Interview with ShirrStone Shelter dolls

SSSdolls is a married creative couple of artists,Olga and Nikolay. ShirrStone Shelter dolls are full of surrealism and mysticism. Artists are trying to touch social and psychological problems of modern society. Stylistics dolls is exquisite detailing and smoothness, intentional change of human's proportions and hyperbolization of anatomical features.

Hello dear Olga and Nik, please, tell us a little about you - how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?

Nik: I started draw at age 17. Once sudden I wanted to lay out my thoughts and teenage emotions. It was a complete surprise for me and for my friends. In my environment nobody was involved into an art. Taking a piece of hardboard and paint for ceiling, I began to draw. Since then, art became an integral part of my life. I can not imagine how my life would have formed if I had not started painting.
Olga: As I can remember, I have been always sculpting, creating and painting. Everything began in my early childhood. I remember as with thrill, exciting in childhood was to draw in albums. In elementary school, I successfully participated in national and international children's art competition. By becoming older, I knew that I will become an an artist, and had only to learn and gain experience. In student years, art introduced me to my husband, and we began to create together. We have been engaged in painting and a drawing for a long time. Also static dolls and small sculptures. For some years I worked on TV, participated in show about design and decor. Professionally we have started to create dolls in 2005 and ball jointed dolls in 2010.

What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
Influence and inspiration is all around us. The nature, dreams, animals, and mysticism, which is always somewhere nearby. The world is full of half-tones, and we're trying to catch them and embody. Creating dolls is like writing a painting. The doll is a blank canvas.
How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
Everything is much simpler and more prosaic than it seems. Except engaged in creativity need to find time for cooking, cleaning, sport (rare but very important). Usually we wake up late due to the previous night spent at work. We prefer to work at night, we are both owls. When it is a long routine work, such as sanding parts, making of plaster molds, we occupy your ears for hours. Listen audio books, fiction or non-fiction. Nikolay loves to read, but now we do not have time for this. We dream that our favorite authors were translated into audio format. We think this is the future of books, electronic and audio. Of the latter books most interesting Hilary Mantel "Beyond Black" and Jonathan Coe "The Rain Before It Falls".

What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
Nik: We have 50/50. Olga has a two university artistic education and I did not finished my artistic education. Olga after termination of faculty of a drawing in her city has got education in Saint Petersburg Repin State Academic Institute of Painting Sculpture and Architecture (Academy of Arts). She is a professional art critic and graphic artist. I tried forces in University of Art, but not finished an art education.
We think that every artist should decide for himself, to study or not. As you can see we have a different experiences. Undoubtedly education affects the development of the artist and the person as a whole, there are both positive and negative sides. To me enough self-education and access to information in terms of direct knowledge. But Olga says that I in vain not completed art education, that would be give me an idea of discipline and self-organization and would have deprived me half the problems with my laziness. Olga all the time make plans and constantly learning. She believes that it is education that taught her to make plans, implement them and achieve success in desired time. Her responsibility is enough for both of us. Though Olga as art critic, she believes that academic education deprives the artist's personal and individual. Loads on his shoulders a lot of dogmas, prejudices and rules. She thinks that the artist was formed, it must rely solely on his inner world, to seek creativity in itself, but not to copy herding behavior in the group. Horizons emerging the creative person does not depend on education. You can not teach, can only learn himself.
Olga: By the way my husband is an example of this, maybe it sounds pathosly but it's true. With him was very interesting to talk about art when we first met (our first meeting took place on the exhibition of contemporary artists) and most importantly, Nik always has his own opinion and judgment, and could prove or explain it.


How would you describe style? What themes do you pursue and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
We create a mobile sculpture, with a surreal inclination through the doll, permanent and eternal friend of human. We try to create each doll conceptual, full of meaning and content. The features of our dolls it is a intentional change proportions of a human. We want to share with the viewer our impressions and feelings and happy when it succeeded.

What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
We love when the result is better than planned. This is rare :) A lot of trial and error, this is familiar to everyone who has ever engaged in creative work. Creative means to us to be free-thinking artists. Use own thoughts and feelings based on experiences and the world around us.


Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?

Creating mobile porcelain sculpture is a long but interesting process. Of course all begins with an idea, with designing, create thumbnails, sketching. The longest stage this sculpting master model. Is the most important part of the work. After the master model is ready, we are starting to create plaster molds. Then we work with porcelain slip, we cast parts dolls. Then it takes a few days to let the doll parts dry. After drying necessary bisque firing. After it the details are brought to desired smoothness, removes all errors and roughness. This process is quite tedious, here minimum creative and the most routine work. We both do not really like this process but will actually need it. After it high firing. We always with trembling open the furnace, the details very greatly reduced in size and undergo simply fabulous changes. Then a few colorful firings. And finally assembly dolls and creation of a complete image. Because our sculptures are small, we mainly use surgical and dental instruments. Many tools we have made ourselves.
We tried a lot of materials to create dolls. At present our favorite is classic porcelain. But we not stop explore new materials. In decorating dolls we use: sterling silver, leather, stone, glass. In making of wigs only natural hair, it's various kinds mohair and silk.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
Nik: Olga dreams to create a doll made of glass, she loves this stuff, but it is not yet possible. I want to try work with wood of exotic varieties.

Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
We have a small but cozy studio. Probably why we have so miniature artworks. LOL :) Maybe it would be better, if we have be big studio, and then our creations would be bigger:) Of course we dream about big space.
During operation, we often feel someone's presence, as if someone is watching and helping us. It's difficult to explain, it is necessary to feel. Maybe it's our guardian angels. We do not know what
it is, but we feel their support and inspiration, and we are grateful to them for that.


What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
The most difficult thing is embody our plans in the material and be satisfied with the result. Since the idea is one thing, but its embodiment is quite different. Great lesson it is always to work in his own style, not to change their ideas and desires in creativity, not looking at the influence of fashion and the market.

What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
Any advice good for the artist, follow it or not everyone decides for himself. In our, still small art career we received a bit advices. For us always important opinion of spectators.

What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
In the art world, we do not like the attitude art galleries toward young emerging artists. After all, young talents need help and understanding. Group exhibitions help the artist to bring their art to the target audience. We are very grateful to the curators who organize such events. Of course, artlife is lonely, us very hard to find a common language with the "normal" people and people from creative environment. Social unadaptability and different interests, a special look at the world, always make the artist a hermit. Now is the time of new technologies, internet and social networks, they help to deal with loneliness. We have a lot of friends and associates in various countries. Web gives us the opportunity to communicate, it's wonderful.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?
Hope that we will continue to create dolls, will become more experienced, will delight viewers new improved dolls and interesting images. In the near future we plan ... a lot of things, but it's a little secret :)

Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
Stick to your goals, believe in yourself and fear nothing. Love your art, please attention to self victories, ignore failure. Not mistaken only person who does not do anything.

Your favorite art or life quote is ...
Life is too short to be sad. Doing things you love and your life will be better.
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
Nik: Olga is engaged in art photography. The main characters are dolls. She is the author of all photographs. Very funny to watch this process :)
Olga: Since early childhood I adored to look at photofilm and to examine persons of relatives and friends in an image negative. Where black picture becomes white, and white - black color. It is other light world of a reality. Other reality contrary. Now I often play with photos of our dolls. The interesting moments sometimes turn out. This is my strange photohobby :) Unfortunately I'm rarely cook, and probably why my husband often disappears in the kitchen. He loves to cook, and he is doing it great. Nik often indulges me delicious food, even bakes the bread itself. I am very glad for his hobby, even if it affects my body, hee-hee :)

Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?
Welcome to our site We also will be glad if you support us on Facebook, here is our page


Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
We are currently working on new doll project, new size and format. It will be a completely new design, with higher mobility and opportunities. Thank you for your interesting questions. Hope your readers were not bored :) Sincerely, Olga and Nikolay.
Thank you dear Olga and Nik, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your dolls and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
By contributor Linda. December 2014. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS