Esmaa Mohamoud, also known as E, is a 23-year-old Canadian visual artist whose holding her first solo exhibition end of the month [March 31st] at the YYZ Gallery in Toronto, ON.

At a very young age she developed a passion for building things and making sketches. Eventually E took her skills and creativity to a professional level and achieved a Master’s degree in Fine Arts.

After graduation, E persisted with her craft and for the past six months she’s been completing her solo exhibition. Titled “#000000 VIOLENCE” her project investigates the Black male body in contemporary culture and the (in)tangibility of Blackness through basketball.

She’s an exceptional artist and has been featured in 10 group exhibitions outside of her own, along with a few popular online magazines. View some of her work below and find more here on her official website.

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What exactly inspired you to begin your profession and when did you officially start?

When I was very young, I always enjoyed building things. I loved LEGOs and the way in which they allowed me to express my creativity through a rudimentary form of sculpture. I was also a natural with a pencil: my first real drawing was of Nas when I was just 10 years old. I continued to take inspiration from Hip Hop and as I got older, my passion and talent in art made me feel like this is what I was put on Earth to do. At the age of 17, I entered university to pursue a degree in Fine Arts.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far and why ?

Completing my master’s degree in Fine Arts at the age of 23 and having my first solo show.

How has your life changed since you began your journey and what are you expecting
next?

The biggest thing that’s changed in my life is I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of incredible and creative people. Some have been in my native Toronto, but social media has also allowed me to create a network of like-minded artists all across North America. I’m really expecting some big things next — I hope to collaborate with Hip Hop artists and activists and use my work to create powerful pieces that speak to the culture I live in and care about.

What characteristics do you believe are important to be successful and why?

The most important is ambition. I’ve learned to be happy with my successes, but to never rest on them and to always seek out the next opportunity. With that comes dedication and drive. A piece may take months to create and you need to reach deep within yourself to stay motivated when it sometimes feels like the work is endless. Humility is also very important to me. An artist who is overly boastful is not approachable by both viewers or potential collaborators. Lastly, I’ve found that people skills are immensely important, because without them it’s nearly impossible to get shows and spread your work.

What advice could you offer to those pursuing a career in the entertainment industry ?

The best advice I can offer is to be dedicated to what you do and to master your craft.

What prominent individuals in entertainment would you say inspire you and why ?

I look up to a lot of people in the entertainment industry, but I wouldn’t compare myself to anybody. As an artist, I try to always stay true to myself. I don’t try to be anyone I’m not. I’m influenced by other artists like Richard Serra, David Hammons, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar, but I take those influences and try to create unique pieces that truly reflect me and my experience. I don’t get caught up trying to compare myself to others. In order to be an original artist, I think it’s important to develop an original version of oneself rather than worrying about what others are doing. It’s good to look up to your role models, but it’s essential that you create your own lane.

How did you feel you contribute to the innovation of art and what message are you trying to perceive from your influence ?

My art is ultimately about the people and for the people. I want it to be able to create dialogues that were previously unknown and to liberate the culture that I love and live. This purpose is greater than me as an artist, and I feel that my work contributes to the innovation of art as belonging to the people.