An exclusive interview with an art visionary who has made cartoons, digital art, street art and so much more!
How would you describe yourself?
I’m lazy and I spend more time thinking and planning than actually doing what I planned to do. I’ve participated in a few competitions and galleries, made two short cartoon films and tried to make a t-shirt brand. I am passionate about digital drawing.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an artist.
I started my journey at a young age in elementary school, just like most artists do. I believe that the first stage is what decides whether the journey will continue or not, as I know some of my relatives and schoolmates who were better than me at that point, but they ignored their talent and their drawing journey stopped.
In 2009, I participated in Gulf Film Festival with “PG+”, an animated film made from my drawings and the idea of my cousin Mansour. We won the Special Jury Prize! I loved the feeling of achievement after winning and being around talented and creative people. In fact, I became obsessed with achievements. If a day passed without me achieving something, I would get depressed. I started to spend hours following and looking up various artists on the internet to try as many different ways and mediums of drawing.
What is ‘Rze8aa’ and how did it come about?
My cousin Sultan and I made up the name ‘Rze8aa’ for my street artist self. It all started when Sultan came back from a trip in New York, having seen actual street art instead of pictures on the internet. At the time, I was very much into Shepard Fairey, also known as Obey, and his story of how he started as a street artist and what he came to be. Sultan encouraged me to start Rze8aa knowing that I had tried graffiti before. I started with A0 posters of made-up characters with ugly looking faces dressed in our traditional Saudi clothing. I hung them up in random places in Dammam and Khobar and surprisingly my drawings were captured and spread around Twitter. People actually started searching for the Rze8aa characters on the streets!
After that, Raneen Bukhari connected with me and asked me to participate in “Loadart 2012” in Khobar. It was my first time participating in a gallery and it was there that I met Ali AlKalthamy who asked me to design a logo for his YouTube show ‘Khambala’.
Rze8aa did’t continue because it got too hard and it wasn’t accepted by the municipality. I guess some from our community didn’t accept it as well as they would start defacing my work.
What do you hope to achieve with your artwork?
I don’t really care much about having an objective or message in my work. As long as I think it’s beautiful and it makes the audience feel something, whatever that feeling may be, then that’s all I need.
What is the typical process of creating one piece of artwork?
The artwork needs a few basic things: the mood, the time, the space and the necessary tools. But it gets harder to manage all these things together every time the responsibility gets bigger and your level in art increases. As a beginner, you’re in your own room and that’s all you need, but when you get in the actual business, you start needing a bigger space and more time and resources to achieve what you want.
Can you tell us about some upcoming projects that you’re working on?
My ultimate goal now is building a center for Sharqiya artists who draw cartoons, old school art, pop art, street art, digital art, t-shirt making and everything in between. Uniting them together in one place will help them share knowledge and resources and encourage them to make joint projects and work together. Currently I’m looking for an investor who believes in the importance of creativity and art to help build this center.
What piece of advice would you like to give to upcoming artists?
My advice to beginners is:
- Don’t stop drawing and painting! The more sketches you make, the better your skills will get.
- Follow artists and people who inspire you. Stay in touch with talented and creative people, whether they are in your specific field or not.
- It’s okay to copy others until you find your own style.