The Q&A: Dasha Ziborova

By Peggy Roalf   Monday October 30, 2017

Q: Originally from [where?] what are some of your favorite things about living and working in [your current locale]?

A: I'm originally from St. Petersburg, Russia. Now I share my time between New York City and the Catskills upstate, which is a perfect combination. I tend to work on my art projects Upstate, where I have a studio, and when I’m in the city I switch to making comics and graphic stories, which I can do in a cafe on my iPad.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook?

A: I keep something like 20 sketchbooks, including antique books I use for my Real Time In Ink project (left), and I’m also constantly adding notes for my stories on my phone and iPad. Then I spend a lot of time trying to figure out where I wrote/sketched the thing I’m looking for!

Q: What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: I do all the writing and illustrations for my comics on the computer. Everything else (drawings, paintings, video) I do in my studio Upstate. So, they are split between city and country as well.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: Desks. I have about 5 desks in my studio, and I switch between them. That way, I don't have to clean up in order to start something new. I like to be able to go back and forth between projects.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: I don't know, I just do. Like with a delicious meal, I could probably stuff myself silly, but I know when I’ve had enough.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: Ink and paper.

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: Early mornings while everyone else is still asleep.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: Discovering the works of Gordon Matta-Clark and Kiki Smith. I grew up in Russia and received a classical art education, which emphasized skills over everything else. It was a very Medieval approach: whoever draws the best is the best artist. When I came to New York It took me awhile to learn and appreciate contemporary art. I remember that Gordon Matta-Clark just blew my mind.

Q: What was the strangest/most interesting assignment you’ve taken that has an important impact on your practice, and what changed through the process?

A: Creating murals for the Atlantic Mall in Brooklyn with Art Space NYC. Atlantic Mall was the ugliest place ever, its architecture resembled a cross between a jail and a large scale mouse trap. It had miles and miles of empty walls on all three floors, which we were supposed to fill up with art work referring to the neighborhood and the color scheme of the building. In order to come up with a concept and designs, I built a mock up so I could see how my murals would look next to each other.

We were also extremely short on time (2 months.)  I was working on designs in Art Space’s downtown studio and as soon I finished a new one, it would be delivered by a messenger to the production team that was working in the Bronx in a factory building we rented for the project. The artists on the team then had to actually paint those designs to scale (1:50!). That was a huge production, something like 32 murals or more. It helped me to learn how to think on a large scale, transition between different media, and to work in a group.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Something decadent, like blinis and caviar.

Dasha Ziborova is a graphic novelist, picture book illustrator and a muralist. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and came to New York in 1991. Since then Dasha illustrated five children’s picture books including the award-winning Crispin the Terrible published by Callaway Editions, and In English, of Course and The Numbers Dance by Gingerbread House.

She is currently working on Real Time In Ink, a series of short graphic stories about people, places, parenting, art, music, cats, food, travel, to occasional politics and scary crazy Russians. To subscribe for Real Time in Ink stories:



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