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Art News: Interview with doll maker Nicole Johnson

The Queen City Market, an independent market promoting local crafters, artisans, and vintage sellers is tomorrow (Sat, Dec 10) from 11am-6pm at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum Porter Hall (453 Porter Avenue). The market is the Artvoice editor’s See You There pick of the week and Artvoice spoke to some of the vendors who will be bringing their fine art, crafts, and vintage to the market just in time for the holiday gift-giving season.

Nicole Johnson is the owner of Mealy Monster Land, where she sells her creepy, macabre, and whimsical art doll creations. She began making art dolls in 2008.

Artvoice: How did you begin making art dolls?

Nicole Johnson: For as long as I can remember I have always loved to create. Between drawing, painting, sculpting, and more I took every class I could and tried all different mediums. In 2008 I came across polymer clay art dolls and fell in love. That same year I bought my first brick of polymer clay, started experimenting with it, and three years later I am still at it. I have a relatively successful Etsy shop and just joined in on the art festivals this year. Somehow I have stumbled into my dream job as a self-employed working artist. Each Mealy Monster is hand sculpted with polymer clay, detailed with acrylics. No molds are every used. no two are alike. Each one is truly one of a kind.

AV: What is your background?

NJ: I grew up in Baldwinsville, NY, a small town outside of Syracuse. In 1996 I transferred colleges to attended Buffalo State College where I studied fine arts with a focus in printmaking. My artwork has been published in numerous national magazines and I have shown in various exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Canada. Most recently it was featured at the MF toy show in Brooklyn, New York.

AV: How has living in Buffalo influenced your creations?

NJ: Long winters leave lots of time to sit at my work table and sculpt. Awesome summer art festivals in Buffalo add a great place to sell the huge pile of monsters that have been sculpted over the long winter.

AV: How do you think indie markets help our community?

NJ: I think they bring a sense of community and bring people together. Through participating in shows over the summer I have met so many interesting people who live in our community, are artists in the community, and that I have things in common with to network with. I never would have met any of these people had I not taken part in indie markets.  

  • Wyle Keaton

    Very cool stuff. My 5 year old, who has a love for the macabre, says, “It’s fun… and CREEPY! I love them!” I think we’ll be hitting up Nicole’s Etsy site.