Have you ever refused a commission? Why? Or if not, can you think of a circumstance where you might?
I have definitely done so, more than once. The most common reason is that I believe the person’s request requires the work of an airbrush. Sometimes the customer and I work with another artist, so that I do the mod work, and then I send it on to the artist who uses airbrush to complete the work for the customer.
I have also refused certain projects due to time constraints.
Is there something that is still difficult for you to do? What is the most difficult?
Freckles. I have yet to really learn freckles.
How important is customer feedback to your creative process?
I love that moment when I get their feedback. I never want to send a customer something they aren’t 100% happy with, and I will redo the face as many times as necessary.
Is there a mold, doll, or company that you prefer to work on?
I’m pretty good with anything, really! I work on whatever anyone will pay me to work on, which extends to Blythe, Pullip…Hujoo…vinyl, resin, plastic, I enjoy variety.
Do you prefer working on male or female dolls? Why?
I don’t have a preference for my work for customers. I do more males for my own collection.
What is your background? Have you had any special schooling (art school, sculpture, painting, etc)?
I took one art class in college that did not include painting or sculpture, but it did do a good amount of observing real life details, which helps when trying to make a mold look like someone.
When you were a child did you ever work on dolls or create with similar things?
Yes, I think I made a clay doll for my Gramma when I was 10, and I have some of my earliest attempts at customizing Barbies, which are terrible!
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 did model-building for years, where I worked with resin model kits and painting tiny lead miniatures. I am certain my work with putty, and painting fine details helped me some, but it still took me a frustratingly long time to figure out how to do it well.
Do you have any other interests? Collections?
I collect art and I am a music teacher for elementary school. I am an avid comic book reader, and reader in general.
What factors do you consider before giving a doll its make-up so it will have the expression you want?
The eyebrow ridge can present certain obstacles, so I like to make sure the expression I want won’t be interfered with. Most of the time I can force the expression anyway.
Are there any painting techniques that can make a face look more masculine or feminine?
The larger the brows, the more masculine the doll looks. Longer eyelashes tend to suggest female. I usually use pink tones for blush on a female doll, and tan/peach for a male.
How long does it usually take to do a face-up (or custom alteration job)?
a Face-up can usually be finished in 2 days, once all the prep work is finished. I usually work on them in groups. If I just work on one head, start to finish, it could take as little as 40-60 minutes for a head that I intend for myself, since I don’t need to look at any references, or pause to read detailed notes.
Can you offer any helpful hints to the amateur face-up artists? Can you recommend a list of supplies including colors, paints & pastels etc?
READ AND WATCH TUTORIALS. Best advice. The reason it took me at least a year longer to learn how to do a face-up is because I didn’t watch tutorials first. The moment I did, I started succeeding right away. I recommend liquitex acrylics, faber pastels and Volks UV cut spray.
Do you have a favorite medium you like to work with when not creating for BJDs in your spare time?
I draw funny little cute cartoons with sharpie markers on 2.5x 3.5 cards.
How long have you been doing face-ups/customizing BJDs?
2007 is the official date that I took my first customer.
What is your biggest inspiration for your face-ups and customizations?
My biggest inspiration is probably the feedback that comes from the customer afterward, or in the case of my tribute dolls, from fellow fans of the character.
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?
I think using the eyebrow template that I detail in my own tutorial is a huge help to new artists. One of the most frustrating things is getting the eyebrows even and well placed. To be able to do that with a foolproof method really helps many people along. I get comments now and then about how helpful that is, still.
Closing Comments (anything you’d like to tell us)?
I fully support doll collectors to give customizing a try. There’s not much to be afraid of, and once you know how to customize your own dolls, you are freed from the stress and wait times. But until everyone can or wants to do that, I’m here for your back-up to try to realize your vision for your character.
Thank you Buff for the interview!