Interview with Ophelia Queen

Capturing our attention to current and past dramatic issues, Ophelia Queen’s custom Blythe dolls urge us to stop and think. She is perhaps the first customizer to use this kind of subjects in her dolls, going beyond the art of the doll to the more embracing general art.

Of course, only one who belongs to the masses can feel the urge to stand out from the crowd, and whoever does not belong to the masses does not need colorful trash and tangled hairstyles in order not to be driven into the abyss by the masses.

Nietzsche / Quote chosen by Ophelia Queen

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

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I’m a nurse, but my passion for art deals with most of my life. I live with my 3 cats and my son Jona. My inspiration is cinema and photography, I have about 2100 DVDs. I am interested in art and follow the most important events. I have been a model and performer for many years always with the intent of representing through art, my thoughts. I exhibited and performed in Italy, Berlin, Hamburg, and Madrid.

The face behind the art of Ophelia Queen.
The face behind the art of Ophelia Queen.

When and how did you discover Blythe dolls?

I discovered the Kenner Blythe doll around 2000 when Takara absorbed the company. I was shocked by the failure of such a wonderful doll, and that people thought she was scary back then.

How long did it take for your style to emerge?

My style has always been to provoke, denounce human pity. For this reason, I hate and love my dolls at the same time. Personal experiences and tales of the world continue to allow me to denounce what I do not approve of human behavior. I hate falsehood, hypocrisy, presumption.

Zenobia, War Victim - Custom Blythe doll.
Zenobia, War Victim – Custom Blythe doll.

Do you do this as a hobby or professionally?

It’s a passion. I don’t accept commissions and I don’t decide the when to work. There are empty moments in my life where I can’t create in any way. This is why the intent is always to express through photography. Initially, it was a great investment. My country is packed with materials and import is penalized with high costs and long waits. I am self-taught, no one has helped me, all was learned with research and a great passion. But I’m happy not to have any kind of school to condition me and to be successful in my intentions. I’m not a technique, I’m not interested in having a perfect “factory” product, art is wonderful if imperfect.

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

Every doll of mine has a history. I begin with researching through the people, film, books on the theme I want to represent. I have the intuition on the emotion that I want to describe. Starting with the colors, I decide her hair (commissioned or my dye) and the outfit. 
Then I think about the expression to give. 
The whole job is of my production to the last detail. I don’t care about quantity. I can do a doll a month if managed with care. I like to collaborate with other artists as well and I always mention if the shoes and the dress are of from other creators.

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

I like carving, to see the face as it takes form. I also like a lot the rerooting process. I would don’t commission it to others (I am too rigorous). 
I’m bored with little creative steps like changing eyechips and pull-strings.

Doll carving in progress.
Doll carving in progress.

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

Around 10 days, at least. I always work on one doll at a time.

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

It’s not important. I don’t have an office, I am not a designer.

How would you characterize your style?

My style is dramatic. I can’t make happy dolls, although one of my collections was about Ekman’s emotions (including happiness) and that was hard work! I can’t see happiness in people, but strong apathy, general dissatisfaction. This is very typical of the Italian people, to “weep on it” without wanting to change things.

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

I use a scalpel with a blade #11, #15, a Dremel and other for engraving. My favorite mold is EBL and I try to work exclusively with it.

How did you develop the pricing model for your dolls?

The price is variable. I like to give everyone a chance to have my dolls. I offer layaway payment plans (even for a year) … but my creation needs to be loved and understood.

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

Look, research, absorb, ask questions if necessary. I am very helpful, some things are I’m not able to describe and explain, but I provide images without any problem. This did not happen to me. I have received many doors in the face without any help. This gave me strength, and I realized that it was not impossible! 
I don’t like copying, I know exactly what I want to convey, the experience is important. No one is a genius, and we all start from being incapable!!! 
I would recommend to the more experienced to stay with the feet on the ground!!!!!

"Masculin, feminin" Android Blythe - Tribute to Godard of Nouvelle Vague (Collaboration with Bad Robot).
Masculin, feminin” Android Blythe – Tribute to Godard of Nouvelle Vague (Collaboration with Bad Robot).

Ophelia Queen’s work brings to the world of Blythe doll customization a sociological view, a critical view. Every era of mankind had its dramatic events and they are portrayed in these dolls with care and attention to detail. It’s a different way of looking through the doll into humanity’s faults. Not for the faint of heart. 
Don’t forget to click the link below to check all of Ophelia Queen’s social link and follow her to see her work in progress and dolls she’ll be releasing.