The Butterfly Who Carries the Grenade

Although social media is often villainised as the root of all evil, one of the positives is that young artists and entrepreneurs can now launch themselves with a lot of creativity, hard work and screen time – but most importantly, zero budget.

This is certainly the case for Tomás Ziobrowski, a 23-year-old from Albufeira. He completed a degree in Communication Design at the University of the Algarve and is currently studying for a Master’s Degree in Equipment Design – Specialising in Urban and Interior Design, at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon. 

Not content to simply follow his coursework, Tomás started a project that mirrored his work as a designer in his first year as a graduate student. He focuses on developing illustrations that incorporate concepts, which he then sketches. Through his designs, he seeks to describe or give shape to an idea or message in a certain style and graphics.

An example is the striking image of a butterfly carrying a grenade. This is intended to challenge our perspectives as we subconsciously acknowledge that it is impossible for a small-winged insect to carry a grenade, but Tomás seeks to challenge our attitudes and believe that something seemingly impossible can be possible. “If we believe we can change the world, we can,” explains Tomás. “To improve the world, we need to act, we need to recognise our individual strength, and we need to believe.” 

It is perhaps unsurprising that a young person in 2023 should find images of war and futility creeping into their creative endeavours. Having sketched his concept, the young artist then puts his drawing through Illustrator and Photoshop. He never intended to start a clothing brand, but increasingly, acquaintances kept asking him to put his ideas on a T-shirt. “I think young people are tired of the meaningless imagery and logos on fast fashion high street items,” observes Tomás. “They like the message behind what I create.”

Tomás’ ideas have now developed into a fashion brand focusing on quality, not quantity. The entrepreneur never produces anything he wouldn’t wear himself. His followers include Portuguese pop star Bárbara Bandeira, whom he is photographed with on his Instagram. He promotes his creations through social media and sells them on his own website. As well as clothing, you can buy tote bags and key rings aimed at a unisex target audience aged between 15 and 30. As well as Portugal, he has been receiving orders from elsewhere in Europe, Brazil and the US.

Although he intended to give the brand a cool name as it evolved, he realised that most of his initial customers knew him by his social media profile, so he stuck to his name – Tomás Ziobrowski – which he also sees as reflecting his mixed heritage (his mother is Portuguese and his father Polish), therefore evoking his roots. 

The brand has now been in existence for more than four years, a progress that has culminated in partnerships with various national and international influencers, designers and national brands. His next mission is to encourage others to develop their own creativity. He intends to start videos on TikTok to help others who also want to start from scratch.

Now, Tomás is turning to us at Tomorrow to promote his brand. “It would be a great opportunity for me to be able to promote my work through your magazine, a tool that promotes Algarve and national talent with total rigour and professionalism. I’m very happy to know that there are initiatives like yours in the Algarve, which seek to disseminate quality information in a totally creative and original way.” Oh, stop it, Tomás, you are making us blush! But our admiration is mutual.


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