Amer SM poses with the artwork he did for Plug Canna6is. Photograph courtesy of Amer SM.
Amer Sal Mohammed, better known as Amer SM, is a Toronto-based mixed-media artist who transforms his clients’ visions into high-end custom artwork. A busy yet attentive man, he uses cannabis to relax after long days of working with fashion brands, upscale restaurants, businesses, celebrities and most notably, cannabis dispensaries.
Amer SM’s extensive career includes about 11 different dispensary projects and counting. Recently, he worked with Plug Canna6is, a cannabis dispensary in Toronto, to design the logo, and indoor and outdoor artwork. Within their three retail shops, the walls are lined with canvases of controversial leaders all united by smoking joints together.
Additionally, he paints live product art for designer brand, MCM; creates portrait style masterpieces for celebrities; designs restaurant and business murals, and more. All on a tight and elaborate schedule, Amer SM devotes his energy to each piece and produces custom artworks that conceptualize his clients’ visions.
The Cannabis Continuum
Originally, Amer SM was inspired to use his artistry in the cannabis industry by a former client, Sam Bertucci. He explains, “he liked the work I had at my studio so he asked me if I could help him design a dispensary. By the time my design work was finished and we brought that store to life, other dispensary owners caught wind of it and they started coming to see me one by one.”
From Amer SM’s first dispensary project, Sticky Nuggz, to his present day designs with Plug Canna6is, his work continues to elevate the retail atmosphere and brand aesthetic of many cannabis dispensaries. Nevertheless, Amer SM describes how
each project is a clean slate that is solely inspired by his clients’ ideas.
“I like to sit down with the client and see what vision they have in their head. Then I bring that vision to life by adding in a few elements that come to my head while I see their vision coming to life,” he explains.
However, Amer SM is innately inspired by early childhood memories of spending time with his aunt, who is also an artist. He describes, “my aunt being an artist herself kind of inspired me to become an artist. I’ve always had a magnitude towards anything that’s bright and colorful. I used to love cartoons as a child so I love to recreate them as drawings.”
The Legendary Smoke Sesh in Plug Canna6is
For instance, Amer SM worked with Plug Canna6is’s owner, Mateos Davids, to actualize his vision, which was an internationally legendary smoke session between world leaders.
“Plug Canna6is was the coolest project. The client’s vision was having world leaders from all over the world getting together and smoking joints and getting high,” Amer SM adds. “On one canvas we had Trump passing [a] blunt to Kim Jong-un and in between them was Queen Elizabeth.”
Therefore, Amer SM used Davids’ inspiration to visualize how cannabis brings peace and unites world leaders. This concept pays tribute to Plug Canna6is’s mantra to be uniting, and that everyone can find a cannabis product that works for them.
Davids’ tells Emerald, “I basically told him that we want a bunch of people that have very public feuds or differences that are prominent in what they do, like the plug of their country or region…,” he continues. “But to make them all be happy in the same room smoking a joint, with bloodshot eyes, united and peaceful through cannabis.”
Although this idea seems far from reality, Amer SM’s portraits are realistic. They carefully depict each world leader as if they were high. Not only are they high, but they all wear wide grins and gaze at each other in a loving manner.
“[Amer SM] is a busy guy no doubt. But he doesn’t stop until he gets your vision the way you want it,” Davids explains. “Honestly, I gave him a lot of ideas and I know I’m hard to work with myself because I’m a visionary and I just want to get things done. But he definitely implemented it to perfection in my opinion.”
An Artist in High Demand
Evidently, Amer SM has a knack for perfection. Even amidst a seven day work week, he completes multiple projects at once. More specifically, he creates 30- 40 pieces each month. In order to complete this many pieces, he says, he divides and conquers.
Consequently, after a hectic day Amer SM rejoices in using cannabis to take the edge off. He says, “I’ll smoke cannabis at the end of the day when all my work is done and it’s time for me to relax.”
Amidst the chaos, Amer SM still finds time for special collaborations. For example, he does live paintings for MCM’s products after clients purchase them. He explains, “with MCM, I will do a live drawing on an MCM piece when a client would buy it the day of the event. So they’d buy something and they’d tell me whatever is on their head that they want on their MCM product and I would do it live in front of them.”
Not only does this attribute to Amer SM’s ability to work with any canvas, but it also demonstrates his ability to think fluidly by using the client’s ideas to create impressive art on the spot.
Moreover, Amer SM’s artistry is recognized by A-list celebrities such as Drake, Tyga, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross and more. He explains that before working as an artist full time, he worked in the Toronto nightlife scene, which helped him connect with a celebrity clientele right from the get go.
With easy access to touring rappers, Amer SM would create portraits for the artists and then present it to them before the show. He reflects, “I think Tyga was pretty cool. He invited me backstage to his concert that he had at Rebel. I was on stage watching him perform which was pretty cool.”
Now, Amer SM has established a client relationship with Drake. What began as Drake’s friend commissioning Amer SM for artwork, quickly turned into Drake trusting him to create a meaningful portrait of him and his son.
“My favorite celebrity portrait was probably for Drake that he got of him and his son. […] that he got during father’s day” Amer SM says. “It’s actually hanging in his bedroom.”
Featured in Miami’s Art Basel, Amer SM’s work is now displayed within various pop-up art shows in Toronto and Miami. But Amer SM keeps a clear headspace by letting projects come to him naturally.
He explains, “I just let it come to me organically. Everything I’ve done in my career has been organic and I like to keep it like that.”
A Digital Future
On that note, projects naturally flow to him at a rapid pace. Therefore, he delights in using graphic design to complete a majority of projects in order to speed up the production time.
“[…] The majority of my clients like to have it done digitally because usually if they come to see me at the last minute for a gift or something for their home and they’re in a rush for it. Usually if I do something by hand it’ll take two to four months to make. But with digital, I can have it done in a week or two.”
Furthermore, he addresses how the rising popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) allows him to make money off of his digital files. According to Forbes, purchasing an NFT means that the buyer has digital ownership of a given artwork. Not only does digital design benefit Amer SM’s business, but he also mentions how the future generation of the workforce is largely ingrained in the digital world.
However, Amer SM admits, “honestly when you do what you love to do, it doesn’t feel like work. I feel like that’s what this generation is more gravitated towards. Now they just want to work smart.”
In hopes to inspire upcoming artists to work smart, Amer SM stays true to his roots. His ability to revolutionize ideas into artistic masterpieces, and attract high-end clients proves that Amer SM profits off his passion. Even with an incredibly occupied schedule, he has never worked a day in his life.
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