Sham Ibrahim, a pop artist best known for his digital portraits of celebrities and timeless moments in American pop culture has made his mark in the world of reality television with his wild personality and signature pop art. Sham claims to have struggled for many years trying to establish himself before his television break. He is now coming forward to say that reality TV has been the best thing for his career as an artist.
Sham is not new to the art world. In 2009, he made international headlines after he did a portrait of a police photo depicting Rihanna’s battered face. According to Sham, E! network reporter Marc Malkin broke the story and major press outlets, such as NBC News and Yahoo News picked it up. The artwork was subsequently published by Dr. Kelli Moore in a textbook, titled Feminist Surveillance Studies, as part of a post-graduate studies course at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2014.
However, Sham says his real break didn’t come until he appeared on the December 8 broadcast of Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules, where he gave reality stars Lisa Vanderpump and her husband Ken Todd portraits of themselves. A whopping 1.14 million people tuned in that night to see the episode he was on. “Overnight, a million people who had no idea who I was were suddenly familiar with my work,” Sham said. “My website was flooded with orders. I felt like I instantly made it.”
Just last Monday, he made his biggest and widest viewed reality television appearance yet. The artist appeared on the February 29 broadcast of VH1’s K: Michelle: My Life, a top-rated spin-off of the highly successful Love and Hip Hop franchise. In the episode, musician K. Michelle attends one of Sham’s art shows and he presents her with several portraits of herself on camera. Over 1.6 million viewers watched the episode, putting Sham and his art in front of his largest audience to date.
Throughout the years, Sham has personally given pop art portraits to many celebrities including Joan Collins, Paris Hilton, Lynda Carter, Tori Spelling, Lindsay Lohan, Bobby Brown, Carmen Electra, Boy George, Betsey Johnson, Debbie Harry, Gene Simmons, and RuPaul. However, despite grabbing so much media attention, he has never been accepted by mainstream galleries.
“I don’t care if big art galleries never accept me,” Sham commented. “I don’t care if I’m not making huge money selling. That’s not important in the long run. What matters is that the average Joe walking down the street is familiar with my work and most importantly that the work always lives on. From my experience, no gallery can do that as quickly and effectively as reality television. My art show on K. Michelle will forever exist in all forms of media and broadcast and it may even exist in ones that have yet to be invented, as the release I signed with VH1 before we filmed clearly stated. That’s amazing. What gallery can do that?”
Ironically, it was World Of Wonder, a Hollywood production company known for its reality shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Million Dollar Listing, that gave Sham his first art show at the storefront that was attached to their production offices in 2007. In 2014, he returned to the makeshift gallery and held his biggest and most successful art show to date with celebrity attendance by Perez Hilton, Lisa Rinna, Janice Dickinson, Courtney Stodden, Doug Hutchison, and Lita Ford.
The following year, he showcased a series of portraits based on popular celebrity selfies which included portraits of Kim Kardashian’s butt selfie, rapper Wiz Khalifa’s jail selfie, Ellen Degeneres’ infamous Oscar selfie, and a portrait of a shirtless selfie James Franco took in a bathroom mirror. Currently, he is preparing to showcase new work at Art Hearts Fashion, an installment of Los Angeles Fashion week. Art Hearts Fashion takes place March 14 through 17 at the Tagylan Complex, located at 1201 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
“I have all kinds of things happening, but honestly, I’m most excited about doing more reality television!” Sham tells the Inquisitr. “I think it’s the greatest thing ever and I don’t care what anyone says, it’s a huge honor to be a part of it. I’ll never be the Angelina Jolie of the art world. But, maybe I can be the Kim Kardashian or even the Snooki. I would be more than happy with that.”
[Photo by Celeste Octavia, Jevpic and used with permission from Sham Ibrahim]