Framed red car poster surrounded by paintbrushes

Meet Tom Wesselmann, an artist who captivated our imaginations from Tombolo’s very earliest days.

Before Tombolo was “Tombolo”, it was the collective daydream of two dissatisfied New Yorkers with desk jobs.

In 2015, we still didn’t have a name, but we started piecing together moodboards as a first step towards bringing our daydream to life. Those moodboards often featured the vibrant artworks of Tom Wesselmann.

We recently dug up the moodboard from our very first brand presentation, and there were not one but two Wesselmann works featured.

So much for originality… maybe we were just building a Tom Wesselmann tribute brand all along?

Over half a decade into the daydream, this early moodboard has come to life like a March of Progress poster...

From crouching ape (i.e. two dimensions on a crumpled page) into proudly postured homo erectus (i.e. three dimensions of vibrant shirts in variously textured fabrics worn by windswept models).

The Tom Wesselmann collection is a full circle, pinch-us moment: from source of inspiration in our earliest days to direct subject matter today.

We reveled in the process of transforming some of our favorite Wesselmann works into wearable form, using simple silhouettes and textured fabric reminiscent of Wesselmann's heyday.

The highlight of creating the collection was our visit to Wesselmann’s New York studio for creative inspiration.

Stepping inside felt like entering a time capsule: we were jolted out of busy modern-day Cooper Square in NYC directly into the inner sanctum of Wesselmann’s imagination.

Monumental works of art – literally the size of billboards – are staged in the enormous space.

But it was the more intimate vignettes that gave us a glimpse into the prolific artist's life – old photos of his wife and muse Claire Selley, paint-covered gloves, and syrup dispensers from diners ingeniously repurposed to dispense some other liquid that played a part in his exacting processes. There were even compendiums of letters from major corporations happy to supply samples of their billboard ads.

We have always loved Wesselmann's artworks because of the visual 'oomph' they deliver, registering with the immediacy of a billboard...

At Tombolo, our goal has always been to transport wearers to a different time, place or state of mind with our clothes. Recognition, a knowing smile, and an emotional response should come at a moment’s glance.

Wesselmann was a master of this, using the vividness and polish of the ad world to forge a deep connection with viewers. We love his efficiency, abbreviating images with crops that trusted the eyes to fill in the rest. Those clever crops are perfectly suited for the irregular canvases of our shirts.

When we surveyed Wesselmann’s expansive body of work, perhaps unsurprisingly, what captured our imaginations the most were Wesselmann's works featuring FEET! Wesselmann's ability to convey intimacy through mere suggestion stopped us in our tracks.

Who would have thought profiles of feet against a backdrop of varied beach horizons could convey sensuality and warmth with the instant register of a gunshot? Nothing is more escapist and transports you to summer more viscerally and immediately than picturing sand beneath your toes.

We may have developed a foot fetish along the way…

Of course, no Wesselmann capsule would be complete without ruby red lips and curling wisps of gray smoke.

Our embroidered version of the iconic lips part so the wearer can access a concealed pocket.

Explore our Tom Wesselmann capsule below...

© Estate of Tom Wesselmann. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

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