Interview with Ugly Shyla

How did you come to be known as Ugly Shyla, and what was the inspiration for the name?
Down here when you are a kid and you miss behave they tell you "don't act
ugly!" So I got it as a nickname because I was such a smart ass.

You describe yourself on your Facebook profile as an artistic outlaw, someone who has established herself as an alternative model. How exactly do you define an artistic outlaw and an alternative model?
Outlaw artists are those of us who have the balls to push the boundaries of things you'd think in the society we live in everybody has a lot of freedom but don't. We all have freedom provided what we are doing is agreed with by everybody. Even the subculture has become snobbish. I recently had a bit of controversy because I did a piece against female circumcision/female genital mutilation; some of the guys were bickering it’s the same thing as male circumcision and I was basically a heartless asshole because I didn't make statements about that. I tried to be nice and explain that it was not the same. As usual everybody got upset with me. Outlaw artists are outsiders to even the subculture because we make real statements and it's not a fashion show. To answer the second part of the question, an alternative model is just a model that looks like someone outside the mainstream.

Something about alternative models is each of them have their own style and aesthetic sense, as opposed to the average mainstream model. Is the diversity of the alternative model lifestyle something needed in today’s society?
Actually from what I can see most of the modern "alt" models look like cookie cutter factory made images of the fuckable alt girl next door. Which makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Fuck, we need diversity so bad it's overwhelming. Even in the so called subculture scenes it's become a big gang of follow the leader.

Does controversy often arise from the statements you make about society and its customs? Do you feel there is ultimately no bad publicity and the controversy will benefit you in the long haul?
At times, yes. And sometimes people are offended by things I think would be really innocuous things or things that I would assume people would agree with. But things have gotten so politically correct it's a sin to have your own opinion. I can't say I enjoy getting angry e-mails or having people shit their pants over everything I say. But the things I say NEED to be said so I roll with the punches because somebody has to have the guts to stand up.

You create what you call art dolls, as opposed to dolls resembling characters from films like The Puppet Master or The Nightmare Before Christmas. What is the distinction between your dolls and popular goth/horror dolls?
My dolls are fine art dolls. Art dolls or artist dolls are normally hand made, all original sculptures that are or not mounted on a base. These dolls are not meant to be played with and are not for children. They are also normally in the higher in price range. The higher price range reflects that a lot of work and money went into making the dolls. If the doll is a true one of a kind, that means the artist will never ever make something like it again, and did not make a mold from the doll or make the doll from a mold. Generally every aspect of the doll is handmade; wigs, shoes, body, clothing etc. This is just the same as with an original one of a kind painting or sculpture. An art doll can run into the thousands just like an original painting by a well known painter. The normal price range for an art doll is from about $300 to into the thousands. A lot of times they can be fragile and can convey some intense emotions or grown up themes. That doesn't just go for art dolls like those I make, but for art dolls in general. Some good examples of art dolls or art doll artists are some of the dolls and artists on the National Institute Of American Doll Artists website,

Do you nave any of your creations featured in the National Institute Of American Doll Artists’ site? How much has this exposure helped spread word about you?
No I don't have any work on there. But one of these days when things calm down I plan on putting in for a membership. But it is an amazing site that promotes some of the finest art dolls so I just really enjoy their site.

Name a handful of the most original and creative art dolls you have made and how favorably they have been received.
I hope all of my work is original and creative and that the collectors or even just the people that view them and make a connection with them enjoy them. I can't really toot my own horn about my work because I'm just a messenger. One of my faves that I even did though was the one doll I have made for myself. Which was of Mary, The Mother of Sorrows when my three legged cat Scooter passed away a few years back.

Name some of the photographers you have worked with in your career as an alternative model, any particular themes of your shoots and where your shoots are available for viewing or purchase on the internet?
Steve Diet Goedde, Lithium Picnic and John Santerineross are some of the more recognizable photographers I have worked with. I do all sorts of themes from art to cheesecake to really bizarre imagery. Some of my prints can be found on my website,

You have done modeling work in photo shoots for Evil Lily’s Originals. How many shoots did you do for this company and what were you modeling for them?
I did two shoots for her modeling some of her amazing skirts. I love her work so much and she's such an awesome person. If I could live in her skirts everyday I would. I don't know how she does it but they always look amazing on everybody no matter what your body type.

You list some favorite movies as The Man Who Fell To Earth, Hellraiser, The Devil Doll, Labyrinth, Carrie and The Elephant Man. What appeals to you about these movies, and did they help inspire you as an artist in any way?
I like anything with a sort of surreal twist to it. None of my work is really inspired by anything that pop culture like films, etc. I'm a surrealist and most of my doll ideas come from dream imagery or images I see during occult workings.

How seriously do you take the imagery you see in your dreams, and how much are these images reflected in your work?
I take them very seriously because I believe them to be messages from the Loa and Orisha and from other spirits on the other side. As a true surrealist allot of my work is dream imagery. I see these things in dreams and it's like a burden for me to manifest them in this realm.

Can you describe some of your occult beliefs, and cite any occult authors who have been of particular inspiration to you?
My religion is Voodoo but I also follow LaVeyan Satanism as a sort of philosophy. I really enjoy Crowley's work. I think because he was like myself and dabbled in everything from Magick to art et cetera. I also enjoy LaVey's writings and Migene González-Wippler is a wonderful writer on Santeria.

Which art forms in addition to modeling and creating dolls are you practicing?
God, everything!!!!! Jewelry, sewing, painting, drawing, carving and printing. I'm also learning to tattoo at

How long have you been painting and drawing, and creating jewelry and whatnot? Are you developing and designing your own tattoo artwork? How far do you expect to develop creatively with all this?
I have been creative as long as I can remember. I made my first doll at sixteen and started doing it professionally at nineteen. I'm 31 so I have been an artist for most of my life. If I get the hang of tattooing, which I'm sure I will because I don't think the folks at Bizarre Ink will let me NOT get the hang of it, I plan on tattooing in the same style as I paint which is dreamy surreal black and white watercolor style work. So my painting and tattooing designs will go hand and hand. Hell I have no idea how far I will go with this. I never in a hundred years thought I'd get this far or even be a doll artist as an adult.

Direct the readers to your official site and include information about how they can order your creations.
My official site is and I also sell my work though easy allot of my new stuff gets listed there first and then it's put up on my website.

Ugly Shyla Artist photos by Alas Vera.

Art photos by Ugly Shyla.

This interview also appears in Metal, Magick and Mythos MagaZine.

Interviewer: Dave Wolff
Aug 11, 2011

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