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This artist reimagines cartoon characters with a luxurious twist
Gal Yosef collaborated with Steve Aoki on an NFT project that recently fetched an astounding $214,000 at a Sotheby's auction.
Imagine Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Daffy Duck, and Winnie the Pooh – clad in Louis Vuitton jerseys, Hermes bags, Gucci apparel, and Dior shoes – in the land of luxury. For the uninitiated, the work of Israeli artist Gal Yosef (Galy) may seem alien. But there’s an instant nostalgic chord for the kids of the 80s and 90s.
A self-educated 3D art and animation artist, Yosef, constructs digital sculptures that reflect the greed-driven culture of modern times.
Most recently, Yosef teamed up with Steve Aoki for an NFT project that garnered a staggering $214,000 at Sotheby’s auction. This collection toured New York, Miami, and Dubai, marking Sotheby’s inaugural venture into crypto art, setting a precedent as the first NFT sold on the prestigious art and luxury platform.
“Steve gave me the freedom to use my creative direction. That kind of trust is rare. This was such an iconic collaboration because we trusted in each other’s creative inputs and abilities,” says Yosef.
THE ART AND THE ARTIST
With some hardcore collaborations, his fondness for reimagining cartoons in an avant-garde form is undoubtedly valuable to luxury brands. The goal is to combine “the modern passion of today with the nostalgia of yesterday.”
“My art embodies nostalgic childhood memories and characters that have been a crucial part of my life,” he says.
Although his illustrations make familiar characters look larger-than-life, Yosef admits that his process is old-school.
“The process itself is much more fluid and continuous in nature,” he says.
It always starts with a translation of the ideas into something concrete. “The simplicity of pencil and paper allows me to begin my creative process,” Yosef says.
Once done, he uses a tablet and formalizes the idea. “Then I begin sculpting. Ironing out all the fine details to its final form,” he adds.
Why is it sculpting? “I take smooth shapes and mold them into my original vision when I start putting pencil to paper at the beginning of the process”.
After that, he moves on to shading and coloring. “I do not use ready-made assets or textures; I prefer to create every detail. As I started creating all the small and big details from scratch, I began assembling my tools for my work,” he says.
When satisfied with the form, color, and shade, he tackles the lighting setup. “This can be close to a movie-making process, and I do the job of the director of photography,” Yosef says.
Inspiration comes from every source. “I may be walking on the street on my way to a meeting, but I am always looking at faces, pores, micro-hairs, and all the fine details around. I am constantly thinking, ‘How could I recreate this or that in 3D?’”
Detail-oriented to the point of obsession, five to six months is the ballpark time required to finish a project.
Sometimes the eternal nature of characters can be daunting. He looks back at an illustration he worked on of Mickey Mouse, “What made it especially tough is the magnitude of the character. Mickey Mouse is so iconic. I had to go through a lot of back and forth to create something aesthetically pleasing, realistic yet not so terrifying.”
THE FUTURE OF DIGITAL ART
In recent months, NFTs have taken the art world by storm, but where is the future of digital art headed? For Yosef, NFTs are still in their “volatile infancy”.
“How Banksy brought graffiti to the world stage, NFTs have provided many with the ability to approach digital art,” he adds.
“I am excited to see what may happen in the future.”