Artist Alon Bonder found his way into graphic design and illustration via the same route as many ’90s teens: skateboarding. “The first time I became interested in any graphic design was when I started skateboarding at the age of 13,” the Tel Avivian explains. “I was always looking at the graphics of the boards and was attracted by the pop art style of illustration and the clear anti-establishment message. Later on, I began to go to local punk shows through which I discovered a culture of DIY and independent design, such as show flyers, record covers, zines and so on. Subsequently, I started making a lot of photo collages and sketches in my sketchbook.”
When studying visual communication at Israel’s Shenkar College of Art and Design, Alon’s interest in graphic design blossomed. It was at Shenkar that he began to read about “shamanism, hallucinogenic plants and ancient cultures". The subjects have continued to grip his imagination and feature in his work – which plays out across a dizzying array of mediums including walls, drums and tiles – ever since.
“My artwork is most often based on anthropological, historical and botanical topics,” Alon explains. “I typically begin my work process by researching the topic I want to illustrate. My inspiration usually comes from images I find in old encyclopaedias and by reading about the traditions and rituals of different ancient cultures.”
Alon shares a studio and a silk print workshop with his girlfriend in Tel Aviv, where the creatives work and print. His practice combines computer work and a variety of printing techniques. “Usually I create some quick sketches in my notebook and then illustrate the image on a fixed grid on the computer,” Alon says. “I try to maintain a unified and clean style in order to create a particular aesthetics across my body of work. After the image is finished I begin printing on the selected material which could range from paper, wood or textiles to ceramics. The technique of silkscreen brings the image to life and takes it back to resemble a more traditional approach of handcrafts.”
Alon hopes to cultivate a closer understanding of both nature and the past. “We live in a very complex reality, an advanced and technologically advanced era, and at the same time we notice the great distance we have from nature," he muses. "Throughout history, different cultures used to pass on important knowledge from generation to generation about local traditions, rituals and so on. I’m interested in learning about different forms of dealing with reality in the old world and trying to preserve in my works some of this knowledge that is disappearing as time passes.”