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The Hustle

Name: David Walker (Zen Glass Gallery)

Posted By Rachel Honey

Glass blower and businessman David Walker started Zen Glass Gallery to connect local glass artists and create a space to teach people about his unique craft. For 18 years, Zen Glass Gallery has helped both beginners and experienced glass blowers develop their skills. The gallery, located on 27th Street South, offers workshops, courses and private events. Artists can create their own wine glasses, glass ornaments, beads, and pendants during the hour long workshops. The gallery adopted an educational approach to teach people how to run the torches, kilns and tanks, while learning about the process of making glass art.

Years in Tampa Bay

I moved to Tampa Bay in 2001 so I guess that makes 19 years.

Hustle (job)

Glass Artist, Business Owner, CEO

What do you do?  

On a day to day basis you can find me operating Tampa Bay’s premier glass flameworking studio. We focus on custom glass fabrication and glass education. Over the years we have also become a hub of the nation’s glass art scene. Each winter you will find us hosting and collaborating with glass artists from all over the world.

Why do you do it?

I was bitten by the glass bug one day and have yet to recover. Figured I might as well make a living doing it.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

St. Petersburg in 2001 was a town blossoming with creative energy – however there wasn’t anywhere to blow glass in the area despite Florida’s long (yet seldom known) tradition of the glass arts. When I met up with my business partner Josh Poll, we saw the opportunity to ply our craft and make our place in St. Pete’s thriving arts community.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

A common misconception is that artists get to sit around and play all day. While we are following our passions and living our dreams, we are also running small businesses and have to wear many hats in order to make the magic happen. I often think to myself “this is when normal people go home for the day,” as I get up from a full day of desk work, change my glasses and head out the studio.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

Constant reinvention. We are creatives, it’s our just do reach into the ethos and coax out new ideas. Just when you think you have a good thing figured out either everyone starts to do it (proof it was a good idea) or tastes change … either way it’s back to the drawing board.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Continually give, and you will never want.

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