Today we’d like to introduce you to Malik Fabian-Mahmud.
Hi Malik, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
My name is Malik Fabian-Mahmud; I am a multimedia artist born and raised in St. Louis. Art has been around me for as long as I remember. My mother is a photographer who has always documented every event, and my father is a music connoisseur who knows the exact genre and song to play for every little moment. These factors shaped how I saw the world, seeing the symmetry, angles, and colors while also hearing certain songs in my mind that paired well with any scene in front of me.
I started my journey with photography by taking photos of mostly nature and people I knew on my phone camera throughout middle school. When I got to high school, I began modeling for friends’ clothing lines and building other local photographers’ portfolios whenever they needed a model. Someone who inspired me to get behind the camera is Ethan Holbert, a good friend who I would model for. He would show me the beauty behind conceptual photography, what someone could do with a camera, and how you can manipulate images with editing.
During my first year of college, I purchased my first DSLR camera. I grew fascinated with the fisheye lens, and the three-dimensionality is created when subjects are posed in certain positions, which became my signature for portraits. I started snapping photos of my friends, using them as my models, usually in parks or grass fields. I have always been drawn to nature as my background, which I believe stems from growing up at my grandfather’s house, where I watched tend to his garden daily.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been fairly smooth?
I’d say it was a little tricky initially, especially determining how much I should charge for my work. How do I put a price on something I do for my enjoyment? I also didn’t know the technical settings for the camera. I was wondering why my photos were grainy, blurry, or overexposed. However, as I continued to pursue this craft, I could learn and have sharp, well-exposed images while creating my style.
I made many connections and met many artists who later became good friends. As I grew, so did my following; people started to message me asking to photograph them instead of cycling through my friends as models. A recent struggle that I came to terms with is that not every artist you meet is there to have a genuine connection. Some people want to use you for your craft or status to help themselves.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a visual artist and am primarily known for photography and videography. I’d say that my use of the fisheye lens, naturistic backgrounds, and how I portray my subjects set my visual work apart from others. I am most proud of the clothing line I started in 2020 called World Weyed, specializing in graphic tees that I design, make by hand, and ship out myself. I am currently working on a personal project that strays subjects away from suburbia into a native environment intending to capture the connection between modern life and its natural surroundings.
What do you like and dislike about the city?
What I like the most about St. Louis is the number of incredibly talented and goal-driven artists and entrepreneurs from here. You can tell that we are not solely creating for profit but for the art itself. There is a sense of community growing with the local artists, and it is growing daily. I believe that this generation of artists will be the ones who bring the city together so we can grow as a whole. I wouldn’t say I like the mentality of having to move out of St. Louis to make it. Still, there is no other way to think compared to other cities with thriving artistic communities. However, at the rate our local community is growing, I believe that mentality will change very soon.
Hasan El-Amin (for personal photo)