this end, you will often find him wandering around art openings and dance parties, dressed in a spiffy suit and pair of sneakers, trying earnestly to chat up every person in the room." (3) Anyone seeking to promote their creations whether it is music, writing or ideas seeking a new way to promote their art can find using SL as a promotion tool is liberating way to rid themselves of the middle-man. The creator can directly approach audience without a gallery or agent 24/7 on SL. Second Life and the example of Lipsky's avatar, Filthy Fluno, presents a new way for artists to promote their art to span time and distance reach new audiences potentially every time she or he logs on.

Criselle Anderson is a Paralegal by day and an artist by night. She is a MFA candidate in Towson University's Art Studio Program as well as a student in the Interactive Media Design graduate certificate program. She believes that being artist means that you are always open to new experiences.

1. Lipsky, Jeff. "Flithy Fluno aka Jeff Lipsky: An Artist's Life in Second Life." Towson University. Towson, 25 March 2010.

2. Lipsky, Jeff. "The Adventures of Filthy Fluno." 2008. http://filthyfluno.blogspot.com. (accessed April 2, 2010)

3. Corbett , Sara. "Portrait of an Artist as an Avatar." New York Times. (March 9, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/news/09iht-08flunot.20688654.html?_r=1