Tuka El Safty is an exceptionally talented young artist. Her sources of inspiration are mosques and the streets of Old Cairo, her passion is Islamic art. When we first saw her captivating artwork, we knew she had to be part of our Banat El Ayam Di book. We sit down with her to know all about her artistic journey.
Tuka is 25 years old. She graduated from the German University in Cairo with a bachelor’s degree in Product Design. Her artistic journey began much earlier though…
“I’ve been an “art” person ever since I can remember. I was that kid sitting in class zoning out and doodling in her notebooks,” she says.
Her favorite two subjects at school were Math and Art, which explains her knack for drawing geometric patterns.
Tuka spent many years exposing herself to different art forms like landscape, portraits, oil paintings, and abstract art. However, it was in the first years of college that she found her true calling…
“I had an assignment that took me to El Muez & El Kheyamiyya Street in Old Cairo, and after seeing the jaw-dropping patterns all over the mosques and in the art of Kheyamiyya, it just clicked. I was captivated and knew I had to learn more about those patterns and how I can make them,” she says.
She started by copying the patterns and coloring them using watercolors. Furthermore, she followed all the artists of this field on social media and tried to learn from them. She also searched for courses and, when she couldn’t find any, had mosques and museums be her teachers. This was in addition to reading articles, books, and a lot of searching the web.
“Step by step I learned more about Islamic art. I was amazed at how simple and complex it is at the same time, how it has multiple construction layers beneath the surface from which emerges the simple pattern on top,” she says.
On her inspiration she says…
“I get my inspiration from Islamic architecture all over the world! Each part of the world has a different style of Islamic art. It’s reflected in different types of mediums; in architecture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, glass, and paintings,” she explains
“The style of mosque walls in Uzbekistan is way different than the walls of Cairo and different than the walls of Iran and different than that of India”
When she was first developing her style, Tuka El Safty was focused on paintings. However, her apprenticeship in Jameel Art House pushed her to explore the application of Islamic patterns and the making of them on different materials such as copper, gypsum, ceramics, and woodwork.
“It’s just like the old Islamic craftsmen! It felt amazing to be surrounded by people, both teaching and studying, who are all interested in this same field,” she says.
Social Media was particularly significant for Tuka El Safty’s journey
She learned a lot from international artists in the same field by following their art posts and asking them questions. Also, after years of learning the know-how, she wanted to share it.
“I always try to explain all the steps of making this art in my posts. From the beginning of preparing the paper to sketching the pattern, to finalizing it and adding color; all the tips and tricks,” she says
“I want to make it easier for others to learn so they wouldn’t have to go through the same hassle I went through.”
Of course, it’s not always easy. I spend a lot of time snapping pictures of each step in the time of day that has good natural lighting, editing, and color correcting. But as tiring as it is, I enjoy every part of it,” she continues.
For the future, Tuka El Safty intends to have her art draw more people’s attention to Islamic art as it is a big part of our Egyptian culture and identity. She also has teaching in mind. We can’t wait to see what this young artist has up her sleeve. Follow Tuka on Instagram to stay updated on the magic.