Missmonster, or Melita Curphy, is a 36 year old self-employed artist who produces her own original pieces to support herself and has done freelance work for clients such as Sideshow Collectibles, Cryptozoic Entertainment and Blizzard. Missmonster has designed many epic monster tees for Design By Humans, but T-shirt designing isn’t her only monster medium; she has a unique and impressive skill that is not often seen – dollmaking.
Q: What is the story behind your monster dolls?
I made my first fur and solid face art doll in 2003. My mom still has one of the old versions and they are a bit rough, but hey I was making it up as I went along! The dolls were a little popular online so i enlisted a pal to help me hand sew the fur bodies. I did purse versions of them at one point and later started making these all fleece pillow-like versions. Eventually I got burned out on hand sewing, busy with a lot of other work and the dolls, and stopped for a few years. Around 2010 I found I had turned myself into more of an art factory than I was comfortable with, just really unhappy with the directions things were heading. I had been a full time freelancer for around two years at the time and really got caught up in worrying about what I thought would sell rather than what I thought was awesome. So I decided to make a doll again; make something that made me happy. Around that time I had also found the doll work of Remjie. She made me want to make my dolls again and I had the honor of getting to collaborate with her on some pieces which was very encouraging.
I was very scared my dolls wouldn’t be enjoyed by other people, I was scared that I’d lavish all this time on these pieces and they would just sit around and I’d have to continue making work I wasn’t all that into to survive. However …thankfully! I was very wrong. The dolls were a hit and had an enthusiastic audience who loved them. I love to make them because they combine my sculpting, casting, leatherwork, painting, fabric, storytelling and character design skills into one piece. Each one is a small challenge to make and I’m glad that they get to go out in the world and make other folks happy!
Q: Do you have any formal art training?
I went to the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts where I learned a lot of life/figure drawing/material basics and then went on to the School of The Art Institute of Chicago where I majored in animation. All of the sculpting/casting/fabric/crafty stuff is self taught or skill swapped with awesome art pals.
Q: How do you get ideas for dolls? What inspires you?
I get inspiration from everywhere but mostly animals and their funky skulls. Or horns. Sometimes I’ll think of one cool element for a doll and then build the character around that, but inspiration can come from a color or even a dynamic shape. I saw a picture of the profile of a domestic cat skull the other day, loved that weird humpy shape of the head and got inspired for a doll. A friend sent me a photo of a crabeater seal skull and that inspired me…anything, anywhere!
Q: What is the process that goes into making a doll?
I start by sculpting the head/horns/feet out of wax based clay. All the sculpts get molds made, followed by casts in urethane. Everything gets painted and clear coated. Then I have to pattern the dolls body shape to make sure everything goes together right. Then sewing, attaching parts, stuffing and adding any embellishments like goat hair beards, armor or jewelry! The personality of the doll comes out as I’m making them and a little story starts up in my head..
Q: Who is your favorite monster of all time?
I think I have been in love with werewolves the longest! But I will always have a soft spot for the Predator.
Q: If the Kraken and Godzilla were to face off in an epic battle, who do you think would win?
Godzilla for sure. Atomic breath? No contest.
Q: What are you planning on being for Halloween this year?
This scary lady is giving out candy! I used to go bonkers for my Halloween costume prep but I’m getting old and boring. Plus, Halloween season is so busy for me, I have no time. Last year I put on the demon costume I built and gave out candy at a friends house with some hilarious results. This year I’ll probably throw on the demon mask and give out candy, hopefully make a few kids cry.
Q: Which is your favorite DBH T-shirt design from our Monster Category?
I really dig this Dracula by moutchy, great drawing. The Sloth Freddy by RicoMambo is pretty funny though.
Q: Do you have any new T-shirt designs brewing for Design By Humans?
Yes! I have been sitting on a Creature from The Black Lagoon sketch for a while and it’s probably time to finally finish it!
We really hope you do. We can never have enough monster shirts! Check out missmonster’s website and DeviantART to see many more amazing works of art, and take a look at her Collective Store for her graphic T-shirt designs! Check out more men’s and women’s monster tees in our Monster T-shirt Category and find something scary to wear for Halloween!