Zlatka Paneva’s dreamy works contain elements of the macabre, romantic and surreal. The Los Angeles-based artist grew up in Bulgaria, where she developed a love for Aesop's Fables and obtained a Master of Fine Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia. We chatted to her over a drink about her love for animals, her sources of inspiration, and the allure of LA.

Hi Zlata, what are you drinking?

A vodka martini.


If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

A psychoanalyst. Your work features animals prominently.


What’s your favourite animal and why do find it so intriguing?

I’m fascinated by animals! When I was growing up, I loved Aesop's fables and feel that sometimes it's easier to make a point, express emotions or deliver a message by using animals as characters.


What are the three things in life that you couldn’t do without?

Art, dreaming, and creating.


What’s your favourite place in the world and why?

Wherever I feel at home.


How do you get inspired?

By random oddities - music and movies that are funny and interesting, strange characters, animals, family and friends, things I read or hear, things I see around me - anything that I can speak through, really.

What music or tune are you listening to a lot these days?

Alabama Shakes, Billy Holiday, M.Ward, Miles Mosley, The West Coast Get Down and bossa nova.


You moved from Bulgaria to the US. Do you feel that living in LA is contributing to your career as an artist more than life in Bulgaria?

Yes, and I can't express it better than Edward Abbey when he said: “There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience, and then there is California.”


Pop Art or Surrealism?

I can't do separate the two - one is how I think, and the other is a way to express myself.


Thanks Zlatka!