Wrocław is a city with numerous creatives producing beautiful and eye-catching works. One artist whose work fits in more with the latter than the former is Marietta Laskowska, who together with her mother Katarzyna, is the brains behind the PrettyCreepy Dolls project.
Marietta and Kasia's dolls vary enormously in style and image; some have alluring big blue eyes, while others bear a Tim Burton-esque look due to their horrific scars and resewn bodies.
The stark and uncompromising designs have turned many heads in the last couple of years, culminating in some 2,100+ people following the project on Instagram. The dolls also caught the eye of TVP producers, who were happy to showcase them on national tv last year.
Having come across this unusual project on social media, I was keen to meet someone involved in making these cute and yet terrifying creations. Thankfully I was able to track down 23-year-old Marietta, a 4th year Polish philology student who represents one half of the PrettyCreepy Dolls project.
During our interview I quizzed Marietta on what inspires her creations and how she sees the project developing in the future:
Hi there Marietta – thanks for taking the time to speak to Wrocław Uncut. First and foremost, how did the whole project start?
Myself and my Mum have always liked to create things. It all started when I was a child and my Mum made angels from salt dough.
Ever since then we've been interested in painting and drawing together. Then just over a year ago my Mum was inspired by creations she found on Pinterest. This spurred her on to create some new things, including clothes for dolls. Later I also got involved and it all snowballed from there really.
So when did you properly launch the Pretty&Creepy Dolls project?
Last year we created our fan page on Facebook as I felt that my mother’s work deserved attention. We also had to think about a name for our project. My Mum came up with “Lilu Lala” – Lilu is the name of her dog, and Lala means doll in Polish.
Last summer I thought to myself about how Polish handcraft is often overlooked – I was getting frustrated because I realised that it was becoming less and less popular even if there is still few customers. I was determined to make our creations a success, so I started to think about a marketing plan.
I also wanted to actually make the dolls as well as just promoting them on social media. That is why my Mum and I are both creators now. In order to better fit the disparate style of our designs, we agreed to change the name to 'PrettyCreepy Dolls'.
Can you describe the style of your creations?
There are a lot of various aesthetic aspects. Some of our dolls are 'girly' and pretty with long hair. But you can also find a few that resemble monsters – mainly creepy yet cute voodoo-like dolls. On top of that, we also make personalized dolls which look like people.
Sometimes my mother and I challenge each other – we'll craft things secretly and then compare the results. For instance, once we decided to create a doll each based on a specific animal. Once finished we then compared our works – my mother came up with a lovely frog lady, whereas I created a creepy frog boy.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
For me, my inspiration is basically the world and the environment around me. I find inspiration in people around me and of course in pop culture, both of which are a very good source of motivation. That said, the materials that I use during the creative process also influence the final product.
To put it simply, I find there are two ways to create something. The first method is to come up with an idea and then see if it suits the materials. However I can also come across an idea when I collect items like nice buttons, felt, interesting used clothes and so forth. In this situation, I can come up with something that I had not planned beforehand. Either method can yield various degrees of success – no one is better than the other.
What kind of materials do you use?
I collect everything that can feasibly be used. Very often I turn to rubbish like old boxes, broken jewelry and used or defective clothes. I also like to search for materials and accessories in the shops, as well as the Aliexpress website, where I can find many wonderful items.
Where do you create your dolls?
Myself and my mother create everything at home during our free time. However someday I would like to have my own workshop. In terms of practicality it would be ideal to have a workshop space in my own home, somewhere I can work with peace of mind.
How do you showcase your brand?
I have just launched an Instagram account where I can show all the types of doll that we create. I have many plans but time limitations mean I need to make it slowly. High business costs (in terms of ZUS and tax) and a lack of finance are also barriers I have to overcome.
We had the opportunity to present our work on the TV show "Pytanie na śniadanie", which was broadcasted on TVP2 on October. Getting that exposure was fantastic for us. We also showcased our dolls at the Autorska bookstore in Wroclaw during the Polish premiere of a Roald Dahl book. On top of that, some of my Mum's creations are on show at the library in Człuchów.
How do you see the project developing in the near future?
I have a lot of ideas in mind but I would like to keep them to myself for the moment. However, one thing is for sure – I won’t stop, because I was born as a “creator”!
Before my studies, when I had to choose “my way of life and profession”, everyone advised me to avoid it [being a creator]. They said that there is not much work for artists or crafters in Poland. But despite all of that, I stuck at it because this is what I love doing the most.
I want to improve myself in the art of making dolls and then maybe someday I could set a Patreon profile (a membership platform that makes easy for artists and creators to get paid). From that moment on, it could be sustainable.
There are also some changes to the law coming that will make it slightly less costly for creators to do business. That should allow me to easily set up an Etsy boutique. Besides that, there is another big project I am working on, details of which will be revealed on our Instagram profile in the coming months.
Thanks for you time Marietta – best of luck with your project!