Street Artist’s Passion for Art Is “To Make Money Off of It” Mazen Abouelata

A street artist said in the eighth season event of the art battles at the Ottawa Art Gallery on October 28th that he views money as an important aspect in following his passion towards painting.

Cinema One, a street artist, said that he doesn’t deny his pursuit towards income when doing his paintings.

“I’m not gonna lie and say that I’m not in it for the money because I definitely am. I want this to be my career, and I want to make money off of it,” Cinema One said in an interview

Before he started painting for money, he painted graffiti with his friends in Trenton. He renamed himself after the first graffiti word he had ever painted: “Cinema.”

He dropped out of high school after moving to Ajax, Ontario because he started doing drugs and yearned for his old high school friends. But before leaving, one memorable teacher - a Mr. Drew – improved his drawing skills within a few classes.

“He taught us a method called ‘drawing what you see’... just learning how to use the right side of your brain to draw things,” he said,“pretty much shutting off the left side, which is all technical thinking like numbers and words and stuff like that, and using the right side, which is all shapes and colors.”

With inadequate education and limited career options, he started to see art as a way to make money.

“I’m a high school drop-out, so I don’t really have many other options for, you know, career choices, so I decided to go for art,” Cinema One said.

He spent three years selling his paintings on Rideau Street in Ottawa. That’s where all his income came from.

It wasn’t easy. Bystanders would often pass by, or ask for money or weed, which was frustrating. Being on the street, taught him how to drown out distractions and focus on his work.

“If they’re coming by and they’re appreciating the art, that’s always cool and I’d appreciate that. But, a lot of people just stop you and waste your time for no reason.”

Cinema One doesn’t paint during his spare time. Instead, he spends his spare time on recreational activities, such as watching videos on YouTube. However, he believes that he must put a lot of effort into perfecting his skills to make a lot of money.

Currently, he does art to get better and try new technical aspects into his art pieces. He practices every day to prepare for events like the monthly art battles, where he can compete against other artists and sell his final work to customers.

After participating in the art battle, Cinema One planned to return to Rideau Street the next day to sell his art. He continued his pursuit for art as a profession in Toronto, where he could get involved into more mural work.

Listen to an excerpt of Cinema One's Interview

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