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Saima Shamsi

Visual Arts, Drawings & Illustration

My name is Saima Shamsi. I am a Muslim-American woman, visual artist, writer and poet. Although some of my images may be strange to look at, I create them because I believe that beauty can be found in the strangest of places.

I am also a first generation Pakistani-American woman, and have lived and studied in London and New York. My artwork has been exhibited in NYC, several of my written pieces have been published (see credits below), and one of my works has been read on NPR.

Through my artwork, writing and poetry, I like to represent metaphorical and symbolic imagery and impressions of what it feels like to be a liberal, secular and free-thinking Muslim-American woman.

I use images in my literature and visual art to describe the tenacity, strength and conviction of women who are marginalized, and who dare to fly in the face of cookie-cutter stereotypes.

I write stories and poetry, and create visual art as a way to help empower rebellious and unconventional Muslim girls, women, young men and other marginalized individuals, by exploring themes of identity, sexuality, girlhood and womanhood, coming-of-age stories, the body, body image and psychological conditions.

I often use fantastical and surreal elements in my compositions. My work can be seen as representing girls, women, young men and all individuals fighting, overcoming and transcending the patriarchy, in strange and imaginative ways.

I believe that creating art and writing about people who feel set apart and different catalyze the necessary discussion and dialogues that need to be in the world today.

My art comes from a strong propensity for things that are outside the norm; the surreal, and unsettling.

I am inspired by outsiders, marginalized characters, people hiding under the table who you would otherwise not notice, and dislocated voices that ought to be heard, but are often dismissed, ignored, or recorded over.

I believe that unsettling images exist for a reason.

To make us question the limits and boundaries of our own world, and to re-imagine what could be possible, if we allow our minds to see things in a different way.

Creating is a constant in my life. The process for me is one of intense meditation on how I see and experience the world.

I create in a detailed way, so that it is meditative almost by necessity.

I manifest a world to disappear into, and in my drawings, focus in on details that are otherwise overlooked and forgotten.

And then I reach an awareness of what it could be, or what it could be turned into.

Whatever I create is an extension of some part of myself.

Art is my experience of reeling something in from the ether and lassoing it into existence.


Awards & Publications

Saima won First Prize in the Drawing/Illustration category of Orangenius (now known as Artrepreneur) Explorations Competition 2018 based in New York, and has had her artwork exhibited in NYC at Dejavu Gallery, formerly known as Bodley Art Gallery, which was once host to notable artists Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Max Ernst, Fernand Leger, Helen Gerardia and many others.

Her work titled “I, a Muslim Woman” was also read on NPR (National Public Radio).

Saima is a contributor to Arianna Huffington’s new publication Thrive Global. Eight of her written pieces have been published. Five of her short stories ("Flower," "Scars," "The Third Eye," "Ghul" and "Behind the House that Floats in a Fog"), her poem "Being a Muslim Woman" and her personal essay titled "Living as a Muslim American Woman and Overcoming Multiple Mental Illnesses: Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and OCD" have been published in Huffington’s Thrive Global.

Saima has also been published in, a partner site to Huffington Post.

Her work was published in SUNY (The State University of New York's) "The Healing Muse" Journal of Literary and Visual Arts, a journal which was listed in The Pushcart Prize Literary Magazine Rankings.

Saima's work has also been published in Medium, founded by the co-founders of Twitter, CEO Ev Williams and Biz Stone.

Her short story, “Scars” (previously titled “A Spot of Contention”), about a Pakistani-American woman who has overcome her bipolar disorder and her compulsion to cut herself, was published internationally in LAFZ, a British magazine in London, England and is now on Thrive Global.

Saima has a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature from University of London in England, has studied Visual Arts and Illustration at Pratt Institute of Art & Design in Brooklyn, New York and has a BA in English Literature and Art History from Rutgers University.

She has just finished writing a book - "The Djinn of Shalimar: Forbidden Tales of the Strange & Unusual" - a collection of short stories, which she would like to have published, and is currently looking for an agent or publisher to help represent her work and publish her books.

In the wake of the burgeoning #MeToo Women's Movement and Trump's "Muslim Ban," her book should be relevant and timely because most of the stories in it are comprised mainly of female Muslim and unconventional protagonists.

Saima can be reached at: