Making The Decision To Be A Full-Time Artist

Courtney on the potter's wheel

I am a Trained Primary School Teacher, a ceramic artist, and sculptor, after graduating in 1967 I taught in the UK for one and a half years, then returned to Barbados in December 1969
I did accept a teaching job but walked out of the classroom on the first day without teaching one lesson. There were some differences over salary plus I felt if I took the job I would be there for the rest of my career,

I was already exhibiting my sculptures in England with encouraging success and the thought of becoming a fulltime artist was my goal.

In 1970 I opened The Devonish Art Gallery, along with my ceramic and sculpture studio; possibly the most difficult decision I ever made.
The fear of not having a monthly salary, and meeting the cost of living, rent, tools and materials loomed large.

The main industry on the Island is tourism, which provided some comfort, but the local market at the time was limited, during the slow season or any interruption in tourism creates stress. The scariest time was the annual hurricane season.

Fortunately the building I rented in the city center for the art gallery had a second floor; I needed a business that would offer some cash flow until the gallery was economically viable

One of the easiest business for providing cash flow is a restaurant, I was also approached by a friend to open a small music shop selling reggae music imported from England, this was a new market because there was little reggae music being played on the local radio stations or available in the local music shops.

Within two years the goal was achieved and I sold the restaurant, my major complaint with the restaurant was the need to shop every day and if you are not always present, stealing could be a major problem

The gallery is a combination of pure art and fine craft with a small gift section to accommodate the tourist market,

That formula works until this day

6 Comments


  1. A nice and honest article about life and it’s challenges. I am happy that you could overcome your fear and succeed with what you dreamt about. It shows how important it is to stick to the goals you make for yourself.
    Never give up just follow your dream. I enjoyed your story.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for your comments, I have been a full time artist for most of my adult life, yesterday i commented on a page that said something to the effect- if you love the job you do you will never have to go to work, i forgot the exact words.loving what you do is very important.

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  2. This is a great story and I never that owning a restaurant was one of the easiest ways to generate cash flow. I wish you the best in all you do. I hope you have more inspirational stories like this one in the near future. Thanks and I will share your post on my social media accounts.

    Reply

    1. Thanks for viewing,The gallery was in the heart of the city and many of the restaurants catered to tourists and there was a need for affordable meals for office workers, my clientele were mainly office staff from the Embassies,Banks,Government offices etc. It worked; after 46 years I am now having similar thought because the last two years were the worst in the history of the gallery.; but i am in a much smaller Island with a 97% less population.

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  3. I admire you. I think it takes a certain courage and a lot of faith hoping to make it as an artist. But it seemed to have worked well for you. As for me I got discouraged when I was 13 after my mother showed one of my paintings to a local store that was selling arts among other things. He made a few comments about it not to be mean or anything. But it was enough for me to throw the bucket. Ever since that day I had lost faith of making any profit from my art.

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    1. I am so sorry you got turned off so early. Art is personal and your goal is to please YOU. I must admit, it is not an easy Life but the pleasure and satisfaction is unmatched.

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