In his ongoing series HIPSTORY, artist Amit Shimoni imagines world leaders sporting the hairstyles and clothes of today’s youth.
The Israeli artist started the series a few years ago with just one painting as his final academy project in visual communication.
Now, his collection includes different leaders – such as Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Mahatma Gandhi, and Che Guevara – all having tattoos, hip outfits, and trendy haircuts.
It’s incredibly amusing to imagine seeing the world’s most powerful people look like they’d rather hang out at a café or a farmer’s market than at Parliament or the presidential residence.
We recently caught up with Shimoni to know more about HIPSTORY.
What inspired you to illustrate world leaders as hipsters?
“HIPSTORY doesn’t talk about politics, it talks about generation Y. I often find myself wondering how different my generation, Y generation, is from the generation of these great leaders of modern history I illustrate.
“How different their belief system, the way they thought and what motivated them to act, compared to our more self-centered generation which is in constant chase after fashion, style, and trends as a way of self-expression while steering away from the big ideologies and meanings of life.
“I wanted HIPSTORY to reimagine these great leaders and place them in a different time and culture era- ours. I wanted to create a sort of mirror – a mirror that on the one hand is supposed to make one smile, but on the other, to make them also think.
“As I see it criticism, it doesn’t always have to be poignant it can simply be a method to arousing a discussion and showing things under a different light.”
We love the hipster clothing you incorporate in your work. Do you have a background in fashion? How do you determine the ‘look’ you give for each character?
“During my thinking process, I study each character as a leader and as a person for at least a few days. I try to bring my interpenetration to the cloth and the tattoos. I don’t have any fashion background but inspiration is everywhere.”
With a lot of these leaders being very controversial, do you receive backlash from people?
“Not really. I think HIPSTORY is a series anyone can relate to. It’s not talking about politics or politicians in any way, but more of our day to day reality. Take Trump for example. Both Democrats and Republicans love the portrait, each for their own reason.
“I actually get nice feedback, the grandson of Nelson Mandela sent me an email saying he liked the portrait. I know the New York Times give Hillary her portrait and she liked it.”
Which hipster leader is your favorite so far, and why?
“I don’t have one character I like but Obama is defiantly one of my favorites. A bit on the character – Obama’s chest you can find the words ‘Hope’ and ‘Change’ which are slogans anyone can immediately realize. But I also try leaving details that are less notable and less recognized by most viewers, like the tattoo on Obama’s right shoulder which represents a scene from the book Moby-Dick, which is Obama’s favorite reading book.”
Who are you planning to illustrate next?
“I am working on Justin Trudeau, I have many Canadian followers and they really want a Canadian HIPSTORY character. I have to say it’s not very easy for me as he is already a little hipster.”