SS14 menswear paper doll – John Varvatos and Paul Smith

male model 2 dressed

Seems like I’m finally done paper-dolling the Spring season and it all over. It’s been a busy Spring with a lot of client projects. Somehow I managed to find enough time to finish this 2D guy. His buddy has a compatible wardrobe of Tom Ford and Balmain, if you get them both they can share clothes. I’ve always wanted to do a menswear doll that allowed for a lot of layering and combinations and this is the result. Hope you enjoy his company too – he’s available as a PDF for personal usage for $15 CDN.

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SS14 Menswear Paper Doll – Balmain and Tom Ford

male model dressed

By request, I’ve created a pair of menswear paper dolls inspired by four SS14 menswear collections. Our first guy has a fresh Spring 2014 wardrobe of Balmain an Tom Ford for every occasion. You can purchase the high resolution PDF for $15 CDN to keep or print for personal use, to play and display.

This doll has a buddy with a compatible wardrobe of Paul Smith and John Varvatos… if you get them both they can trade clothes. One of the main reasons I enjoyed making these dolls is because I wanted to create a very modular, mixy-matchy wardrobe that would be fun to play “stylist” with. I did my best to separate each layer in each outfit. It took a long time, but the results are very satisfying. One way I’ve tried to encourage layering was designing a way for paper dolls to wear open jackets.
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Holly Godarkly paper doll for Shorts That Are Not Pants

holly godarkly doll web

I was asked to create a poster for Shorts That Are Not Pants, a sweet short film festival happening here in Toronto on July 18th. James, the founder of the festival, made the referral for the big WWD on Paper gig in NYC, so I was more than happy to give some good karma back! Being given a completely open brief was a somewhat bewildering though. Initially I worked on a very straight-forward take on the event’s name (below), but subsequently decided to indulge my own camp proclivities and create a paper doll based on one of my all-time favourite famous film posters. This punked-down version of Holly Golightly would wear shorts – with short hair – and a short stogie instead of the long cigarette holder.

There will be a limited edition print made for giveaways at the July 18th screening in Toronto, so if you can make it out to Shorts That Are Not Pants next month you could win a free Holly Godarkly paper doll.

shorts not pants poster

paper doll – Mrs. Carter for Stylist

mrs carter doll web dressed

So thrilled to get to do another pop-star paper doll for – this time inspired by Beyoncé and the outfits she is wearing on her current Mrs. Carter tour. Since many of her outfits have a cute peplum detail – probably to accentuate the singer’s famous booty, I decided to do my first ever side-view paper doll to highlight all that and those fiercely arched diva brows too.

If you like this doll, click on it, download the PDF for FREE, print it and cut it out! And if pop-star paper dolls are totally your thing, go get the Tulisa doll too.

paper dolls – Style Sequel

style sequel dolls

Last year I was delighted to create a series of original paper dolls for a media kit to promote StyleSequel, an online shop specializing in hand-picked, pre-owned fashion. I really enjoyed rendering their sweet red lips and to-die-for designer vintage wardrobe. Many thanks to Emma for a fun project!

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free download – Evelyn Magnet Doll

evelyn doll on fridge

My niece Evelyn just turned five years old with much fanfare and excitement. One of the greatest things about being back in Toronto is being able to be an active Auntie again, so I get to participate in fun kid stuff – for me, that means doll play. For her major milestone, I created a magnet doll which we coloured in together with markers. It’s my first ever kid-doll and since it was so well received, I thought I’d offer it as a free download. Get it here and share it with the moppets in your life.

Evelyn Magnet Doll 1

You can get magnet paper kits from major stationary stores. You can either send it through your printer – or if your printer isn’t up to it, you can print it off on regular paper and glue it on to the magnet paper. Colour in with markers or what-have-you, carefully cut her out, stick her on your fridge, and have fun!

Evelyn Magnet Doll 2

paper doll – Tulisa for Stylist

This was a fun little project – a paper doll inspired by X Factor judge Tulisa with some of her best dresses from this season’s show for Stylist. Guess what? You can download her for free, print her off, cut her out and dress her up while you watch the big finale.


paper dolls – The Cut magnetic dolls

This summer was an exciting one for The CutNew York Magazine‘s fashion news blog got a major makeover, adding tons of new features and content, making it a stand-alone online destination for smart women who dig fashion. I especially love the exhaustive, biographical lookbooks of style icons, more long-form posts like these ones, and of course the comprehensive runway image database with the super-useful trend search functions… and back views!

This summer was also an exciting one for me because I received my favourite commission of my career so far – to create a series of five magnetic dolls for a media kit to promote The Cut‘s new look to major advertisers. It was a dream job in a lot of ways – creative director Owen Fegan gave me a tremendous level of trust, encouraging me to produce the most fashionable, fun dolls I could. We couldn’t reference any actual designer items, so I was also in the unusual position of designing “generic” designer clothing that reflected the best of 2012. It was a terrific creative challenge. Every day I worked on this, I felt amazed to be doing something I loved so much for such a great client.

The finished dolls were printed on magnetic sheets and laser cut with incredible accuracy. The results were the most beautiful physical renditions of my paper dolls I’ve ever touched.

The first doll represents Fashions. She is inspired by runway fashions, especially the more androgynous, avant-garde, minimalist ones. I tried to create a set of separates that could be mixed in a variety of ways to maximize the fun factor.


The second doll represents Fame. She has a super-glamourous, super-feminine, red carpet inspired wardrobe, with sparkly accessories.

The third doll represents Love & War. So, naturally, a boyfriend doll! I had a lot of fun making him as cute as possible giving him a variety of items ranging from boho to posh, depending on which of the three female dolls he’s dating at the time. I haven’t done many male dolls – I think I should do more.

The fourth doll represents Beauty. I pitched something a little different this time – a bust with a range of eye makeup and lipstick styles to mix and match. Since this doll is magnetic and doesn’t require tabs, it was a chance to try something new. I’m not a beauty illustrator – I’ve discovered that this is a whole specialization unto itself. Still, I love a challenge.


The fifth doll represents Goods. She’s the shopaholic of the bunch and she loves accessories and trendy stuff – whether it’s half-tucks, arm parties, cut-offs, or crop tops. Inspired by all of the it girls, personal style and street style blogs out there, she’s a hip, pretty young thing.

Thanks so much to The Cut, and Owen – who is amazing to work with – for giving me such a wonderful opportunity! I loved it!

career karma – Tom Tierney

If you have any interest in paper dolls, you have encountered the work of Tom Tierney. Mr. Tierney is the quintessential 20th century paper doll artist, perhaps the only paper doll artist in the world who has created a name known outside the world of niche collectors. His prolific body of work covers vast swathes of popular culture – film stars, politicians, literary and historical figures, mythological creatures, the camp, and the bizarre. If a human-shaped subject could possibly be adapted to the paper doll form, Mr. Tierney has probably already done it.

Now in his eighties, Mr. Tierney lives and works in Texas and from everything I’ve read about him, he is a charming man with tremendous enthusiasm for what he does. Recently, he suffered a stroke, which must be a very frustrating experience for someone who lives to draw – and yet he has a wonderful sense of humour, is constantly working on new projects, and radiates inspiring vitality through his correspondence.

Before his iconic contribution to the world of paper dolls, Tierney was a commercial fashion illustrator in the 1950s and 1960s, when fashion illustration was still considered a necessary – and therefore even lucrative – aspect of the fashion industry. The nature of this career couldn’t possibly be more different now than it was then, and it’s fascinating to get even a small glimpse into that lost world. I am honoured that Mr. Tierney agreed to share some of his significant experience with me. Below, he offers his thoughts on creating paper dolls, and his passion for his work.


How do you choose a subject for your paper dolls, and subsequently research and choose the poses and items? Are the subjects inspired by popular demand, or your own interests?

As for choosing a subject for my paper dolls, I will have to give you a rather nebulous answer. Sometimes I will contact my editor at my publishers and suggest an idea for a paper doll book. Generally I do not get an answer right away because he then presents the idea to their editorial board for their approval. Sometimes the answer is “yes”, others “no”. Sometimes they come back to me with suggestions for changes in direction and if I agree then a contract is in the offing. Sometimes the editor will come to me with an idea and if I think I can do it justice, then we will go to a contract. Actually, if someone in the general public wants to see me do a book on a subject dear to their heart, it would be better to write the editor of the publisher and suggest the idea and that it be done by me (if they want me to do it, that is). Just remember that often the idea might already be copyrighted and owned by someone else! “Superman, for instance”.

Are there any “rules” for creating paper dolls? What do you believe are the defining characteristics of an excellent paper doll?

So far as I know there are no “rules” for making paper dolls. In fact when I first started making my own paper dolls and started putting a colored columnar base behind the legs, I got several rather uncomplimentary letters saying that I was wrong and breaking tradition in doing so, because there would be no shoes to put on the dolls. I tried politely to say that shoes and hats were the first thing lost once the doll was cut out, and further if people did not like what I was doing, they had the option of not buying them! Perhaps the only valid “rule” is that the clothes fit the doll and the tabs are in the right places.

So far as I know, there are no Paper Doll Police!

As to defining characteristics for an excellent paper doll, I really know of none. They are as varied as the artist and the viewer. After all, some people prefer Rembrandt and others like Picasso!

Can you describe your studio environment and how you like to work? What types of media and techniques do you use to create paper dolls? How long does it take you to develop a paper doll book from start to finish?

My studio is rather spacious as it is the 2nd floor mezzanine of an old 1894 building. I have divided it into two sections with the front 2/3s as a display area for my art and the back 1/3 as my actual work space which has a drawing table, a large table sized paper cutter, a desk with my computer, and shelves all around for storing art materials, folios filled with my finished art, and book collection. The furniture in the display area is mostly Victorian, including a 2-3 hundred year old wooden painter’s mannequin, a couple of antique music boxes, and a large Victorian styled doll house and several metal doll houses of the 1940-50s era. As to media, I prefer to draw and paint on Bristol surfaced 2ply illustration board in colored inks. I usually work about 1/4th larger than the printed work. I generally draw everything out on tracing paper (to be sure the costumes fit) and then transfer them to the illustration board. The longest part of doing a book is the research which can take a week or two. The actual rendering of the book is about two more weeks, give or take.

You have an enviable background as a fashion illustrator at a time when there was much more practical demand and professional validation of the craft than there is now. Can you describe what it was like to work as a freelance fashion artist for department stores and other clients in the 1950s and 1960s? What would a typical work day be like?

Doing free lance fashion (and movie poster) illustration in the 1950s & ‘60s was oft times pretty grueling for me. I was a greedy little cuss and often put in 12 to 18 hours a day, often 7 days a week. I was lucky to always have a rather large studio, first a loft on the lower East Side and later my own brownstone with a floor through studio and four floors of living space for me and my family. I had several agents in the years I was in Manhattan so I had little contact with my clients except through my agent who was responsible for pick-ups and deliveries, etc. My Father was my business manager and he and my mother lived with me, freeing me to do little else than draw, and draw, and draw. Usually my agent would arrive in the afternoon with the merchandise and layouts around four in the afternoon all of which would be due back to the store the next afternoon. There were days when I would turn out as many as eight fashion figures a day, sometimes more before Christmas and holidays. When I was doing movie posters I had more time and they were fitted in between fashion jobs. Fortunately there were slow times during the year when you could get out and meet people and do other things than just draw. I guess I have always been somewhat a workaholic.

After a successful career as a freelance illustrator, you have managed to establish a well-earned reputation in a very specific niche. What do you think are the qualities and circumstances that have allowed you to not only make a living from your passion, but thrive on it?

I suppose that the secret to my success, such as it is, is that I love to draw. There are times when I feel rather naked if I don’t have a pencil or a brush in my hand. Also, I love the research and “getting to know” my subjects, if they are historic, down to studying their body language and incorporate that in my paper dolls… Right now I am in a bit of a pickle due to a recent stroke. My drawing hand is still a bit weak, but improving daily, and hopefully I will soon be back in the saddle again.

Thank you Mr. Tierney for sharing your time with me. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

paper doll – London and Milan SS13 collections

I felt compelled to work on a new contemporary doll after creating my Edwardiana doll, when I realized I hadn’t created a doll inspired by new fashions since 2010. She’s blonde blonde blonde, as a nod to the ultimate plastic fashion doll. She has a wardrobe of separates inspired by seven of the Spring 2013 collections from London and Milan. The selection is a bit of grown-up minimalist mixed up with young and weird, and I enjoyed rendering some of the textures and effects of the season.

If you, like me, can’t afford a whole new spring wardrobe to mix and match with, paper is an ideal way to pretend you can. This doll is available for purchase as a high-resolution printable PDF for $15 USD.

A PDF is a high-quality printable file. Unlike the images found on the web, there is clarity of detail which reproduces beautifully in print. Purchase this paper doll, and you can print her out for personal use – to cut out, play with and display.