It Girl | AMIRA RAHIM
Amira is the beautiful woman the most gorgeous paintings on the interwebs. Her work is so unique and breathtaking. She creates movement with her brush strokes and use of bright colors. Amira shares her background, how she got started, and her advice for following your passion.
Name: Amira Rahim
Job Title/Company: Professional Abstract Artist and Business Owner at Amira Rahim, LLC
Education Background: Bachelor in Sociology and a Minor in Portuguese and Luso-Brazilian Studies
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
I am originally from New Jersey. I have been painting and drawing since I was a kid. I always loved reading and as a kid I used to always look at the illustrations in the book and think one day I would want to be an illustrator. My mom and dad were really supportive of my creative endeavors and I was just one of those people that was pretty introverted as a kid. I would do a lot of things to keep myself occupied in my room. I am the oldest of 5 siblings so my house was always pretty packed with a lot of family.
2. What sparked your interest in painting?
I always loved to draw. I used to draw houses a lot. I considered being an architect when I learned about what they do. I got interested in painting when I was in high school. My mom found this nonprofit organization in downtown Newark and I would go after-school. It was this amazing studio space in the city and I was able to experiment with a lot of different media and paint and have a creative outlet after class.
3. Who are you most influenced by?
I think some of my strong influences were people like Pablo Picasso when I learned about his work in high school, I was really moved by it. In college I took a contemporary art history class and I really enjoyed the works of artists from all over the world but particularly Russian impressionist painters. I just had an affinity for the way they used oil paints and textures that they incorporated into their paintings. I always try to have a lot of texture in my artwork. I was pretty representational with my artwork so I used to draw figures a lot, and faces. I would look at photographs and reproduce them into paintings. I didn’t get interested in abstract painting until about 4 years ago. I was kind of frustrated with my current paintings and decided to loosen up. I started going on Pinterest and I saw loads of contemporary abstract art paintings. That really moved me to be more intuitive with my artwork. It took about a year for me to find a rhythm that I was comfortable with and a voice that I felt uniquely I could share. I am still working on that.
4. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
I skipped a grade when I was in school which sounds super awesome because everyone wants to skip a grade to get ahead with school, but it was a bit rough because I was a couple years younger than my peers. When it came time to get summer jobs as a freshman in high school, I remember going to the Board of Education in Newark and trying to get a job there but the minimum age was 14 and I was only 13 at the time and I was really bummed about that. I was able to get a job with the same nonprofit company that I was going to for after-school art classes. They were looking for mosaic artists to create something for the city of Montclair. That was how I got started. I got paid about $300 per week and I was super stoked about that. I had to catch 2 buses from Newark to the suburbs and we went to Montclair high school’s basement where we would create drawings and sketches. It was a collaborative effort. Eventually we used concrete and cemented our mosaic bench that got installed in a park. That was my first job. After college for my first real real job, I was a school teacher. I graduated in 2009 which was right at the brink of the recession and I was desperately trying to find work. I couldn’t find any jobs. Nobody was hiring. I applied for this private school teaching position and I didn’t need a teaching certificate to teach there so I was able to do that with my bachelors degree.
5. Can you share one of your proudest achievements with us?
I just paid off my student loans. I am pretty proud about that. I was able to do that with the sales from my artwork and I never thought that in a million years it would be paid off. It was like $40,000 in debt. I don’t think I would have paid that off nearly as fast as I have if I would have been working a 9-5 hustling back and forth and making the minimum payments. Surprisingly by being an entrepreneur, I was able to pay off my debts really quickly and also travel. I spent 3 months in Mexico this year and that was super duper huge for me because I was there alone. I did an artist residency for 5 weeks. It was my first time doing a residency and it was pretty amazing. There have been awesome things happening this year that I am proud of.
6. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
My initial goals with my work were for people to notice it. I just wanted to feel like I had made a place for myself in this online art community and I have been able to do that in the last few years. Now, I am transitioning my goals from personal goals to something a bit more community based. I am trying to spearhead this Passion Color Joy community to provide resources for beginner artists and artists at all stages in their careers who are trying to develop their own styles and grow their creative businesses, as well as live the life that they want.
7. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned from being an artist?
There has been so many honestly. I feel like being an artist has definitely challenged me in a lot of ways. It has taught me to listen to my intuition more. I think that has just been huge. It has also given me the ability to accept the fact that I am different, love that I am different, and celebrate those differences. That is probably the biggest thing that I have learned.
8. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I hope to be a boss and I kind of envision myself 5 years from now as having a community and thriving company. I want to do retreats and courses. I just want to do all of the things! I also envision Passion Color Joy as a creative home for myself. In 5 years I imagine I will have some sort of art school… I don’t know if that would be virtual or in person, with a lot of resources in print and video. It would just be an amazing hub for artist to come and connect and get rejuvenated.
9. What is a typical day like for you?
That has changed a bit. I have been moving around this past year and I have been really happy about moving but I’ve realized at this stage in my life, I need to settle down a bit. So a typical day for me has yet to be determined. I usually wake up in the morning and do a bit of meditation, have my coffee and check social media. Then I start painting and I probably do that for a couple of hours and after that I get on my computer and face the administrative tasks of the day.
10. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your goals?
I think the biggest obstacle I’ve faced is probably my own ego. That is the most honest answer I could give. As artists, it is really interesting. We all want to connect with people. I think it is just a human need to connect but the nature of my work also means that I need to be pretty vulnerable. When you are doing that in front of an audience, it can be challenging because it is hard to keep boundaries some times. A lot of times you can feel this need to want to protect yourself and protect your work and brand and so that can paralyze you sometimes. That fear of getting too big or too many people seeing your work and wanting to mimic it in some way… Even when it doesn’t come to work, sometimes your ego can talk you out of things. I have had ideas that I wanted to pursue and fortunately I was able to make happen, but I probably wouldn’t have done it had I talked myself out of it. A lot of times your ego can basically say “ Well who am I to do this?” or “I’m not ready” even though you feel a strong calling to do that thing. The biggest obstacle is myself.
11. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I didn’t receive it personally but that quote by Banksy, “Learn to rest, not quit.” This is something I have tried to practice these last few months. Being graceful with myself and recognizing when I need a break.
12. When do you get your best ideas?
I get my best ideas when I am in the shower or when I am about to go to sleep which kind of sucks. My best ideas happen to me sometimes when I am painting a lot and I have a regular flow happening in the studio, I notice right before I am about to go to bed and my eyes are closed, I’ll just get flashes of paintings that I want to do all of the time. And then I know where I want to go the next day.
13. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
Geez there have been a lot of failures but I don’t really think of them as failures. I tend to just try to think of them as learning experiences. I’ve taken a lot of risks so far and I have learned a lot from them whether good or bad.
14. How do you unwind?
I unwind by spending time with family and friends, spending time in nature walking… I really love walking in the park and listening to good lectures on mindfulness and being at one with your thoughts and body. I consider myself to be a pretty intuitive, empathic person so it is really important for me to take a step back and get in touch with what I feel. A lot of times I do feel like I am hyperaware of other people’s needs, what they want, and what they are feeling. I tend to unwind by spending time alone.
15. What advice do you have for following your passion?
I would say to start small and try a lot of different things. Don’t feel like you need to figure it out right now. Figure out that thing that you can do and you can continuously be a student in.
16. What do you hope people take away from your story?
I have had a few setbacks in life. I am learning a lot about myself and I think all people have had some trauma, some heartaches, some failures and things... I have had to walk away from some really important relationships very recently and that has been super tough. I hope that people take away from my story that it’s completely okay to be sad. To be really emotional. To be really connected. And I just want people to understand that being emotional, being an empathic person, having a big heart, having your heart broken… understand that that doesn’t make you weak. You are really strong. You can be so much bigger than what you thought you were. The things that you struggle with the most in life can be the things that inspire other people.
17. Anything we missed that you would like to share?
If you are a creative person in any capacity, join the Passion Color Joy group on Facebook. It is a great group for artists that are looking to connect with other creative people.