What is The Dilettante Don?

Before I get into what the newsletter is exactly, I would like to first define the words in its title —

/diləˈtäntē/ (noun) - a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.

Don /dän/ (noun) - distantly inspired by Kanye West’s nickname “The Louis Vuitton Don”. The informal Google definition of Don reads, “a high-ranking member of the Mafia.”

Put the two together and you get “The Dilettante Don”, it simply rolls off the tongue.

Who Am I?

My name is Bilal Mohamed. I am a writer, artist, curator, photographer, and filmmaker who, due to the multidisciplinary nature of my work, have long felt like something of amateur in environments of people who seek and achieve specialization over diversification.

However, if one was to ask me today, “Are you an amateur?”, the short answer would be no. Despite my love and pursuit of various mediums, I have thankfully seen bouts of recognition and appreciation for my work that shows me my days as a dilettante are slowly meeting their end, turning into a deep passion and objective capability for art-making and intentional expression in general. The reason I ascribe to such a name however, is more so rooted in the need for continuous growth every one of us needs in order to achieve wholistic success in life. While I am an artist, I talk much more of things other than art, as should be expected. Life is a puzzle that requires the likes of writers and artists to uncover the hidden pieces and at the very least present them to the world so they know they exist, therefore, in whatever capacity I am able to do so, that is my goal.

One of the main intentions I have behind this newsletter is to remind the world to maintain an amateur mindset. To be that of the dilettante and use it as inspiration to become better, grow, and escape the ranks of the amateurs, despite any level of success or contentment you ever feel you have reached. There is a zeal that comes with contentment, yes, but there is also a stagnation, the reality of the plateau that can come with it as well, reducing us to less than we can, want to, and should be in our lives.

That is why I informally call myself “The Dilettante Don” and why this newsletter takes its name as well. I believe we must remain in a state of constant play and exploration in order to seek necessary change in life, and this newsletter documents what I perceive as the imperative exploration I need to grow be it in life, art, relationships, spirituality, family, and all the aspects of life that we never expect. I also use it as a means to inspire the likes of you all, by documenting and sharing these processes in real time, the thinking process, the making, changing, pivoting, coping, understanding, accepting — the very roller coaster of emotions and alterations that life demands of us — I try my best to portray from an authentic place.

What Comes with a Subscription?

Subscribe to get full access to the newsletter and website. 

- Weekly newsletter of meditations, life lessons, art and film commentaries, book recommendations, interviews, essays and more.)
- Original visual art, writings, and audio content (paintings, drawings, photography, podcasts, etc.)
- Discuss topics one on one with Bilal through Substack and/or Email
- Miscellaneous content that will not be received in the unpaid/free version of the letter.