Popovy Sisters Interviewed By Visual Atelier 8

The twin sisters Ekaterina and Elena Popovy are two professional artists and fashion designers from Perm, Russia. After graduating at Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts in Yekaterinburg, they start making dolls in 2004. At the beginning Popovy sisters were interested in realistic human gesture, thanks to this interest they deepened their knowledge of human anatomy and facial gesture. They also learned to work with various artistic materials like china, self-fusing plastics and baked plastics. Once they started to experiment with materials they found the perfect solution by combining their passion for fashion and dolls art. The first conceptual project called fashionMOON was presented at the 3rd International Salon in Moscow and it received two high awards. This was a powerful motivation for the two artists to continue create. Huge amount of preparative work is behind every collection.  First an idea is born and then a the concept of the project is developed. Figure’s gesture, stylization, artistic delivery and costume design all of this goes along with one theme to express the idea to maximum extent. 

How did you discover the interest into BJD as an art form?

Once ago, at the beginning of our artistic path, we saw a Japanese Porcelain BJD. We kept handling and watching it for a long time, we were so in love that we didn't want to gave it back. That was the moment when we realized that in the future we'll be making ball jointed dolls and our dolls need to be moveable!

The magic of certain personalities inspires you to create their images. What features make a person special enough for you to choose it for an upcoming project?

We don't know, it is just something special in some particular faces that touches us. It does not depend on popularity of the person or anything like that, it is our own personal perception, something that is close to our hearts and because we are twins, this perception doubles. 

The first conceptual project called fashionMOON was presented at the 3-rd International Salon in Moscow. It was highly appreciated and received two high awards. Do you find that success of one project makes the creative process more challenging for future works?

We never had any difficulties with a new project, we simply work on our ideas and craftsmanship develops naturally. We gain our skills with each new piece of art. We find new capabilities and moves, new technologies, many of these we keep secret, because they have no equals in the world.

Your protagonist is a child-woman with her imperfections and childish character, it has to be strange and make people think. Do you believe that the concept of beauty should hold any real significance to art?

Everything must have a strong concept, the main idea - this is what distinguishes true artists from imitators and plagiarists. Our dolls have their own image and character, this is why they are so different from others. Since the very beginning we knew how our dolls should be like, what characteristics we want them to carry, what exactly should be emphasized and exaggerated. Protruding ears, moles, imperfect teeth, high foreheads, skin "defects" and of course elongated proportions - these are the most striking features of our girls.

The traditional concept of beauty can be associated with a sensual impulse that does not belong to reason; nowadays beauty can be defined as a perception that leads you to contemplation. What is beauty for you?

Something that has the power to stop you and makes you stand and stare at it for a long time.

You were born and grew up in Perm, Russia. Has Russian culture influence your artistic aesthetic in some way?

We look for inspiration everywhere, in different cultures and arts. We are diligent, hard-working and motivated persons.

There is a huge amount of preparative work that goes on behind every collection. Combining the passion for fashion design and doll art, every doll is handmade with a lot of love. Please bring us with you behind the curtains of your studio.

It is evening, outside is dark, Angelo Badalamenti plays out of speakers, our working desks are well lit; we are sitting in front of each other working on new dolls, discussing new ideas, laughing, planning - pure magic. This is a moment of our life. We spend a lot of time in our workshop, here we are doing everything, makeups, sewing, making wigs, photograph collections, creating new dolls and the list can go on and on.

Your projects are not only dolls, but also the way you present them to audience. Tell us what are you involving into the presentation.

For each collection presentation we have special soundtrack written by Igor Korzhov (Hålrum), we plan the space and the introduction method. For example, for PUPA presentation, we made special glass boxes, we added illustrations from old books about butterflies on the background and the dolls were attached to the back wall of these boxes. The entire room was decorated with black wallpapers and the dolls were hanging on the walls, it was like a rare butterfly exhibition. For each new collection we are usual to prepare new introduction ways. This is highly important for us, it is like a precious diamond needs a precious frame. Everything needs to obey and emphasize the main concept and idea of the collection.

Usually an artwork is made with a purpose, to save a moment, to inspire, to arouse curiosity, to humour, etc. According to you what is the best reaction a viewer of your dolls could give you satisfaction and motivation?

We are quite egoistic in this regard, if we can say so. With everything we make we have to satisfy ourselves first. We never think about commercial success of our works, we are always in a rush to achieve our goals and cover everything we have in mind and this rush is endless. We have already tons of sketches for future collections waiting for us to start with them. Rush begins once we found the idea in the sketch and there is no rest until it's complete and we see the final result. For a moment we think we did it and we get a short feeling of euphoria, then new ideas come in and it starts all over again.

A dream collaboration.

We dream about collaborating with one of the best, amazingly talented Nick Knight.

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