Travel Bloggers and their Avatars (05) – Hats – Mark Sukhija


No distractions please!

Is what I wrote in my prior post in this series where I summarized som some rules of thumb for great avatars.

Hats can create devastating shadows!

Here an example of a very distracting hat: You can’t see his eyes. Too much shadow overcast his eyes. No chance of recognizing him ever in a crowd.

I’ve met Mark Sukhija (@MarksTravels) in London during Travel Blog Camp last year. As his Twitter shorty says he is a “financial services exile”. In other words he used to be in a corporate cubicle of a well respected London based financial institution…

Now look at this portrait and tell me what do you think of the person without having met him and knowing from me he is a real nice and neat person with a typical London Financial District drawl?

Would it help showing his downsized portrait that he currently uses on Twitter?


Just interested to see your reaction.


Mark’s First reaction:

Mark's First Reaction

Perhaps I’m not supposed to be recognised in a crowd!;-)

A Super Curator about Development in Design

Really worthwhile this Master Class by Paola Antonelli, MoMa Curator of Architecture and Design.

The interaction for my recent interview for the community blog and my 10 Questions for Liz Wilson, got me thinking more clearly and enabled me to formulate better what I do here with this blog: Curating is what I do. In order to organize my thoughts a bit more on the subject, I might devote a couple of posts on the subject of curating, especially inspired by Liz who, as a former journalist who has seen all and done all, has some interesting thoughts on this subject.

Why then not start off with a key note by a super curator?

10 Questions For (44): “Paper” Liz Wilson

Continuing with Liz Wilson. I took the opportunity to ask for reciprocity when Liz asked me for an interview for the community blog of which has been published in the meantime: Happy Hotelier: Promote your business the Nice Way.


1) Who Are you?

I’m Liz Wilson, A Brit living in Switzerland – in Lausanne, on Lake Geneva. I’ve been here since 2004, since my husband moved his consultancy here from London. In my previous life I was a journalist, but nowadays I’m Staff Writer at and a freelance writer, editor, content curator and blogger.

When I’m not working I love hiking up Swiss mountains and reading -at the moment a novel in French by Marc Levy because I’m trying to improve! I enjoy everything to do with social media.

I have always worked with words and language, be it writing, editing or curating. As a Staff Writer at I interview members of our community which involves online research and connecting with a lot of interesting people – like your good self! That’s about half my week, and the rest is spent on different client projects – right now helping with a communication campaign for women leaders and editing an annual report for a multinational company and writing my two blogs.

2) What do you like about what you do?

I love anything to do with writing, editing, journalism, social media so my job doesn’t feel like work. Also the freedom of being a freelance. I also enjoy interacting with my colleagues at and my clients – all of them are a pleasure to work with.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?

I worry about the fallow periods when I’m not working at full capacity.

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.

Until September 2011 I had never really thought about blogging. I only started blogging then. I am still finding my way. My first blog, is a mish mash. I started writing about things to do with communications. I wasn’t very focused when I started it. It has been very useful in learning the need to focus and picking up WordPress skills.

I’ve just started a second blog, Curation Hub, on the topic of curation. I want to create a repository of useful information and resources for professionals. I’ll be blogging about tools, techniques, case studies, tips.


5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

  1. Riederalp, Switzerland. Small village in the Valais region at 2000m. Beautiful and silent. The people are incredibly welcoming.
  2. Jekyll Island, Georgia, US. One of the Golden Islands of Georgia – sandy beaches, bike trails and colonial architecture. I was there with a very special person.
  3. Vienna, Austria. Architecture, history, waltzes and Viennese coffee.

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

  1. Hotel Eilean Iarmain, on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Full of the atmosphere of Scotland.
  2. The George V Hotel, Paris, France. Grandeur, style, service, a sense of occasion – fun to visit once.
  3. Salina Maris Hotel, Moerel, Switzerland. Spa with wonderful hot salt water pools.

7) Your top 3 most memorable food / wine experiences to date and why?

  1. Dinner at Paul Bocuse’s restaurant in Lyon, France. Best beef I have ever eaten.
  2. Dinner at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (run by Raymond Blanc) in Oxfordshire, England. Special birthday!
  3. Christmas Eve dinner at home in Lausanne, Switzerland, every year. My husband cooks.

8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?

The thing is, I always manage to enjoy myself … I can’t think of any really bad experiences.

9) Can you offer the readers 3 destination/ food / accomodation / things to
do tips about the city you are currently living in?


  1. Walk: Lake Geneva path from Lausanne to Pully. Unparalelled lake/mountain views.
  2. Outing: Train Lausanne to Vevey and change to the Train des Vignes. Meander through the vineyards of the Lavaux UNESCO heritage area and drink a glass of Swiss wine.
  3. Tip: Beware of restaurant prices – they are fearsomely expensive. A good option is the Café de Grancy, near the station. They do brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?

Absolutely not! Just to say that I enjoy your blog and and if I find myself heading for the Netherlands I will certainly be looking both of them up.

My Take:

Thank you very much for this interview, Liz! I’m glad we’ve met and through the interviews learned a thing or two about you. Actually we have 3 interests in common:

  1. Vienna: It’s our premier holiday destination, also because my late mother in law was from Vienna
  2. The UN heritage Aletch Glacier area, albeit a different town and in a different season, see my Flickr sets about Bettmer Alp – The Better Alp and Villa Cassel
  3. Curating: See My Saga about Chair Blog – Tumblr and other Curating Tools. Am sure we will be in contact about this subject more!

Where you can find Liz Wilson:

Travel Bloggers and their Avatars (04) – Rules of Thumb – Thumbs Rule!


My thoughts about perfect Avatars

I’m an avid amateur photographer and look at the world wide web with the eye of a photographer or – as I sometimes say – through one of my lenses. From that point of view I sometimes like to comment on other people’s Avatar. Sometimes my comments may be a bit direct. Please bear in mind that such may be based on my Dutch directness. No offense meant, only some good humored pun to make a point.

Time to organize my thoughts a bit more.

Avatars are

Little thumbnails that come with websites. See for instance the little icon or favicon in the search part of your browser where you see the url. Next to the url you see a very small thumbnail that gives an indication whose website you’re on. I use my personal portrait and try to be consistent in using the same portrait on all sites where I can place my avatar. Be it on Twitter, FaceBook,, fora, Flickr or what you can think of. So here I go:

1) Use a portrait, no logo and no drawing.

For me that is a no-brainer. You should use a good portrait of yourself. Not a logo and not even a drawing, even if the drawing is a good look alike.

In my view the portrait must be so good that people who don’t know you in real life, must be able to recognize you in a party of a couple of hundreds of people they don’t know, just because they have seen your avatar and it bears an excellent likeness.

Remember that avatars come in all sizes and to test whether the portrait can stand downsizing without losing effect.

For my own avatar I use the portrait you see in the right column. I tested it on downsizing.

2) The photo should show as much of your face as possible.

Either full face, but in most cases a 2/3rd angled face gives a better impression. Everybody has a good side and a better side and mostly you know which is your better side. Almost nobody has a perfectly symmetrical side.

It is better to use a fully recognizable part of your face than part of your collar. The smaller the avatar gets the better it remains recognizable.

3) No Distractions Please!

Distractions can come from several directions:

  • Too much makeup.
  • Spectacles, hats or shadows that don’t allow your eyes to be seen properly.
  • Special effects like clownesque additions work only for professional clowns.
  • Don’t use a portrait of you with your beloved, your pet or your grandchild! I’m interested in you and not in your pet, beloved or grandchild and the smaller the avatar gets the less recognition you get with other elements in the portrait.
  • A background that doesn’t stand out enough or distracts from your face. For my own portrait I used a dark background (just the fence in our garden) to emphasize my gray hair – use a possible disadvantage to an advantage;-)
  • If you want to wear a hat or cap, remember that in a room with hundreds of people you possibly won’t wear a hat, that it can give false or wrong shadows on your face and, most importantly, your hair can’t be seen. If you say, “but I’m bald” do as I do with my gray hair: make it an outstanding asset with a fine outstanding background.
  • Don’t let your hangover or sleeplessness take over your portrait.

4) Smile! Smile! Smile!

As baby you’ve learned as first means of communication that a smile ensures you the best contact with grown ups. For you as a grown up the same rule applies.

5) Color or Black and White?

Personally I would say Color, because color matches real life better that black and white.

6) Don’t change your avatar!

Internet contacts (Eyeballs) are infrequent and fast. The less you change your avatar the less chance you confuse your audience.

7) Look for yourself! Look at yourself and Look Again!

I’ve put an older Twilk Twitter Background above this post. Can you find yourself easily in that photo? Who has an outstanding avatar among the ones you know? If you click the image you’ll get the original format that can make this exercise a bit easier…


After publishing this post I discovered Twilk | Happyhotelier i.e. a page of your own created by Twilk that makes your Avatars Clickable…Nifty! Anyone with a twitter account can do the same at Twilk!


To organize my thoughts I’ve made use of this nice blog post: 11 Rules for Best Personal Branding Results with Avatars | Personal Branding Blog – Dan Schawbel.

And, as always, good exceptions just prove some points I’ve made.