The Style of Color With Artist Amira Rahim

We’re B-A-N-A-N-A-S over artist and businesswoman Amira Rahim’s collection on Great BIG Canvas. From abstract art pieces to whimsical animal portraits, every piece is bursting with color. Get to know the artist behind the brush and learn a few surprising things about her career as an artist.


Surround Yourself: How does the art scene in United Arab Emirates compare with other places you’ve lived?


Amira Rahim:
The art scene in UAE is much less visible than in other places but that’s has changed quickly even in my short time living there. Artist collectives and shared spaces started popping up. There are a lot of local artists in the town but very few art galleries. And even the ones there, it’s hard to get them to pay you any mind so artists in UAE have to be a bit more industrious. I’m happy to have had my experiences there as an artist because it forced me to become a business woman and approach what I’m doing from a sustainability perspective. If I want to keep painting in 5 or 10 years, which I do, then I need to cultivate ways to make what I’m doing sustainable.


 Dance, Dance, Dance


SY: What’s been the most rewarding or surreal moment of your career?

AR: There are plenty. I get rewarded as selfish as it sounds in the work itself. I truly love when I’m at work painting and when someone feels compelled enough to buy my work and own it forever, that is the ultimate honor. Again, because I sell my work largely without the help of any galleries, I develop friendships and deep bonds with my collectors. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.




SY: It’s easy to see that you have an incredible sense of style and color when it comes to painting. How did you develop your style as an artist?


AR: Well I think my style is ever-evolving but my love of color has been a constant in my life. I would wear colorful outfits as a teenager and color coordinate down to my accessories in high school. I just felt that color really affects our psyches as human beings. I remember wearing a red or an orange shirt to school when I wanted to feel confident. When I felt feminine and girly, I would wear pink. When I felt sporty or summery, I would wear blues and yellows. So I’ve always been very conscious of color.


Learning to harness the powers of color in my art has been an awakening. Once I released myself from the confines of representational art and shifted into abstraction, I found my voice in color and continue to experiment. It’s fun. I work at it a lot. And I’m nowhere near finished.




SY: What’s one thing people might be surprised to learn about you (or about being a fulltime artist)?


AR: I spend most of my time as a full-time artist in front of the computer or my phone. I am trying to outsource more of the tasks in my business to free up more painting time but yes, I think people would be surprised to learn that it’s not as glamorous as we portray it on Instagram. That’s why I love platforms like Snapchat because it gives a completely different perspective and I feel a more holistic view of business owners and creative entrepreneurs.


 Love Amongst Us, 2016


SY: Tell us a bit about your home. What makes it feel like home to you? What sorts of décor trends are you into right now?


AR: Well right now I’m in transition and don’t really have a home, haha. I moved from Abu Dhabi back to NJ where my family is from, and we will be relocating again soon but we have no idea where next. I also recently went to Bali and Italy, and I’m hoping to take some more trips in the future. I guess I’m a bit of a nomad at the moment and I love it. Just give me a room to paint in and internet access and I’ll be fine. Decor wise though, I love bright, open spaces. I think as a creative, I live so much in my own head and it feels so busy in there all the time. My home has to be simple, minimal, and fairly uncluttered to balance the cacophony in my mind. I like green plants, pops of colorful textiles, white walls, and sunlight pouring in.


Memphis, 2016


SY: As a fulltime artist, what does a typical day look like for you?

AR: Wake up. Coffee or tea. March to my respective studio, usually still in my pajamas and paint for a few hours. While painting I’m usually listening to a podcast and often stopping to document my process and share on IG or Snapchat. Then shower. Eat something. And then it’s computer work. Processing orders and emails. Editing photos. Managing my website. Blogging or something else. It’s basically split into painting and business but a lot days I will skip painting and do all computer work, or let myself off the hook from the business for a bit and focus on painting.


 Orange Attack, 2015


SY: Where do you see yourself and your paintings in five years?


AR: I see my work being on textiles, packaging, and other surfaces. I also see myself moving into larger scale installments, maybe murals. And of course, running my e-commerce site selling originals and prints directly to my patrons.


 House with a Picket Fence, 2015


SY: What’s the best advice you received when you were first starting out as a painter?


AR: Paint often. Don’t get hung up on finding your style or being consistent, just keep making work.


 Gino, 2015


SY: What hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not busy painting?

AR: I enjoy reading, walking, visiting new towns and cities. I really like just being at home, dancing around the house or watching my favorite TV shows.


 Bora, Bora, 2015


SY: What do you surround yourself with?


AR: Right now, I’m surrounded by my artwork and materials and my family. Can’t complain.

 Peridot, 2016