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Enter Bri Foster's Surreal Universe

Bri is a doll maker, clothing designer, and artist living in Montreal. If you are privy to our Instagram stories, you'll know that we are a little bit obsessed with her weird and whimsical dolls.
Here's the scoop on how she got into doll making, how they inspire her to dress, and the surreal universe she visits when she's creating...

Tell us about yourself and your journey making your beautiful dolls
I’m Bri Foster ! I’m an artist, clothing designer, and doll maker living in Montreal. I make customizable, wearable fashion rag dolls, and doll art.

My career path has been a bit of a journey. Growing up I was always creating things–painting and sewing from a very young age. I have my Mom and Grandma to thank for introducing me to these skills. After high school, I went right into University for Fine Arts, then Education, and I taught high-school art for a few years. Outside of my job, I found myself involved in more and more fashion-related projects including styling and costume gigs, so I went back to school to study Fashion Design. I worked in corporate fashion for a number of years before transitioning into costume for cinema and theatre. 

Over the years, I was constantly seeking out projects that would combine the different skills and techniques I had picked up along the way. I would start all kinds of things but I had a really hard time finishing to completion. I guess it’s the curse of being a creator with too many interests. But when I stumbled upon doll-making, things just kind of clicked. I made a promise to myself that I would finish a doll and see where to go from there. 

When the pandemic hit, I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands, and I was so grateful to have the doll project to focus on. I spent my days developing prototypes like mad, and in the evenings I would draw the dolls over and over. It totally consumed me and took over my world in a really good way.

It’s been three years since that time, and it’s been really interesting to see the project unfold organically, taking shape in directions I never could have imagined. I’ve learned to observe it and follow where it leads me, which has been emotional and therapeutic, and I feel like I have finally found my voice as an artist. 

How has doll-making impacted your style, or did your style impact the dolls? 

 It’s definitely a bit of both, which is really nice! It sounds so cliché, but as a young girl I was obsessed with dresses, lace, bows, glitter, anything pink–I was ultra-feminine. I toned it down in my early teens, and by early adulthood I was kind of a tomboy. I’ve since come back around to embrace the feminine but with a bit more of an edge.

When I’m drawing or creating dolls, I enter into a surreal parallel universe, and all kinds of new ideas flow from me, and they inspire the way I dress. It’s often a juxtaposition of something soft and delicate like lace and tulle, mixed with something hard and edgy like spikes and studs, or a heavy chain necklace. 

My work is about body positivity and celebrating diversity, and I’ve definitely become more confident in expressing my individuality through dress.

What or who is inspiring you right now ?

I’m inspired by the weirdest stuff. Sometimes it’s a grouping of random objects or two things that don’t belong together. I’m always imagining how something can be made more beautiful by simply sticking diamonds and pearls all over it. Like Opinel knives, snow blowers, hearses, animal bones, and hunks of meat. You probably wouldn’t know this by looking at my work, but it’s always there lingering beneath the surface. It’s why I like that the dolls are wearable because you can put on a super edgy outfit, but then attach this sweet little doll to it and suddenly it reads differently.

I sold vintage clothing for years and I have an almost unhealthy pastime of scouring antique and vintage shops for super bizarre objects and textiles.

I really love European folk art with its focus on historical surface design techniques and repetitive patterns–it’s almost zen-like in appearance. This also leads me to my love for folk-horror movies and storytelling.

My favourite designers are Chopova Lowena, Simone Rocha, Marine Serre, and Fecal Matter–they are all true artists–each telling their own version of a fairy tale through their work. I find it incredibly inspiring when one’s work speaks like a story, creating a world for you to get lost inside. It’s psychedelic

Simone Rocha Doll

And of course, I’m always listening to music because certain vibrational patterns transport me to some pretty wild places in my mind. I would say my tastes are quite eclectic, ranging from folk music to trip-hop, and psychedelic rock. I have a Bri Foster Dolls playlist on Spotify (which can be found here), which is constantly being remixed. 

What's next for Bri Foster and for your dolls ?

I have trips to Italy and Berlin coming up right away, so I’m excited to see what inspiration will come from that.

I’m currently working on some custom dolls, as well as a collaboration with a gallery in New York this summer which I can’t say much more about just yet. 

I have 6” mini dolls with keychain attachments which will be launching soon.

And I’m in the works of developing doll imagery to screen print onto fabrics for clothing and soft accessories.

 Tell us about the pieces you are wearing and how you styled them for these photos 

Josie Dress in Floral Cotton - When I saw this dress for the first time, I was instantly drawn to the black and yellow floral–it’s a colour combo I’m obsessed with. I tried it on and fell in love! It’s soooo comfortable, like really fancy pajamas. Not to be cheesy but it’s one of the only things I want to wear, and I have an issue trying to hold back.

I’ve styled it with a black sailor hat that I made, and my Commes des Garçons x Salomon sneakers. But it goes well with almost every pair of shoes I own.

Jolen Dress in Blue Toile De Jouy - After wearing the Josie all winter, I knew I needed the summer refresher with shorter sleeves and a brighter palette. It’s got this rococo thing going on, and I can’t get enough. I’ve styled it with a spiked headband that I made, Carel shoes, tie-dyed socks, and a chain belt with my mini doll attached–for good luck ! 

See all of Bri's dolls here


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