Customizer Spotlite: Buffdolls

Your name: Buffdolls
Your Legal Name: Laura Buff
Your Website:

How did you get involved in Super Dollfies and customizing them?
While into anime cel collecting, I came across Volks Lucas in about 2001. By 2002 I had one of my own, and started trying to paint and make clothes for him and a couple others.

What do you do best?
I am probably best known for reproducing the look of real people.

What Inspires You?
Stories and details, either from a movie or book, or from the customers that tell me about their characters.

What do you want people to think when they look at your Customizations?
I want them to recognize my style and respect the work.

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

I hope to increase the amount of art and doll shows that I attend.

What sorts of things do you enjoy the most about your designs/customizations?
I really enjoy pulling off something that I thought was going to be tricky, either a challenge to make a mold look a particular way when it isn’t suited for it, or a pulling off a modification that I wasn’t sure of.

Other than yourself, who are your favorite doll customizers?
I really like CherryStreet Sera and I still have one of my dolls with her work. I am also extremely impressed with the Pipos stock face-ups for their cats. I love seeing my friend, Vivien, grow as she practices more. I also love Batchix’s sculpts.

What’s the Best thing about customizing your own dolls?
The moment the doll arrives, I can have him or her just how I want within 24 hours. The reason I started face-ups in the first place was due to the 3-4 month wait time to have custom work done. I have never forgotten that and strive to provide swift service to my customers.

What’s the most difficult thing about doing customizations (your mods, face-ups, tats, etc) and altering them?
The most difficult things are animals and pets.

What type of dolls do you enjoy customizing (male/female/brands)?
I really like Iplehouse as a personal preference, so when I get to paint other dolls, its great to be able to see, paint and play with, so to speak, hundreds of dolls I would otherwise never see.

What is your favorite style to create?
I have a particular style and though I imitate other styles from time to time, mine has bold eyebrows, long lashes, typically.

Who would you love to collaborate with?

I would love to collaborate with a dealer to create OOAK full sets.

Why choose doll customizing as a form of Self Expression?
My grandmother did dolls as long as I can remember, so I always loved dolls and loved that they could be customized. Making my own became a way to make representations of characters that I created in role-playing.

How long does it take from start to finish on a typical doll to create and complete?

I consider the start point of a doll when I have gathered the supplies that I need, which is usually the doll, shoes, eyes and wig. From there, I can create a typical doll in 3-4 days of working. Some take much longer.

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 work both ways pretty often. The most enjoyable is when I have the wig the customer wants to use, and a description of the character, and they don’t have any other specific requests. Then I know that I am going to match their wig, and inspiration from their description allows me freedom to create the face and surprise them with the result.

What have been your favorite projects you’ve done thus far?
I worked on some Once Upon a Time characters for PeaceLoveDreamer and really enjoyed that. My most favorite project not for a customer was creating the entire main cast of the Avengers, which is still ongoing.

What sets your doll customizations apart from all the others?

Swiftness of turnaround and boldness. I rarely shy from challenging customizations. I also do a lot of repairs for people who have damaged their dolls. I do this discretely, and though I do it very often, I don’t post pictures, so that the customer is never embarassed in a public forum for what they did.

Are there any sort of projects you’ve been hoping to work on but just haven’t gotten around to it?
I would really like to sculpt a full doll. Rightnow I have sculpted several parts, and a couple of heads, but not a full doll.

What was the most challenging thing you have ever done thus far?
The biggest challenge so far was creating 8 highly detailed dolls in 5 months, for the DragonCon Art show.

How has your style evolved over time, and where do you see it going in the future?My lines have become smaller and my pastel work more gentle. I see the future including my own line of dolls.

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?
If a customer has specific instructions, I like visual examples of what they like. Really my perfect client is one that doesn’t change their mind. 😉

Of all the face-ups/customizations you’ve done, do any stand out to you in particular? Howso?
The arc reactor modification on my Iplehouse Lee to turn him into Tony Stark definitely stands out. I planned it out, ordered the lighting and wiring and battery, but to look at a pristine $700 doll…and then drill a fairly large hole straight through his chest…definitely stands out as a moment to me. Also creating the skeletal arm for my necromancer was challenging and fun. For just a face-up, I was proud of myself when I finally figured out how to do the face for my Pipos Derek.

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 also do Monster High customs and Ken doll customs. Both those hobbies help to fund my BJD hobby, and I notice an improvement right away in my skill level, particularly on smaller dolls, but also on larger ones, because Ken and Monster High require me to work much smaller.

Part II of Buff’s interview will roll out later.

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