Noel Cruz, a Filipino-American artist based in Anaheim, specializes in repainting mass-produced celebrity and character dolls, like those made by Mattel, into hyper-realistic miniature models of the people that inspired them. The results of his meticulous work are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Born and raised in Manila, the Philippines, Noel Cruz has been drawing and painting people’s faces for most of his life. It all started when he was 12 years old, when, while looking through a neighbor’s window, he saw a telecast of the 1974 Miss Universe Pageant on television. Seeing so many beautiful faces all at once inspired him to start drawing portraits on pieces of paper. At age 16, having undergone no specialized training, Cruz was already selling portraits as commissioned work. But he only discovered the fascinating world of repainted dolls several years later, after emigrating to the United States with his family.