art INTERVIEW WITH Ugly Shyla BY IVA KANChESKA 08/10/2012

 Hello Ms. Shyla! I'm so happy to talk with you about your art! You're very inspiring person to me. Controversial, mystic, dark, weird, different, unique and fascinating, are just a few words how I would describe your art. I love when people find a way to express themselves and show off their talent. Let's start with some basic info about you...

Q: How did you get into this job?
A: I always enjoyed creative stuff as a kid. And one day at 16 I just sat down and made a doll, I realized I was decent at it and never stopped.

Q: Do you remember your firs creation, If so what was it?
A: Yes I still have her. It was a red headed doll with a leg brace. I made it for my mom as a birthday give, she's always collected weird toys and dolls.

Q: Artists are constantly changing their style, how has your work evolved over the years?
A: I guess in some ways I'm kind of a one trick pony as I have a pretty distinct style. But I like to play with allot of different mediums. I started out using paper clay, then went to polymer clay and now usually work in the difficult medium of porcelain. I also over the past years delved into doing jewelry which is allot of fun. It doesn't have to be so perfect and such a big ordeal like making a doll.

Q: Your style is very unique. Do you have any influences?
A: I don't really let any artist influence me. I find it's a bit like stealing somebody's idea. The ideas for my art come from my dreams like any true surrealist.

Q: Being creative must be hard sometimes. How do you get inspired when things get tough in the studio?
A: Like I said most of my ideas come from dreams or visions of sorts, so sometime I get inspired when I don't wanna be. LOL. I'm a only child and I think when you are a only child growing up you find ways to amuses yourself ALL THE TIME. So I'm never unfortunately at a loss for something to make or do.

Q: Many of your creations features dark motives. What is their significance? Is there any message?
A: I do allot of work depiction dead children to force people to look at the horrors of child abuse and murder. I also delve into allot of other dark themes again to force people to have to face things. And maybe if enough people face ugly things in life they will be provoked to get off their ass and DO SOMETHING to stop it.

Q: Toy design is your main creative line. It must be fun as hell. I mean, every toy is like a part from a horror fairytale. I love it!! How long does it typically take you to complete a finished work, and how do you know when a piece is done?
A: My dolls aren't really "toys" per say. What I do is art dolls. There is such a thing as art toys but that is usually a blank action figure sort of thing that people customize, which is a hell of allot easier then what I do. Art dolls are intricate expensive things you don't play with and don't let kids near. So it's like a anti toy. LOL. I do tend to make my work very sturdy and people do sometimes buy some of the tamer themed stuff, like the dolls of me per say for their kids. And I tell them to actually let the kid enjoy the doll. I also want my collectors *who are like 99% adults to actually handle my dolls and enjoy them* some doll artist make things so delicate the fingers or wings etc will snap at the slightest touch. Which they are beautiful but I don't want somebody to never even be able to touch my work. I don't see the sense in that.

I'm sort of strange in the fact it can take like a week to 6 months to finish something. It depends on how excited I am about the piece and also what medium it is. Porcelain always takes longer because of the drying and firing time. The fact I live in Southern Louisiana in what they call Cajun Contury doesn't help because it's extremely, extremely humid here.

Q: Can you tell me about the making process? Do you have a sketchbook?
A: I keep a sketch book by my bed and also a extra one in my purse. I have trained myself if I have a dream of a piece to get up and sketch it even if I'm half asleep. Then I use the sketch as a basis to start the work. Which is usually Build a armature, Start sculpting, I usually use polymer clay or paper clay for the original since if it's a doll I will be making a mold of it., Finish sculpting, sand or fix or tweak anything that needs it, bake it or let it dry, do the worst work in the world and make a plaster mold of it if it's going to be cast in ceramic or mold it in rubber which is a hell of allot more easy if it will be cast in resin. cast it, take it out sand it, clean seams etc. make a cloth body from a pattern I draft from scratch, paint it, hand make a wig for it, start drafting patterns for clothes and shoes which are also made from patterns I had draft. Sew the costume and then take photos of the finished piece and collapse.LOL. This is more for a resin piece if it's ceramic there are layers of glaze that you have to fire each layer so it is even more work.


Q: What material you use the most?
A: Right now Paper clay for originals and Porcelain, I also use resin the jewelry I make is usually all resin stuff.

Q: Do you do customs for sale? If so, please feel free to share with us some of your best experiences.
A: Yes I do customs if I like the project and I have the time. Custom work starts at 1000.00 and goes up from there. In a way they are very stressful to make because you have to be very exact with things. If I can't find a printed fabric to scale to match the outfit the person wants the doll to have I have to hand paint it etc. But it always makes me happy when the collector says it looks just like them. Or exactly like what they wanted.


Q: How much does the character - toy design help you to express your own personal opinions, stories?
A: I believe some of my work is images communicated to me by sprits or the other side *It sounds totally crazy but I practice voodoo so that makes it make a little more sense. Or at least I think it makes more sense. LOL*So sometimes I feel like I don't often get to do allot of work to express myself. I do get to have fun with some of my work like to dolls of me and also my jewelry making and I also have sewing for myself as a creative outlet.

Q: Do you get caught up in that darkness emotionally when you work on some design or you keep that separate?
A: Yes I do. It's impossible not to. Especially if I'm having to research images of dead children or beaten wives, that stuff is never fun to look at. And does kind of always stick with you.

Q: What is the sickest creation that you've ever done? Where is the "red line" of bizarre that you can not press?
A: I don't consider any of my art "sick" it may depict sick things sick people do to other humans and living creatures. For some reason the art I do with menstrual blood really really upsets people. And also the piece I did of what a female circumcision looks like. I don't really feel like I have to worry about a red line to cross since I'm doing my work for what I think are the right reason. To show people how horrible things are ect. None of it is glorifying it so I don't think that is a issue.

Q: What would you say that the popular media and society think about your art? Have you ever been criticized?
A: Allot of the media has been nice about my work, I guess because they have to actually read up on my work to write a article. But normal society is where I catch hell from some people. People who don't even bother to read why I am doing what I do. Also when you tend to be a outlaw or outsider artist you will attract some people a bit off in the head.

This month alone I had a woman verbally wail on me because on facebook I posted a photo of a dead fox in a trap to show people how fur is obtained. The woman screeched at me about what a horrible person I was to post that, and what if her kids saw it etc. And when I pointed out kids shouldn't be looking at adults fb's and there is TONS of sexual stuff on fb, and that me saying it's a bad things to hurt foxes. She just went OFF on me about how horrible I was.

I had a fellow doll artist *she does "normal" looking dolls* try and basically rally the troops against me and a few other dark surreal artist that our work was "a danger to children". I think she was a little shocked when allot of the "normal" doll artist took up for ME, because my work has a message behind it.

And then you have the odd balls that totally focus in on you and are mentally unstable so they have totally unstable thoughts about you and what you do. A few days ago I was accused of being in a conspiracy against the person writing the message, and that I was with the Church Of Satan *I have never been in the COS* again I'm a outlaw and am pretty much a loner. And that he was catching on that all my friends were stealing his ideas and his music. And that I seemed to be the center of it all. That is just a tidbit of the joy you get in your e-mail box as a controversial artist.


Q: As an artist, what are some of your greatest challenges or obstacles you face while making your art?
A: Usually the worst thing is getting he art to look the way you see it in your head. That is by far the most frustrating part.

Q: Your other interest outside toy design is tattooing. How long have you been tattooing?
A: I have been appreciating for just under a year with James Aaron Puckett and the good folks of Bizarre Ink . I had mentioned online I thought about just learning how to tattoo just to see if I could do it and I like learning new creative mediums. And there was a HUGE BACKLASH from the local tattooing community. I even lost friends over it. Allot of it was because I was female and wanted to learn. I also mentioned if somebody wanted to apprentice me I didn't want any hazing crap and I sure as HELL wouldn't put up with sexual harassment. And somehow that got me accused of thinking I was better then everybody and I guess the local tattoo artist thought I was going to take the town over. I didn't know how silly and petty tattoo artist can be. They are even worse then Alt Models! But James is a very down to earth person and we knew each other through the local tiny art scene we have here. So he took me under his leathery bat wing. Everybody at the shop is so awesome and helpful I really can't say enough nice things about them. There are a couple of apprentices in the shop so we all use each other as guinea pigs.LOL. My fellow apprentice Autopsy Annie was even awesome enough to do a memorial tattoo of sorts on my arm when I lost my home due to a tornado throwing a tree into it, while I was at home in bed.


Q: What medium gives you most creative freedom?
A: Doll making wise Polymer Clay does. You bake it in your home over and it holds details so amazingly well.

Q: Since your style is well-defined, have you ever thought to change it and start doing something different?
A: Sometimes the idea crosses my mind especially since so many people have started to copy my work. I started making dolls since I was 16 in 1996,I'm now 32 so when most kids were sneaking cigarettes in the back of the schoolhouse I was starting a art career. And since my fine art dolls were and still are in the high price range and I had allot of nice fabric scraps left over so I started repainting thrift store dolls. So I had something more affordable if people couldn't afford a fine art doll they could get one of those. And I painted them with that black, white and gray's in a sort of marbleized style like the way skin gets molted when a person is dead. Now everybody does it so it's a little frustrating and I have people even make shitty copies of my fine art work. But after really thinking about it this style is MY GIFT I was given and I won't let anybody take that. I also have had no art training whatsoever so I learned everything the hard way and am self taught with everything, even sewing, wig making and shoe making. So I will not let the copycats push me away from MY own work and style.

Q: Art could be a great influence on someone's personality. What is the best lesson that you've learned from your art journey?
A: To have empathy for others, that as a artist you will be expected sometimes to be a counselor of sorts and to take that seriously. And to always give back to those who have less then you, even if it's just a kind word.

Please feel free to share your feature plans about your work and your website.
I'm working on some new dolls right now as we speak I'm playing with composition casting slip, since I still don't have my kiln turned on since the tornado destroyed my home in Feb. The compo slip is cast just like ceramic but you don't have to fire it. And I'd also appreciate it if you could mention my painting squirrel Winkelhimer Smith she learned to paint by watching me. She's handicap in one hand because I rescued her from a cat. She sells her paintings and all the profits go to help animals or people need. She's *and sometimes her and I* have been on almost every major news network with her story, most recently we were on America now

Here are all my links
My doll fb
My person one people can subscribe to
My WP blog

Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me.XOXOXOXO

Ms. Shyla, It was a pleasure to work on this.
Thank you for the interview.