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Raheem "King" Saladeen inspiring young Black artists to dream big

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Born and raised in Philadelphia, a local artist is breaking barriers and painting with a purpose. Meet the "king" who's inspiring young Black artists to follow their dreams.

Every artist -- and every creative mind -- has their own vision.

For Raheem King Saladeen, each brush stroke now tells the story of his own life.

"Especially when I'm doing something in Philadelphia, where it's a bunch of kids coming here looking like me or adults coming in here looking like me," Saladeen said, "they want to have a story that looks like me."

Dream big, love what you do, and how basketball saved my life. Each canvas is covered in many layers with inspirational meaning.

The 40-year-old paints with a purpose and relishes representation.

Saladeen's artwork is showcased around the country and around the world.

His passion started while growing up in Southwest Philadelphia.

"I remember being in my room as a young kid, 4 or 5 years old, just writing on the walls," Saladeen said, "writing on every book in school, getting in trouble writing on the desks."

As a teenager, Saladeen started his own company designing T-shirts and sneakers, but he says he didn't think his talent could ever turn into a career.

"Art was just something I didn't really see anybody that reflected me as an artist when I was young," Saladeen said, "so I didn't think it was possible, honestly."

King says his life changed right at the old Elmwood Skating Rink.

It's where he met his best friend J.P., who gave him this advice -- pursue your dream.

"He was that guy that was always like super inspirational," Saladeen said, "and always like, 'Raheem, you can go to the next level, stop trying to be regular."

Ever since, Saladeen has built a brand, working with major companies like the NFL, Nike and Mercedes.

His paintings and figurines have been purchased by celebrity clients.

"Don't have a cap on your dreams," Saladeen said. "Don't have a cap on your ideas because it actually can happen."

King stays close to his roots in Philly. He's been called a change-maker, a role model for young Black artists and passes along the same advice given to him.

Dream big.

"Try to think outside the box," Saladeen said. "Try to connect with the most positive people you can connect with."

Article by: Ryan Hughes

CBS Philadelphia

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