“Lorna Mae” by Yoko Molotov

The prolific creator Yoko Molotov, whose art has shown up everywhere from Sheherazade Gallery to OPEN Gallery, is finally releasing “Babes of Louisville,” the much-anticipated collection of illustrated portraits featuring Molotov’s favorite women and gender-nonconforming folks in Louisville.

A release party is planned for Saturday, Dec. 8, at The Marvelous Mystery.

Insider spoke with the artist about the process and vision behind her work.

“I had the idea in early 2016, and I just continued with it,” Molotov says.

Selfie by Yoko Molotov

At any point in time, she says she is working on multiple projects, and “Babes” was one among many.  

“I work on three or four projects at once, and when one’s complete, I start another one,” she explains. “It’s really important for me to create. So I’m always creating.”

Those creations come in the form of drawing every day, creating music and working on digitally based art, paintings and a variety of different styles of drawing. While Molotov’s overall oeuvre is very expensive, “Babes” has a specific focus, as indicated by its title.

“It’s just people that, to me, I find inspiring,” says Molotov. “It’s really that simple. All of them are feminine, but they don’t identify distinctly as women.”

Sourcing subjects for “Babes” wasn’t hard, according to the artist.

“I just have a lot of friends, and I know a lot of people, and people I find interesting. I just messaged them and asked if I could draw their portrait for the book,” she says.

Like a lot of millennials and those in Generation Z, Molotov’s daily practice is on full view via social media.

“I share all my work … I’m a highly narrative and public artist,” she adds.

When Molotov first started this series in 2016, the results went on the web immediately.

“The response was positive, and people love to see their portraits and portraits of their friends.”

“Tasha” by Yoko Molotov

Despite the positive responses, there were questions about her focus. Questions like, “So when are you doing a ‘Dudes of Louisville’ project?”

The answer is “never.”

“I just don’t find them very interesting, and they get enough of a spotlight already,” says Molotov. “They already rule the world, why would I spend time worshipping them?”

Molotov has done portraits of dudes in the past, but never based solely on their dudeness.

“I do illustrations of people all the time, based on their own merits,” she says.

The people in “Babes of Louisville” are frequently high-profile Louisvillians with plenty of merit, like the much-celebrated punk duo GRLwood. Molotov talked about choosing them as subjects.

“I admire what they do, and I like watching them develop.”

Molotov gets her own books ready for the printer.

“Anybody can set a book for print,” she says. “It’s the productivity and the follow-through of producing materials that is really the critical aspect of the project.”

Despite her heavy involvement in the publication process, Molotov dislikes the term “DIY.”

“Jamie” by Yoko Molotov

“Isn’t the very notion of creating ‘doing it yourself’? I think that’s kind of a silly question.”

Molotov believes she’s “doing it yourself,” i.e. creating at all times.

“I think everything I do is art,” she says. “I think my whole life is art. Everything I do is for art. Every expression I make is an extension of that … I just live to create.”

She also believes that anyone who chooses to create can, and she offers advice and encouragement for anyone thinking of getting creative.

“Don’t be afraid to create or let any negative thoughts keep you from doing things, especially talking yourself out of what you can do,” she says. “Anybody can create — you just have to find the right medium.”

See what Molotov has been working on Saturday, Dec. 8, at The Marvelous Mystery, 994 Barret Ave. Books go on sale at 5 p.m., and music by GRLwood starts at 6:30 p.m. The event is free.

Eli Keel
Eli Keel is “pretty much” a Louisville native. You may have seen him around town reading poetry, short stories, dancing or acting. He’s a passionate locavore, so you may have also seen him stuffing his face at one of Louisville’s amazing restaurants. When he isn’t too busy writing short stories, he blogs at amanwalksintoablog.wordpress.com.