Customizer Spotlite: Helter Skelter

Do you paint/alter other types of dolls, and if so, how does that compare with working on BJDs? If you do other types of art (drawing, painting, etc) does that influence your faceup style?
I think Monster High dolls are cool, but the last thing I need is another collection. I do paint and draw and it definitely influences my faceup style. Mostly because I always think about natural proportions and lines and the anatomy of the face.

Have you ever refused a commission? Why? Or if not, can you think of a circumstance where you might?
I have never refused a commission. I would probably refuse a commission I felt bordered on unethical, or simple was unethical. Let’s say someone wanted me to customize a child-like doll in a sexually explicit way, or someone wanted racist or overtly hateful tattoos on their dolls. The first one is a definite no, and the last one is a gray area. The hate could be a part of a character or a story for the owner, and the owner may not condone the message of the tattoos. What if the character is repentant and the tattoos are meant to teach a lesson? That might be stretching it, but you’d be surprised at the kinds of stories we hear behind people’s characters. I guess it would depend on context. If it made me feel uncomfortable at all, I wouldn’t do it, especially if I felt the client really was hateful.


Is there something that is still difficult for you to do? What is the most difficult?

It’s weird, because I have some days where even the most simple things can become difficult. It’s a kind of “artist-block.” One day I sat at the table for two hours trying to do one of my dolls’ eyelashes. I got frustrated and put him away. I came back the next day and did them in less than fifteen minutes.


How important is customer feedback to your creative process?

Customer feedback is very important to me. I want to know exactly what the customer thinks, so if I’m doing something wrong, I can improve. It also can help me get the ball rolling on a project. If a client wasn’t exactly sure how to describe what they wanted, I will start with something basic. Then, I’ll show a them a progress picture. The client might say something like “Oh wow, the lips look so boyish; it’s just what I want!” Then, I’ll have a much better of where to go with the faceup. Conversely, they might say something like “I like it so far, but I wish the lips were more dramatic.” It helps me in the same way.


Is there a mold, doll, or company that you prefer to work on?

I really enjoy working on Dollshe dolls.

Do you prefer working on male or female dolls? Why?
I prefer working on male dolls. I think it’s just a personal aesthetic preference. I prefer to draw males as well.

What is your background? Have you had any special schooling (art school, sculpture, painting, etc)?
In high school, I took drawing and painting every year. In college, I took ceramics two semesters. I’ve always drawn and painted. I like sculpting, but I was horrible at the wheel.

When you were a child did you ever work on dolls or create with similar things?
I remember my sister and I made sets of paper dolls together on occasion. I sometimes drew on my dolls or cut their hair, but for the most part, I realized I actually made my dolls worse by giving them “make-overs.”

Do you have any other interests that might have helped you in your development of customizing ABJD (like customizing other dolls, action figures, etc)? Please tell us about them.
I don’t think I ever really customized anything else. I sort of just dove in with ABJD.

Do you have any other interests? Collections?
I collect kimono and accessories. I am a writer and an avid reader. I play guitar, video games, and table top rpgs. I am very nerdy.

What factors do you consider before giving a doll its make-up so it will have the expression you want?
The most important factors to consider, in my opinion, are the doll’s features, what will look good on those features, and what the goal look is. For expressions, the location and fullness of the brows is very important. So, the dolls brow ridge and shape are extremely important.

Are there any painting techniques that can make a face look more masculine or feminine?

You can create certain effects by playing with the shape of features using contouring- using shadow and highlights to your advantage. Go to Youtube and watch a few drag makeup tutorials. I’m not even kidding.

How long does it usually take to do a face-up (or custom alteration job)?
Faceups can take hours. Customizations involving sculpting or sanding can take days. Major mods take even longer.

Can you offer any helpful hints to the amateur face-up artists? Can you recommend a list of supplies including colors, paints & pastels etc?

My best advice would be to just keep practicing. Take constructive criticism and ignore hateful people if you run into them. Supplies are easy to get. All you need is a sealant (Mr. Super Clear, Testors, etc.); a soft pastel of any brand will work but the better the pastel, the better the pigment; acrylic artist’s paints of any brand, and watercolor pencils are the basic tools you’ll need. Don’t forget a kneader eraser, a click eraser, an exacto knife, and a few brushes ranging in sizes and shapes (I like chisel brushes and rounds).

Do you have a favorite medium you like to work with when not creating for BJDs in your spare time?
I actually prefer to write more than I prefer to do any other type of art, but I do still sketch and paint sometimes.

How long have you been doing face-ups/customizing BJDs?
I’ve been doing them for about two years now. I only started taking commissions outside of my friends late last year.

What is your biggest inspiration for your face-ups and customizations?

For me, it’s always been characters of mine from the novels I’m writing. I like to bring them to life. I also love to look at avant-garde photography and runway couture for inspiration.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share for people that want to learn how to do what you do or just want to improve? Something that’s helped you a lot or something that you think is important to know when doing a successful customization/face-up?
The biggest thing that’s helped me has been just practicing. I just kept doing it and trying to get better. Don’t give up. I remember the first mod I did was on a head I got from another fantastic collector. It had been a practice head and the mouth and part of the cheeks were gone, the ears were drilled and sanded down unevenly, part of the nose was damaged. I was okay with it because I just wanted to practice modding. I did what I wanted, realized it wasn’t that great, then made it a silly joke, because hey, it was not so good. Why take it seriously? I thought it was fairly obvious this thing was meant to be silly, but someone took it and put it up on a site for others to make fun of (In fact, the person who posted the picture to the site screen-capped my Flickr photostream so that the description saying the mod was bad and it was just a joke was cut off). Did I let it get to me? Nope. If they didn’t get the joke, if they needed to misrepresent me so others could laugh, too bad for them. So what if a practice mod was not great? It was meant for practice, not to be something great. I just kept right on going and practicing, and now I think I’m doing okay. Don’t let negativity like that get to you. Take constructive criticism, by all means, but bullies don’t even deserve a response.

Closing Comments (anything you’d like to tell us)?
I remember being 12 and selling all of my barbies at a garage sale. A lady told me no one was ever too old for dolls. I guess she was right.

Thanks Helter Skelter for your time and the interview!

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2014 KOREAN BALL JOINTED DOLL SHOW

For those of you who enjoy doll conventions, meeting BJD companies and artists, then this is a great opportunity for you.

Take a look at the schedule and what this event is offering!

2014 April 24th ~ 26th / THE WESTIN LOS ANGELES AIRPORT
http://www.kbjdshow.com/

Special Event

Customizer Spotlite: Helter Skelter

Your name: Helter Skelter
Your Legal Name: Sarah Atkinson
Your Website: helter-skelterbjd.tumblr.com

How did you get involved in Super Dollfies and customizing them?
I found out about BJDs accidentally. I came across a photo of one on Google and I had to research it. I bought one, after agonizing over it for months, and one day, I decided I needed to change his faceup. After that, I started doing faceups for my friends, and eventually, the other dolls I bought.

What do you do best?
I think I do a natural look best.

What Inspires You?
A face with unique features, a beautiful photograph, poems, and a powerful passage in a book are all things that have inspired me in my faceup work.

What do you want people to think when they look at your Customizations?
I want people to think about “who” the doll is, and more importantly, who the owner is. What makes them tick as a person, what makes them interesting?

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

I’d love to have the head I’m currently sculpting be finished, cast, and selling and to kick off my own line of dolls. It might be a pipe dream, but for now, that’s what I’d like to do.

What sorts of things do you enjoy the most about your designs/customizations?
I love bringing a “character” out in the doll. I think my designs are unique and sometimes quirky, even if I’m just doing a natural faceup.

Other than yourself, who are your favorite doll customizers?

Other than myself? I’m not even close to being one of my favorites. Some of the people I admire are SDink, Nabarro, REEpaint, just to name a few. I don’t know if they all count as customizers per se, but hey, I like their work. A lot.

What’s the Best thing about customizing your own dolls?
I can take risks and get a little crazy if I want.

What’s the most difficult thing about doing customizations (your mods, face-ups, tats, etc) and altering them?
The most difficult thing has got to be the time it takes. You definitely have to be a patient person. It’s not easy when you have other time-consuming hobbies or work.

What type of dolls do you enjoy customizing (male/female/brands)?
I really enjoy working on male dolls the most. I don’t have any brand preferences, but I definitely prefer larger dolls with more realistic features. If there’s something unusual about the face you don’t often find on doll heads (aquiline nose, a goofy grin, really wide jaw) so much the better!

What is your favorite style to create?
I don’t know if I have a specific style that’s my favorite, but I love the more realistic looks. Not natural, exactly, but just something that looks like you might see it on a real face somewhere.

Who would you love to collaborate with?

Oh gosh. Realistically? I have no idea. I’m sort of new on the scene, so if anyone wanted to collaborate with me, I’d feel honored.

Why choose doll customizing as a form of Self Expression?
For me, it’s so much more fun. I think it’s because customizing dolls rolls so many of the things I like to do artistically into one. Painting, drawing, photography, and even sculpting. It’s all right there.

How long does it take from start to finish on a typical doll to create and complete?
That depends on what I’m doing. For a faceup, if you take out all the pauses between drying times and weather, probably about 12 hours. I’ve been sculpting this head of mine for several months now. I am only working on it occasionally, so that could be why.

How do you like to work best with a custom order for a client? With total freedom to create your vision, or do you like some feedback/interchange with a client who might have an idea or theme they would like to see realized?
I like to check with the client first before I do anything. Usually, even if the client just wants me to do my own thing, I ask them if they have a general idea they’d like for me to stick to. I ask for descriptors like “girly” or “dark” or “natural.” I like to experiment with things for my dolls, like lace and geometric designs and tattoos, and I know that won’t appeal to everyone. I love it when the client comes to me with a character to create and they tell me how the character needs to look, but also some of their motivation and history. It helps get some of their unique personality into the face.

What have been your favorite projects you’ve done thus far?
I’ve done some really neat tattoos for people. There was a cemetery tattoo that was pretty awesome.

What sets your doll customizations apart from all the others?
I think when it comes down to it, we all have our own styles. I feel I have a style that focuses a lot on the natural shapes of the face and things like light and shadow play. Also, being relatively new and not as highly in-demand as some other customizers, I can say my services are relatively “affordable” for someone who wants a nice faceup on a budget.

Are there any sort of projects you’ve been hoping to work on but just haven’t gotten around to it?
I really want to work on a doll of mine who will be covered in tattoos. I haven’t actually gotten him his permanent body, so I keep putting it off until I can afford it. I’ve been so inspired for so long to work on him. It’s killing me. I really need to get that body.

What was the most challenging thing you have ever done thus far?
So far, I think it’s been modding one of my guys’ bodies. I wanted the body to be relatively slender, plus the body had a pretty serious case of moobs. I think you know what I mean. So, I went out and bought a rotary tool and took it to the resin. I completely reshaped his chest, flattened his stomach, and slimmed down his legs. I had never worked with a Dremel before, but I knew I had to do it to get what I wanted, and you don’t learn to do something without practicing. He came out really nicely, so I’m relieved.

How has your style evolved over time, and where do you see it going in the future?
I think my style has become more refined through practice. I do a lot of different things, so I don’t know if I have a very identifiable style, but I do see my work as being very organic in most cases.

Describe your perfect client. Do you like to get a lot of direction, or just be given a general mood, or do you like to see visual examples?
My perfect client is someone who is willing to sit down and take the time to answer questions about what they want. Either they know what they want from me and they communicate it either by descriptions or pictures, or they know the general mood and style they want. If they’d like me to “do my own thing” and don’t want to give me any guidelines at all, they must understand they might get something they may not expect. Maybe they don’t know what they want, but they know what they do not want, and they tell me exactly what it is they don’t want. I just don’t want to be left in the dark and have a client then tell me what I’m planning isn’t what they were expecting. That’s why I always prefer to talk with clients a bit and send sketches before doing anything, because I want to make sure they love what I do for them.

Of all the face-ups/customizations you’ve done, do any stand out to you in particular? Howso?
I’m really liking this Soom Coquina I’m working on, but she hasn’t gone back to her owner yet, so I can’t say much. I just liked the realism behind the concept of the work. It’s an interesting faceup without being something off the wall. Not that anything’s wrong with off the wall. It’s just nice to see the mundane made special.

Second half of this interview will get published in a bit.

Face Up Artist/Customizer, Interviews , , , , , , , ,

Customizer Spotlite: Iza part II

How has your style evolved over time, and where do you see it going in the future?
My style has definitely gotten better since I’ve first started. I’ve vastly improved on eyebrows and eyelashes. In the future I for see myself finally figuring out how to do nice lip lines. I still struggle with them.

Describe your perfect client. Do you like to get a lot of direction, or just be given a general mood, or do you like to see visual examples?
My perfect client would have to be someone that gives me direction but also some freedom to play with the face up. After all, they’re commissioning me because of my style. I like it when I’m told what mood and look they want for their doll so I can interpret it the best way possible for them.

Of all the face-ups/customizations you’ve done, do any stand out to you in particular? Howso?

One of my customization jobs that really stands out to me is the fully body work I did on my partner’s Fairyland LTF Dark Elf Soo with Daisy Dayes hooves. I blushed her horns, wings, tail, and hooves and did her face up. She took a long time to finish but she looks amazing. Sadly we misplaced her wings and tail. They should show up at some point again. She stands out to me because the gradation is so smooth on her that a lot of people mistake my work for airbrush, but it’s all pastels.

Do you paint/alter other types of dolls, and if so, how does that compare with working on BJDs? If you do other types of art (drawing, painting, etc) does that influence your faceup style?
I sometimes paint Monster High dolls, but I definitely prefer resin dolls. I don’t mind ABS Hujoos and vinyl dolls, but getting the face up off of a MH doll is such a pain. I’m an illustrator by trade and draw digitally a lot. I specialize in drawing characters or people. That really helped with drawing eyebrows, and face up-ing helped me get better at my illustrations.

Have you ever refused a commission? Why? Or if not, can you think of a circumstance where you might?
Kind of, someone once inquired whether I work on recasts, and I said no. It’s a loaded subject, but that’s the only commission I’d ever refuse because as an artist I find them unethical.

Is there something that is still difficult for you to do? What is the most difficult?
Lip lines, they are the bane of my existence. I’m still trying to find a good way of doing them. I used to do them with watercolor pencils, but I didn’t like the look of them so I switched to pastels that I apply with a wet brush. It’s a hassle, but I’m determined to get it right eventually!

How important is customer feedback to your creative process?
Feedback to me is very important, after all I’m being commissioned to bring their vision to life, and a happy customer is a good customer.

Is there a mold, doll, or company that you prefer to work on?

Not really, but I do greatly enjoy working on fairyland sculpts. I love working on lots of different types of dolls and in all sizes too. I’ve worked on everything from a Fairyland RealPuki to 70cm dolls. I’ve worked on over 60 different sculpts of dolls, including fantasy parts and bodies.

Do you prefer working on male or female dolls? Why?
I personally prefer female dolls because then I don’t have to be quite as careful with keeping the eyelashes short and the lips are easier since I can tint the lips more pink without worrying about making them too girly. That being said, I still enjoy working on male dolls because of the challenge they give me.

What is your background? Have you had any special schooling (art school, sculpture, painting, etc)?
I studied Illustration at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, but most of my skills are self-taught for face ups. Though it did help to break out of my usual color palette. I tend to gravitate towards dark blues and purples, but now I’m going into more saturated and bright colors. It’s fun and I enjoyed it.

When you were a child did you ever work on dolls or create with similar things?
Nope. I broke my Barbies as a child. I’d rip off their arms and legs and draw on them with markers. I didn’t get interested in dolls until I was introduced to BJDs and I’ve been hooked since. Having a 3D canvas is so different from working on paper or the computer.

Do you have any other interests that might have helped you in your development of customizing ABJD (like customizing other dolls, action figures, etc)? Please tell us about them.
I don’t really have anything else that compares to customizing BJDs in that way. As mentioned before, I love to draw and color. I sometimes sculpt as well, I’ve made 3 teapots in the shape of women wearing ball gowns before getting into BJDs, but none are painted.

Do you have any other interests? Collections?
Since I’m trying to turn my art into a career, collecting BJDs is pretty much my main hobby. I can sew plushies though, I should make some again. I can make them for people and dolls, though the doll ones have to be completely hand sewn.

What factors do you consider before giving a doll its make-up so it will have the expression you want?
Mood is a huge thing for me before I start working on a doll. Mainly because I start off with the eyebrows so if I do the wrong expression at that point, I can just start over again. I also keep in mind the skin tone of the doll and the colors that’ll work best with it.

Are there any painting techniques that can make a face look more masculine or feminine?
Yes, there are definitely techniques to making a face feminine or masculine. For feminine I use more pinks in the blushing and draw longer eyelashes along with thinner eyebrows. The lips are also more defined. With a masculine doll I’ll draw on thicker and bushier eyebrows and use more browns and oranges for blushing. I also go a lot lighter on the lips. The eyelashes are done a lot shorter too, and when I apply real eyelashes to a male doll, I trim them to keep them shorter.

How long does it usually take to do a face-up (or custom alteration job)?
For a natural face up I take about an hour, that is without any extra make up or the such. Now with a fantasy face up that requires heavy make up and facial tattoos it can take anywhere between 2 and 5 hours, sometimes even longer.

Can you offer any helpful hints to the amateur face-up artists? Can you recommend a list of supplies including colors, paints & pastels etc?
Keep practicing, and seek out constructive criticism. A fresh pair of eyes on your work will point out things easier that need improvement. It’s even a good idea to step away from your work for an hour, or a few, just to get a break and then have your own fresh eyes. Don’t skimp on sealant or your supplies in general, always go for high quality stuff. I like to use MSC UV Cut, even if I have a can of Purity Seal. I only use the Purity Seal on my own body blushes and I’m still testing it how I like it. It stinks a lot more than MSC. For pastels I use Schminke (which are my favorites), Daler Rowney, and Winsor & Newton. For a nice shimmer I love the Pearl Ex Interference line. It’s subtle but beautiful.

Do you have a favorite medium you like to work with when not creating for BJDs in your spare time?
Pencil and digital are my favorite mediums for fast art. When I want to take a long time with a peace, like a really long time, I will bring out my watercolors. One of my favorite paintings I ever did was a watercolor self-portrait in high school. I still have it today.

How long have you been doing face-ups/customizing BJDs?
I’ve been painting dolls since about July 2011, I started with my second doll. My first doll was painted by my friend who got me into the hobby. Then with my second doll she taught me how to paint them myself and the rest is history.

What is your biggest inspiration for your face-ups and customizations?
This is a tough question. I love going with the flow when I work on dolls, but looking at actual faces of people helps a ton. My favorite types of face ups are fantasy because I can go really nuts with that. I just love observing faces and how people present themselves. That kind of makes me sound like a creeper, doesn’t it?

Do you have any tips you’d like to share for people that want to learn how to do what you do or just want to improve? Something that’s helped you a lot or something that you think is important to know when doing a successful customization/face-up?
Yes I do! Don’t be afraid of the materials, play with them, and experiment. One thing I figured out by myself (even if I’m not the first to do so obviously) is that you can paint bold colors with pastels. Just get a small brush wet and coat it in pastel dust. That way you can apply it bold like acrylic while still being able to fix mistakes without having to redo the entire face up! And if you use watercolor pencils and you mess up, just dip a q-tip in water and dab away the lines. Be sure to seal your work several times through out the process, because that way you can build up the colors more saturated. I’ve painted a white skull over a dark tan head with just pastels, simply by painting with a wet brush and sealing between layers.

Closing Comments (anything you’d like to tell us)?
I just want to say that I’m grateful to all those that have commissioned me over the past two years. The feedback and practice has gotten me to the point I’m at now. And if you’re going to get into face ups, don’t ever be discouraged by your early work, see it as a stepping stone to getting better. Like Thomas Edison said, he did not fail, he simply found 99 ways not to make a lightbulb.

Thank you Iza for doing the interview.

Face Up Artist/Customizer, Interviews , , , , , , , , ,

Customizer Spotlite: Iza

Your name: Iza
Your Legal Name: Elisabeth Suelli
Your Website: http://www.izasfaceups.com

How did you get involved in Super Dollfies and customizing them?
A friend of mine who was my downstairs neighbor at my college dorms was a BJD collector and face up artist. She was the one who got me into the hobby and then showed me how to do face ups as well. After almost 2 years, my first face up is still in tact and one of my favorites.

What do you do best?
It’s hard to say what I do best, but I love doing eyebrows and it shows. I’m by no means perfect at them, and I’m still figuring out better ways of doing them, but I’m really satisfied with how I do them currently.

What Inspires You?
Colors inspire me. I’ve accumulated 104 different colors and shades of pastels and I look for any excuse I can to use them! I love looking at other face ups to see how I should improve and it makes me work harder on them.

What do you want people to think when they look at your Customizations?
With my face ups I want people to think that they are high quality. I pour my soul into each one and I hope it shows.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
In the next 5 years I want to get to 200 completed face ups (I always keep track of the sculpts and number of face ups I’ve worked on) and I want to get on par in skill with the amazing face up artists in this hobby.

What sorts of things do you enjoy the most about your designs/customizations?
As I mentioned before, I definitely enjoy doing eyebrows. I put down the base for them first before I do anything else on a face up. I also love doing fantasy face ups. It’s very fun for me to go nuts with designs on a face.

Other than yourself, who are your favorite doll customizers?
I don’t have specific people I follow their work of, but some great customizers are Star Sniper, Kiki.Chan78 (my teacher), and another friend named Allison Strom who currently does not offer commissions but is an amazing face up artist and illustrator.

What’s the Best thing about customizing your own dolls?
The best thing to me about customizing my own dolls is that they look exactly how I envision them. It also helps me bond better with them. Most of my dolls are character based so they have a specific look I want for them.

What’s the most difficult thing about doing customizations (your mods, face-ups, tats, etc) and altering them?
The most difficult thing to me is when I’ve fully finished a face up (with gloss and eyelashes) and then I’m asked to change something. To prevent that I usually show in progress shots of the work to catch any mistakes early on. I just don’t like removing and replacing eyelashes. Some dolls are okay to put eyelashes on, others seem to fight me tooth and nail on it.

What type of dolls do you enjoy customizing (male/female/brands)?
I really enjoy working on female dolls, but I don’t mind working on male ones though. I don’t have a favorite brand to work on, but I love working on Fairyland and Dollzone.

What is your favorite style to create?
Swirls! I love doing fantasy scrollwork on face ups. I used to do swirls on my own make up coming from my eyes. That’s probably why I love doing them on doll faces too.

Who would you love to collaborate with?
One day I’d love to collaborate with my friend Allison because her work is amazing. She pours a lot of love and effort into each one of her face ups. Frequently we will do face ups together and share materials. I’m always blown away by her use of color.

Why choose doll customizing as a form of Self Expression?
I’m an artist by trade, so when I got into the hobby in May 2011 it felt only natural to start painting them. That’s the beauty of dolls in my opinion, they are like little blank canvases that I can bring to life with my art.

How long does it take from start to finish on a typical doll to create and complete?
It really depends on the type of face up. On average a natural face up takes roughly an hour to do, while a more complex fantastical one can take anywhere between two and five hours. I’ve gotten very efficient at painting dolls, because I love it so much.

How do you like to work best with a custom order for a client? With total freedom to create your vision, or do you like some feedback/interchange with a client who might have an idea or theme they would like to see realized?
Personally I prefer it when I’m given some sort of guidance so that I can get an idea what the client wants. Customer satisfaction is very important to me. With my own dolls I do whatever I want, but with someone else’s doll it’s very important to me to bring their vision to life. That’s why I encourage feedback during my process so that the client knows they are important to the process and have a big say in it.

What have been your favorite projects you’ve done thus far?
My favorite? That’s a tough one! Well, one of my favorites actually isn’t face up related much, but I designed, sculpted, molded, and cast my own resin demon wings. They are about YoSD to MSD sized, and I painted a pair of them as well. They’re on my Fairyland LTF Chiwoo Elf girl, who I painted myself as well. I loved working on her. She gave me trouble with the first face up I did on her and had to wipe it. That’s okay though, I love her current look!

What sets your doll customizations apart from all the others?
The thing that sets my work apart from other face up artists is the variety that I can do. I don’t just do natural, or just fantasy. I do them all, and I’m always up for a new challenge. For example I’d never done facial hair before, and once I did I got two more clients that commissioned me because I was able to do facial hair well.

Are there any sort of projects you’ve been hoping to work on but just haven’t gotten around to it?
Yes, one of my dolls, my Dragondoll Cheng, needs a lot of body work. He’s meant to be a scarred dragon warrior so I need to finish his body blush and scar work. With how many commissions I’ve had and other distractions such as college and work, he’s been on the backburner. At least he got his face up and I can keep his body covered with clothes.

What was the most challenging thing you have ever done thus far?
This is again a tough one. The most challenging thing I’ve had to do was paint body hair onto a dolls chest, navel, groin, and arms. I’d never done a body hair blush before so it took me a long time to get it done, but I think it turned out really nice.

Part II of Iza’s interview will be posted up soon. <3

Face Up Artist/Customizer, Interviews , , , , , , , , ,

Costume Designer Spotlite: Tara (or Kawaii Experience) Part II


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When you were a child did you ever work on dolls or create with similar things? If so, what were they?
Hmm no, I started to create on my dolls when I had BJD.

Do you have any other interests that might have helped you in your development of customizing ABJD (like customizing other dolls, action figures, etc)? Please tell us about them.
I loved to made cosplay, but it’s very expensive and I hate wear it (I love sew it, but not wear it), and I didn´t like the world of cosplay contest, but thanks to that I know how sew. Anyway,I like go to the manga conventions to see the cosplays and the work of other people.

Do you have any other interests? Collections?

Hmm not really, I am reading some manga collections and I buy a manga twice on a year maybe… Before BJD I used to buy lots of manga figures but not anymore. I love reading, playing videogames and seeing youtube gameplay channels.

Tell us about your own dolls. Do you have any? If so how many and which ones? Has your collection impacted your fashion business and if so in what way?
Yeah! I have my own dolls, in my house now there are 8 dolls and I am not waiting anymore by now. They are Istvan (a Unoa lusis sleeping male modded), Astharoth (a Unoa lusis akubi male), Jezabel (a Lami of Soom), Sehara (a Juri 2010), Mirka (a Chloe minifee), Saree (a Unoa lusis male) and Mihael (a Daniel of Iplehouse)
Yes, my fashion business have impacted in my doll collection, people are surprised to see that my dolls rarely wears clothes made by me, that’s because I have very little free time for my own dolls.

Why choose clothing design as a form of Self Expression?
I started drawing manga and in the manga is needed a character design, I spent too many hours doing that, it was the funny part for me: the design the outfits and clothes.
My grandmother taught me all of sewing to make cosplay, I only had to apply the character design I liked to do and the knowing of my grandmother to start creating my own designs.


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How long does it take from start to finish on a typical outfit to create and complete?
It depends. There are outfits I can make in two days of work, and outfits I can spend two months or more… there is not a “typical outfit” for me because each one is totally different from the previous. Also depends on the time that I spend to go to buy the fabrics or how much inspired I am when it’s time to work.

How do you like to work best with a custom order for a client? With total freedom to create your vision, or do you like some feedback/interchange with a client who might have an idea or theme they would like to see realized?
The phrase that scares me in a customer is “I do not know, I leave to your choice”. AH NO! Give me guidelines, give me guidance, give me orders! It frightens me deeply that the client let me freedom, there is so much variety of fabrics, trims, colors … I know what I use if the outfit was for me, but the fact is that the outfit is not for me, it´s for the customer! I like that customer gives to me a photo of they want, and I make a search of materials and I usually tell them a few recommendations. But always starting from a photo or a idea.

Are there fashions or styles you would like to make, but haven’t? Why haven’t you?
Yes, I would like to do urban clothing, jeans are a mistery for me! And also I would like to know how to sew a full suit, I love them, but they are very difficult I never had to try them because I have not really time to experiment! I always have orders or projects in mind and do not usually have free time for testing.

How important are fashion trends to you (i.e. what is going on in real life/human wear) and to your doll clothing? Do other doll seamstresses or fashion trends on the board (or even on other boards, etc) influence you at all?
I do not look at the fashion trends in human clothings. But it is true that I have to adapt to fashion trends, which is also influence from the shops which sell fabrics. And about other seamstresses, yes, they really influence me. My best friend Seguchi also sews in a amateur mode and I have being influenced by her simple lines designs and few decorations.


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Do you take on commissions? If so have you ever turned down any? Are there certain commissions you like or dislike?
Yes, most of my store is based on commissions. Yes, sometimes I refused a commission if I do not think I could deal with it, I never liked to make illusions in vain, it is not a dishonor not know do something ^ ^. I like to take commissions, in the stock items maybe they will be exactly that the customer want sor maybe not, but the commission is exactly that the customer wants, there is no doubts ^^

Tell us about your family. What do they think about your dolls and your business?
In the beginning my mother didn´t like the dolls because they are expensive and I had so many. But now I have a reasonable number of dolls and she is happy with them. The rest of my family is not so happy with the dolls, but still my grandmother sometimes helps me to do something when I have lots of work. Luckily my mother thinks that I have to do what I like to do and she enjoys every little step I’m taking as much as me.

How important is customer feedback? Have you had a lot of customer feedback in the past? Do you want more? If so, how would someone contact you?
I like customers to leave me feedback, they are reviews of my work and other customers can go there to consult and take a look at my work. In my case, I have feedback on ebay, etsy, bjdoll.net forum, Materiel Celeste forum, and of course the forum Den of Angels. People can contact me at any of the three forums mentioned above, on etsy or on my flickr I’ll be happy to talk with anyone who wants to write me!

What are your newest projects (example new sizes, styles or lines) that you are working on?
I want try made some romantic and pure outfits, in beige and white colour and I would like make better corsets. I was preparing a lot of stock for Expomanga in Madrid, but finally I can´t go T__T, so I have a large months before the next manga convention to make only custom orders ^^


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Are you working on anything that isn’t doll related that you want to share that you think would interest the readers (off topic, however, you think they would be interested in it, like human clothing line, an art show of your work, etc)?
No, now I’m not doing anything out of this.

Over the years you’ve seen a lot of changes, both good and bad. What do you think have been the best and worst changes in the doll community?
I do not write much, but I participate reading a lot and I enjoy the galleries and tutorials.
I think the best of this comnunity is to share your hobby with other people, see their dolls no matter where they come from. What is worse? Nowadays people are living the hobby in private more every day, leaving the forums. Fewer and fewer people are participating in the forums, due to small fights between users, always caused by misunderstandings. It really makes me very sad.

Are there projects that you wish you had more time to work on?
Not really, I have the great fortune of having a really friendly customers. When I really need it, I tell them that I’m going to take the more time to finish the work successfully, so luckily I have never a delivery date.

Closing Comments (anything you’d like to tell us about you or about your business in general)?
Thank you very much for thinking of me for this interview, it’s a great opportunity.
Thanks also to all who have helped me to write it and all customers who have provided their photographs with their dolls so I can show my work.
And those who wish to write me, do not hesitate to do so! I will be happy!


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Thank you, Kawaii Experience, for the interview. Appreciate it!

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Costume Designer Spotlite: Tara (or Kawaii Experience)

Your legal full name: Inés Sánchez-Camacho Sánchez
Your “artist name”: Tara or Kawaii Experience
Your Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kawaiiexperience/ https://www.etsy.com/shop/KawaiiExperience


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How did you get involved in Asian Ball Jointed Doll clothing Designs?
I always loved making outfits, my grandmother in all her life made a beautifull dresses for my family and I have inherited from her the desire to sew. I started being a cosplayer, in Spain I won a few contest in manga conventions of my city, and when I got my first BJD I started to make the clothes by myself. In the beginning they were really awful! But I did my best and here I am! Some people told me to open a little store in a spanish forum, and four years have passed since that ^^


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Describe your line and what styles (items) you create?
I work 90% in orders, people tell me what they want and I sew it for them, I only need to know the measurements of their doll. I love making outfits by order, they are a challenge for me! People order outfits really varied: cosplay, fantasy outfits and dresses designed by them too!
In stock I usually do steampunk outfits, I love to seam this clothes, this is my chance to be creative. I do some jewelry too, customers request a lot rings for BJD. They are made with lovely jewelry stones and as the rings are adjustable, they can fit all sizes, that’s why they are the perfect accesory!

What do you think people know you best for (like a certain style or size or certain look)?
By customer request, I have specialised in Minifee girl size. Also I sew too much for EID girl and boy and Yo-SD of Soom and Fairyland.

I think people knows that I’m good at steampunk style, cosplay and outfits with many ornaments or to be luxurious. Also I think they like my working method: I always make pictures of the fabrics before buy and I show the whole process, so if they want to change something I give them the chance before it’s finished..

What Inspires You?
Everything! I love searching on flickr because I specially love to see what others BJD artist are doing! That always inspires me because I think “God, I want to be like her, I want to be as good as she is!”
Also usually look historical dresses, I’m in several groups of steampunk design for people and I like to see where they get their ideas from, refine them and adapt that ideas to my designs.
Videogames also inspire me so much, I am a great fan of Final Fantasy, Devil May Cry, Bioshock, Dishonored and also music like Rammstein!


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What do you want people to think when they look at your Designs?
I love to think customers choose my work to complete their dreamed doll. When finally they see the outfit on their doll, I want them to feel like: “Yes, my doll now really is as I wished.” I would like to help them to have the doll as they really want, with the clothing they always imagined for their character. In one word: perfect.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
Hmmm I really lwould like to keep doing this, my sewing store is my life. I am starting to go to some manga conventions with Aikoneko, our Leeke dealer ^^ And I would like that this experience takes me to have my own stand at the conventions of manga or BJD in Spain or in L-Doll too and start to sell face to face with my customers.

What sorts of things do you enjoy the most about your designs?
I love make corsets! If I can, I really like to include one in all my outfits. I also love working with jewelry like crowns, rings, chain belts or necklaces, I think that this little details make the difference ^^

What are your other favorite clothing brands/designers for dolls?
I have a lot of them! Dollheart, Souldoll and Soom are my favourite brands, and designers… Amy Lilley, HarajukuDoll, Lelahel and Animemadness. Here in Spain we have a lot of good tailors, I really like the work of Munsault, Rosalen or Kikabilart for example.

What’s the Best thing about designing and selling doll fashions?
Best thing about being a seamstress and sell my own designs will always be the illusion of their owners. That moment in which they write to me to say that the dress has arrived and when they show me their dolls … Really fills my soul and I feel really honored and proud. The few times I’ve been able to sell face to face in a convention, was even more rewarding because they fell in love with your work without thinking about anything else.
For custom made orders, I like to think the illusion of my customers to see their dream come true, that perfect outfit designed exclusively for their doll, there is nothing better.

What’s the most difficult thing about designing and selling fashions?
Sometimes the hardest thing is to enter the mind of your customer, know what he wants, but he does not know how to express what he want. Try to speak and explain to the other person without using technical vocabulary is also very difficult. Personally one of the more difficult things for me is have a good table of measures. Many people don’t know how to measure their doll and refers me to the website of the brand, but sometimes the dresses need much more specific and accurate measurements.
In the case of stock, it is difficult to know where the market is going to move. Not long ago kimonos were very appreciated, but not now, and who knows if after all this time the steampunk style is also going to stop being popular.


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What type of dolls do you enjoy designing for the most (male/female/brands)?
I really love sew to Minifee girl and Fairyland girls or large bust girls.

What is your favorite style to create?
Steampunk, I love the fabric that allows freedom to create, to use old and new, combining patterns, different cuts of clothing, pieces …. I really like the blue peacock and peacock feathers, thanks to steampunk I´m creating lots of things with this type of style and I really love it!

Is there a color palate or patterns that you tend to stick with? Stay away from?
When I do custom things, I stick to what the client asks me, always trying to get elected patterns and the fabrics the closest to the final idea. But when I sew stock I have all the freedom I want, always choose a specific pattern that looks good and that I love to sew, here in Spain we call “patron de costadillos”.
As for colors I always like to sew in blue, black or white. I hate red, green and yellow.

Who would you love to collaborate with? Is there a mold, doll, or company that you prefer to work on?

I made a collaboration with StKawaii, a couple of manga drawers from Spain. I made a limited outfit to celebrate the beginning of their manga “The Soul Chaser” in Spain. But in a few years it could be great to sew for a famous brand! I would love to sew for Fairyland, it’s definitely my favorite brand and I will love to sew for Soom for any of their The Gem Dolls or one of their Rosette Doll. Also I would love to sew for Doll Chateau, I think their dolls are rare and amazing and inspire me too, that’s why my mind is planning too many outfits to make for them !

What is your background? Have you had any special schooling (art school, fashion design, sculpture, painting, fashion, etc)?
I’ve had artistic training but always in the field of drawing, I wanted to work drawing manga, but I don´t have the talent, so I learned engraving and design. And later I also did a course about styling of clothing, but did not teach me anything really useful. All I know was learnt from my grandmother and lots of practice.

Who are some of your favorite human designers?
I’m not aware of design to people, I never really interested in fashion, but I like the style of Vivienne Westwood.

Are there types of fabric that you hate or try to avoid? If so which ones?
Oh yes, I hate really some types of fabric like velvet and chiffon! It’s very funny, because my best friend love these fabrics.


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What fabrics do you love to use? Accessories?
I love sew leatherette, I like how fits on the style of my designs, I also use satin, cotton fabrics and brocaded fabrics. A great part of my designs usually wear some jewelry, I made that jewelry with svarovski tupis, I love make crowns and necklaces with them.

What outfit do you think was your best and worst? Why?
I do not think there are outfits better or worse than others, some of them just had more practice than others, we all have an evolution. My first jobs were horrible in my opinion! And now I’m very happy with my recent work, but I have a long way to go! In a few years I will see the job done now and I will not like it, sure.

Second part of this interview, coming soon!

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Fairyland : New Little Fees

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LittleFee Baby Body Pose

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