Gen is an American artist who takes aesthetics orders through her shop EngelMech Designs. She has experience in graphic arts and toy design. Gen takes commissions for both resin and vinyl dolls.
Q: When did you start customizing dolls?
A: If we’re not counting childhood Barbie experiments, I began when I was 15. My mom gifted me one of the 2000 release Irwin Sailor Moon dolls. While I loved it, I thought the face print had something to be desired, so I “enhanced” it with my gel pens. Shortly after, I discovered Volks 1/6 Dollfies, and there was no escaping the rabbit hole from there.
Q: How long has Engelmech been open?
A: I started Engelmech in 2006, while I was still in college. At the time, it was created in part for my graphic design classes, you know, like brand development, packaging and stuff. When I was in school, all my art projects revolved around dolls. It’s amazing I got grades as good as I did, college art professors are notorious for disliking anything resembling anime or comics, and my dolls were/are very anime influenced.
Q: Where did the name for your shop originate?
A: I just kind of threw together something that I thought sounded cool. Engel is German for Angel, and mech is short for mechanical.
Q: Has the work you do in your regular job influenced your painting work and/or vise-versa?
A: Currently, I’m trying to shift my career from graphic design to toy design. The best job I’ve had was a graphic and toy designer for a local wooden toy company. Right now, I’m gunning for a prototype toy painter at a different local toy company. I’m also I’m the middle of learning digital and traditional sculpting, so I can start making my own dolls from scratch.
Q: What kind of work do you offer?
A: Face-ups for ball-jointed dolls, repaints for play line or collector grade fashion dolls, tattoos, body detailing, small mods, mani/pedis, and if I’m feeling real frisky, fully repainted and re-outfitted dolls.
Q: What materials do you like to use to produce your face-ups and other customizations?
A: I use airbrush with Testors Aztek paints, and Golden acrylics for details. My favorite detail brushes are Reaper Master Series brushes, sizes 0/30 and 0/40. Sometimes I’ll use a touch of pastel, if I want to add a more powdery luster to the makeup.
Q: Do you do any other work related to dolls?
A: I love to sew outfits, and I want to start producing my own dolls really soon.
Q: Do you work on any size doll?
A: Heck yes.
Q: Have you had any unusual requests?
A: Honestly, nothing I can think of has been too weird. But then, I used to do illustration commissions before I did doll work, and man, the things grown men asked 18-19 year old me to draw… yeesh…
Q: Have you collected many BJDs? Do you have any favorite companies?
A: I have six, if you include my Dollfie Dream. Others are Bianca, my SD16 Rinon, Ursula an Unoa Sist, Isabelle a Limhwa/EOS Doll Leda, Suzette a Yo SD Papi, and Baby Bianca a Yo SD Rinon. I have a lot of Volks Super Dollfies kind of by accident, though I would say that Volks is one of my faves. Other favorites are SupiaDoll, Art Bimong, Elfdoll, and Alchemic Lab.
Q: Have you started designing your first doll yet?
A: I had begun sculpting my first doll, and got as far as cutting the pieces at the joints. I scrapped it because there were a lot of technical faults that I thought I could do better with a second try. After all, a second try always comes out better than the first, at least for me.
Q: What size of doll do you most want to make?
A: I love the 40-45cm mini size.
Q: Is there anything that isn’t already covered you would like to add?
A: Not a whole lot, except that I’m so happy to see so much creativity in the hobby these days! I mean, it’s always been a fountain of creativity, but it’s amazing that even under threat of having their dolls recast, artists are still pushing forward with more dynamic designs than ever. It’s a great community on the whole, and deeply inspiring.