NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — Anyone who thinks the younger generation isn’t motivated to become successful has never met 10-year-old Kelven DosSantos of New Bedford.

A recent Facebook post spotlighted a boy who was going door to door on his bicycle, asking neighbors if they’d like to buy some of his hand-drawn artwork.

“If this is your child that rides around selling his drawings in the Weld Street area, you should be proud. He's very well spoken and his drawings are great,” the post read. “If you see this kid buy some of his drawings.”

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That little entrepreneur turned out to be Kelven – but his mother, Denise Martins, said she had no idea he was going door to door selling his artwork until he had already been doing it for a few days.

“He came up with it by himself, and I didn’t know anything about it until three days in,” Martins said. “He asked me if he could go out and ride his bike, and that’s what I thought he was doing.”

Martins said she discovered Kelven had some cash she didn’t remember him having, and asked him how he got it.

“I started questioning him, and that’s when he told me what he was doing,” she said. “I said, ‘Oh my god Kelven, you can’t be doing that!’ I was skeptical of him doing it by himself, so I asked his older brother Densil to start going with him.”

Courtesy Denise Martins
Courtesy Denise Martins
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Kelven is constantly creating art, and at the end of the school year, his teacher returned to him a large amount of artwork he had done over the course of the year. That sparked the businessman in him once summer vacation began.

“He told me he would knock on someone’s door and ask them if they would like to buy some of his art pieces,” Martins said. “He would show them and if they liked it, they would buy it for $2.”

“He would also ask what drawings they would like, and then he would go home, draw it, and deliver it the next day,” she said.

Courtesy Denise Martins
Courtesy Denise Martins
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Kelven’s art-for-sale business wasn’t just something he came up with to have spending money for the summer; he has a long-term plan for the money he’s making.

“He’s saving up the money to go to art school,” Martins said. “I’ve been trying to get him to do an outside sport, but he’s saying he’s not giving up his art.”

In fact, Kelven and his mom are now looking to laminate his artwork for sale so that it will last longer.

Courtesy Denise Martins
Courtesy Denise Martins
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Because Kelven selling his artwork has been garnering some attention on social media, Martins asked him to put a pause on knocking on doors and is instead looking for other ways for him to sell his artwork.

“I figure kids do lemonade stands, so maybe we can do an art show with tables outside somewhere, and people can come,” she said. “I just want him to do it in the safest way possible.”

That word spreading around social media has also brought Kelven some unique opportunities to sell his work.

Courtesy Denise Martins
Courtesy Denise Martins
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Chakira Gonsalves, the organizer of Reggae on West Beach, has gifted Kelven a free vendor table to sell his artwork at the two ROWB events coming up on July 28 and August 25. She pointed to a quote from Ursula K. LeGuin as her reason for wanting to offer him a table: “The creative adult is the child who survived.”

“I just saw myself in him,” Gonsalves said. “I’m a huge believer in letting kids be kids and praising them for creativity and positiveness.”

Gonsalves also connected Martins and her son with 3rd Eye Unlimited, getting him involved in their Freestyle Fridays event.

“The world forces kids to grow up too fast, the world pushes creatives into plain boxes, and when you stomp out imagination, what’s left? Nothing but routine, boring blandness that destroys happiness and peace,” Gonsalves said.

“With imagination and creativity, even in a dark world you can create your own sunshine and no one can dim it," she said. "I’d rather see a kid riding around selling drawings versus getting into trouble on the street because he was bored.”

Courtesy Denise Martins
Courtesy Denise Martins
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For now, anyone interested in purchasing some of Kelven’s artwork can reach out to his mom Denise Martins on her Facebook page or by calling her at (781) 732-7343.

Remember, every $2 spent gets Kelven a little closer to art school and his dream of becoming a professional artist.

Courtesy Denise Martins
Courtesy Denise Martins
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Gallery Credit: Aliana Liz Tavares

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