Today, I share with you the interview I made with the Marvelous Dollfille, a New Yorker who turns itself into a living doll… I find it looks, the way it does its make up, and the way it dresses fanstastic, as I discovered it thanks to this video released by Hooked on the look
Could you present yourself ( name, pronouns, age, job, location,…)
My name is Toshi Salvino, I’m a Living Doll so I like to go by they/them/it pronouns but usually present female, (tho I have a few male alter egos. )
I’m 25 and I’m a professional make up artist, hair colorist, model, and performance artist. I live in Lancaster, PA right now after moving out of NYC where I was the past 5 years. I travel a lot!!
How do you begin modelling ?
I started just taking photos alone in my room when I was young , like 11 or something, then branching out working with friends for fun in our back yards or breaking into abandoned buildings or old farm houses or in the woods as a teenager. I LOVED watching Americas next top model as a kid so I honestly learned a lot from that show.
And I loved being able to deliver an interesting character for them or to have someone capture something that I couldn’t do alone!
I always wore alternative clothing so my first runway shows were always at anime conventions and now at alternative fashion events and even NYC and LA fashion week! I love seeing how the brands I first worked with have grown and now I’m even been able to model for some of the brands that first inspired me as a child, its a really surreal feeling.
How do you learn your make-up skills ?
One day I put on sky blue lipstick as a ten year old and never went back.
I started with very grunge Gothic make up as a kid, smudged eye liner and swirls around my eyes, etc. I always painted and drew pictures, so my face is just an extension of my canvas.
I practiced for YEARS, every single day!!! Working at Pennhurst Asylum, a huge haunted attraction, was a great first job because I learned many many skin types and figured out how to make it last a super long time… also Haunt make up really makes you think about the structure of the face and diffrent lighting. These have been HUGE assets to my creative thinking with the face art that I make today.
Is that you that create the jewelry on your Bigcartel site ?If yes, how do you create them ?
My boyfriend Jeremy runs a company called MerchMe, so I simply give him the artwork files that I drew and he turns it into a vector and sends it to the production company. I do all the creative design and he does the technical aspects and talks to the manufacturer for me. (He can help you , too !)
Where do your fascination for dolls come from ?
I have always played with them, but had a weird connection to them. As a kid my friends would always make me be the boy dolls since my voice was deeper than theirs. So I had a weird disdain, but also I was quite the tomboy so it was a good way to explore a masculine side .
I had many diffrent types, Polly pocket and bratz were my favorite, that I would carry around with me, in my pocket or dragging them by the hand… I had trouble making friends, so I would have someone to talk to when I had dolls. I would make clothes for them, make up an amazing story for them to live out etc. . . I realized one day I could simply do that for myself and create my own story as well.
Can you tell me more about Harajuku style ( what is it, were does it come from, why are you interested in it, …)
Harajuku style is from the neighborhood in Japan where on weekends, people would express themselves wearing crazy bright colors and outfits of their choosing to be able to enjoy the time they didn’t have to wear a uniform… Also, there was an army base there so they could get many foreign things and they had street festivals ,bands playing all types of exciting music, which had an influence on the style, more free and artistic.
Harajuku has a fascinating history, I hope you please read about how it came to be what it is today! What I can tell you is nothing compared to the rich history leading to what it is now.
I love it because I’m from a very conservative town in the country where most people look the same… I stuck out so much!!!
I found FRUiTS magazine when I was 10 years old and I felt so reassured, somewhere out there, there were people expressing themselves in the same way that I did.
I love it because its like being punk or rebellious but without causing a disturbance to anyone.
How do you create your collaborations with photographers ?
I usually talk with them about ideas and general inspirational colors or themes, OR (most often) we just wing it!! Most of my shoots are not very planned, we just look for the light and GO! I think that’s why when I do shoot in studios I’m comfortable, because I have so much experience doing totally random things in random places, we find random props and make it work. My favorite shoot I ever did we made up on the spot… We found a giant Amazon box from a delivery of cat food, I got dressed in half an hour , we placed make up around and used blue and pink gel lighting… Its my favorite photo shoot yet! (With Kassandra Leigh!)
Are you a professional model/MUA or artist ? If you are not, would you want to be one ?
Yes, I am. I’m very proud of myself for working so hard to get here.
What studies have you done to be a hairdresser ?
I went to cosmetology school, but I learned the most by watching talented stylists that I look up to work. How they hold the brush or scissors, how they move the hair, blend the color… The details are very important. Finding mentors or people to assist while you’re learning is very worthwhile if they will let you watch. Practice and experiment!!
How would you describe your style ?
A mixture of everything I have ever encountered.
Do you consider yourself as alternative ? Why ? Why not ?
Yes! But also, alternative is my normal. I am… Myself. If that’s alternative, then cool. I am pro artist, pro indie brand!
Same question with feminist ? If yes, what is your definition of feminism ?
YES. I believe in equality for all genders (including no gender) and think that we are all just animals running around of other planet… All creatures should treat each other with respect. We need to stand up for each other and support each other until our voices are heard and listened to. Feminism is about EQUALITY FOR ALL!
What are your inspirations ? ( movies, series, books, videos games,…)
Wow, so many… Lots of fantasy, SciFi, anime, video games… I could give you a list but its a very long list. I think what’s the most inspirational is just …life. The things I see around me, people I meet. I love antiques and design, nature… Anything can be an inspiration if you let your mind run with it.
If you could collaborate with any photographer or model on Earth, who would it be and why ?
Photographer…. I just want to shoot with Kassandra Leigh forever. I love her so much and look up to her, plus shooting just feels very natural since I feel like she always can tell the image I’m looking for without even talking.
Model would be…. That’s a hard question… I always love doing make up on models who are multiracial, I feel like they have the most interesting and incredible bone structures, everyone so diffrent. I just love beauty that is not considered « typical », I like to celebrate and highlight each persons unique traits.
I would also love to work with Cait Stickels, I think she’s just breathtaking and brings me to the faerie realm. I love all of her work and the elegance she has in her poses.
What relationship do you have with social media ?
A strange one!! It used to be my only outlets and connection to the world, able to find friends and mentors and inspiration, but now I find myself closing off a bit from it. At least from sharing. I try to always be very open but sometimes I will find myself venting and regretting a post or something. I’m trying to live in the real world much more now and break away from phone addiction since its now too similar to watching TV instead of connecting with people.
How do you deal with people’s remarks, bad words or insults ? I feel very lucky that I do not receive many… Or at least I don’t realize it if they are lol!! If people tell me I look like a clown, well… Sometimes I am a clown!!! I know that their meanness comes from an inner hurt or need for power so I just ignore it or brush it off, I try to listen for critique or actual ways I can grow but sometimes people are just being mean.
How does your style evolve from your teenage years and now?
OMG… Endlessly. I will show you pictures!! I went from gross slimy baby goth clown to… More colorful, less slimy but still a goth clown lol! I’ve definitly added more styles into my mix!!
How many piercings and tatoos do you have ? Have you some new projects coming soon ?
Six doll tattoos, I want my ankles shoulders , torso, hands and neck done Doll style also. I have five piercings in my nose, one in my lip, and three in each ear currently. I want more! I have plans but I will not say it until its done.
My piercings represent balance /off-balance (nose sides and ears)and the symmetry inbetween (septum ring loops the sides together , lip is in the center ).
Would you accept to tell me about tattoo meaning?
My joints make me look like a doll obviously, but due to chronic illnesses I have, I am often feeling a lot of stiffness and pain in my body and joints, making it hard to move or hold things. Having doll parts makes me feel more like a toy instead of clumsy or sick when I drop things or have trouble. I can tell myself its because I’m turning into resin instead of feeling sick.
What are your favorite brands of make up, jewelry, and clothes ?
Oh my… I have too many! I’m sorry I cannot tell you them all!
But most definitly some of my friends and indie designers! I do Declare, Puvithel, Hard Decora, Belladonna, Sweet Mildred, Kiss Me Kill Me and some Japanese brands like Angelic Pretty, 6%dokidoki, ACDCrag….Most of my clothing has come from friends who are designers who I want to support or people who believe in me and I model for!
For make up I love sugarpill, danessa myricks the very most! Also Cozette has some incredible eyeshadow and liners.
LA splash lipsticks are amazing! I also use a surprising amount of things just from the drug store or something cheap, its all about the ingredients is and how you use a product, not how much it costs!
How do you learn to draw ? ( was it self taught, did you take lessons,…)
I’m self taught! I took some lessons but I never liked school, I learn by practicing and failing and trying and failing!
Also studying endlessly online, looking at tutorials and trying them or adding my own twist on how someone else does something.
Watch people who you like in their process! I learn visually so watching people who I admire has helped in all aspects of my art learning adventure. I still study all the time and look at new techniques!!
How often do you draw ? What equipment do you use ?
I try to draw a little every day. I stopped for a long time and I regret it! Practicing at least ten minutes every day will help you a lot!! I use an ipad and Apple pencil, with program called ibispaint and procreate! But when I do traditional art I love sharpie oil paint markers mixed with colored pencil and alcohol ink markers! And white gel pen!! Or acrylic paint. I want to try goache this year!
What are your plans for 2019?
Try as many new things as I can, improve where I need to learn more, travel and see new places and meet new people!
Whenever it is a new year I wish for the same, but better and more expanded. Lots of adventure and to broaden my mind and life experience!
Most of all I’m very excited to be launching merchandise and starting a store as well as traveling to events to demonstrate make up and sell artwork! Please reach out if you want me at your event!
Front image : Toshi Salvino
Second picture : @gold.in.motion
Third picture : Purple Penguin Productions LLC