By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans

A NEW YORK artist has transformed herself into a 'living art doll'

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Videographer / director: Alexandre Ayer
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal

Otherworldly performer Toshi Salvino, 24, has always been intrigued by dolls and the Harajuku style, so she has spent her life to transforming into an 'art doll'.

The make up artist and hair stylist, originally from Pennsylvania, plans out three hours a day to become her doll self and wears her full doll look four to six days a week.

She told Barcroft TV: “I think my look is really about self expression and I like being a doll because that means I can be whatever I want that day. I am pretty much using my body as the canvas to express how I am feeling.

“I would like to say that I am a mix up of whimsical fairy tale Harijuku fashion that stemmed from goth, and is running into neon lights, leaving a trail of glitter cause I do that in real life!

“I like to bring other people into my imaginary world with me and I’m glad that I can do that through putting stuff on my face.”

As a child Toshi found her kindred spirits while flicking through Japanese fashion magazines and their style helped shape her own eccentric looks.

“I was nine-years-old or something and I found Fruits magazine. I was like, ‘oh my god there are people who dress like me!’

“Seeing that as a kid made me really [think] it's okay to keep doing what you’re doing, there is someone out there who gets this and so ever since that, Japan and Harajuku fashion has been super important to me.

“Where I’m from in Pennsylvania, in the middle of nowhere, it was always, 'tone it down, tone it down, why are you doing that? Why are you dressed that way?'

“But it’s so normal to look alternative in New York, which is honestly one of my favourite things. They respect it which is really a nice feeling.”

Each day Toshi carefully applies colourful eyeshadows and white liner to create the illusion of wide, doll-like eyes and she keeps her hair in ever changing shades of rainbow, but recently she took it one step further.

The multi hyphen artist had doll joints, complete with screws, tattooed on her knees and she plans to add matching joints on her elbows.

Toshi said: “My tattoos, I’ve wanted them for a really long time. Aesthetically they’re doll joints on the knees with screw hinges, which is really meaningful - obviously my whole living doll style is appropriate.

“But also, I have Lyme disease, which is kind of like having arthritis in your entire body. The thing that affects me the most, and is the most painful and probably the most hindering besides my hands, is my knees.

“So I feel like the screw through the knee is an accurate representation of how it feels sometimes.

“After getting the tattoos I feel like even with no makeup I can still carry on my doll persona regardless, whereas in the past I wouldn’t really feel like myself without having makeup on.”

The artist shares her love of alternative fashion with twins and best friends Alexandra and Juliana Abene.

Alexandra said: “She is fantasy. She is what we wanna see in the world. It’s all so dreary so when you meet someone like her you wanna hold her, you wanna hold on because she’s just a light and it’s wonderful we have that in our lives.”

Her sister Juliana added: “Yeah, especially in New York where everybody is like, I mean look at me, everybody is all black all the time - literally me - so to see something like that is like so exciting.”

Toshi, who is a trained hair stylist, found her home away from home at the Hello Beautiful Salon in Williamsburg with manager Rebecca Faye.

Rebecca said: “The vibe of the salon is why she came to us because it's just full of art, beauty, glitter and lots of hair colours too, so it suited her.

“It has all the elements she needs to survive. She could be herself here.”

Toshi added: “If I didn’t become a hair stylist, then I would just be some weird hermit, recluse artist, painting alone with cats. Nothing wrong with that but I like to make the colourful magic happen.”

Salvino, who also regularly performs as a doll or a cyborg for club nights, and loves using her role as a living art doll to spread light and laughter.

She said: “If a little kid sees me and they think that I’m a fairy and they think fairies are real, then that makes me so happy!

“I hope that they believe in themselves enough to become one if they want to. I just kind of wanna prove that you can do whatever you want and be confident."