A Q&A With Jason Schneider of Dover Publishing

I can’t speak for others, but for me Dover paper dolls were the best of the best when I was a kid. Sure, Golden Book made some nice paper dolls, but Dover books were what I would order from the local bookstore by bringing in the hand copied ISBN numbers from the back of the books. This was before the internet, so I had to just ask the bookstore in town to custom order them for me, often sight unseen. I still remember my joy at getting a copy of the Victorian Cat Family special order. I was 14, far to old for paper dolls, I thought. So, I carried it home in its bag and didn’t open it until I was safely in my room where no one would see me pouring over the book in delight.

Pope Francis Paper Doll by Tom Tierney
Pope Francis Paper Doll by Tom Tierney

A few weeks ago, I contacted Dover to see if anyone there would be willing to answer some questions about paper doll publishing. Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting a response, so imagine my surprise and excitment when Jason Schneider contacted me back. Jason was Dover’s Children’s Publishing Manager.

Born in 1975 in Valley Stream, NY, Jason attended Hofstra University (1993-1997). A life-long book lover, Jason decided to leverage this interest in publishing. He was the acquisitions manager for Barnes & Noble’s Children’s Publishing line for several years. Beginning in 2007, he joined Dover and has worked on a rich variety of content, brought interesting licenses to the company’s program and directed the hardcover Calla line of books. He also worked on the paper doll collections published by Dover and he was kind enough to answer some questions.

In the time since I wrote Jason and this post getting published, Jason has joined  Skyhorse Publishing as Editorial Director of the new Racehorse Publishing and Clydesdale Books imprints. I wish him the best at his new position.

Big thank you to Jason for his time.

A Q&A with Jason Schneider of Dover Publishing


So, I have to ask, did you play with paper dolls as a kid? And what were your favorites if you did?

No, I don’t recall having many paper doll books as a child, outside of a Sesame Street Seasons Paper Dolls book which I wound up republishing with Dover a few years ago.

And, of course, how did you get into children’s publishing?

I majored in English Literature and Publishing Studies in college. The process of book creation always interested me and getting into publishing was my goal. Children’s Publishing was where I wanted find myself, but my first jobs in the business were as far away from that as possible. I started with educational reference and Math and Science publishers because I needed experience. I would up at Barnes & Noble Publishing in 2000 as an Assistant Editor for their Children’s Program and things developed from there.

When did Dover start publishing paper dolls?

Pretty Ponies Paper Dolls by Darcy Bell-Myers
Pretty Ponies Paper Dolls by Darcy Bell-Myers

Dover’s publishing of paper dolls certainly predates my tenure here. I believe that the decision to publish them grew from the company’s continuing interest to preserve and feature content that has since went out of print. The first titles were compilations of Antique Paper Dolls and were published in 1975. Both titles (Antique Paper Dolls 1915-1920 edited by Arnold Arnold and Antique Paper Dolls: The Edwardian Era) have recently gone out of print after 40 years. However, it wasn’t until Tom Tierney’s Glamorous Movie Stars of the Thirties was published in 1977 that Dover started to view it as a category.

Roughly, how many paper doll titles are published in a year?

There are a lot of variables. The market has changed considerably since we started publishing paper dolls, so there has to be the right niche for a new book. Whether it is a fashion trend or other growing area of interest, something has to strike a chord.

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

Grav3yardGirl Paper Dolls by Bunny Meyer and Ted Menten
Grav3yardGirl Paper Dolls by Bunny Meyer and Ted Menten

Most of the paper doll books that we publish are generated from in-house ideas that we bring to a talent pool of artists that we use. While we have published some submissions that have been artist generated in the past, the practice is far less common now. For instance, we had the idea to work with Bunny Meyer who has a substantial YouTube following under the pseudonym of Grav3yard Girl and produce a paper doll of her. We worked with Bunny and brought the concept to artist Ted Menten who brought it to life. Eileen Rudisill Miller, Bruce Jones, Tim Foley, Charlotte Whatley and Ted Menten are just a few of the contributing artists that Dover works with.

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

There’s us and Paper Studio Press. I don’t think anyone else views it as line. Any other publisher will publish one-offs here and there.

I think the shift has already happened. Dover doesn’t publish quite as many titles as we once did, since there is unfortunately a lack of market demand for the type of depth we once would produce. While we are still active in the area, we definitely try to link new product closely with timely events such as Pope Francis Paper Dolls, or the brand new Scream Queens Paper Dolls that links up with the show. We’re also producing paper dolls for a younger age group and while we’ve done Mermaids, Pretty Ponies, and Ballet, we’ve also produced books recently with licensed properties such as Olivia, Grumpy Cat and Betty Boop.

Dover divides their paper dolls into two categories. Those for children and those for collectors. Can you talk a little about how those audiences differ?

I think that the books are more of a keepsake for the adult market and a consumable for children. This isn’t to say that there isn’t crossover in interest for some of our books, but we usually have the dolls punch out for the more juvenile titles for ease of use. I don’t think kids are going to be as precious with the books. After attending a few paper doll conventions and asking the attendees how they use their books, some have told me they’ll buy two copies – one to keep and one to cut.

The subject matter sets the audiences apart. I don’t think that the majority of kids are as interested in Avant-Garde Fashions or Steampunk Vixens.

Robot Battle Paper Action Figures by Ted Rechlin
Robot Battle Paper Action Figures by Ted Rechlin

Recently, two books of Paper Action Figures, which were essentially paper dolls for boys, were published. Can you tell me more about what prompted these books? Are more Paper Action Figures planned?

It was an attempt to do something different within the medium. I wanted to update the concept, and not necessarily make paper dolls for boys but simply try a modern approach which was less gender-specific. We did Glow-in-the-Dark Ghouls and Robot Battle. The Glow-in-the-Dark element we used is really cool, but we do not have any plans to do more at this time.

What do you believe makes for a successful paper doll book? How is a traditional paper doll different from, for example, a sticker paper doll?

Victorian Vixen Paper Dolls by Ted Menten
Victorian Vixen Paper Dolls by Ted Menten

Victorian Vixen Paper Dolls by Ted Menten I feel a sticker paper doll is more of a sticker activity product. It’s going to be played with several times until the stickers lose their adhesiveness. I think a paper doll has more of a novelty and collectible aspect. You get more costumes, more dolls. It’s just a grander presentation.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that sales makes for a successful paper doll book. A beautiful book is great, but if no one is buying it, then it isn’t a success. Beyond that, with a classic paper doll it has to have great illustration with the dolls’ figures rendered meticulously. If it is based on a person, the likeness has to be impeccable. The costumes have to be interesting, which was something Tom Tierney always excelled at and Tim Foley is currently doing a great job with. Personally, I like when we add something novel and interesting to the format, such as with additional elements and backgrounds that Ted Menten provided the Victorian Vixens Paper Dolls with or Rudy Miller’s Dream Weddings. It just makes the book feel more complete and adds more to the overall experience, especially for collectors.

Will mainstream publishers be producing paper dolls in 25 years?

It’s hard to say what publishers will be producing in 25 years, if they are still producing books as we know them now. No one would have predicted the quick influx of ebook technology which changed the industry and there is always a new advancement which is a step away from revamping our perspective on the way things are done. I don’t know when it will happen or how it will alter the business. In the end, if there’s an audience that is interested, and mainstream publishers see potential to make money then paper dolls will still be published.

Jason mentioned Paper Doll Studio Press and I am pleased to report that I’ll have a Q&A with them in a few weeks. So, that should be fun too. Oh, and if you haven’t picked up Robot Battle or Glow in the Dark Ghouls for your collections, then I recommend them. I just got my copies and the glow in the dark feature is really cool. 🙂

I just wish there was a child in my life who needed robot paper dolls.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow. Friday there will be another paper doll set. 🙂

The Vivian Project: Redrawing Childhood

Today, I am pleased to announce that my Patreon support page is live. So, if you’d like to donate to support Paper Thin Personas, this is one way you can do so. Feel free to support at any level you’d like, because all is appreciated. However, for those of you who support at 5 dollars a month, you get to join the Vivian Project.

What, you might ask, is the Vivian project? Well… let me explain.


I moved recently and part of the moving process was going through my massive collection of every single paper doll I ever drew as a child. Some I kept. Some I tossed and then, at the bottom of a box, I found Vivian.

Viviean lives in a cookie tin and she was a huge part of my youth and now I am going to re-draw her. Viviean began in June of 1998, but I have no idea when I stopped drawing clothing for her. I think sometime around freshmen year of high-school, maybe a little longer.

Viviean was traced from an advertisement (I think in Seventeen or something) for a prom dress designing contest. I did not enter the contest, but I used their little fashion figure to create a paper doll for whom I drew over 200 outfits.


How do I know that? Because I literally indexed her whole collection on pieces of paper. Each outfit is numbered on the back and there is a corresponding description of the outfit on one of the pages of clothing index. Each set of outfits, usually five, were placed in a small envelope and sub-labeled such as “Futuristic Fashions” or “History Lesson 1910-1940”. Seriously, I should have known I was destined to be a librarian once I started indexing my own paper dolls.

vivian-outfit-02 vivian-outfit-144
Viviean is has an outfit for just about every occasion a person might ever find themselves in. (And a few, I doubt anyone would likely find themselves in.) For formal occasions, she might slip on Outfit #2: “Long dark blue ball dress with whiet (white) gloves”. I tried to get the gloves to stay on, but they didn’t fit very well.

Or if she feels like rocking out, she has Outfit #144, part of the Rock Star Clothing set, including “a very short leather jacket, yellow dress and black boots.” I didn’t see a short leather jacket in the envelope though, so perhaps it has gone missing? Or maybe it got misfiled?

vivian-outfit-174 vivian-outfit-156
After being a rock star, Vivian might need to relax by slipping into into Outfit #174, “a yellow-green terri (terry) cloth bath rope (bathrobe).” I clearly struggled with spelling at that age. Actually, I still can’t spell worth a darn, but that’s why there is spellcheck.

And if after relaxing, she wants to fight bandits, than Outfit #156 “Xena- brown leather top with gold decoration” is available. I love the tiny chakra.

The New Vivian paper doll in progress.

The process of re-drawing Viviean into the new Vivian has been fun. She has the same hair, a very similar pose and the same bright pink and lime green swimsuit of her former-self. She’s different as well, because I’ve changed as an artist a lot since Viviean was created. Vivian isn’t a copy, exactly. I think of her more as an “ode” to who I was when I drew her all those years ago.

So, why do all this? Well, because I have wanted too for a long time, but also because I was looking for a project that I could do with my Patreon subscribers. So, if you would like to get involved, you can.

If you choose to join the Vivian Project than every month you’ll receive a redrawn outfit (or two) from the original Vivean clothing collection and, of course, a Vivian doll of your very own.

One month you might receive Outfit #6, a fuchsia above the knee length dress, and then next month you might get Outfit #164, a dress meant to represent the fall with leaves on top, a wreath and cloak, colored orange/red. Patrons will get to vote on the dresses that will be included sometimes and sometimes I’ll just pick something I think is fun to work on. Either way, there will be two versions of each outfit. One is a redraw of the original and other my sense of how I would draw the same concept today.

For twenty-five dollars a month, you’ll get to customize a “Friend of Vivian” paper doll by picking out her face, hair style, skin tone, hair color, and eye color. So, if you want a freckled blue haired paper doll, than this is your chance. There are over a hundred options for that customized paper doll.

There’s other support levels too from one dollar up and beyond. No pressure, of course, as I’ve said before. If you have to choose between something like rent or paper dolls- choose rent! The blog isn’t going anywhere.

Support me here if you’d like. Thank you.

Questions? Ask in a comment or send me an email.

Paper Thin Personas Product Survey Results!

This is a LONG post. Just as a warning, you know, before you get started. 🙂

So, a few weeks ago I did a survey of my readers. I asked a bunch of questions and I got some great feedback. Today I am going to show some of the data that I am comfortable sharing that came out from my survey results.

I’ll be honest- I’ve never tried to write up something like this. I want to be transparent as I go out into this world, but there are also things I’ve not yet fully processed and things that I feel like aren’t really anyone’s business but mine. Despite running a blog for the last five years, I am actually rather private by nature.

So, I’ve done by best to summarize some stuff and write about it. It’s long and has graphs and there are no paper dolls, so proceed knowing all that.

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Announcement: Paper Doll Round-Robin

I am super excited to be making this announcement. Julie, of Paper Doll School, and I are hosting a paper doll round robin. We have our model drawn thanks to Julie, but she desperately needs gowns to wear to the Halloween Masquerade Ball!

Won’t you help her?masquerade-doll

How this Works

Step 1: Download the Paper Doll PDF File

Step 2: Print the file at Full Size or Open the file with your favorite graphics editor.

Step 3: Draw a fantastic masquerade gown. It can be in color or black and white. No judgement here. Just create something that inspires you.

Step 4. Save or scan your gown at 300 dpi as a JPG or PNG. (This part is important to I can make sure all the gowns are high quality for the finished set.)

Step 4: Email your gown to me at paperthinpersonas@gmail.com  or Julie at jamatthews@ymail.com before Midnight (Eastern Time) on the 24th of October. Be sure to include how you’d like to be credited and if you want to say something about your design, than tell us that too!

Step 5: Wait until the 31st of October when Julie and I will post the finished gowns and the doll, all ready to attend the Masquerade Ball!

See? That isn’t so hard.

We hope lots of people will come play with us and join in the fun, so please consider creating a gown for our Lady of the ball. 🙂

If you have any questions, please just ask in a comment. This is going to be so much fun.

Farewell to the Showcase!

So, remember how on Friday I said there were going to be changes… Well, this is one of them.

The time has come to say a sad farewell to the Showcase.

I have been horrible about updating it and when I went through my email to clean it up a few months ago, I found dozens of things that people had sent me and I had done nothing with. I felt rather guilty and then decdeed it was time for the Showcase to go.

There is now a Pinterest board called “PTP Paper Doll Sightings.” I’ve seen a few pattern designers use this method for showing off the work of people who had made their patterns and I thought it was a great idea.

Follow Rachel’s board PTP Paper Doll Sightings on Pinterest.

It is so much easier for me to just download the image from my email and post it up onto Pinterest. No fuss, no muss and I get to share things that people don’t send me, but I find around the internet where my art has been featured in various ways. Plus I can link to others sites very easily which lets them get some credit too. So, go check it out and let me know if there is anything I should add to it.

I will probably still do posts of readers creations once in a while on the blog, but I’ll update the Pinterest board much more regularly. I have been testing it for the last few weeks and it has performed admirably. So, feel free to go follow it and see how people have colored and used my art. 🙂

Three Stages of Paper Doll Drawing: A Look at My Process

I get a fair number of questions about how I draw paper dolls. I have tried to answer these over the years through a variety of posts that range from showing the templates which I build to draw a base doll through the doodles I draw when planning dresses.

I’m usually not organized enough to get successive photos of the same page of the same sketchbook, but I planned carefully and am pleased to show off today the three major stages of paper doll gown creation.

Stage 1: The Light Pencil Sketch

The first step is to lightly sketch out the major lines of the paper doll gown, shoes and hair. This is one of two dresses that I have planned for a princess set. At this stage of the process the only two things I had decided were that I wanted a full-skirted silhouette, the paper doll was for Marisole Monday & Friends, her shoes were going to have stockings, and that I was going to make her black with an afro-puff styled hair. I hadn’t really thought much about other details yet.

At this stage, when nothing is really finalized, I always feel excitement and dread. More than one paper doll set has never gotten past the rough pencil stage.
At this stage, when nothing is really finalized, I always feel excitement and dread. More than one paper doll set has never gotten past the rough pencil stage.

Stage 2: The Detailed Pencil Sketch

The next step in the process is doing what I call “detailed” linework. This stage can take several revisions- that’s why I draw fairly lightly. I cleaned up some of the silhouette, added lines to indicate folds and then started thinking about pattern.

Lately, I have been really into traditional African fabrics dyed with a wax process. So, I decided to create several pattern elements inspired by those textiles that I could use to construct a pattern on the wide expanse of the skirt. I chose a lattice pattern for the jacket and then created four other motifs. I might not use all of them, but I like to have options. You can see my growing collection of African print fabrics on my African Prints & Fashion Pinterest board.

I changed the design of the tiara, because I wanted it to match the motifs I had designed for the pattern that will eventually go on the skirt. That meant altering the tiara accordingly. I really like the new design.
I changed the design of the tiara, because I wanted it to match the motifs I had designed for the pattern that will eventually go on the skirt. That meant altering the tiara accordingly. I really like the new design.

Additionally, I settled on adding garters to the tops of the stockings and decided on a psuedo-Victorian look for the shoes. Try as a might, I can’t help but associate these full skirts with the gowns of the 1860s. This is also the stage of the process when I add accessories like the hair pick and tea set. Everything on this page will be inked when I start inking.

Stage 3: Inking

After I have settled on a detailed pencil sketch, I begin inking. I always start with the major outlines and then work my way in. The last things to get inked are the fold lines on the skirts or ruffles and stitching on boots. Because ink can smear, I always take pauses while inking to let things dry a little before continuing my work. There are inevitably mistakes or I suddenly decide I want to add something I hadn’t planned, but mostly it is a slow and steady process. Inking is very meditative for me- I really enjoy settling down on my couch and getting to ink for an hour or so in the evening while watching television.

Opps... I just noticed I forgot to ink the folds in the ruffle at the top of the bodice. My bad. I'll do that after I erase all the pencil lines.
Opps… I just noticed I forgot to ink the folds in the ruffle at the top of the bodice. My bad. I’ll do that after I erase all the pencil lines.

Certain elements- like the strings on the instrument remain uninked, because I will add them with Photoshop. I am not very good at drawing perfectly straight lines.

Before I scan this drawing, I will erase all the pencil lines and check for and make any minor corrections I need to make. I’ve already noticed a mistake.

While putting all these together in a post only took about thirty minutes, the truth is that each of these photo represents weeks between stages. It takes a long time to get from Stage 1 to Stage 3 and there are still steps to go before the paper doll goes live.

So, two other little things. One, there is currently a poll on what to name my “bearded friend of Marcus” paper doll, go vote if you haven’t. Maxwell is currently in the lead. Secondly, I am currently doing a survey of my readers on Product Development for Paper Thin Personas. Sounds thrilling, I know… But it has been already very enlightening. So, if you should have about fifteen minutes and you haven’t done it already, I would urge you to please fill it out and, as a reward, you will get sent a Thank You paper doll, if you give me your email address.

Begin the Survey Here!

And, of course, a huge thank you to everyone who has already done it. I have the best readers ever. Seriously, you guys rock!

Any questions about my process? The survey or anything else? Ask me in a comment.

Viking Women’s Clothing in the 9th and 10th Century

An actual Viking oval brooch from the 10th Century- The Met- Accession Number: 1982.323.1
An actual Viking oval brooch from the 10th Century- The Met- Accession Number: 1982.323.1

Today, we’re going talk about Viking women’s clothing, because I was working on a Viking paper doll. As always happens with me, I did a lot of research. This post could have been many more paragraphs, but what I wanted to do today was write a quick overview. The truth is that we actually don’t know what Viking women wore. Rather, scholars have examined various pieces of archaeological evidence and have come up with theories which, at times, completely contradict each other. In the this post, I tried to summarize the major scholars on the topic and explain what I learned while researching my Viking paper doll.

I maybe many things, but I am not a scholar on Viking dress.

Who were the Vikings?

The Vikings were a Germanic Norse seafaring culture which existed from about 700 ACE until about 1000 ACE. The main strongholds of Viking culture were Norway, Sweden and Denmark, but there where were Viking settlements in England, Ireland, Iceland and Greenland.  The Vikings also made contact as far as the Middle East, Russia, and China. Seriously, these dudes got around.  Their travels and expansion heavily influenced European medieval cultures.

Basic Overview

It is generally agreed that Viking women wore clothing; however, theories differ on what this clothing looked like.  Most agree that women wore a shirt of some kind underneath a dress suspended from two oval brooches. This dress is often called an apron-dress or smokkr. If you need to modern version, imagine a jumper. The apron-dress was held up by oval brooches, sometimes called dwarf brooches. Over top of the apron-dress women may have worn an apron in front, a pleated train in back, a caftan coat, a cloak or a shawl. That’s one of the areas  scholars disagree on. The exact meaning of the apron-dress and who was entitled to wear it is also a topic of debate. I’m not going to get into that discussion here. It should, however, be noted that this apron-dress does not appear to have been universally worn by women of all social statuses and ages.

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2015 Goals Update: Where I am


Back in January, I outlined six goals for 2015. Since Monday was the Rosh Hashannah (Jewish New Year) and I have a tradition of going back to my goals every year around this time, I thought today would be a good day to see where I am nine months into the year.

I will be among the first to acknowledge that I haven’t done everything on my list, but then I never seem too.

So, here we go:

Goal 1: More Historical Paper Dolls. I want to create ten historical paper doll sets in 2015.

I actually have already completed this goal which I am very proud of. Depending on whether or not you count the multipage sets as one set or not, I have either made this goal or am going to make it in the next few weeks as I have a Viking st for next week and a 1950s set for sometime after that. I want to post a historical paper doll round-up post at the end of the year with all the historical paper dolls on the blog organized by era, but in the mean time you can check them all out in the Historical tag.

Goal 2: Focus a little more on Poppets, Ms. Mannequinn and Buxom and Bodacious.

Basically, I wanted to draw ten pages for each of these sets. So, far I have posted 5 sets for B&B, 4 sets for Ms. Mannequinn and 5 sets for the Poppets this year. There are several sets for both Buxom & Bodacious and Ms Mannequinn in the wings, but not quite ten. Now, the Poppets will definitely need some attention in the coming months to get to my ten posts for each in 2015 goal, but I think I will get there.

Goal 3: Do more Featured Artists.

Okay, so chalk this one up as a failure. I mean, seriously… the problem is that this always takes way more work on my part than I think it should. Anyone who says curating guest posts is simple is lying to you. The truth is that these posts can easily take as much time, if not more, than doing my own work. I think they are important, but I might change up the format a bit or something. I dunno.

I need to think about the options available to me. I really like interviewing other artists in this community and it is a very small community, so I think we need to support each other. At the same time, it is far more time consuming than it appears and I don’t know if other people are as interested in these posts as I am.

Maybe there’s an easier or simpler format I could use? Thought from the audience?

Goal 4: Actually send something into OPDAG Newsletter.

Not only have I not done this, but I think my membership has lapsed. Opps. I need to renew that and, you know, get my act together. I think part of the problem is that I only want to show off my BEST work to OPDAG since it has members whose work I admire so much. Anyway, I need to get over that and just do something. A completed “okay” project is far better than an incomplete “perfect” project.

Goal 5: Have another Mini-Series set.

This year my 18th Century Pixies Series rather took the place of having a mini-series since it has run for six weeks and wraps on Friday. I have some ideas for doing some special in December or transforming this goal into something else entirely. I have been doing a lot of non-series related drawing, but none of it is ready for prime-time yet. A lot of it is part of a project I’ve been working on for the last few months that, hopefully, will debut in December. More on that later. While I guess I haven’t really done this in a traditional sense, I do think I have been good about giving myself permission to draw “outside” the Series this year- even if some of that material hasn’t made its way onto the blog.

Goal 6: Upgrade the images on the blog to larger format images.

This is an ongoing mess of a project. You see, I don’t use WordPresses image management system because when I first started this blog, I didn’t understand how it worked and I could write raw code, so I did. Now that I am five years in, I have found that I just don’t like the image management system, so I continue to manually code most of these posts. As a result, changing something like image size means actually going into each post and manually re-coding the image width tags. Of course, if I had been smarter at the beginning I would have written that into the CSS, but well… I wasn’t that smart at the time, so I have to manually fix it all. Anyway, the result is a lot of mind-numbing copy and paste work. Never the less, I have gotten through May of 2013 so far and am chugging along. This is the problem when you know just enough code to get yourself into trouble.

Though I haven’t met all of my goals this year so far, I am actually really pleased with where the blog is. I think it is going to grow in fun and interesting ways this year and I have some cool stuff planned already for next year.

Most of all I am proud that I have been far more consistent in posting this year than I have ever been before. That is something to be very proud of, I think.

The 25 Minute Rule: How I Stop Procrastinating

Sometimes the challenge of keeping up a long term art project like PTP is not coming up with ideas or worrying about how poorly I draw men, but rather simply the act of working on it every few days.25-min-rule

At while I enjoy drawing paper dolls and drawing paper dolls is my hobby, it is not my only hobby nor is it always what I want to do. Times like this, like these last few weeks, I begin to dread working on paper dolls.

Not because I don’t want to do it, but it because it just feels like “too much.”

I open my in-progress folder on my laptop and everything feels like so much work. There’s a dozen paper doll sets sitting there. None of them are finished. Some are months old and the idea of working on any of them is entirely overwhelming.

On some days when I feel this way, I ignore the problem.

I ink or I sketch. I come up with things to post on Twitter or I work on simple coding projects like re-sizing most of the blogs older images to a larger format.

But I can’t keep that up for long. Not when I have a little backlog as I currently do.

So, I would like to introduce my readers to what I call the “25 Minute Rule.”

The 25 Minute Rule: Once 25 minutes are spent on a task, you can stop.

The 25 Minute Rule is simple. It is how I get started when I don’t want to get started on something. I just promise myself that after 25 minutes working on a task, I can stop working on the task. It gives me permission to leave in the middle, but also the knowledge that 25 minutes isn’t that long of a period of time.

Like right now… Right now, I have dozens of mostly, partly, sorta finished stuff that I could work on and nothing I want to work on. I look at my in-process folder and all I see is problems… This one needs tabs. This one needs to be resized. These need to be colored. This needs to be…

My work in progress folder is actually usually messier than this.

Intellectually, I know that all I really need to do is, as my father is fond of saying, “apply the seat of my pants to the seat of a chair.”

I really don’t want to. Fighting my procrastinating ways can be so hard.

So, here’s what I have been doing in the evening for the last few days. I get home from work. I make dinner. I eat and then I set up my laptop on the dining room table and write down on a piece of paper what I am going to do. My having my task in writing, I hold myself to it.

Last night, my piece of paper read, “Clean up line work on Mini-Maiden Sets”

The Amelia Bloomer inspired steampunk paper doll set I spent last night working on.
The Amelia Bloomer inspired steampunk paper doll set I spent last night working on.

Then I set a timer and I did it for 25 minutes.

When my timer went off, I stopped. Sometimes, I don’t stop. Starting is the hard part, so sometimes I keep going and then I look up and an hour has passed. Last night though, I had a list of other things to do- mostly involving cleaning my house.

Here are the results of my 25 minutes of labors.

25 minutes later, she's actually looking pretty good.
25 minutes later, she’s actually looking pretty good.

So, I hope my 25 Minute Rule works for other people. It has helped me draw, clean and exercise. I find no matter how little I want to do something, I can almost always force myself to do it for 25 minutes or, if it is something I am really dreading, fifteen minutes. I struggle to start projects when they feel overwhelming and this helps me. Maybe it will help you too.

Miss Missy’s Fresh Fruit Fashion Contest

So, Miss Missy who runs a wonderful paper doll blog of her own over at Miss Missy Paper Dolls is currently hosting a contest where you design an outfit set on something like Polyvore or Pinterest and then she will let people vote on the winner and draw the fashions for this cute little paper doll.

While I am not the most Polyvore savy person, I did two designs. I submitted my favorite, but thought I would share my other one as a way to encourage people to participate.



And no… I am not being asked to do this. I just think it’s such a cool idea that I wanted to mention it. The deadline is July 30 though, so create fast!

You can read all about it on Miss Missy’s Fresh Fruit Fashion Contest post.

Edit 7/30/2015: Missy has extended the deadline to August 7th and updated the rules and prizes. You can read all about it here.