Alison N. O’Bryan is a doll artist. Before going to college she learned how to primitively sew from her grandma who used to buy her character pillows as a child. She remember being so excited to put these forms together with her and believes that memory is what keeps her going to this day in art. In 2009, Alison graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts which taught her how to elevate her primitive sewing into something professional. Since graduating, she has made her art a career and sells online through Etsy and EBay. She also do a few art shows a year in Kentucky.
Sewing is my way down the rabbit hole, my key to the secret garden, my looking glass.
Hand sewing started it. The process of transforming raw fabric material into art dolls and soft sculptures is my magic wand. I feel like Harry Potter casting magic spells to get through a great journey. This magical process has had its way with me and whenever I finish a creation I feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose, and it has proven to be my calling in life; what I was born to do.
I hand sew all of my dolls though a process of experimentation. I often do not sketch out my ideas so that my creativity is not hindered. My creations are creative expressions of my day to day life with a whimsical twist. I often make people and animals that I would love to meet if I could create a world of my own. It is in this vain that I make my very own art doll universe with vivid colors, wild expressions, and painfully cute details.
What made you want to make these?
I started making these art dolls at first for my family and friends as a way of making them smile. I enjoyed watching their expressions as they would look at each detail. I also used them as an outlet for myself. I don't think that I can go a day without sewing something. It literally drives me nuts if I can not make art everyday. So instead of making something large and pretentious I make these funny little creations that I can get an instant high from.
What inspires you to make them?
Books, my people family, my animal family, and my absoultely crazy imagaination gives me plenty of ideas and inspiration! I often live in my own dreamworld where everyone is a either a friendly monster or a talking animal! And who says that being in a dreamland is bad? Here are some of my specific inspirations: my crew of crazy cats, my furry funny dog, Art Doll Magazine, Stuffed Magazine, Kentucky trees and little houses, my people family, Harry Potter, Fashion Shows, Monsters that come to speak to me, dreams, Children's Books, Mythology, Trenton Doyle Hancock, hiking in nature, devouring 5 layer cheese cake from the cheese cake factory, my one and only cutest little Hampster, and my imagination which continues to surprize and at times scare me!
What are they made of?
My art dolls can really be made of anything. I go to flea markets in search of fabrics and odd knic knats; anything that I can sew down I will use. Usually the body of my dolls are made of felts, vintage and new cotton prints, old coats or shirts, dish rags, socks, polymer clay or paper clay, just anything that I can get my hands on.
How long does it typically take you to create one?
It can take anywhere from an hour to 30 hours. It really depends on the level of detailing, and how much I start to love what I am making. Sometimes I find myself adding things to a creation that I had not originally planned to do just to draw out a project that I am really into. I think that is when my work becomes more then just "craft" and becomes something of an "art sculpture."
Do you do sketches? Or do you just start creating?
Sometimes I do make sketches if I have a very particular idea or if I am doing a custom order for someone; but most of the time I just start creating. The little people and animals I make really come to life when I start creating and take a life form of their own. I never really know what sort of person or animal that I am making until it just shows itself to me.
How do you think that your art fits within the community?
I think my art makes people laugh and I think that is why my art dolls have done well. I think people need to laugh more and maybe be a little indulgent.