I recently had the opportunity to chat with Abi Monroe about her doll work. Abi fasincates me because she is also a cross-over doll artist--she creates art dolls in additional to creating products for collectible dolls. Read on to discover what inspires Abi's work and which resources she recommends for aspiring doll artists.
Q: What links or information would you like to share with readers?
Above: an Art doll hand sculpted by Abi.
Q: How have art dolls made you a better clothier?
A: I don't know that art dolls have made me a better clothier per se; it’s been more about practice and perseverance, and I still have a long way to go. Creating art dolls gave me a wonderful foundation for expressing my creativity and desired uniqueness. It allowed me to be involved with some amazing artists, who have encouraged and supported my development. It also gave me opportunity to work with a variety of mediums. I love to combine clay, and wood, and fabrics and paint and so on.
Q: How has making fashion and collector doll products affected your doll making?
A: It has affected my doll making to the point I have no time or creative energy to make a doll! I am not a proficient multi-tasker. I also find I get bored quickly - art dolls take a long time to produce, whereas clothes and furniture are less time intense; I can do much more in a shorter space of time, and feel I have done my best. My art dolls never felt quite 'good enough.' I create to pay bills, so it has become a necessity to be both creative and productive. It is no longer a hobby for me.
Q: What are your thoughts about combining the two?
A: If I could spend time working on my skills as an art doll maker, I would love to be able to make an entire wardrobe (clothes and furniture) designed specifically for a handcrafted art doll.
A tiny closet full of handmade clothes.
Q: Your dolls and clothing items have a very consistent look in style and coloring--is this deliberate?
A: It is totally not deliberate - I can't do it any other way, however hard I try; the creativity from within takes precedence. It's a bit annoying at times!
Q: Are any of your customers patrons of both your dolls and your doll fashions?
A: Yes! I have several lovely customers who bought my art dolls and buy my clothes for their other dolls.
Q: Talk a bit about your relationship with the two terms arts and crafts. Do you feel you do both?
A: I feel both require dexterity, imagination and practice. I find it impossible to differentiate... art and craft go hand-in-hand.
Blythe collector doll costumed by Abi.
Q: Your photography is gorgeous. Tell us about what a shoot involves.
A: Being in the right mood, whatever that is. Sometimes I can take OK photos that capture the correct colours and focus, other times I just have to give up and try another day. I like natural lighting, but not too bright and not too dark. I like to take a variety of images with the piece on its own, or on a model, or in a 'room setting' to show how the piece 'works' be it an item of clothing, or piece of furniture. I love a micro shot to show detail. I like to keep things as simple as possible and try to maintain a visual similarity of images for my Etsy shop. A consistent 'look' helps define my style. I think.
Q: Where do you see the future of your designs going?
A: I strive to remain unique; I'd like to continue in this vein whilst improving my skills, and learning new ones.
Q: If you had unlimited funding, what would your business look like?
A: An Animal Sanctuary.
Q: Lastly, do you have any books you recommend to aspiring doll artists?
Books by Patti Medaris Culea and Hannie Sarris.
Here are some books I found by Patti Medaris Culea:
Thank you Abi! :)