Dubai resin artist Kariman Ahmed Ali plates up success

Founding her eponymous gallery during the pandemic, Kariman credits the UAE with creative support


David Light

Published: Mon 30 Aug 2021, 1:22 AM

For many the pandemic was undoubtedly an unwelcome interval, though for what is transpiring to be an increasing number it actually offered a chance to take stock of life’s priorities. Egyptian native Kariman Ahmed Ali has lived in the UAE for six years — the majority of those working as a teacher. However, her greatest passion has always and will always be art. Soon after the #StayHome measures took affect Ahmed Ali made the bold decision to quit teaching, primarily to deliver her second child, though an indefinite break from the office environment was also a clear motivator for the change. A few months passed before a chance viewing of a crafts video prompted the self-taught resin artist to buy all the necessary materials to follow her original designer calling and launch a small business in the process. The former professor transformed a small room in her apartment into a studio. She is now the founder and curator of online viewing and commercial platform Galerie Kariman, fabricating each practical decorative piece therein by hand, and gaining quite a few high-profile fans along the way.

“Launching during the pandemic was all circumstantial and not planned,” Ahmed Ali says. “It was like puzzle pieces magically falling into the right place.” We spoke to her to find out more.

What exactly does a resin artist do? How did you decide on this art discipline?

Resin is a transparent liquid medium, which leaves a high gloss protective finish after it cures. Resin artists use epoxy resin in art in a variety of ways. It can be poured in silicon moulds to cast objects such as coasters, dishes and jewellery. It can be used also in woodwork, countertops and  home furniture leaving a beautiful high shine and ultra-glossy protective varnish. I graduated from Alexandria’s Fine Arts University in Egypt and I am familiar with different mediums of art like oil painting, acrylic and pouring paints. I have been on and off with my art career during the last 10 years and in my spare time after quitting my job I watched one video that made me fall in love with the fun and magical art of resin.

How long did it take and what were the steps involved in learning this technique to making it into a business? When did the first idea to create homeware arise and how easy was it to set up your gallery?

I still remember my first resin pour back in September 2020 and how the result wasn’t as expected. It didn’t take me so long afterwards to get on the right track after a couple of trials and errors and I haven’t stop practicing ever since. I have been watching many tutorials of different artists from all over the world and I have learnt something from every single video I’ve watched. After receiving very encouraging feedback and comments from my family and close friends about my first pieces, I felt it was time to step out of my comfort zone and share my new experience with a bigger community and make it into a business. I started my online gallery @GalerieKariman on Instagram and I was overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback I have received from people I know and others I don’t know. I also got very excited when I started receiving custom homeware and art piece requests and orders from clients. The comments and love I have received online boosted my confidence and made me fall in love even more with resin.

How do you feel Dubai responds to independent custom made artwork?

I really appreciate how a great deal of people in Dubai appreciate it. They really understand that an artist’s time and story are valuable. I always receive very positive notes and especially so when people know that these pieces are locally handmade.

What would you say are the advantages in having one-off items you can actually use around the house?

When you buy an art piece and keep it in your home, it gives life back to your living space. It speaks about you, your personality, your taste and even how you value things. Invest in unique handmade art pieces because they are telling stories.

How does being an artist in Dubai help your career? Are you well-supported? Does taking part in the regular art fairs here help?

It opens doors for you and gives you a big chance for exposure by participating in the variety of art exhibitions and art galleries that the city offers. For me I had the chance to take part in INDEX Dubai 2021 and was part of Funun Arts group, which helped me a lot in my career as I met other artists, designers and people interested in art from all over the world who appreciated my creations and understood the value of handmade art pieces.

Do you have plans for a physical gallery or store?

People can see my work now through my social media accounts (@GalerieKariman, Instagram and Facebook) or they can visit my atelier opening soon in November 2021.

From where does your inspiration for a piece originate? Does the UAE inspire you in any way?

I always get inspired by natural elements like beach waves, sea, mountains and nature’s effect on our daily routine. Being away from my country and living here in the UAE, I have been inspired by the different cultures and nationalities. We all come from different countries, even continents around the world. I started working on the Countries and Continents Map collection which offers coasters, trays, tables and wall art using different countries’ flag colours to make it more personalised.

Do you feel there should be a ‘Made in UAE’ revolution where homegrown brands are promoted more?

There have been initiatives to promote local brands in the UAE and a dedicated platform supporting homegrown brands, however it always helps to further support and continuously promote small homegrown businesses. I am personally very impressed and thankful to see the media supporting small brands such as mine and spreading awareness on homegrown businesses.

Now we are coming out of the pandemic, what are your hopes?

The pandemic taught me how to heal and find my recovery in art. Each piece done during this hard time had a memory in my heart and mind, it reminded me of my blessings. I hope people take away lessons learned from the pandemic, appreciate the little things in life and don’t take it for granted.

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