An update from Casey Palmer, February 12th, 2020:
So you may have heard by now, but I was shocked last night when Rob texted me to let me know that Lamin had passed away after a long struggle with ALS. And though Lamin and I hadn’t crossed paths in quite a number of years, I have to say that our world’s lost a good one. I remember in those times in Artist’s Alley, he would have easily some of the most amazing work on-site, but never let it go to his head. He always approached every interaction with humility and grace, and you could feel how sincere he was with everyone he talked to. I wish I’d kept in better touch, but my life went another way… I just hope he knows how much he connected so many of us.
I’ll keep his words up to give you an idea of the kind of man he was. I think we could all learn a lot from his example.
If there’s one man whose art could consistently make me feel like a poser, it’s Lamin Martin. He’s the smooth-spoken well-dressed gentleman I quickly got to know at comic conventions, eschewing the common fare that everybody else peddled in Artist Alley with prints of popular characters and custom buttons, instead selling these beautiful oversized collections of his paintings, turning anyone’s head as they walked by.
All that said, it’s been good to reconnect with him through Tales from the 2.9, someone whose work I respected 15 years ago and has only gotten better since!
Lamin’s contribution to the series is a reminder that we are more than our skin colour — that despite whatever the world is telling us about being Black, it’s up to us what path we travel down to define ourselves.
Check his thoughts out below!
Lamin has also written and illustrated several art books and has instructed workshops and lectures at galleries, schools and publicly to audiences of students and professionals.
You can see his work at the Lamin Illustration and Design website!
1) When you think of Black History Month, what are some of the stories and images that come to mind?
Martin Luther King. The “I Have A Dream” speech never fails to move me to tears.
2) The Black Experience we’re largely exposed to in the media is that of our southern neighbours and the struggles they’ve faced. What’s your experience been as a Black person in Canada, and what have you learned from it?
What I’ve learned from it is that I’m very fortunate to be living in Canada, specifically Toronto, because my experience has been largely positive and supportive from not only the Black community but from every community that’s represented in the multi-national group of friends that I keep.
3) In sharing your voice with the world, what impression do you hope to leave on the world with everything you do?
I want my work as a concept artist to be about the ideas that I generate and the passion that I bring to them. Being remembered as a Black concept artist I feel takes away from the work that should stand on its own merits. I’m a concept artist who just happens to be Black.
4) We all benefit from good mentors who guide us along the way to make sure we reach our potential in life. Who was your mentor to teach you from a cultural standpoint, and what’s the greatest lesson you learned from them?
I’ve been very fortunate to have been raised and mentored by many people so to attribute my upbringing to one mentor diminishes the contributions of them all. But what I can say is the greatest lesson that I’ve learned from them, collectively, is that it really does take a village.
5) If you could say just one thing to the rest of the 2.9%, what would it be?
It’s important to remember that in our community we shouldn’t limit ourselves. If you like playing guitar and want to join a rock band do it. If you like to skateboard, do that. Or if you like dentistry, then become a dentist. I exhibit my illustration work at a lot of art shows and it’s very frustrating to be one of two, maybe three, Black artists showcasing their talents in a sea of hundreds of artists. I believe that as a community we should feel comfortable in doing more than what is expected of us.
Tales from the 2.9 is an ongoing series on CaseyPalmer.com showcasing Black Canadian content creators and the experiences they’ve had growing up Black in Canada!