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Flagler Artists: David Contreras

David Contreras is a Seattle born artist who has been glass blowing for 20 years. This long-term journey began while he worked at Nordstrom to pay for college. There he learned salesmanship and managerial skills that would serve him well later down the line. The first glass blower he met, through his friend group, had a studio three blocks from where David had been living.
The practice came naturally to him. David describes it as a “You know when you know” feeling. Realizing this was what he was born to do, David accumulated enough savings to last him two years to quit Nordstrom and became a full time glass blower. Lucky for him, Seattle was the glass blowing capital of the world.
During that time, he worked for anyone who could take him, learning as much as he can. Just as his savings was almost out, the paid jobs started coming in. It kept him humble — one job here, another job there, until his schedule was full and could take care of himself.
He kept himself active on two fronts. Much of his work was in the Seattle Glass Blowing Studio and David began involving himself in the city politics. It was through city grants and wealthy patrons these studios could open and thrive. This was the perfect coupling to learn the business side of this art form, as well as the intricacies of how to keep that business side afloat with government assistance and support for the arts.
There is a healing aspect of art that David noticed immediately. Seasonal depression is a common affliction that affects many, including David. “Making art for the sake of art is great,”
he says. “But making art to give back and assist in healing is something else.”
As he grew in the craft, he taught classes himself, including to veterans, using the art form to manage PTSD. “It is one of the ultimate therapies. Zoning out and relaxing while still being at attention, all senses dialed up.”
Eventually, David stepped out on his own and founded Pipe Place Market, which he ran for 17 years. It had survived the recession in 2008 through 2009, but Covid and political turmoil in Seattle pushed him to move to Flagler.
In 2022, he started a new business, David Contreras Glass after moving to Palm Coast. The change of venue provides him with new freedoms. He can provide products to the other companies, while still able to sell his products himself, and can pull his product from these other companies if he feels they are cheating their customers. One of these services includes creating memorial pieces through Heritage Funeral Cremation in Bunnell.
The next big step for David is to improve his new home, Flagler County. “I want to put art on the map for Palm Coast,” he says. You can meet and connect with him every Sunday at his stand in European Village. Getting involved helped his community in Seattle, and David is continuing that practice here, seeking to join the committee of market managers in European Village.
His goal is to build and feature other artists and give them a platform to be introduced into the industry. With a gradually growing artistic community, there might be a need for grants and programs to ensure artists thrive, and use those skills to benefit the mental health of the community.
“I am hoping I can provide artists a new outlet to feel their worth, and feel they are giving back,” David says. “I do believe there’s a greater purpose for my life and I find myself here in Palm Coast, and whatever reason that is, will be something positive for the future.”