Tommy Lederer-Pon is the owner, creative director and designer of up-and-coming clothing brand, TOMBOGO. Born and raised in Oakland, and currently based in San Francisco, his clean, avant-garde style has been gaining rapid traction since the brand’s start in 2012. Read on for his Q&A with nasi to learn about the history and growth of TOMBOGO, as well as the creative direction Tommy plans to pursue.
What do you do creatively?
I am the owner, creative director and designer for the clothing brand TOMBOGO; I also am a vocalist and producer under the name Tommy&Company.
When did you start?
I established TOMBOGO in 2012/13, my senior year of high school. In 2011, I was granted a summer scholarship to the Academy of Arts in San Francisco where I learned graphic and web design. At the same time, I was attending a screen-printing workshop and learned the basics of how to print. I absorbed as much as I could from these classes so that I could transfer these skills to my own work. After a year of trial and error, I developed my logo and started printing and selling shirts at my school, Oakland Tech.
What lead up to the creation of Tombogo?
Both of my parents are visual artists and influenced my interest in art and music, so I was into doodling, drawing, and graphics at a young age. But they also warned me that it was hard to make a living in the arts, so my solution to my parent’s concern was to capitalize on my interest as a creative.
At that time, there wasn’t really anyone in my peer group who was making unique custom clothing — so I had a dedicated and enthused audience. My ambition and commitment to my new found passion of TOMBOGO and design was popular and sought after by my peers, which really spurred me on. I think that the fact that I was so young and taking-on this creative business venture made people want to rally and support me. With encouragement from my community, as well as a new set of skills under my belt, TOMBOGO began its journey.
(Also, at the same time, I was also learning to produce music, but no material would emerge until 2016 when I released my song, “Get Around”, under the name Tommy&Company.)
How has where you’re from influenced your art?
Growing up in Oakland has blessed me with a diverse community, and allowed me to understand how to market my art and products to a broad range of people.
What inspires your work?
As a kid, I was an avid skater, and I loved skateboard brands and the many different iconic logos, such as Spitfire and Element. The creative energy of the skate community definitely influenced me as I was designing the TOMBOGO logo. These days though, my creative process is not influenced by other companies at all.
What have you made/done that you’re most proud of?
I can't deny that I’m proud of the fact that I established TOMBOGO by myself, as well as [the fact that I] designed the logo and managed all aspects of production. Sticking with the company and not becoming discouraged over the years of growing TOMBOGO is something I am personally proud of. It’s also very humbling to have had madeinTYO, Iamsu! and many other talented artists wear my clothing.
What are you currently working on?
It’s top secret. All I can say is stay-tuned for the drop in December 2016.
What do you have planned for the future?
Once I finish school at San Francisco State, I plan to further expand TOMBOGO across the nation, and internationally.
What’s one thing not many people know about you?
People know me for TOMBOGO, but many may not know about my alter-ego in music. I recently debuted a new song called “Get Around” under the name Tommy&Company, which is available now on iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud. My music will give folks a more personal perspective on my life that may not be as apparent through the TOMBOGO brand and products.
By Eileen Syrop
Photos by @stearnzi