Instagram icon Ellen Sheidlin is Nabokov’s most twisted fantasy made true. Indeed, the writer of Lolita could not even have pictured a creature such as this internet phenomenon who is hypnotizing more than 4.7 million followers.
Ellen Sheidlin, aka Sheidlina, is a 25-year-old artist who is known for her bizarre and otherworldly photo edits.
In the past, the artist has worked with musicians like Little Big and Tommy Cash, helping to produce music videos and posing for promo art. Sheidlina’s works never cease to surprise her fans – one day she might turn herself into a baroque painting, and then pose as a leather armchair the next – you just never know what to expect from her.
Check out some Sheidlina’s crazy photo edits in the gallery below!
Rather than following social media trends, Sheidlin creates her own surreal and vivid world thanks to which she has become an internet phenomenon at such a young age. She experiments with different photography and editing techniques combined with imaginative outfits and makeup looks to create otherworldly images that are odd, but aesthetically appealing at the same time. She is brave enough to be different from millions of people on Instagram and that eccentricity is one of the key factors of her success.
Sheidlin’s feed is a colorful playground at first glance, but when you take a second look, you can actually notice that her work is often conceptual and multi-layered. With the surreal images, she uses her influence to express her opinion on socially important topics such as mental health, social media critique, millennial culture, and gender roles or to raise awareness about global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the devastating Siberian wildfires of 2019.
The Instagram star told KALTBLUT magazine in 2017 that she discovered the internet in her teenage years, but had never imagined it would turn out to be her creative outlet and source of income.
“I discovered the internet when I was only thirteen, while in my friend’s house. Back then, I didn’t even think it would change my life so much. So when I was a lonely teenager with a lot of insecurities, I created an account on a Russian social network Vkontakte, where I could fulfill my potential in drawing and photography. So my insecurities disappeared and I found more than a million friends! I’m thankful to my life, that I was born in this age of the internet—it’s the best invention of mankind.”
She has a unique and off-the-wall universe, cunningly provocative and edgy. Her fetishism for aliens, for example, is quite unsettling. When teaming with her friend Plaaastic, another Instagram celebrity in Vietnam, her portraits can get a little bit more trashy and gothic.
But if you pass the body obsession and its objectification for desire, consumerism and art, you could reach deeper levels in the work of the Russian artist. Her conceptual pictures can hide surrealistic poetry and oneirism, as well as bittersweet comments on social networks and the race to popularity. Playful, the young lady enjoys escaping reality and playing with absurd beauty. But she can also hint to darker subjects such as the precarious situation of LGBTQ+ people in Russia and Chechnya, or global and contemporary existential angst. Entering the world of Ellen Sheidlin is an endless exploration of millennial culture. And it is a good documentation for the main question of contemporary art: is our society still meaningful?
She’s inspired by “ideas, pure ideas or metaphors” and always tries to visualize everything that she hears or reads. Her artsy mind doesn’t only reflect in her creative photography projects—Sheidlin also is a talented painter with a very unique style. She’s worked with major world-class brands such as Nike, BMW, PayPal, and L’Oréal.
Sheidlin is a model in most of her photos, which is a clever way to partake in her ideas and create a brand for herself.
“I realized that the main interest for my fans to follow me was my face. My selfies collected the greatest number of likes and comments and then I decided that the best way to preserve and multiply interest in me is to add myself to my idea. Today, normal selfies are the most unvalued photos, the public always waits for something unusual, they are absolutely not satisfied with just a photo. Everything sooner or later goes out of fashion: style, colors, even memes, but an idea will never become mainstream, it is eternal.”
Sheidlin hopes that her work can provide strength and inspiration to her followers by allowing them to “stop being afraid of being different and improve their mood.”