Plagued by a pandemic, Israeli artists are painting new paths on Instagram walls


If artists have learned one thing, it is that Instagram offers the perfect blank canvas. Especially during a pandemic.

Israeli artist Shira Barzilay, better known as Koketit, used the social networking platform to share photos to try out new ideas with her 306,000 followers.

Barzilay is known for her flirtatious line drawings, which often focus on the female figure and empowerment. She connects with many of her new customers via Instagram.

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One of their latest clients is Collectoe, an Israeli sock company that weaves artist designs into their finely combed, padded, crew-cut cotton footwear.

Israeli artist Koketit works with a variety of brands and companies, including Collectoe, an Israeli brand that supports Israeli artists (Courtesy Shira Barzilay).

“I am the artist and they are the curators. Instead of showing my art in a gallery, I show it on a sock,” said Barzilay.

Collectoe aims to support the creative community, said product manager Metav Djemal, and works with artists from all media, including digital, graphic, tattoo and graffiti developers from Israel and around the world.

The artists receive a sock template and are invited to go wild. Most have collections of two to four socks and receive a percentage of the profit on every sale.

“There’s a change in the art world right now,” said Barzilay. “I’m not sure if artists would condescend to these ideas beforehand. But the times have changed. ”

Some of the pivots and out-of-box thinking happened long before the coronavirus arrived. The pandemic – and Instagram – just got her over the creative edge.

Artist Nir Peled, known as Pilpeled, paints murals in the offices of an Israeli high-tech company (Courtesy Pilpeled).

Barzilay’s male counterpart may be Nir Peled, known as Pilpeled, the artist whose signature looks are the fantastic black and white, sometimes eerie images he paints on the sides of buildings or as murals in offices, restaurants and lobbies.

The coronavirus swept away a scheduled exhibition and has not gotten any jobs on large paintings on the sides of buildings since its outbreak, he says.

Instead, Peled reached out to his 37,800 followers on Instagram. They quickly grabbed one last lot of black and white puzzles he had found in his storage room – and asked for more. He couldn’t even reply to all of the messages.

“I’ve been on Instagram a lot,” said Peled. “There is more communication with my customers there.”

Back and forth with customers motivated Peled and even took him on a work trip to Turkey between the locks, where he painted a new mural.

The Bandannas from the Coronavirus Era by Israeli artist Pilpeled (courtesy of PilPeled)

He also came up with a new product, Pilpeled black and white headscarves, the perfect accessory for a chic face.

He’s waiting for a new batch, and in the meantime, customers keep asking where to order one.

Despite the pivotal points and assignments to paint murals in clients’ new home offices, what Peled misses most is the massive jobs, the murals on the sides of buildings, and the exaggerated murals.

“That’s what I really enjoy doing,” said Peled.

The time everyone spent at home staring at their walls helped inspire Artsource creators Sarah Peguine and Michal Freedman, who launched their online platform in 2018, serving Israeli contemporary art in English to local and foreign Customers were selling and promoting long before they arrived from COVID-19.

But it was their frequent use and understanding of Facebook and Instagram that has been their best marketing tool over the past 10 months.

Sarah Peguine, left, and Michal Freedman from Artsource, a platform for contemporary Israeli art in English. The two found that Instagram helped them keep their platform and artists relevant during the coronavirus pandemic (Courtesy Gal Houbara).

Peguine was an early user of Facebook and Instagram, said Freedman, one of the first in the Israeli art world to venture into social media and blog. She has more than 20,000 followers on her personal Facebook page and the two have 14,400 followers on the Artsource Instagram page.

The two women created their website as a bridge between galleries, artists and clients, with a highly personalized service that literally brought works of art to clients or offered close-up video calls when a client wasn’t in Israel.

As the world went digital during the pandemic, Peguine and Freedman continued to connect everyone through their own content, zoom calls, online studio visits, and of course Instagram.

Customers didn’t travel and some had more resources to invest in their homes and art, Peguine said. They also wanted to support local artists.

Ceramic vases by artist Gur Inbar, now represented by the Artsource platform, as part of his efforts to broaden the definition of the visual arts (Courtesy Artsource)

Next month, the Artsource couple will launch a new platform, Handle with Care, an online shop for Israeli design, ceramics, jewelry, textiles and small pieces of furniture. The online store draws on the growing international interest in Israeli design and offers items that are smaller, easier to ship, and generally cheaper. This is vital for many customers who frequently make their first major art purchase through the website.

“Fine arts are what would be put on hold at this time,” said Freedman, “but we wanted to do what we could for the art scene.” This offers other possibilities. “

It was the coronavirus that made Barzilay focus more on her own work. At the beginning of the pandemic, she was fired from her job, thinking she had no choice but to finally continue her art career.

Shenkar-educated Barzilay, 38, has worked in the field of fashion design and fashion illustration and started Koketit as her own artistic work channeling the flirty, flirty images that inspire her.

The artist Shira Barzilay or Koketit in one of the pieces from the fashion collaboration she collected during the COVID-19 pandemic (courtesy Shira Barzilay).

“I am [a] Very girlish girl, all about feminine empowerment, “she said.” My art is about processing my emotions. It’s my story and I’m not trying to be objective. “

Barzilay often finds out that her ideas, line drawings laid on a dreamy bathtub or etched on a green bunch of grapes and then posted on Instagram, bring her customers. As she writes in every post: “Adding my art to photos that inspire me // create levels of creativity.”

Now she designs socks; Collaboration with a Chinese clothing line; create decorative iPhone cases; and add their art to an app that decorates selfies and a range of raincoats. Her art can also be seen in the perfumed temporary tattoos of the Israeli company Amkiri, which are smeared with scented ink.

“I love translating my ideas into different contexts, and all of these companies allow you to express yourself as an artist,” said Barzilay.

Food illustrator Sarit Atzitz found new work creating customers’ favorite family dishes when she posted sketches on her Instagram page (courtesy of Sarit Atzitz).

Food illustrator Sarit Atzitz had already made a successful turn 10 years ago when she left a successful career in product design and wrapped herself in food illustration without ever really learning it as an art form.

But the 10 months of the coronavirus crisis have made her go with the flow – and most importantly, get her Instagram followers involved in what she’s doing.

While she had previously worked with major brands, created an illustrated series for Nespressos new capsules, and revitalized Yoplait’s fruit-flavored yogurt, it was the last ten months that led Atzitz to possess her talent and immerse herself fully in illustration To deal with food.

She created a food illustration course on Zoom, and her Instagram sketches of some favorite foods gave her an extra job of illustrating clients’ favorite dishes as private assignments.

“It was a year that is so empty and yet so full,” said Atzitz. “Every time I have doubts about myself, I say to myself, ‘Sarit, you will succeed. What’s the worst that’s gonna happen? ‘”