What is our relationship to the artists who make our dolls?

Feb 12, 2021

    1. So I've been thinking about this a lot. Some of us have real interactions with BJD artists like Batchix, Twigling, Tinybear, and harucasting... but what about bigger groups like Cerebus project, Soom, Switch, Iplehouse, Volks, etc?

      Who are the artists who make our dolls?
      edit: If we did know them even a little would this help stop recasting?

      Do any of them have active relationships with their audience?
      (i.e. social media, in-person, anything)

      Is there any way we could talk some of these people into doing a livestream so we CAN talk to them?

      I know some artists like Gentaro Araki are very private people for good reason. Many manga artists seems to prefer their privacy as well.

      Just curious what our community's experience is like?

      Edit: I am not asking for artist to do anything that is not comfortable for them.; I believe in autonomy! Interacting and managing an audience is a difficult thing that is a job all by itself that some humans make a living doing.
       
      #1 Mandar8587, Feb 12, 2021
      Last edited: Feb 12, 2021
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    2. I think of us as fans of the artists. We love their work, we buy their art. As for having more interaction with the people who work for these companies, I think it will vary a lot from person to person. Many of these people are probably busy enough handling making dolls and replying to business emails, they may not have the time or energy to just chat with all of us. Others might be delighted to just chat without any pressure.
       
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    3. I think this is a great question!

      I follow a couple Korean BJD sculptors on Instagram (they've worked for various companies). Their follower counts vary. One has around 16k followers, the other only 1k followers. It's interesting to see snippets of their lives - while 95% of their posts are pictures of their sculpts and works-in-progress, the others are posts about things like pets, a parent passing away, or wedding pictures. Since all of their posts and followers' comments are in Korean (my browser extension translates everything), I don't comment on their posts, because I'd be the only one commenting in English and I'd feel like the odd one out. :XD: They seem like perfectly normal, nice people though!
       
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    4. I’m not sure about the big companies, but Haru from Harucasting is one of the funniest people to talk to. He always makes me laugh. :lol:
       
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    5. I don't see why you'd expect/want to bother the artists with having to interact with us. When it comes down to it, we're just customers of the product they design for a company to sell.

      Individual artists who run a one-man-band/small businesses possibly, since you'd interact with them to a greater-or-lesser extent by placing an order, but the bigger companies employ the artists to design/sculpt dolls for the company, so the company can sell them. You'd be unlikely to be interacting directly with the artist by placing an order with that company.

      You wouldn't expect the designer of a chair you bought from IKEA to interact with you as the buyer, no matter how much of an interior-design fan you were, or how much that particular design of chair appealed to you, so why would you do so with company doll artists?

      EDITED TO ADD: If you were lucky, as an interior design fan, that designer might have their own website or social-media presence which might offer you more detail and/or a a potential to interact with them, but then the same is true of a doll artist - If they wanted to interact with customers, they'd have some way of doing it. If they don't, respect their privacy and leave them alone.

      Teddy
       
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    6. This question is indeed interesting to me.... I come from a pretty corporate background, and have been *totally* trained that keeping up a brand image is top most important thing to creating a business of any kind. I guess I always figured that when people who own a business become more interactive, they're almost risking breaking a fourth wall (like in theater :kitty2) unless they pay an enormous amount of attention to how they present their social media "personal" interactions as well.

      So naturally, I was curious to find that on instagram, people seem SO social, and some artists seem so willing to share snippets of their lives - and it makes me wonder, does it make their work more engaging because we feel we know them? Or does it kind of poke a hole in some hand-wavy magic of creation?

      I don't know that there's a right answer, but it has definitely caused me to rethink some of my perceptions about how a business "should" be run.
       
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    7. @CloakedSchemer I could see that being someone's experience. Hopefully not though. I wonder if they are like tattoo artists where there are dolls they would like to make but could only do so for the right patron?

      @Sheyda That's awesome. I got to DM the artist who makes Dollstown dolls. It felt good to tell them how much I appreciate their work.

      I feel it does not benefit an artist based hobby in a conterfit crisis to have teams of unknown creators! If they made themselves at least somewhat available to their Audience it could have lasting effect.
       
    8. Honestly, I think I am more on Teddy's side here. Partly because I also know that a lot of times when artists are all chummy and approachable? They don't do it because they like it, and a lot of fans/people overstep their boundaries as well. Artists do it because it helps to sell. It helps to acquire more followers, fans, supporters. But often they don't want to deal with so many strangers, and letting them be part of your life can be very draining too. That is especially true when, like mentioned, fans overstep their boundaries. They think they own you and your work, and that you owe them something. Be it more (free) content, attention or even friendship. Especially younger audiences often don't get that this person they look up to is NOT their friend. You're just another stranger to them who happens to like what they create. That deserves humble gratitude at most.
      Not to mention that some artists also really turned this into an art form itself. They are extremely good at manipulating their fanbase. That's true for a lot of people who make money online and who have a "fan based business model", like streamers on Twitch, especially when the fanbase is very young.

      That does not mean that every artist is like that. Some really enjoy all the attention and interaction, and would do it even without the obvious benefits and also do it without any malicious thoughts. I personally am neither of them, I rather do things quietly and when someone happens to stumble upon it and comment I of course reply. But I rather have my peace than hundreds of people kissing my feet all the time or making weird demands :lol:
      If I'd need to make my living with it, you'd bet I'd be the most approachable, selling myself and my private life person you could imagine. It would be a fake persona, but that's what you gotta do if you want to survive online. Sadly.

      I do enjoy interacting with artists once in a while, but more in a "artist talking to artist" kind of way. I know from artist friends how difficult it is to handle an audience and strangers who seem to want to become all buddy buddy with you all the time, and I'd rather not add onto that feeling. I also just don't care for idolizing people, never did. So that artist is good at their craft, good for them. But at the end of the day we're all just human :lol:

      So at most I leave a comment telling I like what they created/that this thing (sculpt, faceup, photo etc.) looks good. I do not expect nor am I interested in them sharing their private life, how they work, force themselves to stream for me or similar.
      When they do, that's on them, because people got a right to let their social media look like they want to. But I don't care. That doesn't mean I rather see artists as robots with no private life who just churn out content. I am aware that they got this private life. I just don't think it should be necessary they have to strip themselves naked for an audience, just so people show interest in something that is completely unrelated to it (namely, their work).
       
      #8 Ara, Feb 12, 2021
      Last edited: Feb 12, 2021
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    9. @Teddy

      Well for example the Popovy sisters have social media and to that end their audience was able to alert them that their bjds were being counterfited. The reltionship was vulnerable and the Artists were able to be quite clear so that their patrons wouldn't fall prey to scammers.

      Furthermore, I agree. I don't expect the designer of an ikea chair to be running about saying,"hello."
      But If they did it could be be very interesting. And in part Ikea does feature artists in some. of the products that get roated through yearly.

      I feel like the disconnect between the producer of a thing and the buyer of a thing is unfortunate in mordern culture.

      Like the difference between going to a grocery store or going to an open market. Likely you can still get the mushrooms you need for dinner. But the lady at the open market is selling you mushrooms plucked that morning and she tells you to add a pinch of salt so it will taste its best.

      The passion and intention of a creative human or even one deeply steeped in the knowledge of their craft doesn't need to be separated from the audience.

      Also, as for privacy I understand some artists don't want to/ or can't interact with their audience.

      But what I'm getting at is this. If we as an audience had a greater level of interaction with the people producing the things we love would it help to stop recasting?

      If you know someone you don't steal from them.
      If you're at Wal-Mart and you walk out with a tube of chapstick on accident do you care as much about Wal-Mart's needs?

      @Ara I am by no means asking that Artists put themselves in a position to be uncomfortable. The social media artist/patron relationship isnt for everyone, but their work is being stolen... Is everthing being done that could be done to help them?

      If people meet their artists would it help to stop recasting?
      Like hey that's Eujin's work! She has a family and if she can't sell dolls she can't eat!

      It probably more complicated than that really. :/

      edit:

      I did meet a Youtuber/maker recently and I was in the position of Fan trying desperately not to overstep. I proceeded with awareness and asked questions in a carefully worded manner to be repectful of my Artist who was allowing the interaction.

      I have also seen the exact opposite where actress Virginia Hey (Road Warrior, Farscape) was telling someone off for oversteping. The fan was acting as though they knew more about her than she did. The sadder aspect of that is there more where that came from. :/

      To that end :There is no wrong way to eat a Reese's.
      I do not presume to tell another human being how to eat their candy/run their business/ interact(or not) with their audience/ patrons.
       
      #9 Mandar8587, Feb 12, 2021
      Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2021
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    10. I saw your Popovy example, and the sisters are a great case of "they know how to handle their audience and market themselves well". Yet, it is at the end of the day still a very unbalanced relationship. Fans/supporters are eager to do more for the artist than vice versa. Their fans are mostly still just a faceless mass to them. It's a thing that can swing both ways, but most of the time it's an unhealthy relationship between fans and content producer in one way or another.

      The thing is, we tried the "human" approach. Everyone who isn't completely stupid knows that real people sculpt these dolls.
      But people who buy recasts don't care. You can show them so many pictures of dolls being painfully handcrafted, by enthusiastic individuals...and it still makes no difference. Because these people just think about their own satisfaction of buying and owning this doll.
      And again, at the end of the day it shouldn't be necessary. An artist shouldn't have to lay themselves bare for the minimum respect of "please don't steal my work". People with a bit of empathy are aware of that. But these people have no empathy. They buy the thing, from another person who thinks their needs is above the artist's as well.

      I am not saying we are all above this. Clothes and food are a good example. Many of us buy from big companies, who produce under bad circumstances for their workers. In some cases because it's the only way people can afford certain necessities. A poor person needs to dress themself, even if that means they'll do it on the back of an even poorer person many miles away.
      But it is pretty ridiculous to do so with an unnecessary luxury good. Nobody needs a doll.
       
      #10 Ara, Feb 12, 2021
      Last edited: Feb 12, 2021
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    11. I think a lot of artists like the attention on thier personal lives and that's why they share it....like some of these responses are just making artists out to be scared of everyone. Most people like attention and it's evident from some of these accounts lol.

      If they share abt their lives I'm here for it, if not I'm also here for it. I don't thinks it's inherently manipulative to talk about yourself on your own platform
       
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    12. This thread has made me think in more detail about it, and prompted me to ask an author I'm in contact with about her views on the subject, as it occurred to my that I might have unthinkingly done to her what I posted here against doing to a doll artist, and foisted myself upon her by initiating contact.

      I'm only in contact with her because I messaged (via her webpage "contact me" option) which led to a lot of emails back and forth, and her asking me to become a Beta-reader for her last book... So I don't think she's unhappy about our association (although, you never know). But I, as an appreciative reader of her work, was the one who sought her out and initiated contact. I do this fairly often if authors of books I like have a contact-me, I drop them a line to say how much I enjoyed their work. Some just sign me up for their newsletters, some reply in brief, some reply in more detail, and with a very few, we get into an email exchange.

      In the pre-internet days, I'd send an open letter to the author via their publisher (open so the publisher could also read it and be sure they weren't passing on anything with dodgy content), and it was up to the author whether they replied or not (similar results - some no-replies, a few thank-you-for-letting-me-know, most with no return address, some including their address, and some replied at greater length and we ended up corresponding, sometimes for years after).

      EDITED TO ADD: The author wrote a long, involved, email back detailing exactly why she adores it when readers email her about her books,

      Teddy
       
      #12 Teddy, Feb 12, 2021
      Last edited: Feb 12, 2021
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    13. Do you wonder the same thing about the engineers who designed your car, OP?
      Or the designer who patterned your outfit and shoes?

      How about the web devs who coded the software this site runs on?

      No?
      Why not?
      Don't their creative efforts deserve attention?
      Isn't there also some artistry in what *they* do?

      Okay, okay. I know I'm being a little snarky here, but seriously... The point I'm making is that the sculptors and casters who make and assemble our dolls are professionals. They're doing a job in a commercial setting, producing items to sell, in order to make a living. While doll production absolutely is a creative process and an interesting occupation, it's not all that far removed from a lot of other jobs you wouldn't even think twice about when it comes to "interacting with ~The Creators~". So, keep it in perspective.

      In other words, let people do their work in peace. Realize that it *IS* a job they're doing... a for-profit enterprise... and that, when you get right down to it, we're only customers buying the products they've made.
       
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    14. There's a small, single-artist brand I follow who I happen to have as a mutual friend by coincidence. Her personal social account has popped up as a suggested friend before but I hesitate to add her because, while I have actually met her before (outside of the hobby and before she made dolls), it feels like it would be crossing a line as a fan. As far as dolls go, I don't really see the ones she makes as any more or less special just because I know her. I like them because they're cute ^^

      I think I can understand why a lot of doll artists prefer to remain behind the scenes. I enjoy writing and drawing and painting, but prefer to share those things online under different screen names so I can have privacy. I still get to see and enjoy people reacting to what I post (likes, kudos, reviews, etc) without them knowing everything else I do. I think the doll artists can get the attention they want from coming to places like this and lurking without having to necessarily interact.
       
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    15. Potential customers? Admirers of their work? Social media acquaintances?

      But (unless you know them in another context of course) an artist is not our "friend". They don't owe us anything and we don't owe them anything outside of contractual obligations. That means, the artist is free to change its style of sculpting and us to stop buying from them. Any more personal ties would complicate things way too much.

      Of course, there are artists who love interacting with their audience. It may be a marketing ploy or it may be their personality. But to me, it's no different than what an average person would do on social media.

      About the recasting part of the argument, I don't think it would change much. In my opinion, people who buy recasts either don't know about the recasting nature of the doll or know they are buying a recast and choose not to care. If they already don't care, they will find any explanation to justify it, it wouldn't change much if they were to see the pictures of the artist's cats or something.

      Because human beings are selfish beings by nature, I would start by calling recasts what they really are: counterfeits. And, as far as I know, importing counterfeit goods is illegal in many countries, including the US. It's no different than buying a fake Gucci bag: in many countries, if you are caught at the border with the fake Gucci bag for example, you can be sanctioned according to your country's laws (often a heavy fine + destruction of the counterfeit goods, but it could lead to jail time depending on the circumstances).

      And really, take an average person, who may be tempted to buy a counterfeited doll/fake Gucci bag: which argument may be more likely to sway him? That he may be doing harm to unknown workers who post snippets of their lives on social medias or that he may be breaking the law and facing sanctions?
       
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    16. @dxgirly He is so fun! I'm really glad he's a part of this community! I really loved it when he mad the screaming Adori figures XD

      @maxxxamillion
      This is an important thing to note.
      Some artists are simply doing a job.
      And the lens of that perspective is very important. There are people who are technical and production driven and there is need for all kinds of creative people. I personally wouldn't mind meeting some of the people you mentioned but that also isn't true for everyone and most certainly not reviprocal for the creator on the other end.

      @lyaam12 This is what I have been finding more and more about the counterfit doll makers and their buyers.

      There really is some butal cause and effect happening. I didn't think about the seizing and destruction of counterfit (dolls/bags/goods) till you mentioned it.

      There really is only so much a person can do in the spere of their influence.
       
      #16 Mandar8587, Feb 12, 2021
      Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2021
    17. @Mandar8587 : I am not sure I understand which brutal cause and effect you are referring to.
       
    18. I think my role as admirer and supporter who's firmly against recasts or other forms of copying is sufficient. I have greater admiration after making a basic jointed gargoyle bipedal doll out of polymer clay. Some artists may wish to have more interaction with their fans, but if they don't I fully respect that.
       
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    19. Just wanted to mention @Mandar8587 the Popovy Sisters do not run their own social media accounts. They are busy artists doing their thing, they have a guy who runs that stuff for them. I've talked with him before.

      I follow many doll makers on social media, but I don't expect anything from them. I am a fan, and they don't owe me anything.

      Now, I've been to a lot of doll events and gatherings so my interactions with doll makers has all been in person. I met the sisters behind Peak's Woods years ago and when I saw them again 5 years after, they remembered me and wanted to talk. I know Batchix cause we met at local meets years ago. To me, that's the kind of connection that's important - irl person to person.

      I think social media gives you an illusion of closeness or friendship or connection. But that's all it is, you don't know them and they don't know you no matter what they have posted or how many times you've liked their posts.
       
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    20. I would be very interested in interviews with BJD artists. I casually follow a couple artists on instagram but I'm not interested in 'having a piece of their lives/work' available to me. I'm just a customer and happy to keep it that way.

      But I think an 'old-school' interview with some pre-arranged questions would be interesting. I'd like to hear about their processes, experiences and how recasts affect their business in real time. Would it change the minds of recast buyers? Maybe, maybe not. But the content would exist as proof that recasts are a problem non-the less.

      I think if you keep the interview professional it would maintain the customer-supplier or customer-artist boundaries without veering into parasocial friendship territory. We don't need to hear about families or see pictures of people's homes and pets for example.
       
      #20 Miss_Lovely791, Feb 15, 2021
      Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
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