Extraordinary stories from the most interesting artists, writers, athletes, and thinkers on the kaleidoscope of Muslim experience.

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dina Amin

Season 4

EPISODE 8 - dina Amin

In this episode of This Being Human we sit down with dina Amin, an innovative Stop Motion Animator from Cairo. We delve into the foundation of dina's Tinker Studio, where she produces imaginative stop motion videos for a diverse range of clients, including Vice TV and Sony Alpha. dina discusses the creative process behind her work, how she has overcome challenges, and the satisfaction of bringing discarded items to life through storytelling. Throughout the conversation, dina reflects on how her cultural background influences her work and shares valuable advice for aspiring artists. Join us for an insightful discussion that unveils the magic of stop motion and the power of reimagining the ordinary.


Abdul-Rehman Malik (VO): Welcome to This Being Human, I’m your host Abdul Rehman Malik. On this podcast I talk to extraordinary people from all over the world, whose life, ideas, and art are shaped by Muslim culture. 


dina Amin: I realized that maybe I am here on this earth, like, this is my magical skill. Like, this is what I'm actually meant to do on this earth. That my ability to take something ugly, even, to the extent that someone would throw it away and then I can take it and show it to you. Turn it into something really beautiful, something that you see, and you go, huh. Maybe this would make you think not just of objects differently, but everything differently.


Abdul-Rehman Malik (VO): dina Amin sees herself as a curator of trash. Better yet, she turns trash into treasure. dina is a brilliant stop motion artist and maker, who has become known worldwide for her unique approach to storytelling by deconstructing and animating discarded objects. After earning her B.A. in Industrial Design in Malaysia, dina embarked on a creative journey that led to the creation of her wildly popular Instagram series, 'Tinker Friday'. In this series, she brings a childlike, unbound curiosity to objects she often finds on the streets of her native Cairo, bringing them to life through stop motion. Her unique focus and innovative animation style has captured audiences around the world. It’s even led to work with global brands like Vice, Adult Swim, and Sony Alpha. On first glance, her work feels fun and playful. But there are deeper messages at work. dina is contending with the piles and piles of discarded electronics filling our world, which she diligently collects and carefully organizes in her studio. But there’s also a challenge to the viewer. There is nothing in the built world that is beyond our comprehension. You CAN understand everything around you, if you just let your curiosity carry you there. In this inspiring conversation, we’ll learn how she discovered her life’s calling, why she’s chosen to stay and work in Egypt, and the difference between tinkering, engineering, and design. And it all starts with a tour of her studio in Cairo.


Abdul-Rehman Malik: dina, I know right now you're sitting in your studio. I can see boxes behind you. Tell me a little bit about where you're sitting right now and what's around you.

dina Amin: Okay, so I'm in my main shooting rooms. This is where I animate all my animations. So, in front of me is my table table set up where I animate my pieces. I actually have my camera. Because I was working on something, and my lights in front of me. And then behind me is the library of trash that I have.

Abdul-Rehman Malik: I love that. That library of trash. Because I just—

dina Amin: Treasures!

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Yes, a library of treasures, right? I mean, there's like small boxes. There's like large Tupperware boxes, then there's really big boxes, and I can see all kinds of colorful things in there. Tell us what's in those boxes.

dina Amin: Okay. So there's a lot of things because there's also like…[laughter]

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Oh my goodness. Okay, there's a whole entire wall of like hundreds and hundreds of boxes.

dina Amin: I'm an artist who paints with trash. So I make things with trash. So I wanted to be able to reach my things fast and also like organize things. So, for example, this is a box of hairdryers.

Abdul-Rehman Malik: A box of hairdryers.

dina Amin: Yeah. So this particular hairdryer, there's like. So many of them. This I found in the Friday market. And this was in my mother's generation. So there weren't a lot of products. There's only 1 or 2 that are sold in in Egypt. And every single mother had this, and it's now thrown away in Friday markets. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Wow.

dina Amin: Like, where would they throw it away? There's no away, as they say.

Abdul-Rehman Malik: That's right.

dina Amin: There's no away! It's still here, now in my studio. So this one is for staples and clips and things like that. And then I have all kinds of threads, clay, pins, ropes. Sewing stuff. Electronic stuff. And then I have all sorts of extensions, I have stationary stuff and basically all tools and materials that I can need to do my work.

Abdul-Rehman Malik: That's incredible, dina.

dina Amin: So we're getting smaller with the boxes.

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Okay.

dina Amin: So the smaller boxes are the ones that took a really, really long time to organize. And these are the things that I collect, I rescue from the streets and from Friday market. And it's all the little bits and pieces that I use in my work. I have, of course, I have, like, a whole shelf for eyeballs. [laughs]

Abdul-Rehman Malik: There they are. I can't lie. It's a little creepy. It's I I'm seeing a box. I mean, I can see you on my screen and I can see a box of eyeballs there. And you are taking great pleasure in, in taking them out and showing them to me.

dina Amin: They're so fascinating.

Abdul-Rehman Malik: They are. I'm fascinated now. Recently, you constructed a big eyeball out of Lego blocks. And then I started noticing, after the Lego eyeball, I started noticing that a lot of your animation creations feature eyes. Like sometimes in your animation, you're pulling eyes apart and you're putting them back together. Or these kind of creatures that emerge from your art have like very noticeable eyes. You know, they're a big part of who they are, so. So, dina, you got to tell me, what is it about eyes that fascinates you? 

dina Amin: I can't remember how old I was. Maybe I was three years or like, like this my, this is my earliest, earliest memories. As a kid being curious. And I really wanted to know why my doll's eyes opened and closed and I was ripping the eyes out of my doll heads. And I remember my mom was screaming. She came in and she looked at this scene and she was like, what are you doing? No, you shouldn't play with dolls like that! And then, I never got to actually see how they worked. She wouldn't allow me to pull them out of the head. Of course, like any mother. Now that she sees my whole career is based on taking things apart, she wished she would let me do it my whole life. Just go break things. This is fine. But back then, of course, I couldn't. But this is the earliest thing. So when I started getting curious about how things worked again as an adult, the first thing I really wanted to know is to understand how the eye mechanism inside the dolls. I just remembered it, and, I understood it. I took it apart. And I was so happy doing this, and I decided, I just want to understand how everything works. What's inside things. How does it move? What's the physics behind it? And I just kept doing it on and on and on. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: That is so revealing, dina. Because to me it says that what your interest from a young age was, was understanding the mechanics of things. I find it totally intriguing that the young dina was not satisfied with just the dolls’ eyes opening and closing, that your imagination was excited by knowing how it happened.

dina Amin: I think that as kids, we want to know. We have these internal questions about how things work. Even nature. Like, we want to touch things. We want to explore. We want to touch it, rip it and see what happens and do all sorts of things because we don't know what we're supposed to do and what we're not supposed to do. But as we get older, we kind of have all these rules of, this is how this work. You're not supposed to do this. You're not supposed to do that. This is how this looks like. This is the name of this. And you just follow. I think I kind of had it really, really strong at the beginning, even, like I wanted to know everything. And I was curious about everything, and how do I work? How does the human body work? How does my brain work? How does my heart work? How does this work? How does? What's inside this? So whenever I learn anything new, whenever I experience anything new, I get extremely happy.


Abdul-Rehman Malik: I have a small favour to ask you. If you enjoy this show, there’s a really quick thing you can do to help us make it even better. Just take five minutes to fill out a short survey. This is the Aga Khan museum’s first-ever podcast and a little bit of feedback will help us measure our impact and reach more people with extraordinary stories from some of the most interesting artists, thinkers, and leaders on the kaleidoscope of Muslim experience. To participate, go to agakhanmuseum.org/tbhsurvey. That’s agakhanmusic.org/tbhsurvey.  The link is also in the show notes. Thanks for listening to This Being Human. Now, back to the interview.


Abdul-Rehman Malik: dina, it makes me curious to learn about your upbringing in Cairo. 

dina Amin: Yeah. So I really was into arts in general. So I was very crafty when I was a kid. I was always taking my socks and knitting something, sewing something out of them. I would take some rocks and make something out of it. But I was also good in math. I was a high achieving student. So when it came to choosing what I wanted to do, I thought, back then in Egypt, we had you either studied fine arts, which is drawing and more of the fine arts section. So you can do carving, and so on. Or applied arts. I wanted to do something, you know, practical that you can touch and you can show, see, I made this! This solves a problem. This makes a difference. So I thought, I went into product design and I thought, I want to do something that is artistic in a way, but it's more functional and it's like problem solving.

Abdul-Rehman Malik: And when you got there, what happened? It feels like it wasn't fully satisfying, dina.

dina Amin: Yeah. It was, I love it until now. The concept. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Right.

dina Amin: But then when I saw the realistic part of it, that most of the things that we design end up actually being thrown away, and that in the real world, what happened? Not in the design world, where we design, you know, fancy products, but the day to day consumption of things. We make products, especially in countries like Egypt. This is what I see. They are lower grade products that are meant to not work for a long time. So they're not designed for longevity, but they're just designed to fit an important market need, which is lower price so that a consumer would be able to afford them, but just for a month or two, and then it ends up being thrown away. And I looked at this and I was like, nah, I don't want to be like part of this. So when I looked at this, I studied industrial design in Malaysia, actually. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Okay. 

dina Amin: Yeah. So I did two years in Egypt and then I felt that, no, I want to see more. I want to experience more. I want to have this experience of living abroad and living on my own, experiencing new cultures. I was just also very curious. And I was very passionate about product design, so I still did not know the reality of it. And I went to Malaysia, I studied industrial design there, and it was super fun. But there, it's very different. It's not conceptual, like the university I was in, because Malaysia is a very industrial country. They have a lot of factories, they produce a lot of their own products. So it's very, it's more on the industrial design on the engineering side of it. So I was happy with it because I could see like, okay, this I designed this and it's actually going to be made, it's not just like a concept that, I'm just coming up with new ideas. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: And I guess one of the things about being in places like Cairo or in, in a city like Kuala Lumpur is being confronted with so much stuff, like you said, cheap goods, you know, designed to be used just a few times, designed to kind of fall apart, that that sort of end up in landfill sites all over the world. In your practice, you highlight how we're drowning in stuff, right, that these consumer goods that you've talked about are just cast away or they break down after a few uses, but you've developed an approach that is, for lack of a better word, playful. Hopeful. Educational. You work with found objects, you know? Tell me first, what led you and compelled you to work with found objects in the first place? 

dina Amin: So it's. It's a very unusual story. [laughs]

Abdul-Rehman Malik: I love unusual stories, dina. 

dina Amin: So I did study industrial design in Malaysia. I finished it. I went back to Egypt to work in my own country. I did not find any industrial design jobs. That was like ten years ago. So there was only, like, furniture design. But I didn't really want to, like, design more chairs. Like, I was like, we have enough chairs in the world already. I don't want to be doing that. So I started just doing any work until, like, I can figure out or the opportunity comes. So I kept doing this for a couple of years. I worked in design research a bit, and then I did some graphic design, and then I did social media management at some point. And then one day I was like, I'm very, very unhappy. I'm very far away from product design. I’m just answering people on social media who want to buy things. And I feel very unfulfilled. And I realized that I was just I was no longer going after what I want. I was just being in one place, and I was waiting for things, opportunities to come. And if something came, I would just say yes, and it wasn't a bad thing because I thought, I'm just exploring, Iwant to find eventually this one passion that I have, but that's fine. I'm going to explore until one day I'll just, you know, bump into it. But I didn't. It's been like 4 or 5 years and I’m just like, it's not in sight. And then one day, this thought hit me that maybe I'm not finding the things I want to do because we don't have it yet in Egypt, and I'm not meant to find it. Maybe I'm meant to start it. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Brilliant. 

dina Amin: So with this thought, I was like, okay, fantastic. This is a starting point. So I'm meant to start something in Egypt. What is it? I had no idea [laughs]. So, at that period, I decided I'm not going to passively wait for opportunities, but I'm going to go out and seek them. So, I remember this day very, very clearly. I went, we were moving to a new house, so I went to my old bedroom that was empty, and I got a pen and paper. And I decided I'm going to start with writing down, like, trying to narrow all the things I want to do to kind of find it. So I started to think of like, what's the criteria of things, like, what's a job? I want to solve a problem and make life for people a bit easier. I want to do something that I love that makes me so happy. I want to do something that is relatable to others. But then I kept writing all of these things. And I thought by narrowing it down, I would make it easier. But I only made it harder because I felt like I can't really grasp it. I don't know. So I decided, maybe this is, this is actually making it harder, not easier. What if I just choose one and just start with that? And I looked at this list and I thought if I would pick one of these, my top one would be just doing something that I absolutely love, So I asked myself a question, what would be the thing, if people told me, you can only do one thing your whole life, over and over and over again, what would I do and never get bored of? And the answer was that I love taking things apart. This was…[laughs] 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: You know, it's amazing, dina, that sometimes we go right back to the beginning, don't we? Right? Right back to dina the child wanting to take things apart and learn how they work. You came right back to it. 

dina Amin: Yeah. I actually had in that room, one box that wasn't allowed in the new, the clean house. So it was full of all the products that don't work. I used to go to, we have here in Egypt, a market called Friday Market because it starts on a Friday. And there, sellers sell a lot of things that they picked from garbages or like they were hand out to them. So things that no longer worked, second hand stuff. And you go there and it's like piles and piles and piles of broken products that people can purchase for a few pounds to try to fix or to try to salvage parts from them and kind of reuse them in their own way. So I had a box of all of these things. Just me, the questions, and this box. And when I asked this question. And this box was sitting there like for years in front of me, and every time I say when I have the time, I'll just because this is like a hobby I like to do. So when I have the time, I'll do it one day. And I never did it. And there it is. Just because I remove all this other criteria of it being a job, because I asked myself like, okay, I love taking products apart, but how am I going to work in that? Like, how is this a career? How am I possibly going to explain this to my parents? I'm not going to work anymore. I'm just going to sit in my room and take products apart. But I am glad I did that. I don't know how it made sense back then, but I convinced myself, that I'll give this a timeline. So I gave myself six months. I was working part time then, so I thought on the weekends, on Friday, I'll do this. I'll pick one of these products in the box, take it apart and see where it goes.

Abdul-Rehman Malik: That's amazing, dina. And that is the beginning of your Tinker Friday posts on Instagram. Right?

dina Amin: Yes.


Abdul-Rehman Malik: This is the project where you animate your process of deconstruction and reconstruction of discarded objects, which gives life to these seemingly, you know, dead and forgotten things. 

dina Amin: Yeah. So what happened ism I started this, so I was like on the weekends, on a Friday, every day. And I just had one piece of paper. It was yellow. I just took it. I would just snap a photo of it and I will take it apart. And then before taking it apart, I would just make like educated guesses of like maybe that's what's inside. Maybe this is why it's broken. Then I would take it apart. I would research about it. Why isn't it working? What's inside, how it's made, how can we fix it? And I decided to use Instagram. Back then, I had, like, absolutely not even friends on it, so I thought, it's really nice that I can take one photo of the piece and then one photo of everything, apart. And I kept doing this every week, every Friday, until one Friday, I took apart this shaver, a men's shaver. And I was amazed by the amount of pieces inside and how it all fits together. And it felt like a puzzle to me, like I kind of. Like, thought of that industrial designer putting all of this together. I was like, man, this guy's, or this designer woman, she's amazing. How did they think, like, to put all of this together? And this piece and this one and this one goes here. And I thought just taking one single photo of the disassembly doesn't do it any justice because people need to see, like how it, like…this is all inside!

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Yeah, like all these incredible pieces and how it's fitting all together. 

dina Amin: Yeah. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Yeah. 

dina Amin: And, at that point I remembered this thing called stop motion. I didn't know anything about animation. And I was like, maybe I can use this technique to do it. And I had a slideshow app on my phone, like, I didn't even know there was a stop motion app that I can. I didn't know anything. And I just kept taking, like, a lot, a lot, a lot of photos, you know? 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: dina, are you telling me that you taught yourself stop motion animation? 

dina Amin: Yeah. Yeah. I'm self-taught. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: dina. That is amazing. All these cool stop motion animations begin with you teaching yourself how to do it!

dina Amin: Yeah,

Abdul-Rehman Malik: That is super cool. 

dina Amin: Thanks, it's actually from this series is how I taught myself how to animate, because I did this for a year and a half and I was very consistent. So every single Friday I would take a product, take it apart, do a bit of research on it. And I would first I would just like, I was so proud of just moving things around. I was like, they are terrible. Now when I see them, I'm like, oh my God, what was that!? But I had so much fun doing it. And then I would face a problem and I would Google it and find out the solution. And then, okay, next week I have a chance next week to do another one. So maybe next week I'm going to work on this and I would do another one. And then I find another mistake and then I would learn how to fix it and so on. And week after week I started making more elaborate animations. I started seeing characters in all the pieces, and I would make stories, and then I would add like a layer of sound, and then I would make more complex animations. Then there was a small audience that started following this series, waiting for me every Friday to see what I'm going to pick, and how am I going to transform it, and which character will it become?

Abdul-Rehman Malik: Yeah. Incredibly passionate. I mean, your followers are incredibly passionate. I mean, you do, you really inspire, like, stories and memories and connections and it feels very intimate. Is this the beginning of what you eventually call Tinker Studio? 

dina Amin: Yeah, yeah, it is. So, the name, actually I did not choose it, so. I'm really bad at naming things. So I asked my audience and I told them I'm really bad at naming things. What would you call this thing I do? Like this series, what should we call it? And someone said, Tinker Projects. And I didn't even know what the word “tinker” means. And they told me, this is what you're doing! You're playing with little bits and pieces, taking things apart. And like, tinkering is you trying to fix them. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: So this is my question to you, because as someone who has been engaged in design, who's been engaged in engineering. I love that word “tinker,” by the way. It encapsulates so many things. How do you distinguish the idea of “tinkering” from, say, designing or engineering?

dina Amin: Okay, so I think design has some sort of a plan, so I'm planning something. So you go into the process of designing with kind of a goal in mind. So I want to design a chair. So I'm going to use this material. I'm going to play around. But at the end I'm going to make a chair. I think with tinkering, there's no obvious goal. It's more playful. And then something comes out, but it's unplanned. That's my definition [laughs].

Abdul-Rehman Malik: I love it. 

dina Amin: But there is another definition where tinkering is actually fixing. Like a tinkerer is the one who fixes things. When I see tinkerers in Egypt, like when I get all these things from the Friday market and I open them, I can see how people used to fix their stuff. And it's so, so interesting, the things that they do and they weren't professional at this. They would like, hot glue wires together. I saw many different ways of people, trying to fix their stuff. And I think tinkerers are like this, there isn't a right way of doing things. Design is kind of like finding the right solution. But I think tinkering is just being playful and using whatever you have. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: I think that's really interesting because you've worked with some pretty notable clients, right? To me, it sounds like your creative process is really like in the moment. You're dealing with what's right in front of you. You're being inspired by that product, those remnants, those castaway objects and they're starting to take shape in your mind. When a client comes to you, what do they want you to do for them?

dina Amin: Okay. It's very interesting. So, of course when you start out, you don't have this flexibility in choosing who you want to work with. So when I started, at the very beginning, I knew that I wanted this flexibility in my work. I just wanted this space where I can play and not just like someone comes with me. A client comes with a very planned brief and tells me, do this. I wanted to have the freedom to play around and make something new and come up with new ideas. I didn't want to do the same thing over and over again. I want to do just something once and then go do something completely different. But of course, I couldn't do this at the beginning, so I thought maybe, a way to tackle this is that, from the beginning, I'll just accept all projects, but I'll keep like 90% of the projects are any projects, and I will learn from these projects. I will upgrade my equipment. I'll be able later then to rent a studio and so on. But I will always make work that really represents me, my ideas and the playfulness and the tinkering process. And then I thought, year by year, I would shift these scales. So next year I want 80% of my work to be this. But I'll make this 20% work that really represents this playfulness. And I kept doing this until now, 100% of my work is work that really represents me. So it's now I've built a name, that clients come now and they tell me, dina, you do like very creative stuff and we want this. We want you to build something that you're interested in. This is basically what they told me. They're like, we want something that represents you. I was like, ha, an eyeball! [laughs]

Abdul-Rehman Malik: I love your intentionality, dina. Tthere's a real intentionality in the way in which you communicate your work. There's a real care. And I would even say that there's a real generosity to your work. I mean, when I think about Tinker Fridays and I think about the way in which you interact with, now, a massive audience, right, of people who are genuinely intrigued and encouraging and excited by what you do. You're helping us to see objects that we see every day and would never even attempt to understand. And you help us understand them, but you also do something else. You also take bits and pieces of objects that would end up in the trash heap. And you make something, you make something new out of them and you surprise us. 

dina Amin: So I was initially doing it for myself, so I was very happy, like the process. And it was so much fun. And I was like amazed by the outcome. And I wanted people to feel this too and I wanted to show things in ways that people did not see before. So, in my search for myself. I started, like, this whole journey, not just by searching for what I want to do in life in terms of a career. But I wanted to know what's inside dina. Like, why is dina here? What is she doing on this earth? And I realized that maybe I am here on this earth, like, this is my magical skill. Like, this is what I'm actually meant to do on this earth. That my ability to take something ugly, even, to the extent that someone would throw it away, and then I can take it and show it to you, turn it into something really beautiful, something that you see, and you go, huh. Maybe this would make you think not just of objects differently, but everything differently.

Abdul-Rehman Malik: I've seen pictures online, dina, of you working with young people. It feels like you're now inviting people into your Tinker Studio. And you're encouraging them and helping them find their own superpower of innovation, creativity, invention, creation. 

dina Amin: Yeah. So this is not in my studio. So what happens is, so I'm not only just animating and I'm an artist and I create things. I also love teaching. So I think, like, teaching is where, like, I'm very generous because I feel that I loved my teachers in school. They were like, I really, really loved them. I love teachers. Like they are people that I really look up to. So I started teaching as well. I started getting teaching opportunities to teach stop motion and tinkering in general. And I would travel, I think the one that you've seen was in Armenia. I actually took them out on a “trash-ure” hunt.. 

dina Amin (clip): [singing] …going on a trash-ure hunt, going on a trash-ure hunt, one man’s trash is another man’s trash-ure! I’m walking the streets of Cairo, I’m walking the streets of Cairo, to find the perfect piece of…

dina Amin: …So we go outside and we collect, like bits and pieces of trash, that we can reuse and make characters of. And it's a very, very enjoyable process. To start with people who don't really believe that they can do this. They find it like very, very like, complex, like, how would we ever be able to do this? And you just take them step by step and you make them enjoy like also the process of having just random things without any plan. You have to sit down and trust that you will be able to come up with something. A character, a design, a story, you learn it and then you will be able to do it. And they do!

Abdul-Rehman Malik: dina, I want to sign up. Where do I sign up? I want to sign up to be taught tinkering by dina Amin. That sounds wonderful. 

dina Amin: Yeah, it's a lot of fun. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: dina, before we wrap up, I need to ask you because, you know, we're living through a really difficult moment in the world right now. And I think our hearts are, are so heavy, with the catastrophes that we're seeing and whether those are the catastrophes of violence, the catastrophes of climate injustice, the catastrophes that you've described, the world drowning in trash and garbage. It can be a pretty...it's felt, like a pretty desperate time. And yet in your work I find a kind of lightness and hope and in particular in this idea which I know in our faith, we have such a strong belief in, that the things that seem to be dead are not actually dead. How does it feel like from where you sit as an artist, as a creative, as a tinkerer, to be doing your work at a time when there's so much pain and so much suffering?

dina Amin: Ugh. It's very, very, very hard. Very, very hard. And I really get affected by it. So when all of this started, the first five months, I couldn't do anything. I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't. I just. I was very, extremely shocked with the things that we were witnessing. Because also Egypt is very close to Palestine and Palestinians and we really share their cause. And from when I was young, I knew everything, and I knew their struggles and we kind of feel their pain because we’re closest to them. And it was extremely, extremely hard. And I started having a lot of questions again, like, why am I here again? Like, what is this life? Like, what is really important in this life? Is what I'm doing actually that important, or does it make any difference in the kind of world that we're living in now? And I went to a really, really bad place. And I thought I didn't want to, like, do anything. I thought what I'm doing, in the scale of things, it's not that important. Until I started working again and I pushed myself to just try to move things again and try to animate something. And I was again happy. And I realized that in actually these times, we...This is when we need artists as well. We need, I needed to make something that brings me joy. I think I wouldn't have been able to get out of this initial shock state that I was in. But because I very intentionally started this path, with the big intention that I wanted to show people things differently, and I wanted them to be excited about the little things that they see and see joy in everything. So someone could also be very miserable, from everything that is happening. But they are walking down the street and they see this little bottle cap on the ground, and they can pick it up and remember my work and they giggle a bit and they send me and tell me this! And they keep it and they say, maybe I'm going to go tinker with it and do something and be happy for a bit. But it's a, it is a struggle. It's always like questioning, because it's very, very, very, very hard times that we are living in and I think it's always like a continuous, it's going to be always continuing asking myself, how can I help? Why am I here for? And, really reminding myself every day. I actually have it written on a piece of paper, like, why am I here on this earth? And I have to read it every day and make sure that every day I'm going in this direction and I'm not losing track of the path that I believe I was here to do. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: I mean, that's incredibly beautiful, dina. And I so appreciate that. It does bring a kind of a measure of hope to know that by teaching ourselves and reminding ourselves to see beauty, even in things that sometimes might be discarded or ugly, that we're kind of rescuing the world from ugliness, you know? 

dina Amin: Yeah. 


Abdul-Rehman Malik: dina Amin. Tell me about a joy or a meanness that came to you recently as an unexpected visitor. 

dina Amin: I don't, I don't know why this…so, I feed the cats at my studio and they're sometimes they're very mean and sometimes they bring me so much joy. [laughs]

Abdul-Rehman Malik: I love it! 

dina Amin: So it depends on the day! There are actually seven that come, but I only named one of them. So I'm really bad at naming things. But one of them really earned her name. And I named her Hysteria because she just meows hysterically. But she shows all signs of love, but she doesn't want to be touched, so it depends. One day she will come and she will be so nice. And she will bring me so much joy. And one day she'll come and she'll be very, very mean. But I still love them. 

Abdul-Rehman Malik: dina, you have such an amazing spirit. It's been such an honor, and it's been such a pleasure, to speak to you on This Being Human. 

dina Amin: Thank you so much. And thank you for inviting me. 


Abdul-Rehman Malik (VO): To learn more about dina’s work, you can visit her Instagram handle @dina.a.amin, or dinaaamin.com. This Being Human is presented by the Aga Khan Museum. Through the arts, the Aga Khan Museum sparks wonder, curiosity, and understanding of Muslim cultures and their connection with other cultures. This Being Human is produced by Antica Productions in partnership with TVO. Our senior producer is Imran Ali Malik. Our associate producer is Emily Morantz. Our executive producers are Laura Regehr and Stuart Coxe. Mixing and sound design by Phil Wilson. Our associate audio editor is Cameron McIver. Original music by Boombox Sound. Shaghayegh Tajvidi is TVO’s Managing Editor of Digital Video and Podcasts. Laurie Few is the executive for digital at TVO.

In this episode, dina talks about….

  • How she started her online series, Tinker Studio. 
  • Her experience working in both product design and industrial design.
  • The intentionality behind her work. 
  • Her fascination with how things work that started at an early age. 


“100% of my work is work that really represents me.” 

“I was curious about everything, and how do I work? How does the human body work? How does my brain work? How does my heart work? How does this work? How does? What's inside this? So whenever I learn anything new, whenever I experience anything new, I get extremely happy.” 

“And then one day, this thought hit me that maybe I'm not finding the things I want to do because we don't have it yet in Egypt, and I'm not meant to find it. Maybe I'm meant to start it.”  

Learn more about dina: 
You can see examples of dina’s work here 

Follow dina on Instagram

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