Local worker injured, turns to creating artwork to sustain himself

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – A Bowling Green man is now selling artwork after an injury caused him to lose his job.

Meet Robert Ellis, a local artist just trying to make ends meet.

About a year ago, Ellis received bad news.

After an injury to his nervous system caused pain in his back and hip, Ellis realized his days of physical labor were coming to an end.

“I had no idea what I was going to do. I went to college, but I have worked in factories and warehouses pretty much solid for a little over a decade now. And so going from all that seven day a week or 12 hour days or swing shift kind of work and stuff like that to knowing that I was never going to be able to physically work like that again, it was bewildering,” said Ellis.

Bewildering, yes, but Ellis refused to give up.

He decided he would take a chance on himself and chase after his art career.

Then, COVID-19 hit.

Throughout the uncertainty of Ellis’ physical injury and the pandemic, Ellis’ girlfriend, Kala Carby, encouraged him to focus on his art and see where that takes him.

“It’s fun to watch him create something new. Whenever he gets excited about it, it’s just the greatest thing on the planet. ‘What do you think about this? What do you think about this? Do you like this? Should I do it like this?’ And it’s so much fun to watch him pick something and I’ll be like, ‘Well, here’s my two cents,’ and he, like, takes my two cents and runs with it and makes it even bigger and better and gets more creative. And it’s, yeah, it’s stressful but we’re having a ball,” said Carby.

He began to work with all different medium such as woodworking, painting and even printing T-shirts.

But, back in November, another stressor hit, his lease expired, and Ellis had no place to call his home.

Now, still in an housing insecure, he is more focused on people enjoying his artwork than making money.

“The more people that see my art, the more people are being affected by my art. That’s better for me not only because I can start making more money doing it or be more exposed for doing it but then at that point I can use, I would have a platform to use for my own ideas or to help other people,” said Ellis.

Ellis used the pandemic to better his art skills and even learn new skills like chain linked jewelry making.

If you want to check out Ellis’ work, click here, or visit his Facebook page: @modrntribalprimitive or Instagram @moderntribalprimitive.art.