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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Spotlight on Bryn Oh A Legend in the Second Life Art Community

It is an absolute pleasure to introduce you to Bryn Oh. Bryn Oh is the ghost artist of a Toronto oil painter. Her interest in virtual worlds began with an attempt to create an artist unaligned with an RL identity. The idea was to see if a pixel character could become successful and accepted as an artist in "real life" alongside flesh and blood ones. SLE was lucky enough to get some time with Bryn for an exclusive interview.

SLE:  Thank you for meeting with us for an interview. We understand you are busy and really appreciate the time to let our readers get to know more about you and your work.  

Bryn Oh: My pleasure.

SLE: Ok then, let's start out with the obvious facts. You obviously have a long list of accolades and accomplishments in real life as a well-accomplished artist with degrees in Fine Art and Design, being a recipient of the George A Reid award for painting. Can you tell us a little bit about your art background and what medium of art do you like the most?

Bryn Oh: I grew up loving art but my father, whose views were shaped from being an orphan, had the belief that art was a hobby and that I must have a stable job with a good income.   I ended up going to university for psychology and one day a roommate said to me “Why do you go to class then when you return home immediately go paint all night? Why didn’t you go to art school?”  And I had no answer to that and decided to apply to Canada’s top art school, and if I got accepted I would drop out of university and go there instead.  I was accepted and to the horror of my parents, I began the long road to being an artist.  After four years at OCAD I entered the world as an artist and immediately realized that I couldn’t pay rent.  So, freaking out,  I went back to school to learn computer animation and a program called Softimage XSI and Zbrush.  After this schooling, I had no idea what to do, but as fortune would have it I became represented by an art gallery in Toronto and spent years as an oil painter having a few exhibits a year and living off my paintings. Then one day I read an article about a virtual world where someone bought a condominium for $200,000 USD.  I felt this was insane and had to log into this world called Second Life and see what a virtual condominium was.. I have swept away with this virtual world and realized that the virtual medium was the medium of art for me.  It was not a snapshot in time such as a painting, nor was it like cinema where you are told a story but are a passive observer. This medium lets us be active participants in the artwork in an open-ended environment. And as it turned out the perfect combination of learning traditional art concepts combined with learning 3D computer programs set me up to thrive in Second Life. Personally, there is not a medium I enjoy most, I love drawing and painting and having something physical in my hands, but at the same time I love the idea of working on an emerging art medium or movement. There were the Impressionists, Cubists, Surrealists, Fauvists, and many more over art history.. and it's possible that I could be part of one I call the Immersivists and that, to me, is a rare and exciting opportunity as one of the first artists.

SLE: So great to hear you get your talents from your family, I love hearing that. Tell me, Second Life is the perfect platform to display your artistic skills and share them with a global audience. Can you tell me how Second Life impacted your real-life art career? 

Bryn Oh: Well so for example. When I would have an art exhibit with my paintings in real life, I would have two openings a year. At these openings there might be 300 – 400 visitors and each drinking wine with their backs to the paintings looking at each other.  This night was important as many of the sales happen then. People still come over the rest of the month, but that first night is very important.  I have had openings where there were snow storms and once a tornado threat, and it can be quite stressful to work for six months on a show and need it to do well because there are hundreds of other artists who would love to take your spot at the gallery, and then have a storm keeps people away.  To compare, when I open an exhibit for my work in Second Life there often will be 40,000 visitors from around the world to see it over the course of the exhibit, not local Toronto people.  The weather doesn’t matter and often opportunities arise such as interviews with Vogue or Museum exhibitions, even a course created around my artwork being taught in a university.  Perhaps the biggest impact is being able to receive various Government art grants to support my artistic pursuits. 

SLE: Those that don't know about the business never really think of the Government grants as something to help boost your pursuits great point for those looking for assistance. People from all walks of life come to SL for a variety of reasons so there is no right or wrong answer to this question.  Would you consider Second Life an extension of your real life?

Bryn Oh: Yes certainly it is.  It is all “real” but people decide on the degree of sharing they wish to give.  Second Life is very creative and advanced social media platform not unlike Facebook, but rather than pages we are people, and instead of cursors, we have fancy avatars.  We inhabit the virtual world and design our avatars to be personal representations of how we see ourselves.  Each person can be creative in this manner and overall second life is far more of a creative space than any other social media that I can think of.

SLE: So, aside from RL and SL Art exhibitions, you have been featured in multiple publications ranging from media sources to University publications and awards since as far back as 2006. Can you tell us which ones mean the most to you?

Bryn Oh: I have received government grants from the Ontario Arts Council which were rewarding, but the first one meant a lot because I had been questioning myself about my decision to pursue my virtual work.  It is not a lucrative decision and on top of that, much like photography when it emerged, it takes a long time for people to accept it as an art form.  There is a lot of resistance from curators stuck in their ways or with limited vision and it can make you question yourself.  The grants legitimized what I already knew to be true and encouraged me to move forward.  The university course on the art of Bryn oh is equal to that for the reason that when I was in art school I would learn about artists and my dream was to be mentioned one day too.  So the idea that students are sitting in a class learning about my art is bizarre and rewarding.

SLE: You have been sharing your talent in Second Life for many years. Can you share with our readers what inspires the art you exhibit in SL?

Bryn Oh: My art is a long narrative.  It is almost like a diary where the characters and events represent things in my own life.   My artistic focus is on the way modern society is affected by technology, ranging between human/machine and machine/machine relationships.  Often we consider technology to open channels for people to interact and engage socially, however, the opposite can occur where people become isolated within their own personal bubble, separate and witnessing the world from a distance almost as a product with brittle popularity.  My work expresses a yearning for meaningful connections within the new technological realm that often contains human remoteness.   I build virtual reality environments that convey the juxtapositions between human emotion and machine sentience. I combine poetry with a melancholy narrative that explores the themes of connection and belonging.

SLE: Like with so many other businesses affected by the pandemic, it must be difficult to host real word exhibitions. How has it affected you and your career? How have you been able to continue to do what you love and share your work in real life?  

Bryn Oh: It has been challenging as there have been no real-world exhibits, which can make it tricky to find income.  I am fortunate in that my medium is not greatly affected by the pandemic and people have supported me through my Patreon and with the sale of commissions.  Interestingly I have discovered that people will see paintings and drawings from my Instagram and purchase them.  Some things dry up and others appear and I kind of adapt.

SLE: Adaptation is a form of art in itself I believe. Second Life is picking up with activity since the start of the pandemic, especially with musicians. Do you see this same pattern in the SL art culture? 

Bryn Oh: No not really. If I was to give a theory I would say that with music the artist arrives in second life possessing their talent already, where it takes a period of learning before new artists begin to build great work.  It can take years to become proficient with 3D so maybe we might see new artists just starting to emerge now.

SLE: Your name is well known in the SL art community. What advice would you give to new artists wanting to showcase their work? Are you part of any groups that encourage the arts in SL?

Bryn Oh: When I first came to second life I would build on sandboxes and make friends with other artists there.  I remember building on IBM sandbox beside an artist named AM Radio who was quite popular at the time.  I think the SLEA has a sandbox and it’s a good spot to see what other artists are creating too.  They also have links to various art galleries.  An active and encouraging private sim you could try is called Sinful Retreat run by Chuck Clip and Fallenaurora Jewell.  They have put a huge amount of time into creating a dynamic art space for all to enjoy.  Nitroglobus gallery is run by Dido Haas and a good spot to try as well.  There are too many places to list here really.  I will try post art openings in my group Immersiva too.

SLE:  Your blog ( ) features updates and blog posts to keep your audience engaged. How else do you engage with your followers?

Bryn Oh: Through my group Immersiva, on my Instagram and Facebook.

SLE: You are also a member of  It is a platform for artists to showcase their work and changes the way art is valued.  Your personal Patreon page is Can you tell us a little about how it has benefitted you and your work? 

Bryn Oh: Patreon has been nice in that people can donate towards helping me pay tier for my sim.  Often people tell me they want to support me and don’t know how and Patreon has given me a place to point them towards.  Essentially they sign up and pay a $5 monthly donation and in exchange, they help my career and also get to see things I post for them.  So for example I might post videos or sketches or paintings.  Recently I put up an NFT just for the group.

SLE: It has been a pleasure interviewing you and hope the best for you and your continued success. Do you have any exhibitions or art shows coming up in SL?

Bryn Oh: I will have a new exhibit opening in a month or so on Immersiva called the Brittle Epoch.  Other than that Linden Lab has given me two sims to use as Gateway regions for new users.  One has the artwork “Hand” and the second I am using to bring back a story called the Singularity of Kumiko.  They are both close to being ready and I will announce it in my group, blog, etc.

SLE: Your love of art is apparent and we wanted to congratulate you on all your accomplishments. Thank you for bringing your talent and visions into Second Life. It inspires many.  Before we end this interview, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Bryn Oh: Thank you for your generous words, I appreciate your interest in what I do.  I can’t think of anything else to share.

Additional Information:

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