For a traveller, buying unique Indigenous art is one of the highlights of any trip. Often handmade from crafting techniques passed down through the generations, local art tells a better story of the countries visited than the mass-produced tat bought in tourist areas. Supporting the local economy and its artisans feels good too!
There is a way to reduce your global footprint and indulge in your love of artisan products, thanks to the worldwide web. A company called Novica was set up in 1999 by two people who decided that, rather than killing local economies, globalisation could actually benefit local artisans. Thanks to this website, you can now buy Persian silk and Andean wool rugs direct from the weavers and djembe drums from West African skilled craftsmen who retain 100% of the money from sales and complete control over their business.
“We offer an exclusive selection of products, all of which needed to be shared with online shoppers,” says Charles Hachtmann, Chief Marketing Officer at NOVICA.
Novica now has an online product catalogue of over 30,000 unique handmade items from eight world regions. National Geographic jumped on board as a major investor allowing the brand to reach wider audiences.
Eric carves beautiful pieces of furniture, ornaments and African masks. He says on his profile, “I learned carving from a shop for three years and later established myself with my own shop. I started carving for a full-time profession in the year 1997 at the age of twenty-three, and now have one boy I work with. We are four children in the family, among which my junior brother and sister are also talented with the skill of carving. My brother helps me a lot at the shop.”
Eric carves with Sese wood and uses chisels, gouges, and axes to create masks and scupltures. One of the comments on his Novica page from ‘S’ in Canada sums up the exquisite nature of his work.
“The picture on the website does not do justice to the sculpture that I purchased. ‘Resting’ by Eric Danquah is a beautiful piece of work, and I will buy from this artist in the future.” Sounds like one happy customer!
photo credit: Novica