BJDs and unskilled modifications

Jul 12, 2009

    1. Many people in the BJD community will agree that is a doll is art and an expertly crafted piece at that. Others would also go to say that as artists themselves, that they can build onto the art that has already been made through modifications. Some artists have talent and know what they're doing and can make beautiful changes to a doll. However, others who try to modify dolls do not have the capability to have them turn out looking like a skilled work.

      Now if BJDs are considered as art, shouldn't they be respected as such? They are made with skill and if it is to be modified or changed in any way, shouldn't the person making the changes be just as skilled and provide the sort of results that would come from the company that made them?

      If someone is not skilled enough and a doll ends up looking a mess due to these lack of skills, do you think that these dolls should have never been tampered with?

      What about the companies that these dolls come from? There was a thread somewhere about a face-up artist who had done a face-up for a girl, and the girl had painted over the lips. The face-up artist was very particular about her work and did not want this girl to associate this face-up with her anymore because the painted lips modification was not her own and did not reflect her skill.

      Most companies are very particular about making their dolls absolutely beautiful and flawless when they arrive for the customer. If a doll of theirs is modded to the point where it looks like an unskilled craft, is it right to associate this doll with the original company anymore? Like the face-up artist mentioned, perhaps they are bothered by this and don't want to have the company name associated by bad alterations.
       
    2. I don't agree with that at all. :-/ That's like saying, because someone who sews didn't sew their first few outfits clean or good that they are ruining fashion and shouldn't try it again.

      People need practice to improve, some have more skill starting out than others because of past skills, but dolls can also be a skill-building start. And for the part about "Now, if BJDs are considered as art, shouldn't they be respected as such?" that makes me wonder... What do you consider art? Alot of art that sells for thousands of dollars is just splattered paint on a canvas, there are so many different types of art. Would you not count those paintings as art because they aren't neatly drawn like a picture of a cottage might be? :?

      Over all, the company did the dolls, and in most cases did them well. But if someone wants to change them, clearly it wasn't upto their standard of what they were looking for, be it face-up or actual modifications of the face, like shaving away some of the nose. Should the dolls still be associated with the company in some way? Yes. Should the person feel bad about making the doll as they want it? No. Shound they have done it in the first place? If they want to, yeah, even if it ends up looking 'ugly' to someone else.

      And in the case of this one face-up artist - it is the other girl's doll, she can do with it what she pleases. It sounds like the artist didn't do the job correctly as she had wanted it done, there's nothing wrong with adding to a face-up to make it what you want. I certainly wouldn't want to keep a doll as-is if I didn't like it just because it might bother the old face-up artist. And if that's the case, the artist could just ask the girl to say something like "Most of the face-up was by *Name*, but I added to the lips a bit." that way it is not all being lumped together with the artists work, as in truth, they didn't do all of it.
       
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    3. Well, everybody has to start somewhere. When it comes to modding and faceups, people get better with practice, but they won't get that practice if they aren't able to do mods because they aren't expert enough.

      Bjds are art, but they're different than the painting that you hang on your wall. They're made with the intent that the owner will make changes to them. You have all the original company artists, but then you have the owners in the equation too--the finished doll often shows the hand of both. That's why there can be 100 of a certain sculpt and they all look different.

      Once the company sells the doll, they have no say in what the owner decides to do with it. If someone feels that strongly about not having their work changed, then they need to stick to one of a kind artist dolls and sell them for much much higher prices, or just not sell their work at all. However, it's been pretty clear from the get go, that companies do expect owners to do their own faceups and modifications. And yes, it is right to associate the doll with the company, since the company did make the original sculpt.

      The bjd hobby is different from other collectible hobbies, because of the importance of customization--it's one of the main features, so expect to see alterations and realize that there will be various skill levels, because no one starts out doing professional work. One of the things I appreciate most about this hobby is that owners are encouraged to actually try and do things themselves and let the dolls be creative vehicles for their own doll related projects.
       
    4. I think once a doll is bought and paid for, the owner has the right to do whatever they want to it. That said, I also think it's incredibly... well... STUPID to just start modding things without at least some basic research, since there's so much info available on what does and does not work, and about the best ways of doing things - to avoid damage to the doll AND to avoid endangering your own health!

      I've seen dolls and thought "Poor doll, I can't imagine what they were thinking!" and yeah, I personally would rather have seen them not messed with, but if the owner is happy with it it's none of my business. I'm planning to mod open a MNF sleeping head's eyes at some point, and I know in the back of my mind there's a chance I'll really badly screw it up, since I've never done that before. If I do I'll either NOT ever show it, sell it as damaged, or try to commission someone to fix it. Even if the mod comes out great I'll still mention it's modded, though.

      I do think if someone's modded a doll, especially if it's obvious (or badly done) the doll should be labeled as modded. My SS Yder's eyes were very skillfully modded (by Belladonna), but I try to still mention it so a new person doesn't go looking for an Yder on the Luts site that looks like that. It's also mentioned in my details on my profile, so even if I forget or there's not room to mention it in a thread title or whatever, anyone can look there and see each of my doll's sculpts, who did their faceups, and if there are mods.
       
    5. I agree with the above comments. Everyone has to start somewhere. If you want to get good at something, your first few tries will look like crap. This is generally the way it works.

      While this is indeed could be thought of as a form of art, it's made with customization in mind. You supposed to be able to change the clothes, the wig, the eyes, and even the head, feet and hands on some models. Even with this, no reason not to take it further if you want a different mouth or nose.

      If you mod a doll or face-up, I would label it as a "Modded ..." or "Face-up by ... , lips by me."
       
    6. There is a BIG difference between using dolls and fabric. Dolls that are created are, as I mentioned, crafted with a lot of skill. Now, there is some fabric that is like this, very high quality, handwoven, embroidered fabric, or others like silk which is just expensive on its own. Why would someone who is starting to learn how to sew use fabric like this? I sew myself and I would never practice a new technique on expensive fabric.

      There are other forms of resin and other materials where suitable practice could be obtained from.



      Just because something sells for a lot of money does not mean that it was made with skill. The definition of art is as unique as an individual and that is not the point of this debate. What I have an issue with is when a piece that takes a great amount of skill to form is essentially bastardized and destroyed by someone who doesn't know what they're doing.

      When small and skilled mods are made, then yes, by all means, the work should still be associated with the maker as long as the mod is mentioned.

      However, if what was once well made now looks like crap, that is an entirely different issue.

      Here's an example:
      I do not like zombies. At all. However, I have seen some wonderful works where a person has used a high amount of skill to turn a doll into a zombie. Do I think it's pretty? No, because I think zombies are ugly. However, what I think is pretty or ugly does not determine the quality of the modification. There are other zombie mods that I've seen and the quality is very poor.
       
    7. Practice makes perfect. If someone has paid money for the doll they can do as they please with it.
       
    8. While I agree that the doll belongs to the owner and that every customizer has to start at the bottom, I can't help feeling heartbroken and just a little enraged when I see what was once a beautiful doll ruined by inexpert and ill-advised modifications. As a general rule, I'm opposed to major modifications...it's rather like if someone had decided at some point that the Mona Lisa would have looked better with a hole cut into the canvas or large red slashes painted onto the face. However, it's not my business or anyone else's what someone does with the doll they paid for.

      I'll still mourn for it in my heart.
       
    9. I can understand the situation with the faceup artist. I'm a hairdresser. A few of my customers only have me cut their hair and do the color themselves. Sometimes it can be....pretty bad. If someone asked them who does their hair, I'd prefer they would say that I cut it and that they did the color on their own. Of course, I can't ask them to do that, but...
       
    10. The definition of art is very loose and subjective.

      I do not think all of us got or bought BJD because they were ART and only because they were ART.

      BJD is and still is a very hands-on hobby: thus the option to buy dolls as a kit or as a blank dolls. Besides Volks, I think you can buy a blank doll from just every company. Even Soom MD are offered at basic price of a blank doll, everything else are add on options. Thus I am sure the companies are expecting the owners to do something.

      The so-called unskilled modding will get better as one practice. If "unskilled" modding can make a doll more unique and achieve what the owner was looking for, then there is absolutely there is nothing wrong with it.

      As far as face up artists are concern, I think it really depends on the artist and the extent of modification.
       
    11. the first post seems a little... well, judgemental. I mean, you might look at a bizarre mod and think, sheesh, what a mess, that poor doll to have been modded so unskillfully. However, the doll's owner may not think it a mess at all!
      Sometimes it's the imperfections in things that we love. Personally I love dolls with imperfections, from hairline crack to a strange mod, because I feel kind of threatened and alienated by perfection. So if I did a faceup and loved it even if it wasn't "perfect" or skillful, does that mean it's not art? No. If I make something with love and dedication and call it beautiful, then it's art in my eyes and frankly if someone said it wasn't because they didn't think it "skillful" enough, I wouldn't give a damn.
       
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    12. Leenah I understand what you are trying to say.
      I have seen face ups that make my cringe but the owner is thrilled with how they came out. If they are happy with it and its their doll what can you say?
      If it is in the critique section I try to find something nice to say even if I think the faceup stinks. And many do stink!
      If I did a commission on a faceup and my client changed it and I thought it looked like crap I would not want the whole doll community thinking I did that faceup. If this is what they like I would just hope they would clarify that they changed some aspects of the face up. People take their faceup work seriously and I can repect that.
      As far as modding goes. I would never "practice" on an expensive doll, just like you would never try out a pattern on really expensive fabric like Leenah stated.
      But at the same time if you want to wreck your doll its yours to wreck. Just dont put a really messed up job in the critique section and think people wont be honest. I try to soften my opinions but others will not.
      As a sculptor I am sure it would make them cry if they saw a sculpt they felt was ruined. But again if you sold the it, it isn't yours anymore.
      I am a hairdresser as well and I sympathize with you. It is my biggest complaint because then they want me to fix it after they went crazy one night and bought jet black hair dye and put it on blonde hair.:(
       
    13. I think things like this came up in the doll abuse topic.
      Like with the Black Luke. People felt differently about what happened to that doll then say. Your everyday El.

      Also Just because you feel a mod is done without any skill and horribly to boot does not mean the person doing so thinks the same.

      I could put some... Say horns coming out of my dolls chin and think they look amazing, exactly what I was going for and so on. You could tell me they look like ass and I just ruined my doll.

      Now if the wrong stuff is used and say, it eats away my doll then yes. I did just ruin it. If nothing bad happens to the doll then no. Only in your mind did I ruin the doll. In mine I improved it.

      Its like so many things in life, you can think one thing and I can think another.

      But in the case of say. The Black Luke? A lot of people would say doing anything at all to that doll would be ruining it. One Offs. People are more likely to feel more strongly about them then a doll that there are a billion of floating about.

      Also, if you're going to argue that the company puts so much effort into these dolls. Well then, maybe we shouldn't be able to buy them without face ups, or outside of full set at all.

      there are a billion different outlooks and none of them are right or wrong. Some people are just more likely to agree towards one then the other though.

      Also by "you" I am using the word to direct it at everyone and anyone reading not one specific person. Just so I don't get like... Attacked.
       
    14. Hmm,, I'm a bit of an oddball since I'd worked on similar things before and knew exactly what i was doing when I first modified a doll. I do tend to think it wiser to practice sanding/sculpting skills with something less expensive than bjds before jumping in, but it's up to the individual.
      I see a lot of people forgetting that these dolls aren't art in the same way that a single painting is. These dolls in most cases) are reproduced endlessly for the sole purpose of making a profit. Are they an artistic product? Absolutely, but a new owner changing their own doll does not effect the product itself on the whole, there are hundreds or thousands to be obtained. What takes a doll to the level of serious art is what the individual owner does with it, the only exception I would make is individual artist sculpts like Limwha and Migidoll.

      As to the artist that wished to disassociate herself with the work. she had a seriously indecisive client and did 3 faceups for her if I recall correctly. When it was modified by the client it was literally no longer the artists work. She was glad that the girl was happy with her doll in the end.
       
    15. Oh whatever, like the world is going to freaking end and the bjds companies go out of business because someone messed up a mod. From the companies POV messed up mods are good because the person needs to buy a NEW doll to replace the old one.

      Most art, in my not so humble opinion, is crap anyway, so a messed up bjd is possibly MORE of an artistic item than the original was.
       
    16. This is kind of an odd thing to say, really, if you're talking about art... I mean, a painting, for example, when abstract, can look to some people like someone just went crazy all over the canvas and did senseless things just to call it art, but to the person who made it, it really IS art. So, if you consider BJDs to be art, then it's hard to make a point that some face-ups are unskillfully done because art isn't concrete like that. Other things, like houses, you can say that for. If a house has a slanted roof, bad flooring, and whatever else, THEN you can say it's unskillfully done because the foundation and structure are null and it's impossible to live in. Face-ups are entirely different in that there aren't exactly set rules to it, just guidelines that you may or may not follow, and even those guidelines are questionable because they'll vary from person to person. In a sense then, if you think about it, there is no such thing as an unskilled face-up, just different opinions and perspectives.
       
    17. Whether you choose to view dolls as art is up to you, however, I think it's important to remember that ABJDs are not sold as art pieces. They are sold as customizable 'toys' to be changed to the owner's tastes. Some Limiteds and One Off dolls are probably an exception to this, but overall, they are things to be played with.

      The answer to the question of why someone would choose such an expensive doll to begin practicing modifying is probably just ignorance a lot of the time. They either don't know about cheaper options to begin honing their skills on, or they don't think it's going to be as difficult a task as it ends up being.

      I don't know, I feel like the fact that these dolls as a whole are sold to be customizable pretty much negates the discussion of whether or not it's 'right' for unskilled owners to make changes to them. But, of course, that's just my opinion, and I can understand why this can be a big deal to other people.
       
    18. Why stop there then? Should people be allowed to take pictures of dolls if they have no skills in photography and take bad pictures? What about clothing them in badly made clothes? It's kind of silly really.

      These dolls were made to me modified, made for face ups to be done on them, surely these companies wouldn't sell blank dolls if they minded people doing their own face ups? Not everyone can do artist quality face ups. They made them so people can do what they want to them and love them. I still have the doll I did my first face up on and he still has that face up, I adore him because he'd unique, I painted him and he isn't a carbon copy of the hundred other ones like him that are out there; that was the point wasn't it?

      Sure, some of the failed mods are terrifying, but the doll is owned by the person who did it; it may be shocking and people my tsk and shake their heads, but it was theirs to modify. Besides there are people out there that can fix most mistakes.
       
    19. There are plenty of mods that I, personally, don't think are well executed. And sure, I wish those hadn't been done to the doll. But the bottom line is that it's not my doll. These dolls are intended to be customized by their owners, be they skilled or unskilled at doing so.

      As for whose name is attached to the work... It's nice to list it as "company x doll with mods by me" or whatever. But if the mod is indeed unskilled, then it's probably pretty obvious it didn't come straight from the doll company that way, even if no mention is made of the mod. And if there's any doubt, a look at the company's website or other owner photos of the same sculpt can clear that up.

      If your doll has a faceup by another artist that you've made partially changed, if you're crediting the faceup to someone it would be nice to list it as "faceup by x, with alterations by me" or something similar.
       
    20. Even though you can purchase dolls pre-assembled, painted, and dressed by the company, the origin of this hobby is customizable figure kits.

      Since then, companies have discovered that it is very lucrative to offer customization services themselves, and although few companies still offer boxes of parts anymore (Unoa being the only one I know of that offers this by default) you can still buy unpainted dolls because the company knows that there are still people who want to continue with the hobby as it was 6-7 years ago, when you were expected to do it yourself. Companies produce these sculpts knowing that they may be modified.

      I understand that if you hire an artist to modify your doll for you, and you then change that modification further, that the original artist would then not want that change to be associated with their art; however, it is your customizable doll, you can do what you want... just be sure to give credit where credit is due. If Satoko Ohno does a beautiful one of a kind face-up for your doll, and you decide to enhance it with oil paints and a Sharpie, be sure to acknowledge that. The rest of the dollie art world may tag you as a moron and a destroyer of treasures, but it is your right to do so as long as you admit to it.

      I modify my dolls, it is what attracted me to the hobby in the first place... but I wouldn't touch my one off Volks Cyndy by K. Mayura and Yoko...even though I feel that I do have the right to wipe her face-up and burn her dress, I purchased that doll as a finished piece of art and respect it as such.

      If you modify it, say so.