“I think I’ve always been interested in subcultures and visuals that other people don’t find conventionally pretty,” says Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy.
Born and raised in Brighton, the illustrator’s stylised aesthetic is hugely influenced by her time growing up in the city. “Some of my earliest drawings are of characters with mohawks, based on the punks who lived down the road from me,” she says.
“I went to a lot of gigs and all-ages punk shows as a teenager, as well as coming out in my early teens, so being around a DIY music and queer scene from a young age probably influenced my outlook on what is considered appealing or attractive creatively.”
Pomeroy first considered illustration as a possible career path while doing an art foundation at Kingston School of Art, where she later ended up graduating with a first class honours in illustration.
“When studying fine art, I had been more interested in the preliminary drawings of artists than their final product,” she says. “I think I was also originally drawn to the accessibility of illustration. It felt less highbrow than fine art, and more of a conversation with the viewer, with more opportunities to develop in a design industry instead of a gallery.”
Since graduating, Pomeroy has spent a number of years honing her atmospheric style, which typically includes a mixture of line work and digital colour drawings. This distinct approach has allowed her to build up an impressive client list, ranging from musicians such as Shura and the XX to publications like Pitchfork and the New Yorker.
Illustrated portraits are one of Pomeroy’s particular specialities; she has put her own spin on Eddie Murphy and his array of acting roles for the Atlantic and delved into the pop culture phenomenon of Netflix’s Tiger King with a personal piece about Joe Exotic.
“It can be intimidating when everyone knows the subject’s face instantly and will be able to tell if my drawing is off,” Pomeroy says of her approach to tackling portraits.
“Mapping out their facial features and making sure they’re wearing an outfit that is very classic to that person is my first step. Lots of photo research and also a three-quarter facial angle photograph to work from really helps, as it captures the maximum facial characteristics,” she adds.
Along with people, places are also a big source of inspiration for the illustrator. One of her most memorable projects to emerge from the pandemic is a series of landscape drawings of remote highway adult stores and motels from across the US. “Who needs road trips when you’ve got Covid and Google Maps street view?” she says.
Another recent highlight for Pomeroy was a timely piece for Mother Jones magazine about how the global pandemic has affected people from different ethnic backgrounds, genders and age groups. Looking ahead, the illustrator says she would like to take on more commissions that focus on socioeconomic inequality, LGBTQ+ issues and other subjects that she feels passionately about.
“Over the years I’ve been asked to draw a lot of portraits of older caucasian men in suits, which is fine sometimes, but did get very repetitive, so I’ve steered away from that,” she says. “If I can get the balance right between exciting commissions and having enough time to work on my own projects, I’d be really happy.”