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“A Work Of Art”: Celebrities Respond To “Doll Artist” Who Remakes Barbies In Their Image
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“A Work Of Art”: Celebrities Respond To “Doll Artist” Who Remakes Barbies In Their Image

Interview With Artist
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From Margot Robbie To Cruella De Vil, there isn’t a celebrity or fictional character this talented artist will shy away from when it comes to repurposing dolls and embellishing them to incredible proportions.

At 29 years old, Carl Folkerts has not only amassed thousands of followers on social media but also received acknowledgments for his hard work from some A-list celebrities.

Originally from Kansas, USA, Carl now lives in Los Angeles and recreates incredible-looking dolls, mostly in the style of the iconic Barbie doll. However, the artist doesn’t officially work for Mattel.

29-year-old Carl Folkerts, from Kansas, now lives in Los Angeles and recreates incredible-looking dolls, mostly in the style of the iconic Barbie doll

Image credits: Carl Folkerts

“Everything I do is just fan-made one-of-a-kind dolls,” Carl told Bored Panda via email. “I love to collect/create with dolls from multiple brands, but those classic Barbie proportions are so iconic.”

Carl’s hard work has become particularly popular on TikTok, where videos showcasing some of his creations have gone viral, receiving, at times, millions of views.

“I started out posting pictures on Flickr, which if you speak with anyone collecting dolls in the early 2010s, is where we all started,” Carl recalled.

Image credits: Carl Folkerts

He explained: “I eventually moved onto Instagram and then a couple of years ago began posting on Tiktok!

“My entire doll collection actually started with Hannah Montana dolls. I HAD to own every single one in existence.

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“That eventually moved into Disney Princesses, celebrity Barbies, and then the start of customizing dolls to meet my high standards.”

Carl went on to walk us through his creative process when designing and customizing his viral dolls: “It always starts with the head sculpt. I look closely at the person’s face shape and try to hunt down which base doll would be the best at capturing their features.

“I love to collect/create with dolls from multiple brands, but those classic Barbie proportions are so iconic,” Carl said

Image credits: Carl Folkerts

Popular YouTuber and podcaster Trisha Paytas said she was “honored” to have her custom-made Barbie

@theycallmeobsessed the OFFICIAL @trishapaytasbackup BARBIE💖💅🏻 it was SUCH an honor to create this gorgeous gift for the iconic Trisha Paytas! Huge shoutout to the LEGENDARY @sorrygottasew for his insane dress sewing talents💕 #trisha #trishapaytas #barbie #ooakdoll #custombarbie #barbiedoll #hairgoals #fyp ♬ Feather – Sped Up – Sabrina Carpenter

“This is CRITICAL to getting that likeness just right and making the finished doll recognizable.

“I’ve had to do a lot of experimenting with trial and error, learning what you can get away with in Barbie scale.

“Once I find a sculpt I think will work, then everything else gets the green light!”

Image credits: Carl Folkerts

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The Sugar and Spice siblings from RuPaul’s Drag Race trusted Carl to create customized dolls for the reunion episode of the show

@theycallmeobsessed Shoutout to these ICONIC TWINS @sugarandspice for trusting me to make these dolls for the reunion !!! I’m so obsessed with their concept 💜💚 #sugarandspice #rupaulsdragrace #dragrace15 #myscene #barbie #ooakdoll #lizziemcguiremovie #y2kaesthetic ♬ What Dreams Are Made Of – Hilary Duff

Carl continued: “I’m the kind of person who watches something like a movie, TV show, or even a music video and enjoys it so much that I immediately need a doll of it.

“Dolls associated with any form of media instantly make it better, in my mind.

“In some cases, it’s also me going back and filling in the gaps where I see missed opportunities.

“Creating dolls of characters/moments in pop culture that I wish existed all along.”

When customizing his creations, Carl revealed that his main challenge was facial repaint not turning out quite the way he wanted.

Image credits: Carl Folkerts

“I’ve had instances where I will spend hours on a repaint and then completely wipe it clean and start over multiple times,” the doll artist explained. “I think that piece really makes or breaks the doll.”

Carl has also admitted that his lack of sewing ability had posed somewhat of a challenge in the past. “I would try to hot glue and manipulate existing pieces to my liking with…interesting results,” he said.

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Image credits: Carl Folkerts

The viral doll artist recreated Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday from the popular Netflix series

@theycallmeobsessed A Quick Wednesday Doll 🖤🖤 This show is absolutely INCREDIBLE #neflix #wednesday #wednesdayaddams #jennaortega #movie #filmtok #barbie #ooakdoll ♬ Wednesday Addams (End Titles) – Danny Elfman

As a result, the doll artist brought on his good friend Anthony, who eventually took up sewing, relieving Carl of a lot of additional stress.

The Kansas native was hesitant to showcase his work online at first. However, the support he received from TikTok quickly changed that.

One of Carl’s first videos displayed an Emma Stone Cruella De Vil custom doll, which quickly blew up and reached 3 million views on the video-sharing platform.

“That got me a ton of followers in a very short time, which has just fueled me to create more and more,” the artist revealed.

“It’s always always, always based on what I love,” Carl said

Image credits: Carl Folkerts

According to Carl, “A good custom will always start with acetone, aka nail polish remover.”

He explained: “That’s the key to removing all the factory face paint and getting a blank canvas.”

And when it comes to finding the perfect accessory to style his creation, Carl confessed that Ebay was his “best friend.”

“I’ll search for hours to find the right necklace or pair of shoes I need,” the content creator said.

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“Although I have developed a bit of a stockpile over the years, so it’s always amazing to hunt through my own bins of stuff and find out I already have what I need.”

Carl’s hard and consistent work has visibly paid off, as celebrities have also started to notice his dolls.

Todrick Hall purchased one of Carl’s Cinderella dolls

Image credits: Carl Folkerts

One of Carl’s first videos displayed an Emma Stone Cruella De Vil custom doll, which blew up to reach 3 million views

@theycallmeobsessed Custom Cruella doll process 🖤🤍💋 #cruella #cruella2021 #emmastone #ooak #doll #barbie ♬ Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps – Corrinne Williams

“One of the first BIG things to happen was when we created dolls of Brandy and Whitney Houston from their 1997 Cinderella film,” the doll artist recalled.

He continued: “The post found its way to Todrick Hall, who reached out about purchasing the dolls for his collection.

“I gladly agreed, and then much to my surprise, the dolls were actually used in his music video promoting the film’s arrival on Disney Plus, FEAT BRANDY HERSELF!

“Then later, they were shown on TV for an ABC special celebrating the anniversary of the film.

“He also recorded a personal video for me with her thanking me for the dolls, and that was just so mind-blowing! Childhood me would never believe [it].”

The artist also creates dolls of characters or moments in pop culture that he wished existed all along

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Image credits: Carl Folkerts

Carl has also received positive feedback from Trisha Paytas after posting a TikTok of a customized doll embodying her looks.

Trisha commented on the video, which was viewed 1.4 million times: “This [is] such a work of art, so so talented, such an honor to get to own her.”

Reality TV star Holly Madison also commented on the viral TikTok: “It’s so good!!!”

But Carl’s success has continuously grown. As he revealed: “Kacey Musgraves reposted custom Bratz dolls I did of her Simple Times video to her Instagram feed. Absolutely adore her!”

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Image credits: Carl Folkerts

The artist also created Sugar and Spice dolls, RuPaul’s Drag Race drag queens, Cooper Coyle and Luca Coyle, for their reunion episode of the show last year, a moment Carl described as “insanely special.”

The talented doll enthusiast has admitted that he “always” had a couple of projects that he was working on “slowly in the background.”

“But it’s those ones that happen at the last minute in response to a big pop culture moment or a makeover of a newly released doll that are truly the best,” Carl concluded.

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