While art enthusiasts were once limited to buying art on canvas, they can now have their favorite artists’ original artwork printed on different high-quality products, from hoodies to watches to cushions to bags to home wares.
In the ever-growing art scene of Egypt, Tombokka offers artists a platform where they can set their art free from the restraints of formal art presentation, instead offering their designs on almost any object.
“Tombokka provides artists with a good opportunity of exposure through printing their art on different everyday items,” Nada Atalla, one of the founders of Tombokka, told StepFeed. “It is one way for them to make money without having to go through the hassle of production.”
“Tombokka is an easy-to-use online store that has a large collection of different art styles available on a large range of products,” said Sherif Adel, a cartoonist and showcasing artist. “They have gathered most of the influential and talented artists in Egypt, and I'm loving the collection they currently provide.”
“The concept of the online shop is not new at all,” said Ahmed Hammoud, a showcasing artist on Tombokka. “But I like how they kind of introduced recognition and appreciation for the designers and artists, both practically in terms of money and in terms of credit.”
According to Atalla, one of the Tombokka founders, the company is the first of its kind in Egypt, and one of a very few in the Middle East.
The wave of Tombokka enthusiasm extends further than just the artists whose designs are now being sold on the platform. Fashion forward and art focused Egyptians are fans of the site as well.
“I think the idea is great, I just don't know how often people buy art, because a lot of people want to wear brands over art. However, I think people are now shifting towards ‘hipsterism’ rather than brands, and this is the Tombokka target audience from my perspective,” graphic designer Laila Hasaballa said.
“One thing that I love about Tombokka is that it is super noncommercial, which is different from what I do when I create art for commercial fashion,” a 23-year-old graphic and fashion designer said. “Whatever I design must at least appeal to 80 or 90 people, otherwise it won’t sell.
“The artwork is amazing because the artist wasn’t commissioned to create it. The art is genuine because the artists wanted to create it.”
In addition to the purer nature of the artists' designs, Tombokka rarely asks for the designs to be altered unless they are explicit.
“They don't change anything or ask you to change anything about your design unless it's something practical for the printing. But they actually encouraged the versatility of the designs. If you want to tweak it to sell, it's your own call as a designer,” Hammoud said.
However, some artists say that the process can be exhausting because they have to provide Tombokka with many variations of the same design.
Another concern about the platform is the limited range of products offered.
“As a designer, I need to be sure that each season I can offer my audience a new line of products and designs all together. If they buy a tote bag one season, they probably won’t buy another one the following season just because it has a new graphic design,” one graphic and fashion designer said.
While Tombokka consider exposing artists to the community their greatest edge, how much of the art actually sells is what really defines success for the artist.
“Some artists are more popular and famous than others which guarantee that their art sells faster. That’s doesn’t mean that the others are less talented, they’re just less famous,” said Amro Okacha, a cartoonist and showcasing artist. “It may be kind of unfair, but it is neither Tombokka’s fault nor the artist’s.”
Although Tombokka is still rather young, they continue drawing careful lines to become more involved in the market in an offline form as well as online. They also hope to reach more markets outside Egypt.
Meanwhile, I’ll excuse myself to browse Tombokka and make my first purchase.