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Why People Buy African Paintings?

Why People Buy African Paintings?

October 19, 2022

WHY PEOPLE BUY AFRICAN PAINTINGS

Have you ever pondered over why people buy African artwork? Simple!  African Art is amazing and all passionate individuals want it to be a part of their lives. It is aesthetically pleasing, can start a conversation, inspire creativity in the viewer and also transform people into more positive, well-rounded human beings.  What’s more, African art is the ultimate personal healer during stressful times. In short, the reasons for amassing African artwork are many. Let's mull over different reasons why people buy African artworks and African paintings

  • African Art makes people happy. It has also been known to bring forth feelings of anger and sadness. Some people buy and keep African Art because it makes them feel a certain way. Have you ever just looked at a piece of African art and saying: ‘I need that because it makes me feel like I was back in Africa?' That is a psychological reaction. When African art makes you remember something or makes you feel a certain way because of its theme or colors, you want that piece of African art because it makes you feel that way.
  • Did you know that between the year 2000 and 2013, the number of Africa’s dollar millionaires increased by more than 150 percent? That’s two times faster than the worldwide growth rate of 73 percent, according to the United Nations Africa Renewal. In the latest report, South Africa topped the list with 48,800 dollar millionaires, followed by Egypt with 23,000, Nigeria with 15,900 and Kenya with 9,000. All of this massive wealth is coming from lucrative sectors like telecoms, financial services, retail, manufacturing, imports and exports, agriculture, commodities and several others. As art is often the luxury of the rich, it’s not very surprising that more wealthy Africans are investing huge amounts in African art. The size of Africa’s economy is expected to double from $2 trillion to $4 trillion before 2025. And with this gigantic economic leap will enter more dollar millionaires. And as the population of the continent’s HNI (high net-worth individuals) continues to grow, so will their demand for antique and contemporary, modern art.
  • Some people want to own African art strictly because it makes them look a certain way. This is a psychological need as well. Wanting to look good for others or have people who are higher in social standing than you like something you have is a huge accomplishment. The more expensive the African art, the more praise they are fed. If they have artwork from certain artists, like Renoir or Picasso, they have clout. Artwork has the ability to make people more socially acceptable. Most people just want to fit in somewhere, and African art can help them to do this.
  • For some people purchasing African art for the love of the work is enough.  These pieces may not even be super-expensive works, they might not get the highest price or even be created by someone popular.  When someone really loves apiece of artwork and just has to have it, they are fulfilling the psychological need of wanting. TingaTinga African Art is home to the world's largest source of affordable, high-quality African artworks and paintings from over 100 African artists. It is wholly operated by local Tanzanians offering a secure payment solution and free worldwide shipping to every corner of the planet. 
  •  Some people like to keep African art because it makes a statement. A lot of this African art is controversial, and people strictly own it to be different. While some African Art is meant to make people more socially acceptable, some African art is meant to make people feel uncomfortable.
  • Art is one of the best and oldest ways to invest your money. Imagine possessing a truly remarkable piece that will also see a significant increase in value at a future date.
  • Although African Art is a very personal thing, many people purchase it for gifting to loved ones. Be it a festive time or a very special occasion, a good piece of African Art makes for a unique, thoughtful and innovative gift, one that can be treasured for a lifetime. Think about it, any which way you look at it, African Art is good for you! No wonder people buy African Art. Are you ready to explore the world of African art and introduce it into your life? Head over to our homepage and see the entire collection. 
  • Art is one of the best and oldest ways to invest your money. Imagine possessing a truly remarkable piece that will also see a significant increase in value at a future date. There are people whose sole intent for buying art is to build a collection that will yield some kind of financial returns.
  • African Art tends to have a positive effect on the environment. It can brighten and transform any setting by giving it character and more warmth. The visual enjoyment of a space full of artful beauty, just spilling around is uplifting which makes life more engaging and enriching.
  • Although art is a very personal thing, many people purchase it for gifting to loved ones. Be it a festive time or a very special occasion, a good piece of art makes for a unique, thoughtful and innovative gift, one that can be treasured for a lifetime. 
  • TingaTinga African Art is regarded as the most well-known style of African Art in East Africa with customers globally! We offer free shipping globally with professional couriers and the best customer service you can imagine.
  • All our African art pieces for sale on our website are made with durable canvases, the highest quality oil & acyclic paints and are shipped in recyclable packaging materials directly from our studios in Dar es Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania. All our materials are locally sourced in Tanzania and all our artists are Tanzanian citizens, making all our products a truly African product.
  • We embrace deeply sustainable and traditionally zero-carbon methods of production as they are integral parts of Tanzania's cultural fabric, a custom which we feel committed to preserving. We are one of the largest African Art galleries on the continent with a focus on producing the best quality art at a reasonable price.
  • Unlike mass produced décor, we proudly hand craft everything that goes into our artworks. By supporting our artisans we help preserve Tanzania's traditions, heritage and unique craft. Thus, each purchase positively impacts the livelihood of our society. Not only do we ensure our artisans are paid fairly, we also reinvest our profits into education, health and the social improvement of the community. We are determined to leverage our skills to benefit all our African artists and to advance African Art in the global art industry and provide an equal opportunity playing field to African artisans in Tanzania.

  • We have a broad network of over a hundred artists each specializing in their own genre of art across Tanzania. Many people acquire artwork based on their artistic and emotional response to it. The fact that they feel good and sense a strong connection with a piece is reason enough to buy it. These collectors purchase art that they love, which speaks to them and is a visual expression of what they find meaningful. This is why it is so important to have proficient artists with the correct experience to deliver the customers' expectations.  

 Brief Background of the Tingatinga paintings

Many think that Tingatinga is just a name for a particular style of drawing. But actually it is the name of the “inventor” of Tingatinga, Edward Saidi Tingatinga. Between 1968 and 1972, he used to sit in the shade of his small hut in Msasani, drawing figures he remembered from his childhood in Mindu, near the village of Nakapanya in South of Tanzania, where he was born in 1932 and grew up too. According to the recently published book, “A Concise Study on Contemporary Art in Tanzania”, Tingatinga himself never had any education or training on painting, but saw the opportunity to sell pictures on the street, as other artists did already. He just went to the next shop, bought some colour and the 3 mm-thick compressed hardboard panels, commonly used to cover the ceiling.

Tanzania's most well-known style of painting was begun in the 1960s by Edward Saidi Tingatinga, after whom it is named. Tingatinga was born in 1932 in southern Tanzania's remote Tunduru district, and had only four years of primary school, in the 1950s, he headed north to Tanga, where he worked on a sisal plantation, and then later to Dar es Salaam, where he worked as domestic help fora British civil servant. During his time in Dar es Salaam, Tingatinga began to seek creative outlets and additional income, first as a member of a musical group, and later as a self-taught artist, painting fanciful and colourful animals on small shingles.

Tingatinga's wife sold his paintings near Morogoro Stores in Dar es Salaam, and his work soon became popular with European tourists. As his success grew, Tingatinga began to attract a small circle of students, with first his relatives and then others learning to imitate his style.

Then, one night in 1972, Tingatinga was mistaken for an escaping thief and fatally shot by the police. Following his death, Tingatinga's students organised themselves into the Tingatinga Partnership, which in 1990 was renamed the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society. This cooperative, which numbers about 50 members (including two women), is still based near Morogoro Stores in Dar es Salaam, where Tingatinga's works were originally sold. It has received significant support in recent years, including a new building, from Helvetas (the Swiss Association for International Cooperation).

Traditional Tingatinga paintings are composed in a square format, and generally feature colourful animal motifs against a monochrome background. One of the most distinctive characteristics of the style is its use of undiluted and often unmixed enamel and high-gloss paints which give Tingatinga paintings their characteristic glossy appearance.

Edward employed low cost materials such as masonite and bicycle paint and attracted the attention of tourists for their colorful, both naïve and surrealistic style. When Tingatinga died in 1972, his style was so popular that it had started a wide movement of imitators and followers, sometimes informally referred to as the "Tingatinga school".

Edward Said Tingatinga was an artist, a pioneer, a genius, who created a new style of painting. He created a painting style that has come to bear his name: Tinga Tinga. Tinga Tinga style is said to have been influenced by the Ndonde mural art traditions where by the Ndonde people painted their homes.

Tingatinga was thirty six years old when he first picked up a brush to paint and he would do his last painting at the tender age of forty. This gifted artist left his mark on the art world within a period of just three years. Tingatinga’s paintings are sought out around the world by art collectors and sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

While many know of Tingatinga art, few know of the man behind this beautiful art. The life of Edward Said Tingatinga was cut short on May 17, 1972 at the age of 40. He was shot down by a Tanzanian police who mistook him for a fleeing robber.

He had two years of formal education. The twenty five year old Tingatinga decided to look for new opportunities elsewhere. He travelled to Tanga to work in Sisal plantations. This was difficult work. Tanzania, then Tanganyika, was a British colony and Europeans owned the plantations. Tingatinga decided to leave Tanga for Dar es Salaam sometime towards the end of 1950s. He first secured a job as a “house boy”, a servant, for a colonial official. This was a common job for many young men and women leaving rural areas to seek new opportunities in the cities.

Tingatinga later sold vegetables and fruits before finally securing a job at the Muhimbili hospital. Tingatinga started painting for the first time in 1968. He worked at Muhimbili and painted in his spare time. His paintings started getting noticed by foreigners in Dar es Salaam.

He started selling more and more paintings outside Morogoro stores in Oyster Bay area. Morogoro stores was a popular shopping place for foreigners. Eventually Tingatinga made enough money from his paintings that he could resign from his job at Muhimbili and paint full time. There is no question his unique style of painting was and remain both beautiful and creative.

Africa has produced many artistic geniuses. Unfortunately, recognition of African artists has often come from outside Africa and not within Africa itself, if there has been any recognition at all. African artists do not get the recognition they deserve from painters to musicians. We have no one else to blame but ourselves for this.

Tingatinga, like his contemporary artist George Lilanga, have not received the recognition they deserve from Tanzanians or Africans. Tingatinga died relatively poor despite the fact that he was starting to make more money towards the end of his life. At least one of Tingatinga’s paintings, Spotted Hyena, sold for $2,196 in 2010. Other paintings have fetched higher prices. George Lilanga’s paintings on the other hand, are listed for between $10,000 and $15,000.

Lilanga is said to have influenced the American graffiti artist Keith Haring. Tanzanians and Africans in general place little value in their artwork and artists. Those who were lucky enough to have met Tingatinga in the late 1960s and early 70s, were without a doubt, in the presence of artistic excellence, a Tanzanian genius.

While Tingatinga may not be well known or respected by many Africans today, there is little doubt that in time, he will get the respect and honor he deserves. He is one of the greatest artists of the 20th century! This recognition will, however, only happen when Africans, Tanzanians, start recognising and placing more value in their artwork.

It was an ordinary yet a little rainy Wednesday night in May 1972 in Dar es Salaam as the police was controlling car-drivers for their licenses, standing at the clock-tower roundabout, towards Samora Avenue – which was back in 1972 known as Independence Avenue, when things changed.

That night seemed a little different; one driver who was asked to stop panicked and drove around the policeman, almost hit the police patrol car and sped away. The policemen first fired a warning pistol shot into the air and then, as the car still did not stop, aimed at the tires. Stray bullets killed one of the occupants and slightly injured another. The third man was not harmed. The dead man, 40 years of age, slight beard on his chin, had been been a people person. The had police accidentally shot Tingatinga, whose still very young career as an artist and leading figure in the Tingatinga-movement came to an abrupt end.
Because of his short artistic life, Tingatinga left only a relatively small number of paintings, which are sought-after by collectors.

The first generation of artists from the Tingatinga school basically reproduced the works of the school's founder. In the 1990s new trends emerged within the Tingatinga style, in response to the transformations that the Tanzanian society was undergoing after independence. New subjects related to the new urban and multi-ethnic society of Dar es Salaam (e.g., crowded and busy streets and squares) were introduced, together with occasional technical novelties (such as the use of perspective). One of the most well known second-generation Tingatinga painters is Edward Tingatinga's brother-in-law, Simon Mpata.

Today, people buy Tingatinga African paintings because they are colorful, vibrant and carry a very high level of detail. They were traditionally made on masonite, using several layers of bicycle paint, which makes for a brilliant and highly saturated colors. Many elements of the style are related to requirements of the tourist-oriented market; for example, the paintings are usually small so they can be easily transported, and subjects are intended to appeal to the Europeans and Americans (e.g., the big five and other wild fauna).

In this sense, Tingatinga African paintings can be considered a form of “airport art”. The paintings themselves can be described as both naïve and caricatural, and humor and sarcasm are often explicit.

The African paintings which are produced on the touristic spots in Tanzania are derived from the indigenous mural paintings. Even Edward TingaTinga, the founder of the contemporary TingaTinga African paintings, used to decorate the huts with the indigenous paintings. But in the city, he used the enamel colors instead of soil. 

TingatingaArt.com is the world's largest marketplace where you can buy African paintings. We have a catalogue of around 600 paintings from more than one hundred Tanzanian artists, giving you the widest and most varied possible selection of artworks. With the help of our experts, we select the artists we work with in order to guarantee that the artworks available on our website are original and authentic. We work only with artists that strongly support artistic creation and represent renowned or emerging artists.

On our platform, you'll find a wide range of artworks. The website offers not only a variety of mediums—from paintings to drawings, prints, and photographs—but also a variety of styles. These works are made by artists with great potential and are exhibited by prominent art galleries chosen by our network of experts.

Tingatinga African Art was designed to provide you with an exceptional browsing experience. Each artwork is presented using high-quality photographs and a thoroughly detailed description with information about the artist.

The origins of African art lie long before recorded history. African rock art in the Sahara Desert in Niger preserves 6000-year-old carvings. The earliest known sculptures are from the Nok culture of Nigeria, made around 500 BCE. Along with Sub-Saharan Africa, the cultural arts of the western tribes, ancient Egyptian artifacts, and indigenous southern crafts also contributed greatly to African art. Often depicting the abundance of surrounding nature, the art was often abstract interpretations of animals, plant life, or natural designs and shapes. More complex methods of producing art were first introduced to Sub-Saharan Africa around the 13th century, along with the spread of Islam. Bronze and brass castings, often ornamented with ivory and precious stones, became highly prestigious in much of West Africa, sometimes being limited to the work of court artists and identified with royalty, as with the Benin Bronzes. At the start of the twentieth century, artists like Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani were profoundly inspired by abstract African sculptures in their search for new forms of expression. For the West, the cubist movement was the first time 'traditional' African masks and sculptures were analyzed as works of art rather than ethnographic pieces. Picasso's African influenced period lasted between 1907 and 1909 where he based many works on African art and sculpture. 'Traditional' art describes the most popular and studied forms of African art which are typically found in museum collections. Wooden masks, which might either be human or animal, are one of the most commonly found forms of art in western Africa. In their original contexts, ceremonial masks are used by actors and dancers in religious, political or social performances. Ivory, stone, and semi-precious gems were also included in the masks, along with materials to make statues. Decorative clothing was also commonplace, and comprise another large part of African art, using complicated techniques. African Art has always been under-represented in the global marketplace until this point. African art sales are still less than 1% of all global art sales at worldwide. But it is a category that is poised for even more growth in the years to come.

Tingatinga Revolution

The late 1980s and beginning of 1990s witnessed a big evolution in Tingatinga paintings. It should be remembered that most of Tingatinga painting customers came from abroad. These customers wanted to purchase paintings and travel with them to their home countries. The idea of using canvas rather than hardboard panels was, therefore, introduced. According to Abdallah Saidi Chilamboni, one day, a customer named Denis brought a canvas from Europe and gave few Tingatinga painters to try working it. The painters found working on it easy and they worked very well. Subsequently, on another day Abdul Amonde Mkura bought a piece of light cloth and started working on it. He firstly framed it and poured some wheat porridge on it. He painted a first layer of red oxide, and then used sand paper to smooth it. He then painted the second layer of red oxide and smoothed it in the same way to get a fine surface. He lastly painted a Tingatinga composition on it. Other Tingatinga painters liked the idea and began to do their paintings the same way. That marked the beginning of using canvas for Tingatinga painters. The artists sold more of their canvas paintings than those that were done on hardboard panels. Customers preferred that kind of painting style because they could roll and travel with them easier. However, that idea could not be sustained any longer because customers began to complain that the paintings were getting cracked during the winter season in Europe. The idea of using wheat porridge and red oxide layers, as the background was, therefore, not appropriate to the customers. In consequence, the Tingatinga painters decided to resort to their old style of enamel paints but this time on heavy pieces of cloth; they began painting their backgrounds using enamel colours. 

Contact us for on questions or special piece you would like to commission from our online store. Far off from its ethnic and tribal aspect, contemporary African art has conquered, little by little, a western audience in search of artistic discoveries coming from destinations further afield. TingaTinga African Art is placed in a unique position to serve the needs of this emerging style of African Art and cater to a global audience!

Immerse yourself in the richness and diversity of the continent through TingaTinga African Art's selection of art and discover many African artists, each more creative than the last.

Welcome to the largest online African art gallery.

We look forward to serving you.



Size Guide

Centimeters (CM)

Inches (IN)

50CM x 40CM

19 11/16 in X 15 3/4 in

50CM x 50CM

19 11/16 in X 19 11/16 in

60CM x 60CM

23 5/8 in X 23 5/8 in

70CM x 50CM

27 9/16 in X 19 11/16 in

80CM x 60CM

31 1/2 in X 23 5/8 in

100CM x 80CM

39 3/8 in X 31 1/2 in

140CM x 110CM

55 1/8 in X 43 5/16 in