BJDcollectasy chatted with Donny Harijanto of Dream High Studio whose dolls have been charming tiny doll fans since his first doll, Bunko the Little Green Alchemist, was released in February of this year. The artist, who lives in Indonesia, has already produced three limited full-set dolls, four 5 cm tall micro BJDs, and a new fairy doll named Mimi. Dream High Studio’s goal is to continually produce imaginative, well designed dolls. The company strives to fill orders in a timely fashion, and already has a devoted following.
A: Mostly I get my idea of dolls by reading and listening to other people about their dream doll; what they want that most company haven’t made yet. I love to bring people’s dreams to life. After gathering information and references, I add my own ideas of art and designs. So, I put my own interests last.
Q: What is your work process? Do you draw your dolls and then sculpt them, or design them by sculpting them? Can you tell me a little about what is going on in the pictures you took of Mimi being made?
A: It actually depends on the situation. When I design a whole new doll which is not just a head design, I always make a blueprint of the design using sketches or sometimes computer generated pictures. Then I use the blueprint as reference to sculpt it exactly the same size; joints and design. For the “extra” head sculpts like BOO, SNIFF, and CHUBBY, I just sculpt freely and keep whatever I come up with. It sounds “not-organized”, but that’s good for a variety of designs, because of I never know what I come up with before the sculpt is done.
The pictures are of MIMI having a test stringing, to test how the joint works and how well it holds poses. That’s important for me ‘coz I have a huge passion for joints! I don’t want to make a kicky dolls or floppy joints, even a little. The pic with glossy red MiMi parts, is when I smooth the surface using special surfacing chemicals, so when I make molds from it, it will be perfectly smooth and even surface.
Q: You said you like fantasy art dolls. Are there certain doll artists that you especially like?
A: Yes, Jill Willich, and also Bill Nelson. They really have interesting styles, so arty and lifelike.
Q: Do you have any favorite resin doll company or dolls at this point?
A: Well… I don’t have access for dolls in my country and never held a “real BJD”. that’s strange since I am a BJD artist, so the only dolls I know are my own dolls. Apart from BJD, I love art dolls. especially fantasy art dolls. They really look realistic.
Q: Do you create stories to go with your characters? Are any of your dolls based on any characters from stories or from mythology?
A: Yes, sometimes I make a background story for my characters, but I’m not a good storyteller though. Yes, they’re mostly based on fairytale, folklore, and some movie characters that I interpret myself using my style of design.
Q: Is there a size of doll you like most to sculpt? Will you ever consider making larger dolls?
A: My most favorite doll size is Yo-SD; they still have that cute factor but still big enough to design complicated and lifelike outfits for them. But my personal favorite based on sculpting experience is realistic style SD size. I can put all my effort and knowledge on that size, because on smaller ones I can’t do that. The size limits my design ideas, because I have to consider the mass production possibility. Yes, I did make a larger doll in SD size. I name her IVA, 56 cm tall. I have never produced it in resin yet, because of the production cost consideration.
Q: What is it about smaller dolls that you really like? Is there anything you DON’T like about working in small scale?
A: I really like smaller dolls because of a lot of possible things to do with them. They’re cute, look great if lined-up together without eating too much space, we can make dioramas/sets for them, and a lot more fun things to do.
There nothing I can say “I don’t like” about working in this scale, maybe just call it “more challenging”. It’s just that I have to make a lot of joints and make the joints not just pose-able, but also have to consider about how thin and fragile they will be in that size. It’s pretty hard to do because I don’t want them to looks like robot-like joints, but the movement should looks like real human joints that can mimic natural poses like a human does. I’m still learning to make perfect joints until now.
Q: I read on The Resin Cafe that you plan to make more fairies and introduce different colors of resin for each one. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
A: Yes, I will intoduce more fairies in the future. They will be using advanced joints like MiMi has, and I will give each character their special color, so each time I release a new fairy I will offer it in normal color and also an option to get it in a special color, like MiMi in normal and tan. The next fairy might be normal and purple, and another one will be normal and green. something like that. I use this offer to create variety of characters in my DHS Fairy series. By the way, I might do that on the Pixie series too.
Q: What do you like about different resin colors?
A: I do the different resin colors to please the doll fans. As for myself, I love them because it makes a lot of variety in my characters, however these colored resins are very hard to handle and control, so.. it has pros and cons for me.
I have a long line of ideas and plans. I always dream of having my own universe of dolls, and that every one of them connect to each other. As for now, I currently plan on making a more affordable BJD in vinyls, it’s a YoSD size and it has jointed fingers. ( that’s a clue exclusive for BJDcollectasy.) But I still hope everything goes well and smoothly.
Q: Your first dolls came with outfits. Who made the outfits and will you be offering more complete dolls like the first three dolls, or will you be offering basic dolls from now on? Will you ever offer clothes for your dolls or maybe resin accessories (like magnetic parts)?
A: Yes, the outfit was made by my fiance Linda Riswanto (Kwong Linda). I will offer complete dolls too in the future, but I have to think about the concepts and designs. For now I have to release basic dolls so it can be more affordable.
Yes, I will offer clothes soon. Magnetic parts is a great idea! I will have to consider that.
Q: You said you have ” a passion for joints”. Which part of a doll do you find the most challenging, creating and sculpting a character, or making the doll as well-designed as you can so it poses well?
A: Yes I love making joints and see if they work well. According to my experience, the most challenging thing is making the doll well-designed so I can pose it well and able to hold any pose firmly.
Q: Which do you find more fun (based on your dolls, I’m suspecting you have fun making them, at least sometimes! ), creating the characters and designing the dolls, sculpting, or finishing the doll to make it perfect?
A: I have fun in any of my doll works. I love designing them and sculpting them to finish and getting them ready for production. But… when it comes to the production stuff such as mold making, casting in resin, sanding, assembling, etc.. That’s when the pain shows up… hahhaha that’s a joke! it’s not that painful, but those processes are my least favorite part. My favorite is the designing, sculpting, finishing, and seeing the first perfect cast born.
Q: You seem to have acquired some fans of your work at this time. Have they helped you in your doll development? If so how?
A: Yes, They helped me a lot! They gave me ideas, suggestions, support, and sometimes just simply sharing their life which often gives me great ideas about what I have to create next. I even named my characters with them, Mimi, Squee, Giggle and Spooky Jester. The names were inspired by them.
I would like to say I feel special gratitude to all the people who has been so supportive, and helped me all the way since the beginning of DHS. DHS wouldn’t be the same if all of you didn’t support me so far. Thank you very much guys!
Photos from top: First doll released by DHS Bunko the Little Green Alchemist full-set, preliminary drawing of Mimi, First micro BJD Squee, Tan Mimi with Sniff, Tiko the Red Guardian full-set.
Dream High Studio dolls are sold exclusively through Luxour Academy.