A Conversation with the 2012 International Reggae Poster Contest Winner – Alon Braier

Recently we caught up with Alon Braier a 28 years old freelance illustrator based in Jaffa, Israel. He is the winner of the First International Reggae Poster Contest 2012. Here is our conversation with Alon.

Tell us about your winning poster? What was the inspiration for this poster?
My poster is basically a tribute to the great pioneers of Dub music. Within the poster,I tried to capture the free spirit of the music and it’s experimental patterns and shapes. The main stars of the poster are King Tubby, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Augustus Pablo, alongside some vintage studio equipment and the legendary “Swing a Ling” sound system.

Is reggae music popular in Israel?
Reggae music is not very acknowledged in Israel except for within some certain reggae communities that respect and celebrate Jamaican cloture and Rastafarian way of  life. On the other hand, The Israeli radio today plays more reggae than ever before and there are much more local bands that play strictly reggae.We have sound systems and selectors and reggae festivals and it is a positive growing phenomenon.

Are there any popular reggae artist from Israel?
Certainly, “Zvuloon Dub System” and “Los Caparos” are relatively new bands which are quite popular these days. Older acts like “Tomer Yosef” and “Mc Carolina” have been around for a few year now and they are very appreciated within the Israeli mainstream and outside of it as well.

How did you become interested in Reggae and Jamaican culture?
My father used to own a few pop-reggae albums, so it was always a part of my music background.

I first got exposed to reggae as a phenomenon about seven Years ago while attending a small reggae festival at the woods of north Israel , the people ,the music and the good vibes created a very strong atmosphere of love and unity like I have never experienced before. Since then I have a special place for reggae music in my heart.

Did the media in Israel cover you winning the contest?
The local response to my winning was very mild compared to the media coverage it had In Jamaica and the the Caribbeans.

Has the recognition had an effect on your career and your art?
Definitely yes, It really changed everything for me in a way, now that I understand that there are many opportunities outside of the local scene Since the contest I got contacted by clients from all over the world, last month I designed a logo for a reggae record shop in Japan and I might even design a poster for a Malian bluesman in the near future.

Are you are self-taught artist or do you have formal education?
I do have a bachelor degree in design from the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, although I have been developing on my own drawing technic for the last four years.

What stimulates your imagination best?
Music is my main source of inspiration, and occasionally a good movie as well.

How do you define art?
For me, art is the ability to capture a very certain and personal piece of mind within a defined space.

You visited Jamaica recently for the Reggae Poster Contest 2012 gallery exhibition. Was this your first visit to Jamaica. Tell us about that experience and how was Jamaica?
Yes, it was my first visit ever to this part of the world. I had an amazing experience in Jamaica I have never felt so welcome in my life. As soon as my flight landed In Norman Manley International Airport I was treated like a true VIP. Dr. Veerle Poupeye and the good people at the national gallery prepared the perfect itinerary for me, and though I knew about most of the events, new experiences kept adding up during the week. The opening event for the reggae poster exhibition was very exiting, many people came despite of the rainy weather and the atmosphere was ecstatic.There where smiles and handshakes all around and even some radio and television crews.In fact, I gave numerous live interviews during this week to RJR, CVM an more.I visited the wonderful Jamaican synagogue and met with the worm Jewish community and their extraordinary rabbi. We celebrated the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and sang songs both in English and Hebrew.This was surely the strongest and most significant irreligious experience I had since my Bar-mitzvah at the age of 13. I took part in a very interesting panel discussion at the Edna Manley college, it was about poster design and social change, the students where very interested to know more about the Israeli art and Reggae scene and I kept answering questions even after the official discussion was over.I met some incredibly bright and gifted Jamaican students while visiting Edna Manley and we became Facebook friends. I met with some very important and inspiring figures like Herbie Miller, Carolyn Cooper and Lisa Hanna, and had some great musical experiences as well, playing with the alpha boys band and jamming at Creative Sound studio.I was happy to discover my Jazz and Mediterranean playing style fitted perfectly with the local reggae, rock-steady and dub styles, I couldn’t ask for a better experience.

Was Jamaica what you imagined it would be?
The truth is didn’t know what to expect, sure, one can say you might imagine Jamaica like a Bob Marley video clip or the movie “Cool runnings”  but i knew there must be more to this island then expected. I came to discover that Jamaica has many oppositions, rare tropical landscapes and rich cultural assets alongside extreme poverty and violence, and still, I immediately fell in love with the place and even more with the people who live in it.

Tell us about the other projects you are working on? Do you have more Jamaican or Reggae inspired art?
Right now i’m working mostly on local projects that relate to music. A few gig posters,a book cover and some personal art projects. Although non of them has anything to do with reggae, I’m more into Jamaican culture then ever before, preparing for the new 2013 Reggae poster competition, already made some sketches…

What do you do for fun (apart from art)?
Apart from being a musician and playing music as a hobby ( which is still considered art I guess..) I like hanging out with my friends and watching TV…pretty ordinary stuff.

What technology you cannot live with out?
Most of my work is done using a computer so I cant really imagine my life without it.

If you were not a artist what would you be?
It’s a tough question. Defiantly not an accountant, maybe an ambassador…

Thanks for the spending some time with us and all the best.

About the author

Xavier Murphy