When it comes to pop culture, artists have chosen many mediums to slather their talents upon. Foil prints, wood, lenticular prints, pencil heads, aluminum, t-shirts, I-phone cases, ceramics and even shower curtains have been used. San Francisco artist Andy Stattmiller has done painting and drawings on paper and canvas but there is one medium that he is known for that is unlike any other. Andy makes highly desirable works of art out of ….nesting dolls.
(Here’s Andy’s idea of a “selfie”)
For those of you not familiar with nesting dolls, Wikipedia has a nice breakdown to bring you up to speed.
A matryoshka doll, also known as a Russian nesting doll, or Russian doll, is a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another. The name “matryoshka” literally means “little matron.” A set of matryoshkas consist of a wooden figure which separates, top from bottom, to reveal a smaller figure of the same sort inside, which has, in turn, another figure inside of it, and so on. The first Russian nested doll set was made in 1890 by Vasily Zvyozdochkin. (There is your history lesson for the day.)
We fell in love with Andy’s creations and he was kind enough to talk to us about them. Here is what he had to say.
BLURPPY – Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started in art, is it your full-time job and if not, what IS your full-time job?
Andrew Stattmiller – I’m an illustrator living in San Francisco. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and was always into drawing and art as a kid. I was really into comic books and later graffiti and hip hop. I went to art school in my home town was doing gigs back then, mostly album covers and fliers for my friends. I started getting more professional work around the time I graduated. I moved to San Francisco after graduating and have worked many different jobs while trying to make it as an artist. A lot of hard work has paid off and now I able to work full time doing art and illustration.
BLURPPY – Hip hop… What about an NWA or Wu-Tang Clan set of nesting dolls? How did you get started with nesting dolls and how long have you been making them?
Andrew Stattmiller – The nesting doll thing kinda happened randomly. I had two blank sets laying around the studio forever and never knew what to do with them. Back in 2012 I got the idea to make a Ghostbusters set. I had all the toys when I was a kid so I thought it would be cool to make sets of just the things I liked growing up. I posted a photo on my Facebook after I was finished and I had a friend want to buy it right away. So I knew I had to make more nesting dolls.
BLURPPY – Can you take us through your process for these?
Andrew Stattmiller – My process is pretty straight forward. I first gesso all of the dolls. Then draw them out with pencil. If it’s a set of people with all the same skin tone I will just do all of the skin on the dolls first. If the dolls all vary, I will work on painting each doll one at a time. I use acrylic and sometimes latex paint. When they are finished I’ll either spray them with matte varnish or brush on glossy.
BLURPPY – How long does it usually take to do a full set / theme of nesting dolls?
Andrew Stattmiller – The smaller 5 piece sets can take me 1 to 2 weeks depending on how hard I work. The larger sets of 8 take 2 weeks to a month. It really depends on how much detail goes into them.
BLURPPY – I bet you pull your hair out sometimes with the smallest ones. What are the inherent challenges working with this medium?
Andrew Stattmiller – One challenge for me is getting all the details exact. Getting the faces to actually look like the characters while also keeping it in my style can be a challenge too. It’s fun to challenge myself, it makes it a little more rewarding in the end.
BLURPPY – Do you have a favorite set of nesting dolls?
Andrew Stattmiller – I’d say my favorite is the Star Wars set. Runners up, Big Lebowski and Pulp Fiction.
BLURPPY – Definitely Star Wars and Batman for me but now that I’ve seen your Bounty Hunter series, I’m torn. (That Cesar Romero Joker is creepy good but I’m also a huge Boba Fett fan!) Have you had any bizarre commission requests for these?
Andrew Stattmiller – Bizarre requests? Someone said I should make a Caitlyn Jenner doll. I had a guy want one of himself through different stages of his life.
BLURPPY – Actually…..as bizarre as it is….it could be fun at the same time. Do you have a dream project/ collaboration that you’d like to explore?
Andrew Stattmiller – It would be cool to make a set of every single Simpson character. It would need to be hundreds of dolls, so the biggest one would have to be life size!
BLURPPY – YES! Sideshow Bob HAS to be in there. Wait? They make life size nesting dolls? What do you have on tap for the rest of 2016 and beginning of 2017?
Andrew Stattmiller – I’m working on a piece now for Gallery 1988’s Crazy 4 Cult 10! It’s a group show with art from all cult movies. It’s the 10th anniversary for this cult movie show so I’m going big on my piece! The show opens October 21. There are a few more shows at Gallery 1988 I’m in later this fall too. There’s a postcard show, Seinfeld show and Coen Brothers show. I’m excited for all of those. In January 2017 I’ll be in a Rick and Morty art show, which is in collaboration with Adult Swim and Gallery 1988! I am also working on several freelance projects for clients as well.
(This tribute to “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is pretty freakin’ cool.)
As you can see, these things are damn cool and you need them, there…..we said it. Use the links below to follow Andy and go buy these awesome, unique tributes to pop culture. (Huge thank you to Andy for taking the time to talk with us!)