Frequently Asked Questions

1. How did you learn to paint?
I’ve been drawing since I was a very young boy in the Philippines. I have always drawn and then painted as a young man into adulthood. It was just a little over ten years ago that I discovered repainted dolls as a canvas when my wife was collecting Barbie’s. After that discovery, a three dimensional canvas, I kept pushing myself for more realism, depth, and shading (lights & darks). I continue to grow as an artist every-time I paint, draw and attempt more realistic repaints.

2. How do you start a repaint?
First, is the hair-style. Hairstyling is a very arduous process. Depending on the style, it may be cut first, then small curlers are set into the hair, then comes the heat/hot water. Typically, I heat/boil perm the dolls hair (NOTE: Not all dolls can be heat permed, some hair is extremely sensitive and will melt-for example the Farrah Fawcett MEGO Doll, the hair will melt). The next step is removal of the factory paint (I use ACETONE and carefully remove the paint with a fine tipped Q-Tip-and only where the paint is located-too abrasive and you will mark/disturb the dolls face - I do not use Finger Nail Polish or Paint Remover). Then I outline the features in free-hand style using a photograph/photographs of the person being painted. I typically paint the eyes first and then continue on until the doll is completed.

3. Do you re-dye hair?
No. Never have, never will.

4. Do you use an air-brush?
No. Only a very fine tipped paint brush. There is no air-brushing of any dolls. I do not even have that type of equipment.

5. What is the most important thing about repainting a celebrity doll?
The sculpt. If the shape of the face, eye placement and nose, jaw-line are as close or a match to the celebrity being repainted then the odds are in your favor. Otherwise, if the sculpt is not accurate you end up with a doll that either captures the essence of the person being depicted or just doesn’t end up looking very much like the person at all. I try to tell commissioners if the sculpt is good or not and occasionally they want a specific doll in the essence of that person and I do it for them, but it’s not my preference.

6. Do you have to give a celebrity a percentage of the sale or ask their permission to paint their likeness?
Artists are free to paint, draw and sketch persons of interest or even a family pet and do with them what they please under the first amendment and a little word called, “transformative.” In addition, I only paint a truly one, one of a kind, doll for either a commissioner or auction. They are not mass produced, do not require a licensing agreement and there are not millions of dollars to be made like a Hot Toys figure, Barbie or Tonner Doll all of which are corporate based and require a celebrities approval and royalties.

7. I want to learn to paint like you do. Where should I start?
First, you have to really understand the musculoskeletal structure of the human anatomy. You need to really study lights, darks, and how the subtle nuance of a slight shade can create a jawline, a smile, a smirk or a fine line. If you are a prolific realist, meaning your drawings are hyper realistic and you really strive to shade and give depth and the subject matter almost appears to be like a photograph, a three dimensional one of the subject being drawn, you are on your way. The next step: practice, practice and then practice some more. You only learn by doing and not settling or giving up. Keep pressing yourself to do more, and strive for more and never adopt the “good enough” attitude.

8. How long does it take to repaint a doll?
Typically, the short answer I've given in interviews is three days, but the reality is it really takes a week (minimum) or longer. Between the styling of the hair, the outline, the painting, it is really a weeks’ time. As I am constantly tweaking or revisiting the doll before auction or for a commission is completed I am constantly fixing, adjusting, cutting or pushing myself to perfect whomever it is that I am painting.

9. Why do dolls previously sold at auctions start at the auction price instead of the commission price?
It’s really about fairness to those that bid on that celebrity doll before. If you had bid, like one buyer did on Kate Jackson and won that bid for $5,100.00 you might not be very happy with me if I then took a commission for her at $1,250.00. It really wouldn’t be fair to that person. That’s it in a nutshell.

10. Why is your commission price $1,250.00?
In all honesty, I am an artist and I do all in my power to deliver to the buyer, the bidder or the company commissioning me the best doll as my abilities allow. I also spend up to a week’s time painting, cutting, tweaking and adjusting the doll. This is my full time job. If you worked a full time job for a week, let’s say forty hours. And you then produced a one of a kind piece of art, what would your hourly rate work out to be? Mine works out to roughly $31.25 an hour. The reality is I spend way more than forty hours on a doll. As any artist knows, when you sit down to work, time seems to move extremely quickly. When I start painting a typical day can start at 8/9 am and not end until 12 or 1AM. That’s the honest truth. So, that really works out to 105 hours for a doll. That would really make my hourly wage; $12.25 cents. That is lower than the minimum wage. Buyers at auction dictate the value of a doll and I have no control over that and I thank all who continue to support my auctions on line and who continue to request commissions and the price is also based on the average of closed auctions.

11. I have e-mailed you before and I did not receive a response. Why?
I receive hundreds of e-mails every day. Many ask questions already answered on my web site page about commissions. http://ncruz.com/newsite/Noel_Cruz_Commissions.php. Many e-mails ask for things that I state I do not do; I do not paint relatives, I do not paint family members. I do not make cake toppers. Yes, that’s been a request. I also do not have an assistant or person reading my e-mails on my behalf. Please peruse the commission’s page and draft another e-mail.

12. How long can it be before I get a commissioned doll?
Once a commission is accepted and the deposit is made I will let you know what’s on my plate and when I can start the doll and the end date you can expect the photos of the completed doll. After the remaining balance is paid the doll will be sent to you. Typically it’s a week from start to finish.

13. Will you paint my grandma? My Mom? Me? My brother?
No. See #11.

14. What is the biggest challenge in repainting?
Getting a great sculpt to work with and then getting the results I want to see. Every repaint is a challenge and I push myself every single time to do more and achieve more.

15. Do you re-root dolls?
No. I only repaint and restyle them.

NOTE: If you have a question that you don’t see here that you’d like answered… please e-mail steve@stevemckinnis.com and it may be added to this page.