From quarantine hobby to successful business: Seydee Bien-Aimé celebrates People of Colour through painting

Montreal painter dives heart first into the art world

What started as a way to kill time during the pandemic turned into a thriving business. Courtesy Terrie Reyes

In 2020, the depths of pandemic blues, Seydee Bien-Aimé picked up a paintbrush and hasn’t looked back since. Now, Bien-Aimé has a full blown business of explosive colours called Art by Satiie, where she sells paintings, prints, and stickers that celebrate the inspirational figures in her life.

Bien-Aimé’s leap into the art world embraces the dialogue that anyone can follow their passions at any moment in time. “If you're passionate about it enough and you want to put in the work, you're golden,” Bien-Aimé said. When her artistic journey began taking flight in 2020, she hadn’t yet set a goal for her work. “It really started suddenly and kind of out of my control and I was like, ‘You know what? I'm kind of loving this.’” 

Seydee Bien-Aimé paints portraits of the influential People of Colour around her. Courtesy Seydee Bien-Aimé

After the ball started rolling and Bien-Aimé started to sell more paintings, she found that while she was making some money, it was very time-consuming, especially when it came to painting the same thing over again. “I figured okay, well the next step is to be able to make money in my sleep. So prints were the next step,” she said. Because of this, Art by Satiie now offers paintings, prints, and stickers.

Now, in 2022, Bien-Aimé has grown as an artist and has found a unique style in vibrant colours, painting the stories of influential People of Colour around her. “After you paint for a while you kind of carve out your own space,” she said. Bien-Aimé explained how the Black Lives Matter movement guided what she wanted to do as an artist. She explained the movement help her look inward at her Blackness, her queerness, and her feminity, and how to fully embrace it and affirm it. 

Bien-Aimé’s mission is to embrace and celebrate who she is alongside the People of Colour who surround her. “In doing that for myself and putting my work out, I feel like other people can celebrate and embrace members of my community or just People of Colour in general.” 

Photographer Terrie Reyes bought Bien-Aimé‘s Biggie piece. Courtesy Terrie Reyes

Bien-Aimé’s commitment to celebrate POC and to paint influential figures translates into her work, and others are able to see that. Montreal-based photographer Terrie Reyes said Bien-Aimé’s work comes across as truly authentic.

“She’s communicating what she loves, and she's able to reach you with that. Because every amount of detail that she puts into her paintings, you can see it,” he said. 

Reyes explained how while photographing her work, one of the paintings spoke to him so much he bought it right then and there. He touched on the power her art embodies. “If you walk into a room, that's the first painting you're going to see, just because of the colours and the energy that it brings to the room.” Reyes purchased a portrait of Biggie and explained that the resemblance, the shading, and the colours were so stunning he had to buy it.

As a local artist himself, he added the work from artists in a community like Montreal can be a beautiful way to communicate one’s journey in life. 

“It brings a lot of stories, internally driven stories, genuine energy, from the artists themselves, a lot of experiences to learn from and maybe to learn about them,” he said. 

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“Whatever she commits to, I think she does it with excellence.” — Shari Ramos

Bien-Aimé often turns to those around her for second opinions and support when she feels a little bit of self doubt about her work. Shari Ramos, a camera operator and video editor, is a trusted friend who has supported Bien-Aimé along the way. 

“For artists, your craft is your own but also when it leaves you, it becomes everyone else's art as well,” Ramos said. “I think her asking for help or seeking people's advice shows how much of a collaborative person she is and how much she values people's opinions, but she's also true to herself as well.” 

The care and passion Bien-Aimé puts into her work is undoubtedly something that has helped the success of her artistic journey. “What people should know is that she paints with her heart,” Ramos said. “Whatever she commits to, I think she does it with excellence.”

Bien-Aimé has only just embarked on her artistic journey, with new styles and collections in the works, such as playing with black and white paints. As she evolves as an artist, she is continuing to create art in hopes of evoking emotion in others and celebrating those who have helped her get to where she is today. 

“Anyone that my art speaks to, I want them to look at it and feel seen because I didn't feel seen for a long time,” she said. “I just want people to feel loved, empowered, beautiful, it’s that simple for me.”