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Famous Female World Leaders Re-Imagined As Hipsters

Israeli Artist Amit Shimoni's HIPSTORY series is the talk of the town—and we can see why. Part ironic, part thought- provoking and part fun, his illustrations are colorful portraits of world leaders past and present. The twist? He depicts them in full hipster getup, from adding fitted jackets and flower crowns to full on facial piercings. We recently chatted with Shimoni about his inspiration behind the project and his plans for the female-centric SHEPSTORY series. 

Angela Merkel

How did you come up with the idea behind this project?
HIPSTORY started when I reflected on the Israeli culture and leaders of the past and compared them with today’s society. For example, if Google a photo of Herzel (the founder of the Israeli nation), you will find about two photos appropriately depicting him. If you do the same for any average 18 year old guy, you will find tons. So I started depicting the Israeli generation of founding fathers of the country [as they might appear today].

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After the success of the Israeli series, I thought people would identify with this notion and this kind of illustration all over the world.

Margaret Thatcher

What are you trying to communicate with this series?

The history of the last century is heavily defined by its prominent figures—the main 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 releasing India from the British rule. 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.

The intention lies not in choosing the better generation—[the world leaders or the hipsters]—but rather in highlighting the differences, changing the point of view and introducing a new perspective. It is my hope that this series will encourage us to reflect upon our leaders, our society, and ourselves. And failing that, HIPSTORY will at least make us smile.

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Queen Elizabeth II

Can you tell us more about the depicting women world leaders in your work?

As for the women-centric series—SHEPSTORY—creating a specifically feminine series made me think a lot about the role women have had in politics in recent history. I ended up with Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir and Queen Elizabeth II, and in the future I am planning to work on other women who’ve influenced via more informal spheres, such as Rosa Parks and Rosa Luxembourg. This process has again emphasized for me how the formal and informal leadership was dominantly masculine, and extremely unequal. And to think I am only talking about recent history.

Nevertheless, as I am working now on more contemporary figures for HIPSTORY, there are so many more women in key roles in the world politics—Angela Merkel, Cristina Kirchner, Dilma Rousseff and more. It is still not equal to the quantity of men in these roles, but there’s certainly been progress.

Shulamit Aloni 

What kinds of responses have you received?

The reaction has been amazing—young and old all were inspired and had their own perspective of the series. Everyone has something to connect with. I exhibit mostly in small galleries and pubs, and I sell copy of the illustrations online. I see no shame in doing art that is sold at relatively cheap prices, which really can be seen by anyone, from the hipster student to the middle aged nouveau-riche.

You can find Shimoni and his work on Facebook, Instagram, and Nuvango.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Images c/o Amit Shimoni Illustration Ltd. 

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