Interview with Paper Studio Press Founder Jenny Taliadoros

The Paper Studio Press LogoJenny Taliadoros is the publisher and founder of Paper Studio Press. You can purchase Paper Studio Press books through Paper Doll Review (where I buy a lot of paper dolls for my collection), Amazon or the Paper Studio Press, directly. Paper Studio Press has published some of the paper doll artist greats including Tom Tierney, Marilyn Henry, David Wolfe, Jim Howard, Brenda Sneathen Mattox, Norma Lu Meehan, Judy M Johnson, Sandra Vanderpool, Eileen Rudisill Miller, Bruce Patrick Jones and Charlotte Whatley. Taliadoros is also an editor of the Paper Doll Review Magazine and Paper Doll Studio Magazine, which is the publication of the Original Paper Doll Artist’s Guild (OPDAG).

Plus, she’s really nice. 🙂

I contacted Jenny last year, around the same time I spoke to Dover Publishing. My original goal was to get this Q&A published in December, but that month turned out to be far more crazy than I intended. Plus, my visitor numbers always plummet in December and I thought this was an important post to go up when my readership was high. After all, Paper Studio Press is one of the only paper doll publishers in the United States today.

A Q&A Session With Jenny Taliadoros & Paper Studio Press

Did you play with paper dolls as a kid? And what were your favorites if you did?

Yes! I sure did. Most of my paper doll memories take place at my grandma’s house. We’d cut out paper dolls together, and in fact, she’s the one who taught me how to correctly cut paper dolls, “Keep the scissors steady in one hand while turning the paper in the other.” I had several antique fashion paper dolls that I loved and some contemporary characters of the time (1970s): “Denim Deb,” “Freckles and Sniffles,” and “The Sunshine Family.”

When did Paper Studio Press start publishing paper dolls? Roughly, how many paper doll titles are published in a year?

Classic Fairy Tales Paper Dolls in Historical Fashion by Brenda Sneathen Mattox, published by Paper Studio Press
Classic Fairy Tales Paper Dolls in Historical Fashion by Brenda Sneathen Mattox

I started Paper Studio Press in 2005, not only to give collectors more access to paper dolls, but to create a new avenue for paper doll artists to get their work published. Through the Paper Doll Studio magazine, which I had been publishing for OPDAG, The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild, since 1991, I was already in touch with many talented paper doll artists. So with my new publishing venture, I was thrilled to work with so many of these wonderful artists and get more of their paper doll art on the market. I publish 12-16 books a year, most are beautifully illustrated by artists of today, while some are reproductions of vintage paper doll books of the past.

How do you select which paper doll titles to publish? Has the Internet changed any of this selection process?

I try to match subjects with the strength of each artist. For example, Brenda Sneathen Mattox is a vintage fashion expert and beautifully renders antique fashions, so her titles for PSP include “The Changing Shape of Fashion,” “Love of Lace,” and “Classic Fairy Tales in Historical Fashion.”

Femme Fatales of the Film Noir Paper Dolls by David Wolfe published by Paper Studio Press
Femme Fatales of the Film Noir Paper Dolls by David Wolfe

David Wolfe, a renowned fashion illustrator and trend forecaster, is an authoritarian on classic movie stars so he’s done numerous star books such as Ava Gardner, Donna Reed, Debbie Reynolds, Veronica Lake and Doris Day. He’s also done several paper doll books, containing special collections of film costumes such as “Hollywood Goes to Paris” and “Hollywood Style of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

I don’t think the Internet helps me choose paper doll topics; however, it certainly helps in researching content for paper dolls!

There are very few paper doll publishers left in the United States, how do you see paper doll publishing shifting in the future?

As the population ages, I’m afraid the younger generations are not as willing to collect paper dolls, in book form anyway. With online options like Pinterest, people can create their own virtual collections of paper dolls. Also, it’s easy to find free downloadable/printable paper dolls online, making it less necessary to buy printed books. But I hope we can continue to find that niche market so we can continue publishing books for many years (if not decades) ahead.

Paper Studio Press also publishes reprints of vintage paper doll books. How do you select what vintage titles to reprint?

First and foremost, the art must be very well done and it must have an appealing cover design. The subject can range from sophisticated fashions to cute kids. The title must also clear copyright, and when doing a movie star reproduction that can be tricky. In some cases I’ve paid a licensing fee to reproduce a vintage star book. There are some grey areas in republishing and it’s important to do proper research and consult with an intellectual copyright attorney.

Can you outline the paper doll publishing process? Does Paper Studio Press accept unsolicited submissions?

COUTURE: The Many Faces of the 1920s by Jim Howard published by Paper Studio Press
COUTURE: The Many Faces of the 1920s by Jim Howard

The publishing process always starts with a creative concept. It could be a specific topic for a book or an idea for a series of books. Much of the time I present a topic to an artist. If he or she is excited about the idea I then prepare a contract which outlines the scope of the project and grants Paper Studio Press the right to publish the work. Once I receive the artwork everything gets scanned into Photoshop. At this point I might have to add page layout elements, add tabs to costumes and complete a cover design. The entire book is set up in a page layout program. The final stage is to create a high res PDF which I send to my printer. Because I feel it’s important to have our books printed in the USA, I work with a local printer in Maine.

Regarding unsolicited submissions, this doesn’t work so well with my publishing company. Although we’ve published nearly 130 titles, we’re still considered small with a small budget. Because I’m not able to pay artists high fees, it’s imperative that I have a good working relationship with my artists and that they truly enjoy the projects they do for my publishing company. So I feel it’s important to build a rapport with an artist before we agree to publish a book.

Do you have any advice for aspiring paper doll artists?

A Steampunk Tale: Paper Dolls and Storybook by Charlotte Whatley, Paper Studio Press
A Steampunk Tale: Paper Dolls and Storybook by Charlotte Whatley

It’s important to get your work out there. Set up a website or blog to show off your paper dolls. If you want to sell them, try Etsy or Ebay or even your own e-store. I recommend starting with self-publishing. Get copies made at a local printshop or office supply store and sell paper dolls as individual sheets or sets or as stapled books. Join OPDAG (The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild) and share your work in the pages of our magazine, “Paper Doll Studio.” If possible, attend regional paper doll parties/events or the national paper doll convention. Visit http://opdag.com/convention.html for more info.

What do you believe makes for a successful paper doll book?

Having the right topic is key. There’s a big fan base out there for classic films so we’ve done very well with our classic star books, especially Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe, Esther Williams and Bette Davis. There’s also a big nostalgia market, so we’ve had success with titles such as Cinderella, Nancy Drew, Rosie the Riveter and Fun With Grandma. Paper doll collectors also love fashion history, brides and royalty, so we’ve done dozens of books representing those subjects. No matter what the topic the book must be well illustrated, with an attractive cover design.


Again, a big thank you to Jenny Taliadoros for her willingness to talk about paper dolls with me.

Questions? Comments? A favorite paper doll book from Paper Studio Press? Let us all know in a comment.

My favorite is Classic Fairy Tales Paper Dolls in Historical Fashion, because the Little Mermaid done in 1920s fashion makes me happier than any normal person should be made happy over a paper doll set, but I’ll confess I have a long list of paper doll titles from Paper Studio Press that I down own yet and I want. So, Classic Fairy Tales Paper Dolls in Historical Fashion might get a run for its money once I have a few more. 🙂

 

4 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing another great interview. It’s really interesting to see how a niche market like paper doll publishing works. Even the “big” players are small businesses. I feel like I see paper dolls everywhere but maybe it’s like buying a car: you see the car you bought everywhere after buying it. I see paper dolls everywhere because I want to see paper dolls everywhere!

    It would be great to get younger people interested in paper doll collecting. This seems to be something that’s happening in a lot of niche interests and I’m not sure how to encourage younger people to take an interest.

    And Jenny really is a super nice person. I’ve never had anything but positive responses from her when I submit paper dolls to Paper Doll Studio Magazine. Everyone associated with that magazine is so friendly and enthusiastic about paper dolls!

  2. the fading popularity of paper dolls is a cryin’ shame, but i agree with Julie and “vintage” pastimes are practically in vogue now ~ it’s just a matter of finding that intersection.

    i love the love Jenny has for the medium and the fact that her work and OPDAG are almost single-handedly keeping this art alive and vibrant for the whoever wants it.

    i also love how she says that part of production may involve adding tabs to the art. as an artist who can’t be bothered to add tabs, that tickled me.

    : D

  3. I love all your interviews. Thank you.

    I am a great paper doll purchaser, often too chicken to cut mine, but they are my artsy craftsy inspiration.

    They are my crack.

  4. As one of the artists who works with Jenny, I can say that she is the best Art Director I have ever worked with.

    She lets the artists really express themselves and show their style at the same time keeping us on track with deadlines. She always offers fair and useful advice for making the artwork even better.

    Thanks Jenny…Sandra Vanderpool

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.