Artist Spotlight~Ulla Anobile

Q. Ulla, tell us a little about yourself and your inspiration for your art.

A. My artwork is inspired mostly by mythology, folklore, dreams and nature. Lately I’ve been digging into the pre-Christian spiritual beliefs and practices of my native Finland, and ideas from there seem endless. My first career was that of a journalist; I’ve been an artist for the past 20 or so years. I’ve lived in Los Angeles, CA for the past forty plus years.
Q. What kind of Art Dolls do you create?
A. I make mixed media paper mâché dolls that have hand embroidered felt and/or burlap embellishments. I also make stuffed dolls from wool/rayon felt. Some of those are small, and jokey. I call those my ‘funny felt’.
Q. How did you get your start in doll making?
A.  Like so many other things in my life, it happened almost by accident. An artist friend was cleaning house and gave me a big box of felt pieces saying; ‘See if you can do something with this stuff.’ So I did.

Q.  Where did you learn to make  dolls?

A. Mostly by trial and error. That tends to be my approach to most parts of my life.
Q. Share a little about your first doll.
A. This doll is called ‘Monster Babe in a Thong’. It’s one of the first, could be the very first, doll I ever made. I still find her hilarious.

Q. How has your practice changed over time?

A. I think I’ve gotten more focused on and comfortable with my very own style. Otherwise, much of my process is just starting from somewhere, and then waiting for the unconscious with its choices to kick in. This is hard to explain to some people. To me, it’s always been as natural as breathing.

Q. What art do you most identify with?

A. I love tribal and folk art, and the fact that most of it has its origins in some kind of spiritual identity or practice, with  a deep meaning for its community. I also like the fact that such art feels sincere and is never pointedly ‘artsy’.
Q. Do you have a favorite doll that you have made?
A. Probably my toad doll, Roope. I made him in memory of this old toad who used to come out in the evenings at our country place in Finland. He was endearingly ugly! So the doll’s name is ‘Roope, the Handsome Toad’.

Q. Where does your inspiration come from?

A. When someone asked this question some years ago, I spat out without much thought: ‘From the cellar’. By that I meant, from the unconscious, the basement of the psyche. In the outer world, I get inspired by mythology, folklore, genuine folk and tribal music.

Q. What is the most difficult aspect in your process,  and how do you manage it?

A. I think making a pattern. I never had any training in it, so had to learn just by doing it. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way, but am still a beginner, and so try to keep things fairly  simple.

Q. Do you have any tips on marketing art dolls?

A. I’m pretty bad at giving tips or advice. But basically: be genuine and professional. Don’t try too hard. People who relate to your work will eventually find you. Of course,
this might not work for everyone, as we all have our own individual goals and paths to get there.
Q. What research do you do before you create a doll ?
A.  I read materials related to the project. At the moment,  I’m reading a book of old, pre-Christian spells from Finland. Fascinating, and at times, funny. Sometimes I look at photos on the Internet or in books. Then I let it all rest, and after a while, ideas will start popping up.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A.  At the moment I’m mostly working in my head, as I’m recovering from surgery. I’m gathering ideas for a solo spot at Cactus Gallery here in Los Angeles. It’s scheduled for April 2019, and it will include both masks and primitive wall dolls depicting Finnish nature gods and spirits. Plenty there to choose from! The title is ‘Woodland
You can find Ulla’s work at the Cactus Galleryand you can follow her on Facebook  or Instagram