Amin developed a lucrative relationship with the store’s owner, saving his earnings in order to buy his first “visible” studio space, Kareem Amin Fine Art, where he would hold his first Shadows and Light solo show in May 2004, in the North County of San Diego. He also worked doing decorative art finishes in homes, affording him the ability to buy more canvasses and paint.

“Everything just opened up from one [point] to the next,” he says, describing his incessant foray into painting each night. “Everything just started becoming larger for me, from the smaller size canvas to the larger one. And next thing you know, I was receiving e-mails to exhibitions, government proposals, and biennale exhibitions.”

He has quite the spirit of conviction and determination, executed in nearly perfect form. His becoming process was molded by a whirlwind of chance opportunities, taking him away from his youthful days spent playing sports like track and field, throwing block parties, and selling newspapers in Guyana. (He talks with happy emotion about the two decades spent growing up in Guyana with his journalist dad and brother, before moving to Antiqua with his mom, and eventually coming to California.) It was there that he excelled as an athlete, undoubtedly developing endurance and discipline that are very useful to him as an artist now. “I remember track and field was one of my big things because I was a champion boy in high school,” the self-professed competitor tells me. “I was very good at the 100 to 200 meters.” Besides public meets, Amin had amble opportunities to show off his running prowess. His brother would set up impromptu foot races, inviting local runners or those who wanted a challenge to run against Amin.

In addition, the rising star began to sell newspaper at the age of 13, encouraged by his father to take the task seriously, and soak up knowledge about the world around him. “My father instilled education in us,” he confesses with proud happiness. “He wanted us to read newspapers from front to back, listen to the news, and read books. It really helped save me and my little brother.” It is clear that his father was a dominant figure in his life, teaching invaluable lessons that have had an unwavering influence on the multi-talented artist. Outside of that, selling newspapers helped him to become a more cognitive individual, when it came to “polishing his smarts” about his surrounding world as a child. He learned to be discerning about people, possessing a charisma that led to a popularity and attractiveness (those qualities are still very evident now as demonstrated by the substantial volume of curators and art aficionados that have extended invitations to feature his works in prominent, legitimate exhibitions). In addition, he began to develop key skills, describing himself as more of a technical person.

In fact, he was told to be an engineer, perfecting analytical skills while studying radio and electronics at the Guyana Technical Institute. Exploring art was a non-existent option while living in the Caribbean, according to Amin. “I never thought of being an artist in Guyana,” he candidly confesses. “It didn’t come across that way.” However, he knew in high school that he was exceptional at drawing, particularly falling in love with that which was architectural in scope. But that was not enough to make it a considerate career move at the time, not to mention that Guyana did not have an apparent or specific art scene, for music (specifically reggae and calypso) provided the cultural flights of fancy for youthful spirits. With that, Amin was not seeking any formal training or fine arts professional certifications, but kept nurturing his talents all the way to the United States.

San Diego is where he found himself in his early 20s, ready for alluring opportunities that called for him to spread his wings. He would paint his inaugural pieces during some free time in his garage, which was also an informal venue for friends to share their opinions of his artistic dexterity. He admits to having creative inner desires — those sometimes gnawing gut feelings or assertive instincts pulling you without your consent into different avenues in life. He sums it up in this manner, “I literally would say in a way that I self-taught myself professionally about this direction where I’m at now as an artist. I wanted to just follow something that was inside of me, and I feel like those around me at the time recognized my talent and gift.” It was a maturing process; one orchestrated by fate where the disciplined artist found support in his comrades and family members, including his late grandmother (“one of the most influential people in his life”).

The matriarch always told him to do what he believed in his heart. Her late 2002 death was a wake-up call, reminding Amin about life’s fragility, and importance of seizing the day even without the promise of tomorrow. Turning his grief into action, the personal tragedy was the turning point in deciding to pursue art full time. The process to doing that required forethoughtful strategic planning, and making key adjustments. (He was “preparing for everything,” anticipating a difficult start that now in retrospection, inspires a happiness within him, for he eventually “did well.”)

It is in this circuitous manner that Amin’s career was shaped and molded like clay. It is as if Amin channeled his artistic ingenuity into an impressive repertoire, with a work ethic perfected by the lessons of youth, and motivated by the paramount influences of his dad and late grandmother, and friends’ support. His expansive undertakings in the Caribbean and San Diego were key character builders, shaping the precocious youth into the talented, passionate person that he is today.

The naturally gifted artist says that you have to constantly develop something into perfection, acknowledging with such profoundness that even failure can be an accomplishment. Success can only arrive as a result of dedication and hard work, which in turn, affords you the chance to travel to those places that reside in your wildest dreams and achieve greatness (his work has been warmly embraced by those stateside and overseas in places like Berlin, Germany and Monaco, France). In Los Angeles, he strives toward reaching multiple pinnacles, by finding and inserting his virtual “artistic identity” into a large, innovative environment — a place where thriving artists achieve true success by making more than a name for themselves by inspiring younger generations to achieve their dreams and advance their art.  The city’s art scene flourishes with artists, who constantly challenge and test themselves; Amin is doing that right now with his new love of making sculptures. This new journey is a way to build knowledge, and gain proper perspective on what it means to make art (viewers can interpret their own subjects and voices within Amin’s works).

“The greatest thing to me about being an artist is, I think, [that] you’ve enjoyed watching yourself grow, and enjoyed seeing when you make great works of art. If it is acceptable to you, then it gets you in the right places for it to be seen and exhibited. I think that is quite an accomplishment. You appreciate and understand [that] you have been dedicated, and put yourself into something that really is meant for you to do,” he concludes.

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