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What if Einstein had tattoos?
Who are you Amit Shimoni?
"I always loved art, I used to draw on my bedroom walls as a teenager. During my military service (age 18-21) I started painting abstract art expressing my accumulating emotions of that chapter of my life. After my military service, while backpacking Northern India for a few months I finally acknowledged the purpose of my life -create art."
Shimoni is the founder and operator of his design studio Amit Shimoni Illustration based in Tel Aviv where he happily lives with his wife Noga and their adorable dog Adam. Among the studio's projects Shimoni worked with top brands in Israel and around the world including the New York Times and illustrating a cover for the New York Observer. Shimoni received over 300 media coverage worldwide including leading magazines, newspapers and TV Shows like The Guardian, The German Stern, Wired magazine, Vice, Entertainment weekly and Comedy Central.
Shimoni's artwork is exhibited in galleries around the world including Berlin, Madrid, Tel Aviv, New York and more. In February (2015), at the age of 28, he was selected in the Israeli list of Forbes - 30 under 30 - as one of the most promising Israelis under the age of 30. Alongside his work Shimoni also lectures on affordable art in the era of social networks.
How did it all start?
It all started with my final academy project in the visual communication department. The assignment was to create communication between a preferred art and its viewers, that's when Hipstory was born, when I was looking for a way to connect my generation to history's finest political and cultural leaders. The idea to Hipsterize them struck me as I was Googling photos of Theodor Herzl, the visionary of the state of Israeli. All I could find in Google photos were a few appropriate pics of Herzel, they were black & white of course and looked pretty old & un-tempting. To highlight the absurdity, when Googling a 18-year-old random teenager you can find tons of photos. This reality frustrated me deeply and brought to life my Hipstory portrait series- My way to connect the Y generation with political and cultural leaders of the past.
What does Hipstory talk about?
HIPSTORY doesn't talk about politics, it talks about generation Y.
"I often find myself wondering about the difference between my generation and the great leaders of modern history. About their belief system, the way they thought and what motivated them to act for change. Compared to our more self-centered generation which in my opinion is in a constant chase after fashion, style and trends as a way of self-expression while steering away from the big ideologies and meanings. I wanted HIPSTORY to re-imagine the great leaders of modern history and place them in a different time and culture era- ours. I wanted to created a sort of mirror- a mirror that on the one hand is supposed to make one smile, and on the other to make him think. As I see it, criticism doesn’t always have to be poignant it can simply be a method to arouse discussion and show things under a certain light".
Two introductions for HIPSTORY:
1) HIPSTORY wishes to re-imagine the great leaders of modern history and place them in a different time and culture era - ours. In our era, the major ideologies are lost - we have grown tired, or perhaps too smart, to follow big systems of absolute ideas and beliefs. But are we losing anything else in this process? With less to hold onto, we are becoming global beings - focused more on our individual selves and less on society and ideology. HIPSTORY wishes not to criticize this process, but to open a new window of thinking to the way we look at ourselves and the people who inspire us.
2) The history of the 20th century is heavily defined by its prominent figures – the leaders who shaped the course of history. I often find myself imagining a world where some of these leaders are less interested in influencing lives, and more focused on their own persona. Imagine Gandhi obsessing about his looks, and not about fighting for freedom? Or Abraham Lincoln searching for a hip bar, instead of abolishing slavery. Although all of these great leaders were a part of a collective identity, they were all still unique and innovative in their own way.
A series of illustrations I created – HIPSTORY – tries to recreate these iconic figures and place them in a different time era – an attempt to create new and altered portraits of them. In modern times collective identity is less binding and anyone can reinvent themselves. Google a random 18 years old guy from Beijing, and you would find tons of photos of him all in different outfits, now do the same for Mao Zedong, what do you get?
What is “hipster” for you?
"Hipster" is not a specific fashion way of dressing like most people see it. From my perspective, it reflects the dissonance the Y generation is experiencing; while everybody is trying to be more & more unique, reality check proves everybody is more & more of the same. When I am asked if I am a Hipster I reply that I am a part of this generation
What is the creation process for each Character?
"For every character I try to put my own interpretation, but I'm always leaving a place for the viewers own interpretation. During my thinking process I study each character as a leader and as a person. I try bringing a new twist to the smallest details that define the character, for instance, on Obama's chest you can find the words "Hope" and "change" which are details anyone can recognize. On the other hand, I also leave details that are less notable like the tattoo on his right shoulder which represents a scene from Moby-Dick which probably just a few can recognize as Obama's favorite book.