I had a Paradigm Shift About Money While Living Solo in Mexico

I had a revelation that rocked my world while doing an art residency in Mexico—and it had nothing to do with painting.

 

I was thrilled to be in Oaxaca, and I loved Mexico, but I wasn’t carefree. As an artist entrepreneur, my business cash flow ebbs and flows. I’m careful to always maintain personal savings, but it’s hard to not be anxious when my business cash flow dips too low. While in Oaxaca, it was dipping and one large reason for it was because a former collaborator owed me a large sum of money. I felt hurt and stressed about being stiffed by this person, even though I wasn’t the only victim.

The fact that I had recently gone through a big breakup also weighed me down even more. Some would say that dashing off to another country is a great escape, but I can testify that being a stranger in a foreign land where you barely speak the language and you don’t have close friends or family for support is not a magic breakup balm! It’s more like a recipe for loneliness.

My money anxiety was about to have a big relief—my licensing company was due to pay me a cushy check that would cover my business expenses for the next couple months. These infusions of security and cash flow are what artists (and all business owners) dream of!

And yet I clearly remember the day that the commission check was deposited into my bank account. I didn’t feel elated. I felt numb.

Where was the joy? Why wasn’t I reveling in feelings of security?

There I was, alone in Oaxaca and completely in love with Mexico, and so excited to keep exploring after finishing my residency in Puebla—and yet I was becoming more and more depressed.

 " Cholula " 30x30" mixed media on canvas, Mexico 2017

"Cholula" 30x30" mixed media on canvas, Mexico 2017

 

Just before I left for Mexico, I watched a documentary called Minimalism on Netflix. The film states that the things that we do and the things we think we want are due to unseen fears and desires. We spend time, energy, and lots of money acquiring things to fill a void, but since we aren’t addressing the core need/fear, we remain unfulfilled. These needs can be extrinsic (external), such as wanting approval from others, or wanting to be liked. They can also be intrinsic (internal), such as fears about being alone, fears of not being special, or fears of being unworthy.

I think the intrinsic fears are the scariest to tap into.

Minimalism was a thought-provoking movie, and I think some soul-searching questions that it brought up were percolating in me while I was in Mexico. When I felt no fulfillment at the five-figure commission payment, I came face-to-face with the void in me that had been left unfulfilled: my need for family.

There’s a wonderful quote by Rumi: “What you seek is seeking you.”

WhatYouAreSeekingIsYou.jpg

 

I realized that what I had been seeking all along was something that I was already blessed with—a loving and supportive family. And yet I had been living away from them for more than 10 years, between college, living in the United Arab Emirates for three years, and other travel. I suddenly knew that I needed to be near them.

Shortly after this realization, I left Mexico and returned to my hometown. I had a lot of emotions and grief to face and work through, and I needed a lot of self work (and an amazing therapist) to get through it. I am glad to be living near my family now, and I still enjoy traveling both within the United States and internationally. In fact, think I enjoy travel even more now that I have grounded myself more firmly in a home base.

We all want things in life, but when we have a glimpse of insight into the root—our deepest needs and desires—it is truly profound, and it can right our course.

I won’t say that money doesn’t matter to me; I also know it’s a cliché to say that money doesn’t buy happiness. I respect money, and it can make life more convenient. I grew up in one of the poorest cities in New Jersey, and I’m very grateful for how far I’ve come. But in Mexico I realized money could not fix how I felt. Money is powerless to cure depression; it can’t help you love yourself; and to my surprise it didn’t even make me feel more secure.

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This post is about my experience, but I hope it gives you food for thought. What are the deepest motivations that you have for what you do—for your goals—for what you buy? Do you have a void in your life? If so, are you filling it with things that don’t serve you instead of making the needed changes or doing the inner work? These are deep questions that can lead to profound insights. I wish you the best!

Amira xox

P.S. Please comment below and/or share this post if you found it beneficial. Share the wealth! <33

5 Reasons Why You Haven't Sold a Painting Online Yet

It's Saturday night, I'm sitting in my art studio in Oaxaca, Mexico creating new work and sending out orders to collectors while I get to travel the world.

A few years ago, this would have been a pipe dream. In college, art felt like a luxury and now, it's how I make my living. 

So how exactly doessss one transition from simply sharing your art online to actually selling it? I just gave a talk on the topic a few weeks ago and you can access the recording here. Here's a few reasons why you probably haven't sold a painting online yet:

  1. No one knows who you are.
    • Selling art online requires an audience. One of the first things people will do when you tell them you're an artist is Google "your name + art". If nothing comes up then it's problematic. Work on establishing a web presence early in the game and it will be much easier to reap the rewards when you're ready to ask for your first sale!
  2. You aren't blogging and documenting your journey.
    • I get it. You're a painter not a writer. Blogging is a lot of work, and nowadays with Instagram and other micro-blog platforms, blogging seems less and less important. But consider keeping up with a blog if for only two reasons: 1) It's a great way to get used to telling your story and building up momentum in your marketing campaigns, and 2) SEO, SEO, SEO. Blogging is one of the best ways to generate content on the web for free which ties into the first point. Try and blog monthly or weekly if you can't do it more than a few times a week.
  3. You're not using social media effectively.
    • I started offering trainings on Instagram for artists, because so many of us are simply clueless in terms of how to effectively use the platform. And not just Instagram, Facebook is still one of the best platforms to reach buyers and gain a following for your work. FACT: I got my very first sale online in a private Facebook group because I asked (more on that later). So don't sleep on Facebook! And get your Instagram game up :)
  4. You don't have a shop.
    • This almost feels like a no-brainer but the fact is, many artists are still afraid to go ahead and pull the trigger on their online shops. Would you run a store without a cash register? Then get a shop going on your website if you don't have it up already. And if you still don't have your own domain yet, Etsy is still a viable option to start collecting some coins. Make it easy for people to spend money with you. Trust me, it works.
  5. You haven't asked for the sale.
    • The last point I'll make today, but also the hardest. It's so difficult to translate online that you're not just painting for fun, that you're not just a hobby artist. One of the best ways to do this but also the scariest is to actually ASK "Would you like to purchase this painting? If so, email me or DM for purchasing details". Or better yet, put a price right next to your image along with the details and title. This is a subtle but crucial shift that puts you in a category of "professional artist (as in you are collecting money in exchange for your work)" and not just another hobbyist with a smart phone.

Access the recording for an in-depth look at how I transitioned from a hobby artist to a full-time professional artist in this recorded workshop. Bonuses available as well for additional support!

Paint on,

Amira xox

How an artist residency in Mexico moved me to tears (in a good way)

Hola!

Writing here from the beautiful mountainous town of Oaxaca after weeks of traveling through Mexico. It's been months since I've been back home and yet I can't figure out where the time went. I'm slowly but surely finding my groove here and learning more each day.

Traveling will do that to you. Art residencies will also do this.

My artist residency in Puebla lasted for 5 weeks and was honestly one of the most enriching experiences I've had as an artist in a while. It was my very first artist residency and I see why artists to do them. Not only did I have space and freedom to create lots of new work, but I was also challenged on an intellectual level that I haven't felt since college.

We were given weekly reading assignments that was the equivalent of college Sociology, Archaeology, and World History. Our readings were anything but light, and addressed head-on the topics of colonialism, oppression, representation of women and people of color in art, all the way up to genocide and even a new one that I learned: epistemicide (which is the killing of systems of knowledge). My days were like a mix of painting, eating drinking affogatos, and reading Audre Lorde essays. Yea, it was intense. I cried a lot, and the director of the program told me this was normal. That I should be unravelled. And you want to know the question he asked me that made the tears come streaming down: What are you passionate about?

What are you passionate about?

Years ago, I wanted to be a lawyer and defend the rights of marginalized people. I was and still am deeply disturbed by injustice. Today I am not a lawyer or an activist of any kind so clearly I get to cop out as an artist right? Well, no. 

This residency challenged me on such a profound level because it demonstrated so clearly that art is one of the most powerful tools of communication. That beyond the pretty images, beyond the beauty, I exercise a very real level of power every time I pick up my paint brush. Artists have the ability to make people feel but even more so we have the ability to make people think. Even in the most abstract ways of creation. And even more so, the residency reminded me that many of the works in museums (and out) helped define culture, the way we view women, the way we view the poor, the way we view Europe, the way we view Africa, and on and on. My goodness, I'm telling you, it was very moving.

Over the course of 5 weeks I was called to tap deeper into my calling and respond. It's a lifelong process of course. I know that in many ways I am just scratching the surface but somehow creating painting after painting gets me closer each day to that place of true mastery, vulnerability, and authenticity. 

After weeks of intense work and reflection, I took a week break with a group of women on a lovely retreat in San Miguel de Allende. It was a nice change of pace not only bonding with like-minded souls and lots of jacuzzi chats under the moonlight, but to switch to my other hat, getting clearer on my goals for Amira Rahim Art.

  We stayed in a gorgeous mansion for the week, hosted by Desha Peacock of Sweet Spot Style.

We stayed in a gorgeous mansion for the week, hosted by Desha Peacock of Sweet Spot Style.

I am so fortunate to be able to send art all over the world, no matter where I'm living. I am able to send prints at a moments notice for art collectors on a budget, or mail one of my originals to clients as North as Canada and as far as Dubai. Now I feel like it is time to step into bigger shoes and build more of a community with other color lovers like myself. In other words, holding space.

There's something magical about when artists and creatives come together and I would love to host workshops more regularly to share the wealth of art. I have already tried my hand at this in Abu Dhabi when I lived there and online in my PassionColorJoy community. So I will be gearing up for more things like this in 2018.

In the meantime, I just found a new studio space right in the heart of Oaxaca and I'm ready to get busy! The best part is, they are interested in me teaching some art workshops here as well. Anyone up for a little Mexican painting getaway? Stay tuned...

 In a few weeks, these walls will look completely different.

In a few weeks, these walls will look completely different.

So this long update is just to say that I am incredibly grateful to be deep into the heart of this artist thang. I hope you are (re)committing to your passions too whatever they are. You don't need to travel to do it. But you may need to cry some crummy tears and swing in a hammock after. :P

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:

I also wanted to note that the price of my prints are going up soon. Today only, grab them at the old rate while you can. It's not a sale price, but the price of my prints is about to go up due to increases in my costs to produce them. If you've been eyeing a certain print, such as this one, now is your chance to get it before the price increases. 

"All of Your Angels" Fine Art Print available still with 2016 pricing starting at $45.

 

Let's keep in touch! Sign up for my mailing list for new studio updates and special offers. 

Stay inspired.

Moving to Mexico! Artist Residency & More

Happy 2017!

It's been a crazy year, no? I hope you're well wherever you're reading this, and sending you lots of light. 

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I wanted to officially announce my upcoming plans for Amira Rahim Art. This show's going on the road and I wanted you to hear it from me first! A month ago, I shared in a video that I was waiting to hear back from an exciting opportunity: I applied for an artist residency in Puebla, Mexico on a whim and sort of unexpectedly. Well, out of nearly 300 applicants, I was accepted into the program! 

I will be doing a 5-week long study in the vibrant, culturally-rich city of Puebla, Mexico and I am so excited. The program, Arquetopia, was founded by internationally-acclaimed Mexican artist, Francisco Guevera. The program will start on January 23rd and will go into the first week of March. 

I will be painting and soaking up as much as I can in this town. Hopefully make new friends, and embrace this new chapter of my life. In August, I turned 28 years old and took a hard look at my life and what I wanted going forward. I had to let going of a lot but I believe it is necessary to make space for what's truly meant for me. It's been rough. But necessary. Scary. Liberating. Truthfully, I'm still a little frazzled. I don't know how I'm doing it, but I am. I'm stepping into bigger shoes, and tapping into more of who I am each day. And right now, that includes being in Mexico, close enough to my family if I get a little homesick, yet in a new country, starting anew.  

I invite you to the journey. 

I have decided to close my shop on January 12th. This will allow me to get all orders out in time and put the rest of my belongings in a safe place while I am away. There are some wonderful originals remaining that would make great gifts for the new year. Anything that does not sell by January 12th will be packed up with me and a few suitcases as travel companions for south of the border.

That's all for now! Here are some important dates to recap:

---> Last day to buy an original painting: January 12th <---

Shop officially closes January 16th - January 23 (I will be in Playa del Carmen)

Artist Residency in Puebla, Mexico: January 23rd - February 27th

San Miguel de Allende March 2-7th 

 

For a special treat, use the code: MEXICO to get free US shipping on anything that you order this week! See what's in stock at today.

Love,

Amira

P.S. If you've been to Mexico, and can offer any tips and suggestions, please leave in the comment section below. Thanks!

Justina Blakeney Workshop & Italian Fix!

If you've been keeping up with me on Snapchat (amirarahimart) or Instagram, then you may have seen me documenting my trip to Cinque Terre, Italy last week. During May 19-24th, I joined dozens of women from all over the world to meet with our social-media spirit guide and leader of all things Jungalow, Justina Blakeney.

We met in the gorgeous and colorful Italian coastal village, Riamaggiore, for a 3-day workshop designed to light the fire under our feet and get us moving in our creative businesses. If you would have told me that a thing like this existed, I would have screamed with excitement. And that's exactly what I did when an art collector of mine in Abu Dhabi politely shared the news of this trip with me. Needless to say, I booked the trip within the hour of perusing the website. I was taking the leap, and would figure the rest out afterward.

And what a leap it was. This trip was truly the trip of a lifetime. Women from all ages came together, many proclaiming that this was their own sweet little version of Eat, Pray, Love. We were the most international installment yet, with a diverse representation of cultures and nationalities including Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Amsterdam, Singapore, United Kingdom, Phillipines, and Nigeria. Some of the women were bosses in their own right, owning businesses that recently caught the eye of Oprah Winfrey herself. One of the attendees is an actual rockstar. But for the most part, many of us were there on a whim. We've got this creative itch that we have to scratch and we've been blessed to see it turn into profitable businesses. Photographers, designers, fashion gurus, artists, and more, we've plunged through doubt and fear to go on to create businesses that support our families or at least our wanderlust. And now we're ready to see it soar.

 @JustinaBlakeney&nbsp;

@JustinaBlakeney 

Enter Justina. Effortlessly cool and collected, Justina took the stage in our castle's conference room (no really, we had class in a castle), and proceeded to blow us away. Within the first few hours, many of us commented after the break that we had already got our money's worth, even though it was just the beginning. By generously sharing her story and her wisdom, Justina got us all to think a little bit bigger, work a little bit harder, and damnnit stop and look for rainbows, too.

Some of the key takeaways from the experience was the power of owning what makes you unique, falling passionately in love with your brand, and LOTS of hard work. Justina's work ethic was echoed by our lovely host, Bianca Gignac, owner of Italian Fix and certified boss. Her own personal story of triumph and dedication moved us to tears on the final day and was truly inspiring. 

Seriously, y'all, this was such an amazing experience. I got lost the first day of traveling (oh those Italian trains) and ended up in Tuscany. But the second I got off the train and was met with the waves of Riomaggiore, all my troubles melted away. I had the best time and learned a ton. Friendships were made, nights were had, and gelato...well, you'll just have to check out their feeds for the rest!

  Me, with the best gelato I've ever tasted in Florence, Italy. I decided to go back on my last day there. This time on purpose.

Me, with the best gelato I've ever tasted in Florence, Italy. I decided to go back on my last day there. This time on purpose.

Search on Instagram with the hashtag #JungalowinItaly to see more photos! Ciao, bella!