Paper Doll Studio Issue 114

So, kinda a belated review of the latest issue of Paper Doll Studio. It arrived in April while I was on my Hiatus, but I knew I wanted to talk about it upon my return. For those of you who don’t know, Paper Doll Studio is the magazine of the Original Paper Doll Artists Guild (OPDAG) and comes out four times a year. Each issue has a theme and artists submit paper dolls relating to that theme for the issue. For example, Issue 114’s theme was “Holidays.”

Once I get an issue of Paper Doll Studio, I immediately read it.

I really enjoyed it, of course, I always do. I mean, it’s like getting a surprise in my mail box when it arrives. I don’t usually check the mail (mail-checking and garbage are my boyfriend’s jobs), but I always get so excited when he comes up the stairs and hands me the distinctive package from Paper Doll Studio Press.

The featured artist for Paper Doll Studio was Cory Jensen.

Each issue has a featured artist and this time it was Cory Jensen. While I very much enjoyed Mr. Jensen’s article on his work (and his art is quite compelling), the amateur copyright scholar in me wondered about the legal ramifications of drawing paper dolls of other’s intellectual property and the ethical ramifications, as well. Not something he touched on in his article, but I rather wish he had. I think its a serious question that anyone who draws fan-art should be considering.

Along with Jensen’s article, there was a fun piece by David Wolfe on his tradition of creating paper doll cards for Christmas, but I’d have liked some more advice on how someone could do a similar project, rather than just a recap of what he’d done. My favorite articles are always the ones that talk about process and are a little practical, so I enjoyed very much Judy M Johnson’s article on Paper Doll Methods and Materials. (Judy is a dear woman who, after I cold called her once while I was working on a conference paper on World War 1 and 2 paper dolls, talked to me for over two hours on the telephone.)

Julie’s St. Patrick’s Day paper doll got a full page spread which made me cheer for her. She deserves it and you can print out her paper doll here. I always try to pick a favorite paper doll from each issue. This time I struggled a little, but I settled on two. Karen Hunter, an artist I was not familiar with, did a fantastic Halloween paper doll and Larry Bassin had four paper dolls in the magazine. I have always, and probably will always, love Bassin’s work and he was a big influence on the flat color style I use in my own paper dolls. I mean look out at that fantastic line-work.

Karen Hunter’s paper doll is on the right. Larry Bassin’s work is on the left.

Every time I get an issue of Paper Doll Studio magazine, I swear that “next time” I’ll get my act together and submit something. Well, menswear is up next and I am going do it this time! I just… you know… need to get my act together.

Jenny, editor of the Magazine, was interviewed on this blog a few months ago. By the way, if you don’t already subscribe, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves paper dolls. It’s under 30 dollars a year and you get four issues of fun paper doll content. Here’s the link to subscribe.

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  1. Thank you for the mention! My mom was visiting me when my copy arrived and she was at least as excited as I was about getting a full page.

    I agree with you about Cory Jensen’s article. I was hoping for a bit more about process & you’re right — fan art is a bit problematic. The little bit of fan art I’ve created over the years always leaves me feeling conflicted. He’s so talented and I’d love to see some of his own characters. The doll he created for the cover is just one example of his amazing original work as opposed to the fan art.

    You could tackle two goals at once if you create something for the menswear issue. Just sayin’ 🙂

    1. I think fanart, specifically Disney fanart, has become extremely common. Much of it seems to fall into Fair Use, particularly the parody exemption,but even ignoring the legal issues, I often find myself thinking about the artistic and ethical issues. At what point is using someone-else’s ideas or work detrimental to your own development as an artist? And how does one decide where the lines are drawn?

      More than that, if we say it is “okay” to copy the art of big companies, aren’t we also saying that it is “okay” to copy the art of smaller artists? Why is it all right for someone use use Disney’s characters, but not all right for them to use my art? And if I want my artistic rights to be respected, don’t I also need to respect those of Disney or Fox or whomever?

      I think about this a lot, because my Star Trek paper doll is by far the most popular on the blog, by a wide margin, so I often find myself contemplating what I am giving up by not making fanart.

      1. I’ve been thinking about this for days and I have to admit, I never thought of it in terms of my art being imitated. I always thought of it in terms of borrowing from others. I agree, though, that it can hinder individual artistic development. There’s a grand tradition in art of copying & borrowing until you find your own voice — it’s a good way to learn — but the key there is to move on.

        I do wonder, too, if fanart becomes something of a crutch. It’s certainly less daunting to stare at the blank paper and have SOME notion of what to put there. It can be a lot of fun, too. I’ve created paper dolls that were a clear imitation of the original artist’s style (Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, and Phineas & Ferb). They have been immensely popular and I enjoyed them as a bit of respite from my own style (or lack of….that’s another conversation for another day!).

        Fanart is such a grey area. What you sacrifice in page views by skipping fanart, you make up for in integrity and learning through developing your own style. At least that’s what I tell myself every time I see someone getting millions of hits off of fanart.

        1. I think there’s a line between copying someone’s style, because you want to learn from it- for example, I study Charles Ventura’s black and white paper dolls carefully, because he was a master of line-work and I want to see how he did things, so I can improve how I do things- and copying someone else’s style in such a way that becomes plagiaristic, but I’ll be the first to confess that I don’t know where exactly that line is. There is, as you point out, a long history of learning from great artists.

          Perhaps part of the “line” is credit and the other part of the line, is what you do with the art. Copying the painting of a Master will help you learn to paint better, but you probably should make it clear that it is not “your” idea being created.

          The problem with Fanart, as I see it, is that it has become so accepted, that most people don’t realize it actually breaks the law (not always, but certainly often). There are certainly pieces of fanart that fall into the “fair use” category, but many do not.

          I know that I sacrifice hits, because I don’t draw fan art anymore. And it is made harder by the number of requests I get for it. I do believe fanart comes from a place of love for the characters, which makes me more forgiving of it.

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