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Art & Life with Mariyah Rahman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mariyah Rahman.

Mariyah, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’m an illustrator from the southernmost Caribbean nation, the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

I haven’t always been an illustrator; I wore many hats before pursuing art full time. I have a B.A. in Linguistics, and I’ve been a teacher, seamstress, baker, ghostwriter, speechwriter, and a great many other things. I come from a culture that is creatively rich and diverse, but maintained a stigma against pursuing the arts full time. I had drawn and painted since I could hold a crayon, but never considered it a viable option for a career! Most of what I created was either made as a freelance artist, or purely for my own sanity.

After my secondary school education, feeling mostly aimless and having no proper art instruction or career guidance, I studied Linguistics with a focus on English Creoles, which I genuinely enjoyed, though in the end, was not my passion. Then, after a few years in a fairly streamlined career in Corporate Communications, with scraping and saving, I left my job and traveled with my partner to Florence for a summer, in hopes that I could really become inspired to jump-start a career switch into visual arts. I thought, what better place to be inspired than the birthplace of the renaissance?  I began to focus on creating a portfolio there, not just random sketches and paintings, something with direction. Eventually, based on that portfolio, I was accepted into a program and subsequently left everything to pursue Illustration full time here. It was the hardest and best decision I’ve ever made!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I’m passionate about history, literature, and art, so naturally, I fell into the field of illustration. I’m also heavily inspired by my own culture, nature, and nostalgia. My muse is the Caribbean woman and her infinite incarnations, so naturally, she occurs often in my work. I’ve never considered myself to have a style though; my goal is usually to convey a mood or story, and the way I draw or paint will vary based on what I’m trying to say. I try to capture what I find beautiful or whimsical, nostalgic or magical.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
I’ve learned that if you just reach out, many people are willing to interact, give advice or share ideas. I’ve made a lot of friends through sketching groups and going to gallery shows and mixers, especially as someone who moved here with no contacts. Personally, I think it’s important to just leave your workspace and go do non-art related things, to clear your head and get inspiration. I think it’s also really healthy to have friends who aren’t artists as well!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Damir Ali

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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