Have you ever wanted to cuddle up with your favorite character only to discover hugging the game box or dvd case is just uncomfortable and not very fullfilling? Then you need to drop Eitanya an e-mail. Her plush version of the fan-favorite character “Garrus” from BioWare’s Mass Effect series was first posted in Game Informer and then made its way around the web. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing her on the creative process and finding out why she started making soft and squishy versions of characters.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure thing. I’m 26 years old, currently living on the gorgeous Emerald Coast with my husband, my brand new baby girl, and one spoiled rotten dog. I work from home designing plush toys, hats, and doing whatever other random creative things strike my fancy. When I’m not playing video games, of course.
How did you get started making these plushes?
My husband is a huge fan of the Strider video game series. I wanted to get him something related to the series for his birthday a few years ago, but finding something Strider-related that he doesn’t already have is getting increasingly difficult. So I got it in my head to make him a plushie. Mind you I had never attempted anything even remotely like that, but hey, I’m all about panic-learning! After making a few simple ones for myself I managed to plushie-fy Hiryu and then it was all over. I was hooked.
What did you make before that first plush?
Before Hiryu? A poison rice ball from Tenchu, a small Weighted Companion Cube, and my first human plushie was Faith from Mirror’s Edge.
Do you have a favorite plush that you’ve made?
Oh that’s tough…probably Aphmau from Final Fantasy XI, I was really happy with how all the details turned out.
On the same note, what is the most challenging plush that you’ve made?
The KelThuzad plush I did recently would definitely hold that title. That was intense.
How difficult is it running your own business through dA/Etsy?
It can be a real challenge sometimes, but I don’t think I would be happy without that. Both sites have been extremely good to me. The community on dA deserves special credit, everyone has been very encouraging from the start and I don’t think I would have gotten this far without their feedback and support.
How have you been able to create publicity for your store?
Honestly, all I’ve done for the most part is keep up my dA page with my latest projects. I never would have thought of doing plush toys full-time, but the more I posted the more attention they received.
With the gaming community clamoring for your plush creations, when will you re-open commissions?
I’m slowly starting to contact people who’ve been asking for commissions, it’s just a long process. I can’t keep to a delivery schedule very well with a newborn around and I don’t want to get too back-logged.
That’s very understandable. Does that mean that there is some sort of waiting list system at the moment?
I have a waiting list of people who have already put down deposits for certain plushies. That’s what I’m working to catch up on at the moment. As I finish those I try to contact the people who have expressed interest in ordering something. I’ve had to put a limit on the number of times I’ll recreate the same character as well, so that’s also a factor.
How difficult was it to make the decision to limit the number of repeat plushes?
That was by far the hardest decision I’ve made since I started doing this. I know a lot of people were disappointed and I hated to do that, but at the same time I really need the freedom to move on to new challenges in order to keep myself motivated.
Is there a particular character you’ll miss making?
Alistair. I made several different versions of him and I loved them all equally. He’s just adorable.
Can you explain your creation process?
I start with gathering as many references of the character as I can find, which is never as easy as it sounds. I invariably end up spending an hour or two looking for a random shot of someone’s back or feet. If it’s a more complicated character I’ll do a sketch to nail down how I’m going to put my own “spin” on them. I then break that down and figure out what colors the base of the plush needs to be, sew that up on the machine and stuff it. I draft up patterns for the clothing or armor to make sure everything fits the way I want it to, then I start building up the layers of detail. The hand-painting on the face usually comes last.
The most nerve-wracking part for me is usually when I’ve sent off pictures of the finished product and I’m waiting for approval from the customer. I haven’t had a disappointed client yet, and I hope I never do!
What is your favorite part about making these creations?
During most of the process, they look like generic stuffed dolls. Then there’s a moment where they’re suddenly recognizable as a certain (albeit cute-ified) character. It may happen halfway through, it may not happen until the plush is completely finished, but it always makes me smile.
Has a company approached you to either make a product or restrain you from making one?
I’ve actually had some very positive “official” reactions to a few of them. I was approached by a company called IP Factory to do a sample plush for some official game merchandise. I can’t say much more just yet, but hopefully it will go into production soon.
Well, that seems like a great opportunity for you and we look forward to seeing the results.
I’m excited to see it myself!
Well, thank you very much for answering my questions.
No problem! Thanks for actually wanting to do the interview. Look forward to seeing it!
The images used were all taken from Eitanya’s gallery. If you’d like to see more of her work, please visit her deviantART account.