Elbert Karami was born in Tehran in 1985. He began painting at the age of 14, after seeing a work by Sohrab Sepehri at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. He studied at Mana, an art academy in Tehran, mounting his first solo exhibition there in 2005. At 20, he committed his life to art, starting to paint professionally, gaining a reputation, teaching in numerous schools, and holding workshops in private clubs in the city.
The challenges of being an artist in Iran include extreme censorship of subject matter; and while an Assyrian artist can become well known, there are eyes on him or her at all times. Though he had more than dozen highly-acclaimed solo exhibitions and was featured in a cover article in a national art magazine, he left his homeland for Vienna in 2015, stayed a few months, and came to the United States in 2016.