the Art Works

Jim Knowles, co-owner of the ArtWorks with his wife Betsy Knowles, is a ball of creative energy. What started as a morning interview lasted until the afternoon, but the Artworks is a big place and Jim has a lot of big ideas.

“I love Shakespeare, the arts. I just love the arts. I’ve always drawn. I’m self taught and do a lot of cartooning, a lot of political satire and right now I’m having a field day,” says Jim.

His love of the arts began in school even though he wasn’t always the biggest fan of attending class. He admits getting kicked out of school in the first grade for not attending class.

“I had them all fooled!” he laughs. It was as he got into high school that he developed a love for theatre and drawing. Since then, he’s worked in engineering design and traveled the world over, created training manuals, run a manufacturing business, owned 300 classic movie cars, and much more.

In our interview, Jim covers a plethora of topics and philosophical life stances, but a few jump out at me.



A huge proponent of self education, Jim firmly believes in the power of education to not only advance the individual, but the whole as well.

“If we want to have a great nation, we must demand of ourselves a great education. Education is the cure for ignorance and knowledge is cheap. It’s easy to get! Read a book. Watch a film…I attribute a lot of my success to Reader’s Digest’s. I’m a voracious reader.”   

He tells me that if you really want to be successful, a good education is necessary. There seem to be other factors that have contributed to Jim’s rewarding ventures though.


The Laws Of Business

“Success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration,” says Jim, who claims to sleep only 4.5 hours a night. I sleep much longer than that, but Jim says that’s okay.

“You have to have a good product too. Consistency is better than quality. Why do you eat McDonald’s?” Jim asks me. I want to tell him it’s typically because I’m fighting a nasty hangover, but he gets to the punch before I can. “You know exactly what you’re going to get.”

He’s right about that. Jim also isn’t one to sugar coat anything.

“People are in business to make money,” he tells me, but it’s obvious that money isn’t what fuels Jim.


A Positive Outlook  

“I have a passion for life and people…God had to put me through some stuff first.  You’re not going to get it until you get it, but then you get rid of your got to attitude and you get a get to attitude. I get to go to work. I get to have a coke instead of that beer. I get to! I get to! When you get that dredgery out of your mind about what you can’t have and what you can’t do, you can focus.”

When you finally get into that zone, when you decide to always jump and take chances, when you’re well educated, you know where you’re going to end up?


Hot Nasty Rich

Jim uses this phrase throughout the interview. I’ve never heard it before. So what exactly is hot nasty rich?

“I have a wife that loves me, or claims she does,” Jim winks. “She’s my best friend, my business partner. I’ve got a place to sleep at night. I’ve got plenty to eat. I’ve got a place to get out of the rain and God is taking care of me. I am hot nasty rich.”


The Future of ArtWorks

Jim’s fearless nature has taken him down many paths and it continues to do so within the Artworks.

“Not less than 36 hours ago, I came to a revelation about the ArtWorks. When we first started it was a collective of artists who wanted to do what artist do: create art. Now it’s an art village. What we’re getting ready to do is going to make Wilmington an international art destination.”

With a new gallery planned, Jim says he would also like to add a gift shop, a coffee shop, open mic nights and even movie nights. The whole purpose is to encourage interaction with the artists and the art and give back to Wilmington.

“We’re a for purpose organization. What makes all the difference is why you are doing it. That why for us is to make a better world.”

If you live in Wilmington, you really need to check out the ArtWorks. 50 artists have set up shop in an expansive warehouse with New Orleans inspired street names dividing the different sections. The ArtWorks is open Fridays 10-3 and Saturdays 10-6 and they also participate in the Fourth Friday Gallery Tours. Find out more at their website, Facebook and Instagram.