Helena Stamulak is our Head of Creative and apart from our guest designer collaborations, she's responsible for most of the Momiji dolls released since 2010. Read all about her inspirations and the design process behind creating a Momiji doll in her interview.
How do you kick off the design process for a new doll?
Its not always the same. Sometimes when I have a clear idea about the doll I’ll skip the pencil sketch phase, start working on a digital character immediately and just go along with where the design will take me.
Other times I might only have a vague notion of the doll’s personality. In these instances I begin the process by doing a little research. I try to get to know the character; it is important for me to understand who they are before I go any further. Once I have that I move on to a moodboard, a few reference images that represent either a personality trait or a visual cue. I start sketching out basic shapes and ideas on piece of paper. When I feel that I have explored the character enough, I pick my favourite ideas and move onto the computer where the final character is created. The last phase of the process is the colour study, exploring and defining the colour palette.
What do you think is the most important element of character design?
I would say the most imporant thing is the personality that you empower your characters with. It’s not just what they look like, but also who they are.
For me designing a character is like trying to get to know somebody. I try to find out what they like and dislike, where they come from, are they naughty or nice, who their friends are…all these personality traits and interests influence the final design decisions, like what to add to the character to give a hint of background and depth, what to exaggerate and what to play down.
Do you have a particular work space that inspires creativity? What's it like?
Anything cosy will do the trick. But my favourite place to work has always been on the living room sofa.
Ideally i am dressed in my day PJs - Unicorn onesie, with tea on left and cookies on the right (anything sweet will make me happy) and the key ingredient, my amazing sidekick Silver, a goofy, lovable Boston Terrier. He is in charge of getting my creativity levels up even on the greyest of days. He makes sure I get some fresh air, fun and play time into every day.
What did you have for breakfast?
A yummy fruit bowl: strawberries, mango, blueberries, banana, kiwi and pineapple.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in design?
1. Work hard, build a strong portfolio and keep it updated regularly
2. Expose your work as much as possible (competitions, online, in exhibitions…) and develop a personal website too.
3. If an opportunity doesn’t exist then create one. Start self-initiated projects for clients you want to work with and send them proposals.
4. Believe in yourself. Don't get discouraged. Sometimes it takes a little of time for you brilliance to be discovered.
Which artists do you admire the most?
A few of my favourites: Tove Jansson, Mary Blair, Hayao Miyazaki, Maurice Sendak, Amandine Urruty, Tim Biscup, Mark Ryden, Yoshitomo Nara, Fafi, Hikari Shimoda, Bjrn Rune Lie, Miss Van, Mcbess,Jon Knox, Yomsnil and Andrea Wan.
Do you collect anything?
Adidas Originals track jackets; some might say I have a minor hoarding problem owning 10+ and all in different colours. I say you can never have too many!
What's your favourite thing about living in Slovenia?
The thing I love the most about Slovenia is, that at one moment you can have one eye on the sea, then look in the other direction and be overwhelmed by the beauty of high mountains. It`s small but colourful country and within 2 or 3 hours (from my hometown, Ljubljana) I can get everywhere. It offers an incredible diversity of landscapes due to its geographical position. (It lies between the ending of the high Alps, woody Dinaric Mountains, Karst, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Pannonian lowlands). It's really a green country, approximately 60% of Slovenia is covered by forests.
Friday nights or Sunday mornings?
What would you be doing if you weren’t a designer?
I would be a professional day dreamer...a taste tester in a candy shop...a concert pianist...or a dog whisperer.
In the kitchen, what’s your speciality dish?
The cooking classes I took in Thailand paid off. I make a mean Pad Thai.