After 10 years painting in the streets of Tel Aviv’s Neve Tzedek neighborhood and sketching caricatures on the city’s beach promenade, an unlikely event recently catapulted graffiti artist Elior Yosef into the international spotlight – an Instagram post by fellow Israeli Gal Gadot.
Yosef, 30, says the “Wonder Woman” star discovered his work on Instagram and began following him about three months ago. A few exchanges between the two led him to create a special painting on a longboard, featuring an acrylic portrait of Gadot as Wonder Woman.
“She asked to see more of my art, so I told her I would come to show her a special piece,” Yosef tells ISRAEL21c. “When I showed up to bring it to her, her husband asked me if I was a surfer and I said, ‘This surfboard is not for surfing!’ Then I took it out of the case and they were both wowed.”
Growing up by the beach in Neve Tzedek, Yosef spent his childhood painting and drawing superheroes from the comic world. At the age of 18, he began painting caricatures on the promenade, and eventually took to painting on surfboards, cars, motorcycles, clothing and sneakers, he says.
His surfboard series combines stars from “Justice League” such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman with elements from classic works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and takes about seven months to create, he says.
Yosef’s acrylic creations also incorporate sparkly objects such as Swarovski crystals, fragments of perfume bottles and even diamonds.
Yosef says that every piece has a message, whether it’s supporting survivors of sexual violence and harassment or helping underprivileged families and sick children.
“Giving back is part of everything I do,” says Yosef. “For almost 10 years I have been working with Rabbi Shalom Yosef and his organization Hesed Yosovevenu, which mentors children from families in distress and helps provide food and economic security.“
Apart from donating proceeds from art sales whenever possible, Yosef says he often volunteers his time to draw and paint for children at hospitals and organizations such as Larger Than Life, which supports Israeli families facing pediatric cancer, and Akim, which helps families and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Gadot praised his volunteer work on her Instagram, sharing her photo with Yosef as a #MotivationalMonday post.
Since his meeting with Gadot was made famous on Instagram, Yosef says many opportunities have emerged. Though he can’t discuss all the details yet, galleries in New York and Los Angeles have shown interest in his work. Collaborations are in the works with high-end fashion companies, who have taken interest in his paint-splattered jeans, leather jackets and sneakers painted with intricate designs.
In the meantime, fans of Yosef’s art can seek out his latest graffiti work hidden within the trendy streets of Neve Tzedek. When he posted a video on Instagram of himself working on his latest mural, a colorful wall that reads “I Love You, #MeToo,” Yosef said a crowd of more than 200 people gathered to watch.
[Photo: Israel21c ]