Interview with Nadia Filippova from Keiudolls

Nadia is one of the most promising Blythe doll customizers out there. Her dolls are extremely well crafted, she has a very recognizable style with an amazing control of the colors and technique. Her bohemian and natural style is so harmonic in all the details: the carving, make-up, eyechips (that she also creates) and clothes (many of her own as well).

Be patient and practice more, even if you don’t like the result in the first times. Put all your heart in what you are doing.

Nadia Filippova / KeiuDolls

DollyCustom posed 12 questions to Nadia Filippova about her history as a customizer, her process, and techniques. Here are those questions:

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Nadia, I am 26, and I live in Moscow, Russia. I’ve changed a few professions, and now I customize Blythe for a living.

When and how did you discover Blythe dolls?

I don’t remember the exact moment when I first met Blythe dolls. I was into BJD hobby since 2008, and sometimes I saw Blythe photos here or there. The first thought I had – oh, what an ugly doll ? It sounds so strange to me now, but at first I disliked Blythe a lot. However, I remember the exact moment when I rediscovered them in a different light. It was at the end of 2013, I was surfing Flickr for something fresh and interesting, and I found PoisonGirl custom Blythe. “I never thought they could be that cute” – I thought. I started looking for more custom dolls photos and fell in love completely, so now I am just wondering – how could I even live without a Blythe?

How long did it take for your style to emerge?

I started customizing in 2014, and I took a break in 2016 because I dived into the graphic design career. I didn’t have much time to practice during that year, but when I returned to customizing in early 2017, I had a clearer vision of what I want to express through my dolls. I think since then my style began to emerge. I am still evolving and searching for the style that I could call truly mine.

First doll from KeiuDolls (2014) and latest doll (2018).

Do you do this as a hobby or professionally?

I do it professionally.
I was that type of person who “I don’t know what I want to be when I grew up” in like 20 years old 🙂 So I finished bachelor’s degree in Economics, then I dived into Graphic Design, worked two years in an agency, and still had not been settled down. I constantly had this idea “I have to find my dream job”. In 2016 when I was rushing from one project deadline to another, I felt a strong desire to return to making dolls. So I took a risk to quit office job and start customizing full time. That was my best decision ever.

What is your creative process like? Do you plan your custom dolls from start to finish or just go with the flow?

I start almost all my projects with inspiration search. I search for pictures with interesting color combinations and mood. Sometimes I am just moved to make a doll because I am fascinated with particular colors. I always try to express some mood through it.

So firstly I find some inspiring image that I want to translate into a doll. The next step is finding a doll with proper hair color or dyeing natural hair like angora or alpaca so it will fit in my idea. After that, I start customizing, and when it’s done I search for proper clothing in my stash or sew an outfit myself.

I don’t plan everything to detail. You never know what the doll will look like in the end, and it’s the most exciting part of the job!

What is your favorite part of this process and your least favorite?

I enjoy carving and painting. For the first years, I was struggling with carving because it hasn’t turned out as well as I wanted. But the more I did it, the more I liked it.

However, the most favorite part of the process is assembling! When you put all pieces together: face, hair, eyelids and eyechips, and you see the whole new character in front of you! This is the moment when I feel the happiest as an artist 🙂

The least favorite is sanding – it’s long, it’s boring, and it’s dusty.

(WIP photo)

How long does it take you to customize one doll? Do you do one at a time or multiple?

It takes me a working week to make one doll completely. Usually, I do multiple dolls at a time, from 2 to 5, so I can start making a doll this month and finish it only a month later.

(optional WIP photo or video)

Where do you work on your dolls? Do you have a dedicated workplace?

I have a small working place. It’s hard for me to keep everything in order, so it usually looks very chaotic. I dream in having a dedicated studio for my work someday.

How would you characterize your style?

I would describe my dolls as natural with a bit of mystery and secret in them. I am attracted to the bohemian style, fairies, and witchcraft, and I hope it finds a reflection in my works.

What are your favorite tools? What is your favorite Blythe mold to customize?

For painting, I love so much soft pastels like Sennelier and Schminke. Their color range is extensive, so you can find some sophisticated colors that work just great in make-ups.

For carving, I use mostly scalpels. My favorite one is an old one – it belonged to my great-grandmother who was a doctor. It’s solid and heavy, very nice feeling.

How did you develop the pricing model for your dolls?

Generally, pricing depends on the initial cost of the base doll, hair material (if it was replaced), type of body and outfit.

For the beginner customizer, what advice would you give them?

Try to find something that touches you deep inside. Try to express it through your doll. Be patient and practice more, even if you don’t like the result in the first times. Put all your heart in what you are doing.

With only 26 years old and 4 years in the craft, Nadia is making a pretty good impression in the customizers’ community. Her dolls have a perfect color scheme, and are beautifully crafted. Every detail is attended with care. She also creates the clothes and eyechips for her dolls.