Featured Artist: Lina of Lina’s Paper Dolls

A paper doll page drawn by Lina I’m excited for the next month (or six… we’ll see) Lina of Lina’s Paper Dolls. She introduced herself like this, “Hi, my name is Paulina (Lina for short) and I currently live in Florida. I have Polish ancestry and grew up with a traveling circus, and I speak fluent Polish, basic French, and what I call the “tourist version”  (meaning very poor) Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Swedish, and Dutch. I love language and want to master the tourist version of more languages, and maybe become fluent in them. I like my paper dolls to be from everywhere in the world, and it’s important for me to know how to pronounce their names.”

Can I just add that grown up with a traveling circus strikes me as among the more unusual childhoods I’ve ever heard of. Anyway… Read below for Lina’s Interview and a free printable paper dolls. Be sure to vista her blog, Lina’s Paper Dolls, for regular paper doll updates.


An Interview with Linda of Lina’s Paper Dolls

How did you get started drawing paper dolls?

Because I grew up traveling, I couldn’t really have many toys. I remember my mom always drawing little paper figures that I would draw clothes on when I was very young. Then later I graduated to having a printed base with her hands behind her back and drawing simple clothes, to making my own bases and more complicated clothes. I guess I give my mom credit for starting my love of paper dolls.

A paper doll page drawn by Lina

What is it about the paper doll medium that you find inspiring?

I really like that the dolls can have clothes I can’t. I’ve noticed that since I’ve started drawing more seriously, I have become a bit more fashion conscious as well.

Do you have any “rules” for designing paper dolls?

Historical accuracy is my big one. All the clothes I draw are based off museum pieces, period photographs, or fashion plates and magazine photos, or as a last resort reenactors. I’ll mix styles occasionally to get away from drawing the same thing over and over, but the styles have to be true to the era. If something isn’t at least semi-accurate someone-could-have-worn-this-then, I feel awkward about it.

A paper doll page drawn by Lina What do you believe are characteristics of an excellent paper doll or a really poor one?

I think cohesion is what makes a good paper doll. In my style I draw a outfit whole and there’s little to mix and match, but all the clothes fit the time period and socioeconomic background of the character I’m drawing for, so they all fit into telling her story.

I’ve noticed most of your paper dolls are historical. Can you talk a little about your research process for your historical dolls?

A paper doll page drawn by Lina My process is pretty simple. If I’m drawing a character from a book, I’ll be thinking about outfits described by the character and activities she enjoyed doing, then going off that looking up historical references either by looking through the internet on either museum websites, dated photos posted online, or historical magazines. If my own character If the person I’m drawing really existed with lots of photos, like Anastasia, I will ignore all else and go straight to those photos. 

I love fashion history, and can generally tell if something looks accurate or not, especially the past 300 years of western fashion. Thing I know little about require much more research, but luckily I have a library that has many books on the least though about cultural fashion.

Your paper dolls always have rich backstories. How do you write these stories? Do the stories inspire the paper doll or does the paper doll inspire the story?

A paper doll page drawn by Lina Well, most of them come from the Dear America series of books, and Scholastic’s versions of the series around the world. For those that I make myself, I start with the event. The I build a character whose life revolves around the event before fleshing her out and giving her activities to enjoy that could potentially also revolve around the event. I recently made a character who lives on Route 66 in the 1940s. She had to have a horse riding outfit because of where she lives. I’m trying to follow Dear America’s format where the main character is the mouthpiece which shows life during the event she represents.

As you work is black and white, can I ask why? Do you ever imagine working in color?

I’m terrible at coloring. I tried to color my paper dolls on GIMP once, and it turned out terribly. That said, I do print out my paper dolls and color them with colored pencil. I might one day share the colored version, or branch out and start a new series in color. The latter is a bit unlikely.

Do you have any favorite paper doll artists? Who are they and why?

I have three favorites: Tom Tierney, of course. I was introduced to historical fashion through his paper dolls, and my admiration for it stuck. I still use him as a reference sometimes, though I do try to find something similar in archives.

A paper doll page drawn by Lina Liana, whose blog I stumbled upon a long time ago when there were only 20 pages. I really liked her art style and that she was brave enough to post her art on the internet for the world to see (I was 12, that’s how my mind worked).

And of course you. I love your drawing style and the way all a paper doll’s clothes work well together and create many outfits. I have issues with layering shawls, much less making sweaters work with shirts work with skirts.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’d just like to thank you for featuring me on my blog and giving me the courage to start my own paper doll blog. I once posted my paper dolls scribbles on another blog I have and you commented on how nice they were. Being told that by a “big time” paper doller gave me the courage boost I needed to start posting my artwork online.

Thank you so much, Lina, for being kind enough to let me interview you. Be sure to check out her blog, Lina’s Paper Dolls.


A paper doll page drawn by IrmaA paper doll page drawn by Irma

Check out the Other Featured Paper Doll Artists, Each with a Free Printable Paper Doll or Outfit

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