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How One Woman Turned Her Childhood Passion Into A Booming Business

Contemporary artist Jo Barrett went from painting in her bedroom to painting for art galleries...

"As a child, my main interest was making things. When I was 4 or 5, I started receiving art gifts from friends and family. Everyone knew that I was really into creative hobbies - drawing, painting, sewing, cross-stitch, knitting and crochet, so art tools were an obvious choice of gift. I used to love the ‘make your own teddy’ sewing kits, as well as the really complex 'painting by number' kits. Then, when I was a little older, I was gifted an easel, canvasses and paint, so that I could paint in my bedroom. These gifts increased and nurtured my interest in art.

"It wasn't until I was about 6 that I realised I had a talent for creating art. I painted a picture of a baker standing in front of a row of shelves with buns on, and I vividly remember everyone being so impressed - my mum even framed it and hung it in our home. So by the age of 14, I knew that I wanted to go to art school and pursue a career in art. I got an art scholarship when I was at secondary school, and then I worked at an events catering company in London for a year after I graduated.

"I got my first solo show at Clapham Art Gallery the following year and have worked as a professional artist ever since. I have a studio at home which I work from. Although I’m very sociable, when I’m making art, I like solitude with the company of the radio.

"Even though I'm now an adult with children of my own, my interests still remain the same as when I was a child - I love making things. There's a huge sense of achievement when you start off with a blank canvas and an idea at the beginning of a week, and then having a finished piece of work by the end of the week. Exhibiting the work is great too - as after months of hard work it’s amazing to see the work hung in a gallery space. Then it’s time to reflect and start the process again.

"So, this Christmas, think carefully about what you buy your loved ones - one gift could encourage them to follow their passion. I love buying my children’s friends arts and crafts gifts, with the hope that they will be inspired just like I was.

"A great gift for me would be a really reliable radio so I can listen while I’m working or a neat little camera to snap anything that inspires me when I’m out and about. Oh, and all artists need a hand cream for our hard-working hands! Also on my wish list is a new watch so I don’t lose track of time when I’m working. As I’m often on the go, a bag for my make-up and bits and bobs would be lovely too! Head to and give a gift that helps someone find theirs."

This Christmas, head to to give a gift that helps someone you love discover their gift, and to for chance to win a gift for you and a loved one.

Plus, shop our edit of gifts that that will ignite a passion for art below: