Sunday, October 5, 2014

Koren Shadmi

The Jacket (2014) 
Illustration for an article titled "My Mother, My Mirror" for Washingtonian Mom Magazine 

Koren Shadmi was born in 1981 in Israel, where from his early teens he worked as an illustrator and cartoonist for various magazines. At 17, he had his first graphic novel published, followed by another book collecting his work from children’s magazines. He proceeded to serve as a Graphic designer and illustrator in the Israeli Defense Force. He relocated to New York to study in the School of Visual Arts where he acquired his bachelor degree. Shadmi’s artwork has appeared in numerous international anthologies (including the book The Best American Comics 2009 where I found his work, specifically a bizarre comic called “Antoinette” in which a woman carries her severed head around with her…). His (more serious) illustration work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, Business Week, The Boston Globe, Spin, Popular Mechanics, and many others. He also writes and draws his own graphic novels.

Golden Apple (2011)

Koren Shadmi’s style is pretty unique and therefore difficult to define. He draws everything from simple illustrations to more detailed portraits, but the majority of his pieces include people. Shadmi says he creates his art by using a pencil to draw and sketch, then he scans the image and adds markers and watercolor textures. He often uses bright, contrasting colors and color gradients, an example of which can be seen in this illustration from a children’s book called “Golden Apple.” It shows his interpretation of the Greek myth in which Hippomenes used golden apples to distract Atalanta so that he could beat her in a race. Because he was drawing a picture of a Greek myth, the woman is drawn as an ideal figure, almost cartoonish in proportion. This reminded me of the drawing style used in the Disney movie “Hercules,” but Shadmi usually draws his people in this simple, cartoony, style.

Global Warming (2011)

When asked to describe his style, Shadmi said “Some people describe it as having a ‘vintage’ look, others say it looks very Japanese. Which I would tend to agree with since I’m very inspired by Japanese art. I also try to keep my work minimal and simple, I think minimalism can be very powerful.” But Shadmi’s pieces transcend cartoons. In his piece called “Global Warming” he used a simple image for Businessweek to show how corporations try to hide evidence of global warming. By using a human to represent a corporation, Shadmi could be making a comment on the “Citizen’s United” Supreme Court ruling. I think this piece was very clear.

Beach Bum

In the next piece called “Beach Bum,” Shadmi created an interesting picture with two points of view. One is a close up of a man’s face and the other is the view from his eyes as he approaches as sunbathing woman . The narrow strip is situated so that the woman’s hat is exactly where the man’s left eye would be. I think this idea of combining the two images is interesting and smart. Shadmi used the same technique in “Warming.”


“Old/Young” is drawn and painted/colored in a more traditional style. It has a nice green to  blue gradient with interesting design elements (possibly fabric) in a contrasting orange color. Beyond all of the interesting colors and elements of design is a picture of a young man imagining himself as an old man (or vice versa?). Both faces wear the same expression and blank stare. Like “Warming” and “Band-Aid” this piece has symbolism and an interesting surreal elements.

Tasting Victory (2007)

“Tasting Victory” is another very symbolic piece. It is an imitation of the famous phoograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt sometimes called “Kissing the War Goodbye.” The photograph represents a joyful moment; its kiss showed the passionate release of four years of war. The kiss portrayed in “Tasting Victory” is awkward and foreboding. The sailor still has a gun in his left hand and his right hand is covered in blood, which blemishes the purity of the nurse’s white uniform. The soldier is also wearing goggles and holding weapons. Another obvious difference is that the kissers are no longer surrounded by an approving public, but by an armed military forces. The back of the drawing is filled with smoke and black clouds. This piece was made for an exhibition called “Artists Against the War,” protesting the War in Iraq.
 Sketches for Dreaming of Daisy 
Dreaming of Daisy (2011)

The final piece I wanted to live at is titled “Dreaming of Daisy” because it shows Shadmi’s interpretation of the character Daisy Buchanan from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (one of my favorite novels). Shadmi was inspired to create this piece after reading the novel for the first time. The house and Rolls Royce on the top of the hill are Gatsby’s. In one scene, Gatsby’s house is lit up in hopes to attract attention (and lure in Daisy). According to the artist, “Dreaming of Daisy” shows the relationship between the two characters. In Gatsby’s mind, Daisy became a figure larger than life, an enormous fantasy which he desired so badly that it came to completely dominate his life. The artist played with scale, contradictory planes, and dark and light colors. Shadmi created a few sketches of his ideas in pencil, then started playing with the colors by scanning the image and adding watercolor textures. Daisy was meant to be somewhat hidden on hill, while Gatsby’s house is surrounded by light.

I chose to write about Koren Shadmi because I love his simple style and how he uses it to show complex issues. The bright colors are also greatly appreciated because he is not afraid to sacrifice realism for visual appeal.

Burns, Charles. The Best American Comics 2009. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. Print.

"About - Portfolio." Koren Shadmi. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2014.

"Interview with Koren Shadmi." Hunt for Glyphs. N.p., 18 Apr. 2011. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.

Shadmi, Koren. "Koren Shadmi's Top 5 Non-Comics Influences." Graphic Novel and Comic Book Creators in New York City - Graphic NYC. N.p., 09 Feb. 2011. Web. 02 Oct. 2014.

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