Have you always aspired to be an artist, or did you ever dream of following a different path?
Ever since I was a child I have loved to create things. I was always drawing, coloring, or making something from my imagination. I had a big imagination (and still do), so when I would watch movies or read books I’d want to become the characters in the stories; I remember making many things that would help me “become” the character I wanted to be. As soon as I was old enough to understand things I knew one day I would be some kind of artist, I just enjoyed creating so much I don’t think I ever thought I could stop; art is very much a part of me. When I was young I wanted to be a doctor or a veterinarian. Up until I was about 17 I wanted to study veterinary medicine, then after learning more about myself I became passionate about psychology. I had suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life, and I wanted to understand more about it. I went to college to study psychology and planned to become a counselor until my art became popular. In college I found a love for writing, my literature teachers told me I was very good at writing stories. I had always written short stories and poems since childhood but never really thought they were good. Now I dream of writing books one day aside from my art.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
The first thing I remember making by hand was a felt puppet. I was five and had made up a story about a little pig, I wanted to put on a puppet show about the story for my family and friends.
Where do your ideas for dolls come from? Where do you find the inspiration for your doll designs?
I am inspired by everything! Nature, colors, books, food, music, life in general just inspires me. There is so much wonder in everything, and my mind takes what it sees and reshapes it into characters in my head and then an idea becomes something alive and tangible. Sometimes when I hear or see something beautiful so many things come into my mind and I long to express my feelings and ideas regarding the subject and that is how my art begins. Other times I just sit and form stories in my mind and my stories inspire characters that I want to bring to life.
What is the basic method for making a doll?
When I make a doll it always starts with a feeling, then an idea or story, then a sketch or painting (sometimes both), then I begin the sculpting process. When I sculpt I just let the character become. I have a basic idea, but I let my hands do what they want, and I let fate decide what the end result will be. Once my sculpture is complete I decide whether I will share it with the world or keep it only for me. After that, if I decide to reproduce my sculpture there is a very long process of molding it and casting it into resin.
How much time does it take to make a doll?
Creating a jointed doll from beginning to end can take months to years. I count the idea to be the beginning of creation, so from the time I have my heart set on creating a doll till the doll is finished can take a very long time. This is why as an artist I feel it is so important to be original, because what artists create is a part of them, and to copy their ideas is stealing a part of them and saying it is yours.
What are your favorite materials?
I love working in polymer clay and in paper clay when sculpting a doll. I love fabric, and have too much of it! I also like taking old vintage pieces or replicas and using them to make my dolls’ costumes. I feel it adds something from the past to my creations and makes them more special. I also really like working with anything organic. Nature is a big inspiration for my work, and the colors and textures from the world around me are very fun to work with.
What is the typical age range for your dolls?
A typical age range for my dolls is toddler to elementary school age. My small dolls usually represent children from about 2-5 years old while my larger dolls are meant to represent 7-10 year old children. In the future I want to create some older children/teens, but I think my focus will always be younger children as I find the innocence and imagination during these ages to be beautiful and inspiring.
Who is your average customer, and how do they find you and buy from you?
I don’t think I have an average customer. My collectors come from all over the world and are all different ages. I also have both female and male collectors.
Do you get any sales or other opportunities through Facebook or Instagram?
I think Facebook has been the best venue for me to share my work and keep my collectors informed about upcoming dolls. I have just started really engaging and sharing my work consistently on Instagram so I don’t have much of an opinion about it yet.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Apart from my art I have many hobbies. I really like food, so I cook a lot and sometimes on the weekends I visit restaurants and enjoy a nice meal with friends and family. I also love to read books and write poems and short stories. I ride my bikes and hike and visit museums and enjoy nature in any possible way I can. I am also very active in my church, I love to learn about Jesus/ God and share all He has done in my life and see Him working in the lives of others; I also teach children’s Sunday school.
How do you feel about the your industry today?
I am not sure how to answer this question…I guess I could say I feel like as more time passes people are increasingly beginning to think of doll making as a hobby instead of a profession and many are cheapening the Art. For some reason people think it is an easy way to make money, and they don’t have the passion or patience for it so they try to become part of the industry without taking the time to learn or develop the necessary skills. This in turn bastardizes the art form and causes other issues to arise. Some of the issues I have seen and had to deal with are people who don’t have the skill set, copying other artists’ ideas and art work because they are not capable of making their own or of being original. This is a subject that is very upsetting to me and other artists. I put a big emphasis on originality when it comes to my art and I feel like any true artist would as well.
From your experience so far, what have you found to be most challenging? And how are you dealing with it?
I have found dealing with customers to be the most challenging. The public can be very nasty at times, and many people like to cause problems and complain about everything. That being said, I also have met some wonderful people in my career and have enjoyed working with them immensely. When I began selling my work on a larger scale I had the mentality of always giving the customer what they want, with time I learned it is impossible to make everyone happy so now I am just running things the way I think is best.
Did you know other people who made dolls before you started doing this?
When I began making dolls I didn’t know anyone or anything about the industry. I simply had a passion and wanted to pursue it. I have found that has made things more difficult for me, but I have enjoyed overcoming the challenges.
Is there any project you are currently working on that you would like to tell us about?
Yes, I am currently working on some funny animals that have been in my sketchbook for some time now. My first will be a dragon name Tickle. I have many different kinds of animals planned,and they will each have a big personality.
How do people react to your dolls?
People who are not familiar with dolls or realistic sculpted art are usually very surprised by my creations. They don’t believe that I have made them until I explain the process to them, sometimes even after I explain it to them it is hard for them to understand that they are 100% handmade originals that started from a block of clay. Some think they are weird and others are very appreciative of them.
What courses/classes would you recommend that someone take to become a professional in the creative industry?
I would not know much about courses/classes, I am self taught, so I never took any courses. I would say the best teacher is trial and error and lots and lots of patience!
What would you love to happen for your business in the future?
I would love to be able to continue to create and share my artwork with the world. I would like to continue to put smiles on people’s faces when they see my creations. I would also like to focus more on my writing and my paintings and maybe begin to offer them to customers as well.
Photos: Kseniya Segina