Building a Reputation as a BJD Faceup Artist?

Aug 14, 2017

    1. So I would love to start doing faceups for BJDs, except I'm a tad bit poor so I don't have many BJDs, and I don't have a large portfolio. Alongside that, I don't have a big following on any social media. I do, however, have all the right materials, know what to do and how to safely package heads and the like. Do any faceup artists here have any suggestions, tips and tricks? I'd love to hear anything and everything you can offer!
       
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    2. My suggestion is to show off the work that you did on on your own dolls. Also, if you have nice MP feedback is will show potential customers that you are trustworthy.

      If you have close doll friends, offer to give them free face-ups in exchange for showcasing your work to others.
       
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    3. You can also buy a practice head for the purpose of doing different faceups on.
       
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    4. I agree with Arashi Uchiha! Check out Alice's Collections' in stock dolls, they have practice heads for $20-25. (Practice heads are literally regular, legitimate heads, but sold extra cheap just for people like you who want to build their faceup portfolio. :3nodding:)
       
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    5. Just remember you have to sell yourself to the customer. Feedback is important but so is your attitude, there are a few artists I've had to swear off of completely in the last month because of their attitude and how they handled things.

      Practice heads, buying cheap heads, or trying to find a group in your area and offering them face ups at discount to build yournportfolio isnangood start
       
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    6. This was actually something I'd been curious about too. I love working on faceups, and have a lot of the right materials. It's fun to do, and I love creating something that could make somebody else feel good.

      The things that hold me back from really looking into it, though---the fear of disappointing somebody with the progress, or feeling not good enough. There's also the fear of ridicule, and not being up to par with all those excellent artists out there. But...there's also the fact that I will have a busy schedule coming up in a few weeks with classes, and I wouldn't know how to squeeze such into it.

      To keep more on topic, everyone made some really good points. Posting progress of your work on social media sites is a great resource, as is doing art trades/exchanges, and offering free faceups for practice. Getting a practice head to work your skills on helps keep you creatively busy and motivated, and not being afraid to put yourself out there is an asset. An admirable one that I admire in those capable of it.

      I hope the posts in this thread give you wonderful insights that help you out, and wish you the best of luck getting out there and doing your thing.:kitty2
       
    7. ^ I thought the same in the beginning, but honestly - if you've shown your work before (like on practise heads/your own dolls) and people still entrust you with their own dolls, there isn't that much to dissappoint them with :) They're giving you their heads because they like your style. Also, as well as a general tip, don't compare yourself to others, unless its about pricing your work. There will -always- be someone better than you out there, but the only things that matter are a) do your customers like your work and b) do YOU like your work.

      To stay on topic - offering free face-ups helps too (customer only has to pay for shipping). Get on all the available social media channels if you can - tumblr, flickr, instagram, facebook - tag your pictures accordingly, get them into groups on flickr/facebook, but also show yourself by reblogging/commenting/fave-ing others work (facebooks bigger BJD groups like BJD Addicts or BJD Lovers are a good source to get critique for your face-ups, for example... if people like them enough, they'll probably message you at once, esp. if they're for free).

      Also, a BIG point... invest in a good camera, unless your mobile phone makes really good and sharp pictures. Your face-ups can be the absolute best but no one can tell if your pictures of them are grainy, dark, distorted (don't go with xour cam 2cm in front of the face, but rather go farther away and use your zoom) or only in artificial light (direct sunlight also isn't the best, though...).
      Basically any small digital camera will do, but I'd recommend a DSLR (A Canon D1200 starts at ~320$, which is the low end of DSLRs).
       
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    8. Yes, agreed with @meanae about the camera! It is absolutely important to be able to showcase as true to color and details as you can so people can get a really good idea of your style.

      When I started out I also bought practice heads, as previously recommended. I do not do faceups for open public (for now,) but I have done it for friends; this could help you build your portfolio AND practice your skills and technique.

      Eventually I even bought cheaper heads that had yellowing or any damage (making them sell for less) and used that to practice blushing to match any resin in my own collection and experimenting with mods.

      You can also paint your own dolls several different ways to get the ball rolling.

      As mentioned before — attitude is super important. It's good to remain humble, as this is how an artist can grow, but also be confident in your skills. If you're unsure about your own quality or work, how can you attract others to trust you while you aim to grow?

      I wish you all the best of luck. I'm sure you'll do fine!
       
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    9. I get the feeling you have it backwards a little.
      You have no large social media following probably because you don't have a big portfolio/didn't really start yet. All that only comes through practice/posting yourself frequently/accepting commissions in the first place.
      You don't need it to start, you get it after starting.

      What you can do in the beginning is to practice painting your own dolls and/or their parts (like body blushings, tattoos, scars).
      If you don't want to constantly work on them, try to get cheap practice head (Alice's Collection sells two Akagidoll heads for 25$ each, can't beat that price) and just repaint, wipe it, repaint it again.
      Blank Dollfie Dream or Obitsu heads are cheap too, if you want to learn how to do anime-esque face-ups on vinyl. Cubeco made this plate with different eyeshapes to practice.
      Don't just mindlessly paint a dozen face-ups, but instead try to understand the craft and work with references. Much like any other thing just repeating isn't enough to get good, you need to know what you are doing too.

      You can start with offering face-ups for local collectors or just for shipping costs to build up a portfolio.
      Just make sure to be honest about your skill-set and take proper pictures for people to see.
      It might be slow in the beginning, people need time to trust a new artist, which is why starting with locals is always a good idea: they know they can easily get back their stuff if it comes to the worst.
       
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    10. I have considered becoming a faceup artist, but I keep changing my mind because I worry too much. I do my own faceups and have done some for my sister and friends as well. I've been in the hobby for almost ten years, and at this point I've worked on hundreds of sculpts, and I still doubt myself. :sweat

      Some things to think about:
      • Price according to your skill level and experience. Someone is probably not going to pay a newer artist $200 to work on their doll, but with practice and experience, you might get there in time.
      • Be open to critique. You can post your faceups in the critique section here on DoA, and that can greatly help you improve your skills to get to a point where people are more likely to commission you.
      • Share photos and advertise everywhere, like @Menae said.
      • Make sure you have time to complete the work in a reasonable time frame. Everyone is different, but I personally will not even consider sending a head to someone who takes over a month to finish it. If you need to, only allow a certain number of slots per month so you don't get overwhelmed and fall behind. Be honest about your turn around time. If you say up to a month and finish in a week, people will be thrilled! If you say one month and take two, people will be upset.
      • Set a list of guidelines/rules. For example, many artists state up front that they refuse to work on recasts or copy another artists' style. Many will do one faceup and offer to redo it for free one time if the customer doesn't like it, but they charge for wiping more than once.
      • Attitude and professionalism goes a long way. Try to avoid any drama in the hobby. Keep good communication. A lot of people are very nervous about sending their dolls away. Replying and updating quickly can help ease their fears and make their experience better.
      • Always ALWAYS ship with tracking and insurance! You don't want to be held responsible if their head gets damaged or lost in the mail. Your customer should be paying shipping both ways, but make sure they know you only ship in a safe way. Also be sure you pack the head very safely and securely.
      • List all materials you use. People can be picky about what is used on their dolls. Even if it's not dangerous for resin many have preferences, like paint vs watercolor pencils for linework.
      • Get as many examples of your work as you can. This may mean you have to wipe and redo your current dolls, but as long as you are using safe materials, it won't hurt them (and it gives you practice!) You can also get a practice head, or offer free faceups to local people or friends who already trust you. Show examples of any styles you are capable of doing well, and if there are things you feel you cannot or will not do, state that.
      • Give your customers more than one way to contact you. I usually like to have an artist's real name, phone number and email, as well as their address of course. That may seem like a lot, but if someone is expected to trust you, someone they met over the internet, with $100+ of their beloved possessions, I think it's only fair to allow them that info. It doesn't have to be posted publicly, just given to people when they choose to do business with you.
      The most important thing, I think, is to just be completely honest. Show what you can do, admit what you can't. Give realistic expectations. That way, your customers can make an informed decision before commissioning you.
       
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    11. I am in the same boat...I love doing facups but I haven't even gotten my first doll yet do to a faceup on her. I've only done Monster High and one Pullip and I think they turned out lovely but I don't even have anyone biting at my MH faceup commissions listing. xD I'm going to a local meetup this weekend though so hopefully I could maybe sell some people on it there. ;)

      I wish you luck, this thread has some great advice!
       
    12. Thank you everyone! I plan to get a practice head based off the feedback of this thread, and someday when I get even better I'll probably wipe and redo the faceup on my only BJD. I do primarily Monster High faceups currently, so I hope getting the practice head will help me out! I'll look into it soon ^^ I do try to ship any dolls as carefully as I physically can (I've dumped so much money into bubble wrap lol), but all the tips here will really help! Thanks everyone! I will still be happy to hear even more tips if anyone has them, knowledge is power :D
       
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    13. I would say to make alot of posts showing your work, and make sure you take good pictures so that people can stop in their tracks and admire what you have accomplished and want to purchase a faceup by you. You could also start really cheap so that your work gets out there then eventually you could raise your prices. Also you could do a faceup for someone that is well known in the community, or someone with a youtube that would do a review for you, that way alot of people will see your work and seeing someone hopefully say good things about it will entice them to want to purchase it too. :sumomo: