Self-taught artists evoke admiration and respect. The ability to master a craft through one’s own hard work, focus, and independent learning is, for many skillsets, uncanny. Such is the case with paint-stained Russian wunderkind Lora Zombie.
Born in 1990, right before the fall of the Soviet Union, Zombie grew up in a world populated by beautiful animals, something that inspired her early forays into artwork.
“I’ve been drawing since I was five or six years old—at that time, mostly my pets, cats, and a French bulldog,” she says. “Even today my art still has a lot of animals. My inspiration comes from different things every day.”
Now her brightly colored paintings are populated by a universe of unique characters: tigers in top hats, whales supporting the whole of London on their backs, a living cartoon-character Tom Waits, and children (her favorite subject to paint) with mohawks made of birds or sharing bicycles with pandas. And that’s not to mention some of the most beautiful renditions of comic-book characters ever to grace canvas.
“Comics are super popular here in Russia,” says Zombie, currently based in St. Petersburg. “It’s easy to like. The designs of the characters are awesome. They’re widely available now, but when I was a kid, we had no comics here. Thankfully, TV helped me to survive—Star Wars, Batman, Looney Tunes, more Batman…”
Zombie’s popularity has exploded since her discovery by the Internet at large. Her style, a mixture of graffiti attitude and graceful simplicity, appeals to a wide audience, which has led to gallery shows as well as some poster design, including work for the SuicideGirls Blackheart Burlesque tour.
“The SuicideGirls asked me to participate,” Zombie says. “When it comes to the female form, boys like it, and I like boys to like my work. People just respond to all the things I draw. I just keep doing it, posting new things all the time. Treating followers with new art is one of the most delicious things in the world.”