Why Original Handcrafted Dolls?
What are original handcrafted dolls?
Much time and effort are required to handcraft a quality BJD sculpt. The time and effort needed are proportionate to the sculpt’s structural complexity and the doll designer’s artistic goals. The sculpting process can be as short as 2-3 months and as long as over a year, depending on the doll designer. However, producing a quality doll requires 6 months on average. This long and arduous process entails coming up with a design concept and the step-by-step sculpting process that involves working with materials such as clay, oil clay, sibatool, and epoxy.
The market price and value of BJDs are so determined because the dolls are created through such a painstaking process. Therefore, setting the same price and value for illegally copied or modified dolls is clearly an act of fraud. Ultimately, many people are being duped by manufacturers and reproduction centers that distribute pirated dolls; that is, consumers are tricked into buying mere copies at the price of originals.
For there to be a fundamental change in the current state of affairs, consumer awareness is critical.
Why are pirated or modified dolls on the market?
Compared to the sales price, BJDs are easy to reproduce and require relatively low facilities and equipment costs. This has allowed the production of a limited quantity of a large variety of high-quality dolls.
However, some manufacturers are abusing this fact, merely modifying original dolls and selling them as original handcrafted dolls. This is an act of deception whose victims are consumers and designers of original handcrafted dolls.
Is there any way to stop piracy and illegal modifications?
There are many difficulties arising from the lack of clear-cut standards in copyright laws. Moreover, the handcrafted BJD market is too small to be able to deal with each and every case of piracy or modification. Moreover, not only do lawsuits take considerable time and money, but the probability of winning is also slim. That is why under the current circumstances, as long as they stay within certain bounds, unscrupulous manufacturers illegally copy and modify other company’s dolls. At present, taking legal measures is extremely difficult.
A change is consumer awareness regarding original dolls can stop piracy and illegal modifications that undermine original creations.
New consumer awareness is crucial. For the creation of original handcrafted BJD brands, original sculpts are essential. The major steps of the sculpting process must be revealed. Consumers must develop a new awareness that a doll that has not undergone the necessary sculpting process is not an original product by the manufacturer who claims to have made it. This is how we can stop piracy and illegal modification of original sculpts. If there is no demand for pirated copies, they can no longer be made. Those that make and distribute pirated copies do not have the pride to create a quality brand nor do they put in the effort to produce quality dolls.
** Regarding the use of computer sculpture for doll fabrication
Recently, an increasing number of manufacturers have begun fabricating dolls using computer sculpture technology with the advances made in the field. It is our position that computer sculpture dolls are not handcrafted BJDs. Applying computer sculpture technology to the fabrication process increases the possibility of abuse; 3-D scanning converts the image of a doll into digital data, which can easily be used to make pirated copies or modified versions of an original.
Even if the data creation and 3-D rendering were executed from scratch, a doll that is created using computer sculpture technology cannot be considered a handcrafted BJD. There are many reasons why computer-fabricated dolls cannot have the same value as handcrafted ones.
First, it is easy to modify images and create bilateral symmetry using the computer. Hence, computer-crafted dolls cannot be put at the same level as handcrafted ones that were molded by hand and whose symmetry achieved with the painstaking effort of the doll designer. Simply put, computer-crafted dolls cannot compare with handcrafted originals when it comes to attention and effort.
Second, it is difficult to ascertain the original source of computer sculpture dolls. Because it is easy to convert an image to digital data using 3-D rendering or 3-D scanning, it is also easy to make 3-D scans of other manufacturers’ dolls and figures and manufacture pirated copies.
Third, even top-notch Hollywood computer graphic production companies use oil clay to handcraft sculpts necessary for the extraction of initial digital data. By not revealing these initial data, manufacturers of computer sculpture dolls cannot claim their products to be handcrafted. As a result, the artistic and commercial value of computer sculpture dolls cannot be recognized.
For example, with a certain amount of digital data, a given sculpt can easily be reproduced in various sizes. Also, the simple manipulation of a sculpt’s digital data can lead to the creation of an entirely new sculpt. (Dolls produced in such a manner are already on the market.)
The value, or the lack thereof, of dolls created using 3-D computer graphics and computer sculpture technology is something for which each person should decide. However, it is clearly problematic to describe such dolls as “handcrafted.”
Manufacturers that produce computer sculpture dolls should at least reveal the original oil clay sculpts they used for scanning as well as the initial computer data of these sculpts. To play by the book, an oil clay sculpt should be created first and then 3-D scanned, but even if a 3-D model of a doll is created digitally, an initial rendering is necessary.
Why are these manufacturers reluctant to reveal their production process? It is time that people consider which holds greater value: a doll that undergoes a long series of sculpting, alterations, and tweaking, all by hand, or a doll that is primarily the product of digital data manipulation with only the very final touch-up phase done by human hand.
I propose that the major stages of the production process be revealed to confirm that a doll is actually handcrafted.
Recently, there was much uproar on the web due to pirated copies made by a Korean manufacturer. As a doll designer, I found the incident truly regrettable. Such instances not only deal a direct financial blow to doll designers but also diminish their creative drive. Also, many BJD owners and lovers are robbed of the chance to have well-crafted and high quality dolls.
Therefore, I, along with other Korean original handcrafted doll designers, will record the major steps in our doll production process and make them public. This will enable consumers to gain in-depth awareness of the value of handcrafted dolls and make informed purchases. I hope for your continued interest and support so that Korea’s BJD industry can be set on a new and improved path toward quality and integrity.