It's a Barbie world, and Nicole Houff is living in it.

The Minneapolis-based artist has made a specialty of posing dolls — Mattel's most famous, to be exact — and photographing them around the state, in miniature midcentury modern sets and sometimes cheeky positions. (Picture a naked Ken doll with a strategically placed surfboard, or a holiday scene with Barbie posed on a couch with a martini in hand and nearby Ken tied up in Christmas lights.) She has even crafted a First Avenue Barbie and a State Fair Barbie.

Houff scours Etsy and eBay for the outfits, furnishings and accessories for the more than 100 Barbie dolls she owns. And then she builds a theme, creates a backdrop and positions them ever-so-delicately in her home studio.

We talked with Houff about her photographic homage to Barbie, Barbie's big moment and why she's not a diehard collector.

Q: Describe your art.
A: I do fine art photographs featuring Barbie and Ken dolls. In a nutshell, that's what I do. I'll have a general concept for a scene or a theme. Then, in my Minneapolis studio, what I do is I'll pull together the doll accessories, anything that I need for the shoot, and I set them up, and then I design lighting around it.

Q: How long have you been doing this?
A: Sixteen years.

Q: So, why Barbie?
A: I think Barbie's journey from 1959 to where she is now is incredibly fascinating. Not many toys are relevant 65 years later.

Q: How do you find the pieces to make these elaborate scenes?
A: That's really the most fun part. I have about 100 dolls, but finding all the little accessories and all the little details is like an adventure leading up to the actual shoot. I can use eBay and Etsy and Facebook Marketplace, anything like that. Even from Mattel, some of the stuff I use is directly from them, but way more stuff is made through a third party.

Q: Are all of the accessories you have official Barbie accessories?
A: There's more than just Barbie stuff, because it's the size that matters. There's dollhouse scale, model train scale, and Barbie scale, a 1:6 scale. I can do searches for the right-sized items. Especially nowadays with 3-D printers, people make accessories that you wouldn't have been able to find a few years ago, so the sky's the limit.

Q: Are all of your dolls Barbie dolls?
A: They're all Barbie. I use a lot of reproduction dolls or vintage-inspired dolls because I like referencing the aesthetic from the 1950s and '60s. I do have one doll made by Mattel that's actually a Julie doll. She has the same face as one of the Kristy dolls, which is one of Barbie's friends. That's just me being a little overshare-y now.

Q: Please, overshare! Are you a Barbie collector on top of a Barbie photographer?
A: I get asked that all the time. I manhandle the dolls, I don't have dolls that are still in the box and I use a lot of reproduction dolls. So, I wouldn't be considered a classic collector, but I still do collect the dolls. I have around 100 Barbies and Kens in total, and some of them would be considered solid collector dolls, even if they're out of the box.

Q: What is it like for a Barbie lover to see people go crazy over Barbie again?
A: I do art fairs, and I've done them for around a dozen years. It's one of my favorite ways to interact with people because people don't tend to have filters at an art fair. You get to see some real emotions, expressions and reactions.

Over the years, it's been fun when people see my art and it spurs a lot of questions and excitement. This summer has been next level because Barbie is so in the ether and on top of the public consciousness. The movie has generated this newfound audience for me, which has been incredibly exciting.

Q: How did you make my favorites, Grain Belt Barbie and State Fair Barbie?
A: What I do is I go to the location first, and I get the photo. Then I print it on a matte, non-reflective paper and hang it like a backdrop in the studio and set up the dolls so they look people-sized. Of course, it gives me a reason to go out and have some fun in our city.

Q: How do you get Barbie to do things like hold a drink?
A: There's a lot of trickery, if you will. I can suspend things with a little bit of wire, because Barbie hands aren't that functional. I get these little clear glue dots that crafters use. They're very easy to hide. I don't add things digitally to my photographs.

Q: What do you hope to see in the Barbie movie?
A: It's obviously well put together, very thoughtful, and the aesthetic is very over-the-top. I mean just the extra, extra, extra pink. I don't do a ton of really pink pieces, but I've noticed this summer people are really gravitating to more of my pieces that have pink in them. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie to see if I'm inspired. I'm definitely going to make some new work on top of the pieces I already have.