I remember fondly the heyday of the Big Kiss Page on Otakuworld.com, back when I looked forward to the weekly or fortnightly updates, where each time there were as many as 20 new dolls. Each new doll was a delight - we were spoilt for choice when there were so many quality dolls to choose from, and I could always count on artists new or veterans offering a fresh perspective on the Kiss art form.
With the decline of the Kiss art form, and the disappearance of the kiss community, this hobby which I've enjoyed for more than a decade is on its last legs.
I've always been drawing sporadically, but Kiss really propelled me to improve on my art - at my peak at the end of 2002 I felt I could draw anything effortlessly. "Red Riding Hood" and "Tara Felinsky 2" dolls were the products of a time when I was facing tremendous pressure at school. During this time, Kiss was a means for these intense bursts of creative energy to find a tangible expression. There was a ready audience of kiss makers and players to enjoy, and the entire process was satisfying. In that frenzied period, in between rushing for my graduating project, I made Red in 4 days, and Tara 2 in a little less than 2 weeks. Looking back on those dolls, I can see the absolute clarity of vision and confidence in the artwork, something I feel lacking in my later, albeit more complex dolls.
I am among the last of the kiss doll makers. We used to number in the hundreds, hanging on to the forums at otakuworld exchanging pointers and critiques on kiss dolls. Now I know of few who remember the art form, fewer yet who continue to create. With each passing year, I have produced less. With each abandoned doll, I started making increasingly detailed dolls to distract from the routine of my professional career. These self absorbed vanity project eventually no longer resembled what they were intended to be - simple things of delight.
The act of making dolls, while still enjoyable to me, has become an endlessly lonely burden. 7 years in the making each new iteration has become an excuse at putting off the finishing touches to the Milla Automata doll.
Perhaps I always knew that it will be my final doll - its completion the end of a childhood long past that I'm reluctant to put away.