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Art Watch : Koren Shadmi

Koren Shadmi is in focus for our Art Watch for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

Israeli-American Shadmi first came to my notice with his satirical comic strips. Such as his GAME OF GROANS as well as his “real-world-tips” in his series anecdotal series SURVIVE. Shadmi is a fresh voice with unique visuals that are hard to achieve in the saturated market of illustration today. To be able to stand in visual aesthetic as well as witty content makes Shadmi an artist to watch!

Shadmi grew up in Israel. He worked with cartoonist Uri Fink, his mentor. He was deeply influenced by the material and concepts that Fink was using. Talking about the time when he had started out he says that he used the Alvin pens for inking. It was the best available option at the time. However in retrospect he would end up losing some of his content as none of it was archival. Thus, all of the drawings that he had from those days ended up fading to a gray-brown colour. 

For a cartoonist the inking and the colouring of his images forms an important part of his creation. The ways the colour pops and the way it melds into the story structure are important. So the process of understanding the tools was an important part of his journey. “We coloured everything with pantone markers” he says. When asked about the pens and brushes he uses and the difference he feels in the availability of products – Shadmi answers in his characteristic style. “It’s a matter of knowing what to use that makes the difference. when I travel I usually just take my wacom and ink digitally, since I don’t want to carry a jug of ink in the suitcase.”

Why Koren Shadmi?

Growing up in Israel, and then serving in the army has been a journey for this artist. While he was serving at the army he started making comics for himself, a method of working out his feelings and understanding what he was undergoing. It was a personal exploration rather than for clients.

It was only when he moved to the US that he switched to brushes and started studying at SVA. As one can understand, there wasn’t much of a comics community in Israel when he started out to draw. He followed his passion and took classes in Israel, but it was working with Fink that he mostly learned his craft. New York opened up opportunities and possibilities for him.

“Now I use Rosemary Kolinsky’s brushes; they’ve held up really well for me, and I like them far better than the Windsor and Newton 7 series.” He explains – a technical aspect – but one which betrays that the artist will seek out his tools and what he needs to express himself in the best way.

Shadmi has an enviable clientele –  he draws for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, BusinessWeek, the Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Wired, Spin and Random House, among others.

View of the World from Bedford Avenue a homage to Saul Steinberg’s iconic New Yorker cover in which he framed the New York centric view (and by extension, the way we all perceive our surroundings, near and far).

Koren Shadmi has also authored short stories as well as comics, of which several collections have been published. The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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