Poppen Atelier might sound like an impossibly cool celeb’s name. It’s actually the name of a YouTube channel created by doll-painter, Maryna Tezina.
Home ateliers—from the French word meaning art studios—are everywhere on social media and cover countless forms of art with how-tos and tutorials to keep viewers busy.
However, even noting that Maryna is a “doll-painter” doesn’t prepare you for what she has in store on her unusual channel. Her whimsical craft might surprise—and hopefully inspire—you.
It’s been widely accepted that mass-produced dolls like Barbie and Monster High dolls set unrealistic standards for body image and general beauty. While some of these companies have attempted to adjust the figures and faces to be more realistic and inclusive, they don’t stray far from the originals. They have long legs and big animation-style eyes. Barbie dolls always look like Barbie dolls. Unless, of course, they’ve been handled by the likes of Maryna on her Poppen Atelier channel.
Basic Barbies become one-of-a-kind works of art
Maryna turns every commonplace poppen—doll, in Dutch—into a unique collectible, with a new video coming out nearly every week. She begins by obtaining dolls with various existing features to align with the character she’s mimicking. Some dolls have longer or rounder face shapes and the bodies might be more or less curvy. She removes all the existing paint and hair, replacing the hair with high-quality doll hair. Then, she repaints the faces artfully. Hand-crafted clothing completes the new look.
When she began in 2016, most of Maryna’s creations were non-specific personas and fashionistas. This has evolved into videos of dolls that depict recognizable characters like Daenerys Targaryen and Jessica Rabbit. Others are the likeness of celebrities ranging from Queen Elizabeth to Billie Eilish. Many of the videos between offer tutorials for tiny accessories and custom outfits to compliment the updated dolls.
The earlier videos on Poppen Atelier are simple with light background music and an overhead view of her handiwork. A few captions and instructions help to guide the viewers through the process. As the audience has grown to 560k subscribers, the content is more polished with multi-cam production. Maryna has become the face of her channel and engages directly with the audience for a personal connection. And, if you’re considering creating a super-niche channel, there are several helpful things you can learn from her success.
Follow her not-so-secret secrets to success
First, one of the best decisions Maryna made in her channel’s evolution was getting in front of the camera. Her Belgian accent brings an old-world charm to her old-world art of doll painting. Obviously, no one should fake an accent or culture, but who you are should shine through to connect with your audience. She talks about what inspired her to make each particular doll and always mentions if anyone else has contributed. Her mom makes many of the perfectly sized and detailed outfits for the dolls.
Next, she shifted to a multi-cam setup. The videos are edited well and the lighting is always good. For example, it switches regularly from the top view to show the techniques to front views for explanations. For any tutorial subject, this is a very viewer-friendly format. She has a colorful, consistent intro with images and titles that lead to the content.
Also, while it makes sense to cut out the long boring labor process, she doesn’t. She uses time-lapse instead. It offers a good viewer experience and punctuates the idea that these projects can take a lot of time. Maryna honors the studious work that goes into her art and she’s not afraid to call out other channels touting unrealistic results.
Lastly, she is great at cross-promoting between websites. Each video includes links to her other pages or related videos. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, of course. However, she’s also active on seller sites like eBay and Etsy where her fans can actually buy the items crafted in her videos. Likewise, shoppers on those sites will stumble upon her goods and become followers, too.
Some things cannot be overstated
As always, consistency is key. Maryna has added a new video on Friday nearly every week since her Poppen Atelier’s inception. If she’s not creating a new doll, she still adds a video with related content. It might be a compilation of her personal favorites or how to make the perfect embellishments for your own dolls. Some videos are around ten minutes long. Others are closer to an hour. She also engages her audience with requests for drawings that might lead to the next creation.
While this creator dives deeply into an unusual art form, her strategies can be applied to your channel. Your audience can expand rapidly if you have interesting content with quality production. Take advantage of multiple online platforms and diversify your income by making your finished products available online. Whatever you’re doing, do it regularly so that your followers know when to come back for more.