Between model cars and dolls, Jeroen is a full-time artist. Ever since he was a child, he learned what he had to to do what he envisioned. Determined, ingenious and crafty, and also very well accompanied — with his wife Joelle, also a Blythe doll customizer (Jodie Dolls) — Jeroen creates gorgeous dolls, beautifully carved and painted, with intense looks. Learn more about Blythe Junkie, his art and how he envisions his work as a customizer and an artist.
I want my girls to look like they are alive, have a real personality and look less like a doll.
DollyCustom posed 12 questions to Jeroen de Vries about her history as a customizer, her process and techniques. Here are those questions:
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I was pretty much creative from birth. Born in 1970, fell in love with skateboarding when I was 9 years old which sparked my creativity even further. Created T-shirts, made clay figurines, build custom bicycles, model cars, skate parks, skate videos, etc. Whatever I’m interested in I learn the skills and create what I have in mind.
When and how did you discover Blythe dolls?
In Japan, I went looking for RC parts and my wife Joelle aka Jodie Dolls discovered Blythe dolls. At home, she looked them up and discovered the Blythe custom world and ordered her first doll in 2007. I helped her out learning to carve the face plate so that was also my first time working on a Blythe doll.
How long did it take for your style to emerge?
I’m not easily satisfied with what I create and especially sculpting I find very hard. In Art academy it was my least favorite part and carving the plastic Blythe dolls was really difficult for me to do at first. I do have a style in mind which leans a bit to Disney/ anime characters with a touch of realism and they are all in their early teens. I want my girls to look like they are alive, have a real personality and look less like a doll.
Do you do this as a hobby or professionally?
Creating dolls is part of my profession being a freelance artist. Besides the dolls, I also create special RC model cars called lowriders.
What is your creative process like? Do you plan your custom dolls from start to finish or just go with the flow?
I usually create the image in my head of how the girl needs to look before I start. This can be someone I have seen on TV, in movies, music, etc. With that in mind, I start carving and doing the face-up. I really need to get into the vibe of the girl I’m creating or I will be lost.
What is your favorite part of this process and your least favorite?
Faceup is my fav part because then you see the girl really come to life. Carving, especially the mouth, requires a good eye and skills and can be daunting at times.
How long does it take you to customize one doll? Do you do one at a time or multiple?
I take my time creating my girls because I don’t feel comfortable and experienced enough. Usually, it takes me 3 to 5 days to finish a girl. Last time I did two at once which worked out really well but I rather create one girl at a time to keep the vibe going.
Crafty way of not having to touch the face plate during paint work. Video taken from Instagram
Where do you work on your dolls? Do you have a dedicated workplace?
Both Jodie and I have our own workspace and we pretty much work every day on our girls and see each other 24/7 which doesn’t seem to bother us both we like each other's company.
How would you characterize your style?
Teen angels I would call them since I envision them to be in their teens. They have a certain type of depth to them that I really appreciate.
What are your favorite tools? What is your favorite Blythe mold to customize?
I love my slow speed Proxxon rotary tool for the rough work and special foam sanding pads to shape and smooth the face out. RBL because usually the plastic is softer than others but the downside is that there’s less plastic in spots where you really need it.
How did you develop the pricing model for your dolls?
Basically the demand and the speed at which a doll sells developed my pricing. Reputation and the respect given to you by your followers on Instagram and Facebook in the form of likes and replies also is a good sign and indicator of one's popularity.
For the beginner customizer, what advice would you give them?
Take your time, and develop your skills.
Examine work created by other artists, see what you like or don’t like but don’t copy their styles it’s like stealing someone's creative heart.
Check out kids/peoples faces for inspiration.
Really care about what you're creating and don’t be easily satisfied.
Don’t start because you want to make a quick buck.
Have fun and be proud of each accomplishment.
Jeroen de Vries started his path as a Blythe doll customizer in 2014, working alongside with his wife, Joelle (Jodie Dolls). His dolls are beautifully crafted and show off as having a strong personality. Don't forget to follow Jeroen on his social media accounts and keep up with his most recent work.