Updated: Mar 7
Why I left Professional Services for the Art World
Many moons ago, I got my first (proper) job at Christies Auctioneers in London. It was dark and rainy on the day of my interview, but the doorman remained cheery. He guided me inside with the politeness you’d expect from a British institution of repute. I can still feel Christies’ soft carpet as I stared at a grand wooden staircase before the interview.
Soon after, I began work on a small, friendly team and was fortunate enough to meet some amazing people. I was popular with colleagues and loved by clients. I developed a true passion for the Arts—Modern and Contemporary in particular. To date, it is still the best job I ever had (close contenders being various bar jobs).
“So why did you leave Christies?” I hear you ask!
I left in pursuit of a bigger salary. Other than a few well-meaning colleagues at Christies who tried to persuade me to stay, I didn’t have much career guidance in my life—enter the world of Professional Services. After all, they were offering to pay a salary just shy of 25% more than I was earning at Christies. Yet, by the end of my first week I already regretted leaving the auction house. My team was nice—but they were colleagues, not friends.
I turned 20, accepted my lot, and bought a property. This was the first Point of No Return.
For a while, I kept one foot in the art world by attending art fairs, exhibitions and talks. However, as I progressed through my career with Professional Services, my loyalty to the arts dwindled. In its place came a greater salary, exotic holidays and financial freedom that the art world would never have afforded me. Or so I told myself.
Fast forward a few years, a few employers and a few professional qualifications later, and I was yearning for more creativity in my day to day life. I had a niggling feeling that there was a lot more to life than this. I went on more extravagant holidays, dined in even better restaurants and drove better cars. I even bought another property, because that’s what you do when seeking inner fulfillment, right?
A strict diet of Iyanla Vanzant self-help books and Paolo Coelho’s novels helped with my spiritual awakening. I began to envy people who had built their careers in the creative industries. They seemed to have a sense of calm and fulfilment about them. For their part, they were always surprised when I told them I worked in Professional Services and usually commented that I appeared to be more of an artist.
In December 2016, I experienced stress levels like never before. I was working extremely long hours during the busiest time of the year, remortgaging my property, extending lease agreements and was fighting a losing battle against insomnia. In short, I was an emotional wreck experiencing heart palpitations at my desk.
This was the second Point of No Return.
On a whim, I booked a flight to Dubai to spend Christmas with family. On return to my office on the 4th of January 2017, I quit my job to pursue pastures anew. At that time, I had no idea what these were, but I knew I had to pursue them.
By April 2017, I left the UK with a friend to travel Latin America, the Caribbean and the East Coast of America. Whilst in Cuba, we visited Trinidad where we discovered a quaint little art gallery. As soon as we stepped inside, I felt a giddy feeling in my tummy. I turned to my friend saying ‘this is what I am supposed to do… I am supposed to return to the Art world, but this time, with my own gallery’. I had found my purpose.
Since that moment, I go to bed each day excited about what the next 24 hours will bring. I no longer feel anxious about the future. I no longer experience obstacles in my day; instead, I overcome challenges as they arise and learn the lessons they’re teaching me.
I am once again the young woman who stepped out of the rain onto that soft carpet at Christies, facing a grand wooden staircase, experiencing the warm feeling of joy, excitement and happiness I once felt whilst I sat in auctions.
‘This is what I am supposed to do… I am supposed to return to the Art world, but this time, with my own gallery.' I had found my purpose.
Some plants and flowers are able to grow beautifully in any terrain—I am not one of those. I have specific needs. I need creativity, space to focus and time to listen to my intuition. I need to surround myself with the beauty that follows fellow creatives. I need time to daydream.
I left Professional Services because, whilst the salary was good, I lacked the passion required to be the best version of me.
I haven’t looked back since.