Meet artists Yukari and ApokriPHa of Custom Lovers.
Q: Could could you tell me a little about yourselves and how you each became interested in making dolls?
A: Yukari (Rebeca): I started in the BJD hobby around 2004 when a friend of a friend showed me the Luts website. I was fascinated by the Delf Art limited versions and I wanted a BJD so hard (at that time I just started in university and was a very impoverished student, so it took me a lot of time to save and be able to buy one). Now that I think about that, I never had a Luts at the end, and my first doll was a second-handed DoD Yen. (I was her fourth owner, I think!) After that, due to my limited budget, I was practicing in order to make my own face-ups, my own doll clothes, and my own wigs (I made some attempts with shoes and eyes, but at this moment I’m not good enough with them). I think that the crowning desire of any BJD crafter is to make his or her own doll, but that’s a difficult task. I started sculpting some pose-able animals made of faux fur and resin parts, but finally I took the courage to start with the big challenge of making a BJD. I always thought that I would never be able to do it, but after seeing so many artists starting with their own projects I thought: why not?
A: ApokriPHa (From ApoDoll): I am ApokriPHa (aka Teba) and I have always loved toys (especially dolls, ponies and animal reproductions).
I bought my first BJD (a MSD Mika) in 2004 and I have been working on them since then. I enjoy painting make-up, wigs, clothes… and sculpting, of course! I decided to make my own dolls because I love the ones that have unique features and look a bit “weird” and “different”. I always feel something special when I receive a doll I love and I “play” with it. Because of that, I am grateful to be able to bring that kind of joy to other people: collectors who enjoy painting, posing, dressing and playing with my handmade dolls.
Q: Can you both tell me how you happened to join forces to become Custom Lovers?
We have different styles, tastes and abilities, so working as a team is very enriching for us: we are ever learning and improving.
Q: So did you know each other when you both started making dolls?
A: We met when we were starting in this hobby, a long time ago. So definitely yes, we started making dolls some years after that.
Q: Why did each of you initially open separate doll sites? When and why did you then decide to join together and create a single company? Do each of you make your own separate dolls, or do you collaborate on projects?
A: Well, I think that was on the contrary. First we opened a single Flickr account, Etsy shop etc. Because that way it was easier for us to show our customization projects, that in many cases are collaborative works. Both of us do face-ups, but for example ApokriPHa is the one that sews most of the outfits and Yukari makes angora wigs. Sometimes it was difficult to decide if the picture of the customs belongs to one or to the other (because yes, we do the photo sessions together, swapping the camera), for this we decided to open one single account as CustomLovers.
But when we started to make dolls, we decided to create two different brands just for them, because they are more personal and individual projects than customs or accessories creation. Anyway, the dolls are shown in our common Flickr and Facebook, but for order organization we preferred to separate the dolls from Apo and the dolls from Yukari.
Each one of us makes her own dolls, but always we ask each others opinion and help when we are blocked in the creative process.
Q: Can you each tell me a little about the ideas and inspirations behind your dolls?
A: Yukari: my first full dolls were both mermaids (Espuma and Ona). “The Little Mermaid” from Disney was my favorite movie when I was a child. I would have loved to be like Ariel! Since then, I was amazed by mermaids. Well, I like mythological creatures and fairy-tales in general, so I don’t disregard the possibility to return to that line of ‘magical’ creatures in the future. Also I like characters with Asian features, I’m fascinated by Asian culture and traditions, for a Westerner like me they have a mystic and very special aura. My first head (Hien) was based on a Mongolian child’s, but in fact with time I would like to explore more ethnic groups. Now that I think about it, most of my dolls are kids, and apart from the fact that I prefer small or medium sized dolls, I’m sure that is because I was so impressed by the work of talented artists like Annette Himstedt, Hildegard Gunzel or Dianna Effner. Maybe adults are just boring and so ordinary!
A: ApokriPHa: I think that inspiration comes from everywhere, but mostly from the things I like and are less usual in the BJDs: African features, science-fiction characters and different body shapes. My goal is to make unique dolls mixing everything I love: fantasy features, vibrant colors, dinosaurs, faeries, aliens…
Q: What you working on now?
A: Yukari: Well, we always have many ideas boiling in our heads. Sometimes we try it and if the result is not what we expected, we move to another thing. In my case I’m working on an animal girl, but more in a cute werewolf style than an anthro. And of course I would like to start an African head for the Anko and Pomponette body.
A: Apokripha: I would like to make, at least, two more ceratopsian aliensaurus: a male and a kid. But I am also interested in the human figure. Right now I am working on a super-pose-able (I hope) human girl and the goal is to make her able to pose like a contortionist or a ballerina. I am ever inventing strange things!
Q: Is there anything that you would like to add?
A: Thank you very much for this awesome interview. We really hope that people enjoy our humble creations!
We have been in the dolly hobby since 2004 and creation is everything for us. We love to make make-up, clothes, wigs, accessories… and of course, dolls!
Photos (above): Espuma by Yukari, Ceryop by Apokripha
Custom Lovers website