Making online waves with his intricate prints that make for awesome iPhone cases, Sharif El Fatatry is taking Egyptian art abroad.
In a time where art and design have become as essential as food and water, very few people stand out. We’ve become so bombarded with all these up and coming illustrators and designers, all touted as “the new Andy Warhol”, it’s become exhausting. However, one artist stands out with his work and is selling his prints, iPhone and iPad covers and more quirky accessories. Sharif El Fatatry took a bold initiative by selling his designs on Society6 and has got quite the cult following aborad. We talked to the budding designer about the trials and tribulations of selling his art online…
When did you start designing?
Well, it all started when I was a little kid. I used to draw when I was young and got very influenced by my mother who is a jewellery designer. I’d be doodling and sketching in school every day, practicing new methods and trying to fill the paper with any ideas that popped in my mind. I was still in Germany at the time so moving to Egypt and getting to know different cultures and living the revolution was a great experience and made me see life from a different perspective and changed and enhanced my interpersonal skills. But one little thing was missing: how could I share and exchange experiences? My answer to that was definitely art. I started communicating through my paintings. The revolution in Egypt developed a revolution in my mind. Even my style began to change; I started putting messages in my work and understanding different interpretations. Drawings and designs started to be more powerful than discussions.
Is there a specific person that inspires you?
I'm more inspired by music and unknown designers that post their amazing work online. However, two great role models for me are Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. On the spiritual side, I get the inspiration from the life and works of Alan Watts.
Why did you decide on selling your designs online?
It doesn’t take much money to start this kind of online business. I pretty much started this with zero dollars. I think that as long as you got enough ambition, you’ll find a way to make it happen. I started May 2013, so it's been three months now. I don’t get caught up in that rat race so I’m not looking to necessarily make more money. It’s just that I’m looking forward to grow the name and my customer base, and get more people to understand and pay for good quality products and design. Right now I get a few orders a month, mostly iPhone and iPad cases. However, most of my orders are from Germany and Canada since I’m unable to ship to Egypt. Recently, I've been working with the Alhambra Culture Club, which is a coffeehouse in Barcelona. My art prints are going to be delivered next month and will be displayed there. Very excited!
Do you plan on turning your business into a brand and how do you market your designs?YES! For now, social media is a way to share art. Instead of managing both a business page and a personal page, I simply allow subscribers on my personal Facebook page. Anyone who is interested in seeing my drawings can subscribe, which are made public. A website is in the making.
Which is your best selling design?
People like 'El Bandido' the smoking bulldog.
If you could get one celebrity to wear your designs, who would it be?
The band Fat Freddy's Drop!
If you had unlimited funds and could place one of your designs somewhere, where would it be?
Aerial banners carried by airplanes. When you hear an airplane, you look up and see the design! I would also float a large print on the surface of the Nile. I think that would be a good opportunity to transform the traffic jams into an art gallery.
If you could collaborate with one artist, who would it be and why?
Maybe I'm being naive and unrealistic here, but I feel a little overwhelmed by the title 'artist' as far as fame and recognition goes. I would love to meet all the anonymous low-profile artists who've made a fraction of the videos I've seen on YouTube, Vimeo and Tumblr that have inspired me infinitely. I think everybody alive is an artist therefore, I’d love to collaborate with the unrecognised people who prioritise substance over label and fame.
To see more of Sharif El Fatatry's designs, check out his Society6 store here.