Side hustle success as single mum makes ‘five-figure sum’ in six months turning ‘passion’ into dream job

Alex Johnson aka Zara Muse at her exhibition

The artist has been able to carry out her 'lifelong passion'

Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell

Published: 21/01/2024

- 06:00

Side hustles are useful ways for people to bolster their income and explore “lifelong passions”

A single mum of three is sharing how she was able to turn a “lifelong passion” into a successful side hustle.

Alex Johnson, 51, from London was unable to work and had very little money coming in while nursing her mother at home during a lengthy cancer battle.

Thanks to her mother’s influence, Ms Johnson had a love of painting from a young age which she has since turned to side hustle which made her a “five-figure sum” in the last six months.

Prior to becoming a professional artist, she worked various jobs and has described her career journey as “diverse”.

Alex Johnson with friends at her exhibit

Ms Johnson has a love of painting from an early age


Speaking to GB News, Ms Johnson shared: “I worked in banking, took a break to care for my mother during her illness, and dedicated myself to being a full-time mum to three kids.

“My return to painting, particularly during lockdown, marked the start of my art career. Initially, my earnings from selling original pieces were modest, only a few thousand pounds. However, as galleries began to represent me, my income from exhibitions started to scale.”

In a chance encounter, she bumped into James Ryan, the CEO of Grove Gallery who has a reputation of taking on non-traditional artists.

Loving her work, he offered her a debut exhibition which showcased her first full collection named “Radiance Resilience” which paid tribute to her relationship with her mother under the artist name Zara Muse.

She added: “The response was overwhelmingly positive. Notable celebrities admired my work, and the turnout at my three exhibitions last year – at Grove Gallery, Quantus Gallery, and a collaboration between Grove Gallery and Nomad Arts at Dorset in Shepherd's Bush – was fantastic.

“Defining success can be complex. Professionally, I feel successful with my art selling and upcoming exhibitions.

“But personally, my greatest success comes from my three amazing children. There wasn't a singular moment that defined my success; it's an ongoing journey.”

Despite her first exhibition taking place on a couple of months ago, Ms Johnson has been able to earn a sizable “five-figure sum”.

Alex with her work

The artist has made thousands of pounds from her work


The artist said: “Financially, my art is now self-sustaining, a significant shift from initially funding it myself. With effective marketing support from Grove's team, I've seen a positive change.

“Over the past six months, I've made an encouraging five-figure sum.

“I would advise aspiring artists to be visible with their work. You can't find success if your art isn't out there for people to discover.

“While I'm still growing in my career, this approach has been instrumental in my journey so far.”

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