What’s your name?
Emelie Jensen aka Tomodachi Island
Where are you located?
I am based in Bournemouth, England, United Kingdom but born in Sweden. I moved to the UK seven years ago.
Day job or full-time artist?
At the moment I am a full-time artist, but only as I am on maternity leave. I normally work part-time in a pet shop and then part-time as an artist. For a while I worked from home full-time, but the income was never steady enough for me to live comfortably on. But not only that, I’d just moved with my partner to a new city and didn’t know anyone which meant that my social life was next to none. It drove me a bit mad being on my own 80% of the day and so I thought working in a pet shop would be a great way to top up my bank account a little and to get some social interaction with both animals and people. So yeah I am a part-time pet store colleague and a part-time artist. But I am still working hard to become a full-time artist one day.
Any random things you want people to know about you?
I used to be a tattoo artist and that was my biggest dream from around my teenage years. I gave up on that dream after the profession took away my will to draw and create. It was a big step for me to let go of something I had wanted and worked so hard for, for such a long time. It set me on to the path I am on now though so it definitely was the right thing to do. I think it is important not being scared of “failing” when you follow your dreams. Everything happens for a reason, and if it doesn’t make you happy then move on to the next thing.
How long have you been painting toys?
I only started customizing toys a few months ago. It is something I always wanted to do, and I did try my hand at it a couple of years ago. The toy came out pretty rubbish though and I decided to knock it on the head until I had more knowledge of the mediums I wanted to use.
This is when I started sculpting my own creatures and for every new creature I made, I also gained a lot of knowledge. It’s taken me till now to feel comfortable enough within my chosen craft to actually start working on custom toys. I am a perfectionist and I think this is why it’s taken me so long. If I can’t make things the way I really want them to look then I don’t see the point of practicing a certain craft. I wanted everything to be “perfect” in a sense and I have finally managed to reach the skill I needed to make my beloved toys. I am however still learning new things with every new custom I make. I love it even more because of this one fact and all the challenges that comes with working on these beautiful platforms.
Anything specific you’d like people to know about your toy work (style, influences, special techniques, etc.)?
I find inspiration all around me, but most of it comes from my restless mind. It is never quiet in there (in my head I mean). I even lose a lot of sleep because of my busy head. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. This is why I created Tomodachi Island to begin with. I needed a place for my creatures and fantasies- a home if you will. In a way it has settled my mind as I can make up creatures for the different parts of Tomodachi Island and I can wonder around in there undisturbed by the outer world. It has opened up my creative blocks as well, as I always have somewhere to refer to when I feel that it is hard to come up with new things. Tomodachi Island is an endless world of possibilities to me.
I always sketch out my customs in my beloved sketchbook before I start working on them. This gives me room for mistakes and something to go on when I start sculpting. I use Super Sculpey more or less all the time. I would love to try some other clay in the future though, but Sculpey is just so great to work with, especially on toys. I then paint my toys with acrylics. I tend to use my airbrush, which I am still very new to, for base paints and blending. I am not great with it yet and need loads of training before I can start doing fine detail. I also need to invest in a good airbrush as the one I have isn’t great for the fine work. For finer detail I use a good old brush. Something I’ve also learnt through customizing toys is that brushes are worth spending a little bit extra on.
Do you take commissions?
I do indeed! Through my website there is a form that can be filled out for any custom ideas you might have http://tomodachiisland.com/commissions
Best way(s) for people to contact you/see your work?
My website is always the best place to go if you want to get in contact with me or see my work. I got loads of collections for you to scroll through along with contact forms for whatever it may be.
If you don’t feel like going there then you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
They are the ones I tend to use the most even though I do have a Twitter and a Tumblr, but they are part of the old Tomodachi Island and are no longer in use.