A missionary of childhood innocence — Maddy Nupp McDonald

April 4, 2008 at 4:00 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I think I have a new hero.

Sometimes, I get a little depressed thinking about how jaded Americans are these days. When little kids listen to hip-hop and wear t-shirts that say “pre-sexy,” I wonder what kind of future they’ll have when there’s no innocence in their pasts. Maddy Nupp McDonald attracted my attention because she appeared to be someone who was bucking this trend. Then I read her website, and realized she isn’t just bucking a trend, she’s trying to create a new one. Here’s what she says on her eBay profile:

“When I started my Chibis From Kiki Valley theme, I thought to myself, that I realized that I wasn’t the only person who had a childhood that was cut short. I decided that chibis would be made for adults, not children. They would exude love and innocence. None of my stories would have a dark side. No worries, no unhappiness, all with safety and love. ”

Mcdonald 08 Mcdonald 01

I had assumed that since “Chibi” is a term used by Japanese Anime fans to refer to something little and cute, McDonald was selling her adorable work to teens and young adults in the anime/manga/bjd crowd. That doesn’t seem to be the case. On her website she unabashedly declares her intentions to sell toys to grown women. “I really love the idea of a woman, who’s just had a tiring day at work with a gronky boss, and maybe a husband who’s too tired to talk, coming home and finding one of my packages waiting for them, with all the childish goofy stickers, and silly stories, and finally a sweet little lovable goober to look at them, say I love you, and not break their purse,” she says in her blog profile.

Mcdonald 02

Now, of course, it was her work that interested me in the first place. Her chibis (which are slightly reminiscent of Amber Matthies and Christie Friesen‘s work) are heart-meltingly adorable without being saccharine. It would probably be enough that they are perfectly proportioned to trigger that “must-love-baby” instinct, but these figures also possess complicated anatomies and coloring that make them real hand-made works of art. McDonald seems to go heavy on the metallic Pearl-ex powders, which is okay with me (shiiiiny!). Most of the chibis also come with accessories, like straw hats or drinks with straws in them, and detailed environments, to encourage the buyer to play with her new little friends.

Mcdonald 05 Mcdonald 04 Mcdonald 03

I’m a terrible photographer, so I’m really impressed by people who take good pictures of their work, but McDonald takes it a step further than that by creating animated videos of her figures telling their personal stories.

The pictures I’m using here aren’t going to do her work any justice at all, so head on over to her website, espiritglen, and be sure to visit her video page (with the sound on!) the next time you’re feeling a little frazzled.

I’m converted, Maddy. Keep spreading the word!


  1. marlene said,

    This is a wonderful artist. She brings the land of imagination back to adults in this jaded world.

  2. thessalyrose said,

    I’m glad you agree with me. I’ve exchanged e-mails with her now, and she is really a very nice person, too.

  3. Emily said,

    i think these dragons are adorable and i wish i could make something like this.

    i would buy them.

  4. thessalyrose said,

    I know what you mean, and McDonald’s work is very reasonably priced, for the amount of detail that goes into them.

  5. My new hero — Mimi Kirchner « Needle and Clay said,

    […] much as I aspire to maintain an attitude like Maddy Nupp MacDonald’s, I want my work to be like Mimi […]

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