Radical Human: Amina El Kabbany

Can you introduce yourself and share a bit of your story?

Yes, of course!  My name is Amina El Kabbany, I’m an Egyptian American 22 year old artist and freelance photographer in Oakland, CA.  For those who are into astrology, I attribute a lot of my identity with being a Leo sun, pisces rising. I think those two things govern a lot of who I am and explains me better than I even could.  

Art is really the focal point of my entire life; I’ve always had an affinity for lighting, texture, and the human experience; naturally, from a young age, I chased the idea of spending my entire life capturing all that I could through as many different mediums as possible.  So far, I’ve tackled photography, fine art, writing, collaging, and I still have so much more to learn.

We really dig your photography and art! What’s the Caffeinist all about?

First of all, thank you! “The Caffeinist” is kind of my better-self persona; someone who unapologetically dedicates their energy to what makes them feel alive and free. Caffeinism organically became a principle to loosely live by, more so a source of inspiration when I lacked direction in life.  

Caffeinism acts as a metaphorical and literal reminder to drink lots of coffee, stay wide eyed, energetic and driven. It’s a reminder to always go after what I want. Through art and photography, I’ve been able to stay true to that desire. These crafts have opened up the world for me in ways I never could have imagined.  Photography especially has allowed me to travel and meet people who align with my purpose as an artist. I’m so grateful!

Your collages are incredible! What is your creative process like?  

My collage work has always been really personal; it’s probably the most organic artistic outlet for me.  I’m one of those people who has a camera with them at all times, whether I’m out running errands or working on a shoot, I’m constantly inspired by my surroundings and snapping photos of things that catch my attention in passing. I think I am so attached to my photography because without it, my memory wouldn’t’ be as keen. Sometimes I feel like I would forget everything in my life if I didn’t take a photo of it.  It’s partially true, photos serve as reminders for the best memories in my life. I love being able to quickly recall every detail of a past moment through glancing at a photo.

My collages quickly became a way for me to preserve the feeling of a moment in a new way. Sometimes I’ll experience an emotion completely brand new to me and want to preserve it forever; that’s where my archive of photos comes into play- I have an archive of photos of things, people and places that mean something to me which can be used to represent a feeling.  It’s almost like having my own language- each photo in the archive represents a mood or an experience, and collaging them together helps me to express the complexities of my own paradigm, paralleling the many layers of the images to the many layers our life experiences hold. Most of the collages happen spontaneously, it’s a very uncalculated process. I’ll play around with a few photos and suddenly something, a feeling, surfaces from my subconscious and dictates the direction of the artwork. I end up piecing 3-10 images together like a puzzle, creating an entirely new entity.I hope that doesn’t sound too abstract.

How do you do things differently (in your art, work or life)?  

I feel like a lot of the ways I perceive life are non-linear, and therefore my art, work, and life in general naturally end up existing on many different planes in many different ways.  I tailored my lifestyle into structureless chaos to see what would happen. I feel that I am now at the tail end of the beginning of this creative journey and standing here reflecting on what I have just experienced over the past 3 years, I can definitely say that I am living my dream life and the best part of that is that I can only fine tune and expand from here. Growing up, I had extremely strong clarity about who I DIDN’T want to become, and so everything that I AM exists because of that inner knowing.  I ran exactly in the opposite direction. I would say that my art, work, and life all intersect because they are all one in my eyes.

Additionally, I embrace the bartering mentality.  Any time I can leverage my skills in exchange for the skills of another, I will. I  prefer that energetic exchange over money; it’s so much more fulfilling in my opinion and I think provides a fair exchange.  Spending money doesn’t come naturally to me, in a sense that the whole idea of it seems so silly to begin with. I try to practice trade as often as I can, to offset living expenses as well as to really show myself the value of my work and the work of others. Money makes things too easy sometimes, yet also frequently over complicates things.  I think bartering represents what the world could look like if it wasn’t ran by money and wealth was determined by the value you offer as a person to society, in any shape or form. In my opinion, everybody on this earth is blessed with a gift that is dormant in their soul until they take initiative to activate, awaken, and cultivate, and integrate it into the self. If only we could all tap into our gifts and nurture them, yet I know this is such an idealistic way to look at the world.  A girl can dream!

What do you love to do outside?

I really really enjoy simply sitting somewhere in the grass at a park and people/dog watching.  It’s really peaceful to me. As long as I can feel the sun on my skin, all feels right in the world.  Additionally, I love hiking, camping, long walks on the beach and bikerides too! I recently went camping in Big Sur and was reminded how much I love being out in nature without phone reception, need more of that in my life.

Where can we find you on social media and see more of your amazing work?

You can find me as @thecaffeinist on twitter and instagram! I also have a separate instagram account for my etsy which is @caffeinistshop and if you really want to check out my entire body of work, which I would hope that you do, you can find it at aminaelkabbany.com