Juliana Rodriguez popularly known as Revolver Dolls is a total inspiration. From her truth and story of how she began her creative journey to the uniqueness of her personality and Art. She is no doubt an ICON who effortlessly combines being a mother with living her Art to the fullest and doing so in no small ways. From her big wins to the passion and consistency that stays throughout her story, we can’t love her less!
Join us on this special Christmas ISSUE as Juliana shares glimpses of her awe-inspiring creative journey.
Enjoy and Stay Inspired
Your versatility is amazing. How you combine digital and 3D as a multi-media artist is unique. Can you please share some highlights of how you began your creative journey?
Thank you, Eden, for your kind words. I guess my creative journey began almost by accident during a break in preschool. There was this boy that had this obsession with waiting outside the class and throwing stones at me. It was terrifying, so I stopped going to the playground with the other kids and started staying inside the class playing with everything I could until I got bored and I started drawing. I got so immersed in drawing that I completely forgot about the bully boy. He eventually moved to another preschool but I kept trapped in the class during breaks drawing mostly cats and mermaids, very often cats with mermaid tails. I remember back then how much the final scene of the movie “Splash” haunted me, the character of Tom Hanks deciding to live a forever life on the ocean with the mermaid. I remember as a child thinking (and probably nowadays), for how long is this guy going to keep breathing? It made no sense hahaha. So, that’s how my creative journey began, drawing in preschool, and two years after that, I received my first Barbie doll and something clicked. I never was a fan of teddy bears and fluffy toy things, but this miniature human doll was something so different from what I previously had. My grandmother Ilda, a dressmaker, taught me how to cut fiber and sew my own clothes for my first Barbie doll whom I called Celeste Ferrero from a soap opera very popular in Argentina where I am from. So as soon as I started collecting more Barbie dolls and Kens, I started writing and directing my own soap operas with them but they were more like drama mysteries, they went from suspense to horror, and when the story turned extremely grotesque I ended them up and I started a new one. Years later, after finishing high school, I studied cinema direction, I would say those dolls were my first ever actors.
Can you remember the artwork you made and what inspired it?
I remember these blurred pictures from an automatic yellow pocket camera. I took these photos in the backyard of my childhood house in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires. There was only one moment during the day with direct sunlight, so I needed to be prepared. I waited a lot, it was a hot summer and I remember feeling the plastic of the dolls getting really hot. Finally, when the light came up I took the pictures but it was really frustrating the result when I picked the revealed film, maybe because I had never ever shot a camera before, and the distance was very long so you barely recognized the figures of the dolls in the picture, they looked like a needle in a haystack. I guess what I remember the most as my first ever artworks are all photographs, even when I was drawing, sculpturing, and writing scripts constantly, I had this real connection with photography from a very earlier stage in life. Whenever someone was taking a photo I asked, “can you take a picture with me and my dolls if you have some film left on the camera?”. I wanted to keep my dolls alive at least on film because even when I was taking very good care of them, their hair deteriorated eventually, so the tint of the eyes and mouth faded, and the articulation of the body got very loose until they eventually fell apart, so I had this need of capturing them in their prime.
What does Art mean to you?
Art for me is a race against death. Art is a fingerprint, in the same way our ancestors painted in caves leaving us a part of humanity, a testimony of their existence, we do the same, each time we decide to not just pass by and leave our art in this world. As long as humanity lives, art is going to exist. Humanity can’t exist without art, even when some part of it believes it can. Art is everywhere and it looks invisible the majority of times, because rarely someone pays for it, but there it is, illuminating our existence. That’s the problem with this current phenomenon of anti-oil activists protesting and attacking these big art classical paintings. When you kill Art, you kill humanity. It sounds ironic protesting for the life of humanity, killing a part of it.
We are grateful to have you on board this special December ISSUE. What’s your favorite part of the holiday season?
And I’m grateful for being part of this special December ISSUE. I think my favorite part of the holiday is the pause that comes from the end of the year. It’s a moment for awakeness, to breathe and look around knowing with hope that there is still more out there, the hope for better things to come and the appreciation for what I have now. In my childhood it was that, and the expectation of having a new Barbie doll, Christmas time and Children’s day were the holidays with bigger chances to get a new one.
What’s the inspiration behind the title of your ICONIC project, Revolver Dolls?
As a child I saw my Barbies as an endless source of creativity. But even then something disturbed me: the more real they looked; they were never really going to live. So that was going to be the main goal of my series with dolls, “to give them a soul through art capturing the life in the lifeless”. Here is the paradox of immortality, a living doll. The theme that articulates and moves Revolver Dolls is the thin line between the dead and the living, the finiteness of the actual human figure facing the immortality of a doll. Therefore the choice of the noun “revolver” (roll, round, life-death- life-death, Do again (RE) turn = volver in Spanish). That doll that imitates an everyday-life character, is a fragment of one’s existence as a parody, it is not really alive but transcends any of us after death. I often like to take this statement as a kind of joke although there is no joke in the dispute of the finitude of human existence and the meaning of things.
What was growing up like, and how much of an influence did it have on your creative journey?
It wasn’t easy. I was always inside my house creating things, I could spend a whole summer vacation without even stepping on the sidewalk. I loved being in my art world, with my dolls and even later in my teen years, listening to grunge music while I was drawing, painting, sculpturing or writing scripts. It was a very isolated world but I felt safe there. I remember my brother hated it, he felt ashamed of me for not being like the other girls, even in my way of dressing, big black pants or camouflage, black eyeliner and a rock band t-shirt, black or blue lips, red or platinum hair. In the neighborhood they called me a freak, but always behind my back, never in my face. Actually there was this rumor that I was deformed and that was the reason my parents kept me inside the house, hahaha.
Do you feel creatives in developed countries are at an advantage than those in developing countries?
That is a tricky question, yes and no. I think creatives in underdeveloped countries, like me, who struggle with not having the necessary resources such as money and time, learn to be more creative with less than creatives with tons of resources. So you can have it all but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will have the most important thing, which is creativity itself. At the same time, I’m not sure if having the best idea helps if you don’t have the right infrastructure, such as an art gallery representing you, or people supporting your work frequently. Luckily social media can help to fill the gaps but probably is not enough. So not sure how advantageous you are as an artist in a developed country, probably you are a little bit more but I’m not sure how much.
In addition to other top achievements, Saatchi Art Gallery listed you among the 50 World Class creators. What would you consider as the most fulfilling thing about your creative journey right now?
Being selected among 900 worldwide artists by Saatchi Art Gallery was mind blowing for sure. One of the things I actually love the most about that Self-Portrait photography selected by Saatchi for the Visions of the Future Nfts collection is the material connection with the place where I live now, collecting those plastic bottles and other garbage from the woods in Raleigh to use them as scenography in the picture it felt cathartic, creating art for a bigger purpose. An awakening call for our planet. But in other aspects of fulfillment I can say the people I met during my creative journey as a filmmaker and now a digital artist and photographer. For example, I have great memories from the period I did the documentary film “Horses” (2012), a movie about the mistreatment of the horses used to collect trash in the big cities in Argentina. I never was a fan of the documentary as a form of art in cinema until I realized nobody was giving voice to this problem so I understood that I had to do it. Thankfully after the premiere of “Horses’ ‘ the situation became more public and more people got involved, still not resolved but at least less ignored, and since then more ONGs are now dedicated to the rescue of mistreated horses. Lila Paulides, a pioneer horse animal rescuer who I met during the filming of the documentary and I deeply appreciate and admire is one of my best friends since then.
Balancing work time and rest time is a struggle for many creatives. Please share a few tips on how you try to balance work time, rest time and family time?
Balancing work time, rest time and family time is an art in itself, especially when you have kids and you need to adjust your times to theirs. Years ago, before becoming a mother I could come from running at the end of the day, open a can of beans and just eat it, you know? Cooking wasn’t a priority for me then, all my routine changed, but probably for the best, knowing with certainty that I have less time than before makes me administer it better. One thing I do for example is have these windows of time, from this hour to this hour I do this or that, not more, it is a process but it works, I find that my creativity evolves and I have more work done. Even if you don’t have kids, being an artist nowadays is a full-time job that doesn’t end with creating the artwork, you need to do social media, and maybe framing and shipping in a limited time, it can be overwhelming but that’s why it is important to be the most organized we can, otherwise, we get drained and in my experience the more drained we are the worst we work so, what’s the point?
What does success mean to you?
Success to me as an artist means creating the art I really want to create, and in an ideal scenario sell it. It may sound obvious, but in the way we currently live using social media as an art gallery it can be hard to do. It’s easy to get lost, in the temptation of acceptance and a larger quantity of likes but quality and quantity usually don’t come together.
Please briefly tell us something we do not know about Juliana Rodriguez.
The documentary of “Horses” I mentioned before. I’m usually linked to Barbie dolls but rarely with horses. I never had my own horses and I decided to make the film after a brutal episode when I saw a horse pulling a carriage full of rubbish being brutally killed in the city. Since then I dream of one day living in a house in the countryside with orange trees, vineyards and at least ten rescued horses.
Let’s go a little poetic: If poetry is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that palette, what would that be and why?
I will go with white, the addition of all the colors because for me white is the new canvas, the new project to start, the new artwork, the new beginning and that is my favorite part of the creative process, the beginning when the idea is fresh and frustration and tiredness is not yet there. I think as artists we have this other race against futility, how can we materialize the idea while enjoying the entire process of doing it? When we learn that, we own the rainbow.
● “S.O.S. Mermaid” in Nfts by Saatchi Art collection
● “Horses” Documentary Film https://youtu.be/qzhnf3fa7Lg
● Revolver Dolls social media @revolverdolls (Instagram, Twitter)
Massive Love Juliana!
The ICONIC Team.