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portrait of Boris Vallejo

Boris Vallejo

Life in Peru

Born January 8th, 1941 in Lima, Peru, his father was a lawyer, his mother a school teacher affording him a comfortable childhood. Boris' spent seven years studying the violin, with an aim to becoming a concert violinist.

Time passed by, turning his attention towards Medicine, he took a two-years of pre-med training at the University of San Marcos. During this time, his passion for art grew within him. Recognition of his talent won him a five-year scholarship for graphic design at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (National School of Fine Arts), winning him a prestigious 'Gold Medal'.

youthful Boris's self portrait
portrait sketch of JF Kennedy

a talented artist

By 1954, aged 13, he had secured his first job as an artist producing illustrations. Three years later, he was offered a scholarship to study art in Florence Italy. He turned it done in favour of emigrating to the United States where he felt the opportunities for a graphic artist would be greater.

Arriving in America

With 80 dollars in his pocket, Boris flew to the USA. On September 13th, 1964, at 1 pm, the twenty-three year old Boris completed a fourteen-hour journey, landing at JFK airport.

The taxi driver (who had filled his cab brim-full of fellow passengers), speaking broken English Boris' uttered “New York” to the driver who response was to drop him off at 3 am in Times Square. Having made no prior accommodation arrangements, the next three days were spent riding the subway.

woman on bar stool smoking
sketch barbecue sets

Finding a friend

A chance encounter with some fellow Peruvians led him to a room for rent. Incredulously, a visiting Connecticut couple mentioned their acquaintance to another Peruvian artist working in their home town. He none other than JV, the artist friend Boris was hoping to reunite with.

JV's introduction to his cousin provided his first job in the advertising department of a chain of department stores based in Hartford Connecticut. The tedious work required precise diagrams of metal furniture all done to scale.

Going Freelance

Six months passed, moving to their New-York office, Boris met his first wife Doris Maier with whom he collaborated on many projects, The Boy Who Saved the Stars, Ladies, Enchantment are examples.

Despite the good pay, things seemed similar to his previous situation in Peru. Determined to make a change, after two years he decided to go freelance. Accepting anything that was offered him, whatever the project, fashion, greetings cards, whatever.

fantasy hybrid babbon/fish creature
man fighting Apache indian

The fantasy begins

Successful assignments from the likes of Ace Books cemented Boris growing reputation. Muscled Barbarians to grace book covers were in much demand by art directors.

Ballantine Books took the unprecedented step, commissioning twenty-four paintings to appear on a series of Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Boris could, however, manage barely twelve of these, by good fortune the exact number required for the 1978 Tarzan Calendar, the first of Boris’ annual calendars.

An annual event

Every year since 1980 Workman Publishing has continued producing a new Boris Vallejo Calendar. At first, they were made up of paintings done in previous years. Starting in 1987 however, it was decided future calendars would contain exclusive paintings. First of these would follow the theme of Fantasy Olympics, followed by Zodiac and in years to follow, Mythology.

cover of 1987 Fantasy Olympics calendar
nude woman holding arrow cuddles lion

Body of Work

For forty years or more, Boris has remained at the peak of his profession producing imaginative art illustrating his fascination with the human form. Using his knowledge of anatomy, and working from photographs. Models become sensuous Barbarian men and brave Amazonian women in heroic poses battling or befriending mythical creatures to complete a spectacular story. His art is found on everything from album covers, movie posters, advertisements.

A diverse portfolio

Following a collaboration with Franklin Mint Boris' images decorate cigarette lighters commemorative knives and figurines. He has published several books; some are art collections and some teaching technique. Also, Boris has published collections of his photographic work, Bodies and Hindsight and The Fantasy of Flowers.

female figure flying over mountains at dawn
group portrait of sinister children

Family Life

The Vallejo/Palumbo familes have passed on the 'art gene' to the children from both marriages. Dorian Vallejo, David and Anthony Palumbo are all accomplished professional artists with their own unique genre and style.

For many years now Boris and Julie have made their home in Allentown, Pennsylvania and continue to share the same studio working on their own paintings or collaborating on a single canvas.