If you enjoy gore and unsettling feelings under catchy illustrations or horny, anthropomorphic dinosaurs, then there’s a high probability that Israeli artist Pupik will be your new favorite thing… So let’s have a chat!
Hello Pupik, and welcome to Visual Satiation!
Start off by introducing yourself to our readers: Who is Pupik and where does this name come from?
I am an artist and designer based in Tel-Aviv.
I make art in the medium of animation, fashion, digital art, sculpture and painting, under the name “pupik”.
The first time I ever used the name “pupik” was when I was playing computer games during my adolescence. It was a name I gave to one of my characters in “Diablo II”, and when I needed an alias for my art I just went with that.
The word “pupik” is translated in Hebrew as “bellybutton”, but I didn’t really think about the meaning of the word, I just liked how the letters look and sound in English.
Tell us about your background and how it shaped the person and the artist you are today.
My early drawings were dinosaurs and animals.
I grew up in a desert area and I was fascinated by animals in general, specifically reptiles and dinosaurs. I would be out all day looking for fossils and lizards and shit.
In 2nd and 3d grade I lived in Ethiopia, because of my dad’s work.
I used to take some art lessons from this half-blind guy with a white eye. He was a great caricaturist and a painter, but I didn’t really listen to him and I just drew what I wanted.
I also remember my mom and I taking some pottery lessons from a local pottery artist in Addis Ababa (capital of Ethiopia) and really enjoying sculpting.
Both of my parents worked public service jobs, yet our house was full of curated art.
My mom was a very artsy woman. I remember her giving me her old M.C. Escher book when I was young and still to this day he is one of my favorite artists.
Around school, my cousin Jino introduced me to Graffiti Art, and from that point I mainly did lettering and typography. I had a single notebook for all the classes combined, and it was all full with graffiti, tags and lettering.
It was only when I was 20 years old, during my military service, that I started to illustrate more and I took a step back from Graffiti Art, and it was around that time that I also started publishing some artworks under the alias “pupik”.
Since then I’ve been creating a lot, from posters for local and international artists to clothing, murals and animations.
There was a point that I wanted to wear cool shit, so I started making shirts for myself and eventually started selling them. Fashion became one of the things that I really put my time into, but honestly, I don’t focus on just one thing, I try to create as much as I can in as many fields that I can.
What triggers your creativity, and what kind of themes do you find yourself returning to in your art?
I think that what triggers my creativity is the desire to create things that I could stare at all day, like a crazy person.
A lot of my work surrounds mental health issues, acceptance, sex, philosophy and death.
Anyway, he was talking about going on an exposure therapy retreat with war veterans that have PTSD, and one of the “exposure therapy” practices was to wear a tag on your shirt that states your worst fear for the whole weekend, and I thought to myself that I should design shirts with my fears on them and wear them all the time as well.
Seeing my dad wearing a shirt that states “one day I’ll die” was a big challenge for me but that’s the thing I guess…
How have you been coping with the last couple of years, and how are you doing nowadays? What are you working on at the moment?
These last few years were good for me.
Covid only made me realize that I need to produce more art and work harder.
I’ve made my first full animated music video recently, and it’s superfly to create visuals and storyboards with these surreal worlds through the medium of animation, but I will definitely take a break from the animation stuff for a bit, to make more clothes and art for myself and not just for others.
How is Tel Aviv’s underground art scene, and who are your favorite local artists?
I’m not that into any underground scene in Tel Aviv, I mostly do my things for events or local places, but I don’t go out much so I’m not sure what is cool now… But there are definitely some talented local artists like Pilpeled, Broken Fingaz and Yonil.
What do you like to do when you’re not creating awesome, weird stuff?
I mostly do this day and night, though I’m a lot on discord with my friends.
I also find myself watching a lot of YouTube and listening to philosophy lectures.
There is this “Objectivism” and “Free Market” guy I watch a lot named Yaron Brook but I also fall down the YouTube rabbit hole and watch odd channels like active self-protection and true crime stuff, which is awful…
I do like to write and make music and I hope that in the future I could combine music and drawing together.
What´s the coolest thing you´ve ever found while wandering around?
Around 5th grade I found an ammonite piece next to the sidewalk on my way back home from school. I was super happy that day.
Name your favorite dinosaurs and the most interesting fun fact about animals you know.
My favorite dinosaur would be the Triceratops but I also really like those small hunter types like Velociraptor or Deinonychus.
A cool fact that I could think of is that in Florida there are lots of invasive species.
During the 80’s lots of people would bring exotic animals and reptiles there, and over the years many ran away and started to reproduce in Florida’s habitat.
So basically today you could go for a walk at night in Florida and find veiled chameleons native to Yemen or panther chameleons native to Madagascar or even Burmese pythons.
Even though they are invasive, it’s cool that you can go to one place and actually see lots of exotic animals native to other places in the world.
Name something you’re hilariously bad at.
Making eye contact.
Name a song that you’re currently obsessed with.
Hmm, that’s hard.
Please show us a very early drawing of yours.
Here’s a drawing from 2nd grade.
Our teacher asked every kid in the class to draw what they saw on their way to school, and I was obsessed with these vultures on a hill of bones outside an Ethiopian slaughterhouse on my way to school. I used this theme and image on the new Borgore “Slaughterhouse” album cover.
The second one is also from 2nd grade.
Thank you so much for being with us Pupik!
We wish you all the best!