Face-up artist Lisa Jameson, a.k.a. Pepstar, loves the versatility of BJDs. “I think it’s fabulous that you can take one sculpt and paint it 10 different ways and literally have 10 different dolls.” As an artist, Pepstar has worked in many different media, but BJDs have been a part of her creative life since she acquired her first doll, a Luts Woosoo bought off of eBay in 2005. Pepstar has become quite well-known in the BJD collecting world. She has a very unique face-up style and also has many happy clients who love her work.
Pepstar was born in Montreal, Canada. Her parents were born in England as were her five siblings. The family eventually moved to San Jose, California. While she collected Barbie dolls as a child, art was Pepstar’s passion. Always creative as a child, by the time she reached High School, Pepstar was taking as many as three art classes a day. She moved to Venice Beach in the 1980’s. There Pepstar joined one of her roomates in producing hand painted vests and jackets. She also renewed her interest in Barbie collecting.
After moving back to San Jose, Pepstar was focussed on finding employment. “Everything took a back seat at that time, while I looked for work. I discovered Adobe Photoshop, creating some interesting computer graphics and photo manipulations.” In 1998, Pepstar discovered Tonner fashion dolls. Barbies were forgotten and she began to do fashion doll repaints. BJDs were even more of a revelation. “When I received my first one, I was blown away. They became my new canvas and I haven’t looked back. There are so many different companies and sculpts, it was exciting! The rest is history as they say.”
Face-ups started as a hobby. ” The first BJD face-ups were rough. I wasn’t used to working with resin, but I improved over time and now I prefer it. As time passed I discovered a few doll forums and would post my work to share. When I noticed the dolls were selling and people were requesting face-ups, I chose to create the business. I generally use acrylic paints and pastels. I do not use an airbrush. I use paint brushes for almost everything and Mr. Super Clear fixatives. I pride myself on a quick turnover so that clients are not without their dolls for too long.” Pepstar has kept her face-up service as a part time job. She also sells some complete OOAK dolls on eBay. Pepstar generally paints about four dolls a month and posts a new doll on eBay monthly. At this point she calculates “I’ve done hundreds of dolls over the years. Both sale dolls and commissions. I’ve lost count!”
When offering full dolls, Pepstar has partnered up with various talented doll costumers. ” I’ve relied on the expertise of many costumers over the years. Dollovely, Staci Carpenter, Phantom Creations, Gaylejoy, Divas*By*Design and many others. One I have used and is no longer in the business that made the wonderful fairy costumes was Lady Morghayne. Also, I have to mention JPop for wigs. Beachgirlnikita also makes great fur wigs and I use them a lot for the Sprites.”
Pepstar still has her WooSoo doll, and he is one of the few dolls she owns that she didn’t modify.”He’s one of the few in my collection that I didn’t modify. He looked so sweet and innocent that I had to leave him be. My tastes have changed a lot over the years. I used to collect many of the Luts dolls. My recent favorite companies have to be Soom and Iplehouse. Soom is doing some fantasticly creative dolls. I don’t own any, but I admire their line of fantasy dolls. Their Dia is one of my favorites in my collection. Iplehouse is also doing fantastic work in terms of realistic looking body sculpts and their Akando is also a fave in my collection. I also admire Elfdoll sculpts. These days I look for realism. The more real the better ” Her collection has changed in size over time. “At one point I owned about 59 BJD dolls of various types and sizes. That is a bit extreme, but as anyone knows who collects these dolls, they can be very addicting. I have
since narrowed my collection a little. Obviously I have my favorites. Occasionally I will sell one from my own collection, or if they get voted off the BJD island, I will sometimes give them a completely fresh face-up and body blushing before I sell them.”
Pepstar tends to both collect and paint the larger size dolls. “Generally, I don’t work on anything under the 43cm size. For my own collection I do prefer the larger dolls, 60 cm or taller. The larger dolls give me more creative options because the canvas is larger.” She is very attuned to the sculpt and resin of each doll she paints. ” Sometimes what the client has in their mind just won’t translate to the doll they’ve chosen. Quite often they will see a doll they like that I’ve done and want me to create something similar but send me a different sculpt. What works for one sculpt doesn’t always work for another.” Pepstar has also frequently taken on the challenge of working with unusual resin colors. “I’ve now worked with most of the Bobobie colors and a couple of others, a Soom Onyx and a ResinSoul Dan both gray. I won’t work on dolls that have been “coated” because some of the materials I use might damage the coating. On the other hand, the dolls
whose color goes through the entire resin is also a challenge because the resin is different…You can tell when you sand it and also the paint & pastels adhere differently to it. The colored resins are definitely a challenge. I’ve also produced a couple of cool ones though, so it’s worth it.”
One unusual face-up client was a music video company. They were making a video of the recording artist Kerli and wanted a BJD as an important prop for the shoot. Pepstar created the face-up for the doll. “I owe this to Emory at Junky Spot. He was approached by the company creating the video and supplied the doll. They needed someone to do the face-up and quickly. I literally turned the doll around in 24 hours. Painted and then FedEx’d to the destination. I gave them names of costumers and wig places and they managed to pull it all together. I was excited to do it and thought the end result was fantastic. I’m quite proud of that achievement. The doll was a D.I.M. Flora.” Recently Pepstar created a unique ShinyDoll for Jpop dolls. ” I’ve known Grace for quite some time. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet her in person at the first BJD convention in San Francisco. I’ve admired her products for a long time and can honestly say that most of the dolls in my collection wear her doll wigs. Grace approached me to work on the ShinyDoll and I agreed as I had never worked on one and I like to try new sculpts.” Pepstar’s doll is the latest OOAK ShinyDoll to be offered through Jpop.
BJDs are an important part of Pepstar’s creative life, but she enjoys other forms of creative expression. “Apart from working on dolls I do enjoy working on Photoshop and creating other types of art. Sometimes I will use my doll photos as well. It all balances out in the creative universe of my head. When I need a break from the dolls, perhaps I’ll work on Photoshop or make some creative boxes, cards, whatever. Working on the BJD dolls though is special because I create personalities… Also, with the BJD’s being resin, I can modify them easily. It’s like they come to life in my hands. They are my Pinochio’s!”
Photos (above) from top: Luts Lishe, Iplehouse Akando, Bobobie Sprite in blue resin, KooDoll Mala
The Kerli Video Walking on Air can be seen HERE.
Pepstar’s World ~ Pepstar’s Website