Artistic and creative careers are among the most rewarding, but they also come with unique challenges. We asked some of the city’s best creatives to tell us why they choose to pursue a creative career.

Shylah Ray Sunshine | Professional Singer, Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Soul Voice Singing™ Vocal Coach

I feel as though I was gifted this voice, this natural ability to sing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been incredibly uplifted by music and singing along to it…so much that it motivated me to pursue a music career despite the many limitations and false beliefs around what I could not accomplish. I had made decisions when very young that would lead me in the direction of it…It was quite organic and its also a really great story that I could tell more in detail another time. But in brief- I think it pursued me. My singing voice has led me to new grounds, got me recognition, made me money and brought me opportunities I didn’t know existed. It showed me the way back to myself, and allowed me to expand the entirety of my creative expression. Singing has healed me in so may ways that there was no real choice in whether I sing, write, perform, record or teach. It just feels like everything I’m really good at, all in one. I always wanted to be a singer, a popstar performer. Never did I imagine I would be coaching others on how to sing and teaching them how to write and develop songs. Read more>>

Spencer Galbreath | Marketing Executive / Entrepreneur / LYFE Connoisseur

I picked an artistic / creative career because growing up I was a very creative kid. So when I became of age / adult I wanted to do something that fits my being , energy and vibe. I love to think outside of the box and make things happen from nothing to something, then see the outcome from all the hard work. Being in the creative space has been exhilarating & challenging all in the same breath, however I wouldn’t change it for the world. Read more>>

Sarah Kang | Singer-Songwriter

I initially hesitated pursuing an artistic career because of the notion that it isn’t practical nor stable. But over time, I became more and more convinced that creating and performing music is what truly makes me feel most alive and living out my purpose. It may not be the most stable career path, but for me, it is by far the most rewarding. Read more>>

Theone Ly | Director & Producer

Coming from a family where success is defined by how much money you make, an artistic career was never an option for me. I got into college as a Biology student with my parent’s hope that I would become a doctor or pharmacist someday. But I guess I never cared that much about medicine or money, so I wasn’t happy with my pre-med curriculums. I spent my whole life groomed to carry out my parents’ dreams, so the moment I realized that their dreams aren’t my dreams, I was stuck. I knew that I didn’t want to be a doctor, but that was all I knew. I switched my major from Biology to Arts because I used to like to draw. Something still didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to create something just for it to look pretty. Then, I thought about all of the stories I made up in my head, the amount of time I spent daydreaming, and the feelings I get when I read or see a good story. I realized storytelling might have my calling, and I chose films as my medium because I had some photography experience with the camera. Read more>>

Fadhia Carmelle Marcelin | Actor/Producer/Artist

Sometimes, I feel like I am a huge box filled with emotions, I love expressing myself, and I always felt I could naturally do that through the arts. It felt the most freeing and for some reason, I felt more confident and comfortable that any other outlet. Read more>>

Yijun Yang | Scenic Designer & Production Designer

I tried many hobbies when I was very young, but only drawing stuck to me for the longest time. In the beginning, I have very enjoyed all the praise from the teacher every weekend, then later on it has grown in me. It helps me express the feeling and energy I had towards life and the world when the words have limitations. Drawing is my passion and I found out I am more enjoy in the process and want everyone to have the same emotional path as me, storytelling became the calling to me. Scenic design is the perfect pitch for me as an artistic career. Where I can allow people in this world that I created for a story and share experiences with many people. I want to create work that activates the audience’s imagination and focuses on stories of empowerment. Read more>>

Gabe Wolf | Musician & Producer

There’s two main reasons: the first is that music has changed my life so significantly, by allowing me to feel heard and understood. So I want to give that back to people. The second is that I don’t feel that I have much of a choice… I’ve dabbled in many jobs over the years, and nothing has stuck with me like music does. It’s always in the back of my mind, and always somewhere inside of my soul, needing to be expressed. So I’m just going with it. Read more>>

Malcolm Anthony | Founder

Starting Roam The Halls was an easy decision. We had a vision of the type of clothes that we wanted to wear ourselves and decided to make them real. We are lucky enough to be around a lot of amazing creative people in Los Angeles and we started finding that people shared our vision. As a creative I think the best way to ensure what you’re making speaks to people is to be excited about it yourself. If you think something should exist go out and make it!. Read more>>

LE BohemianMuse | A Multifaceted Storyteller

I pursued an artistic/creative career because it’s always who I’ve been, an artistic, creative person. I’ve been involved in the arts since I can remember. It’s the only thing I ever saw myself doing that felt very natural. For me, the role of being an artist is defined by how I use my platform to help enhance our communities and generations to come by using creativity as a tool to become a better world. When it comes to the purpose of my art, does the work impact people who see it? Did my work help identify a moment in your life, did it help heal, so on and so forth. Of course, I want the work to sell, but the money will come, so I tend to focus mainly on the who, what, and why I am doing the work. I genuinely believe that the arts can play a role in pushing us to become better humans. Better humans lead to a better environment, which can create the domino effect of having a better world. Read more>>

Oneko Arika | African Percussionist, DJ, & Music Teacher

Pursuing an artistic and creative career for me was absolutely an involuntary reflex action. Music runs in my blood, in fact it IS my blood. I pursued several other trades, from law, to construction, to bookkeeping. But all of my paths just kept bringing me back to music. Making music and other creative endeavors gives me a fulfillment like none other and it truly makes me a better person. I feel my purpose when I’m creating. Its given me the opportunity to travel the world and perform with artists who have inspired me for my whole life, and witness how others are inspired by them as well. The opportunity within my career to travel has opened my eyes and given me an education that you can’t get from books. And the fact that I can share my experience with the youth in my community through teaching has inspired me even more. That gives me the chance to make an impactful difference in more lives which gives me even more fuel to continue creating. Read more>>

Robinton Hobbs | Composer

I’m either stupid or brave. Or both. But frankly, nothing else I’ve ever done has fit. I actually talked myself out of it in the beginning. Went to college and was about halfway through a history degree, facing down 20 years of lecturing bored high school kids about the Roman Empire, but I couldn’t do it. I bailed and got a degree in audio engineering instead and started making basement punk records. I’ve had a lot of odd jobs and false starts over the years but I always get called back to music. Nothing else matters as much to me. I have a lot of other hobbies and interests, but I could walk away from them in a heartbeat if I had to. Music. Read more>>

Lucius James IV | Videographer & Photographer

I really think some people are just extremely creative and passionate and follow their dreams or what they see in their head at all costs. I don’t feel it was one direct reason I chose a creative path, it just kinda happened from life and experiences, jobs, and finding what drives you to wanna get out of bed in the morning. My mother was in the military and I was a military brat, living in 15 different cities and going to 13 schools before graduating high school. I was always learning to adapt to change, meet new friends, and create ways to stay busy and active in these new places. Even living in Madrid Spain, twice by the time I was 12 years old. School was always challenging for me since I moved so much and I mostly used the school as a place to socialize and meet new people. I did well in math, science, art, and shop classes and hated history, reading but loved writing. Read more>>

Nathalie Fabri | Visual Artist

It almost feels like I had no other choice, I knew this was my destiny since I was a child. I was always attracted to works of art. My father collected art from around the world and I would sit and look at the works of art in my home. I loved how the colors worked together and how the images were representational but not necessarily realistic in many of the works we collected. I started drawing at an early age, and by the time I was six I knew that I would grow up to be an artist. That wish never left me, and I have worked towards it my entire life. It hasn’t been a straight consistent road, but then I’ve heard that The fastest path between two points is a straight line, but the most beautiful is a spiral. That’s how it’s been, from selling my art in my early twenties from a Volkswagon van across the country to where I am today, surviving as a full-time artist in San Francisco. Whatever I pursued, art never left me. It is what embodies who I am, what I breathe, what I think of. I feel extremely privileged to be living my dream life in that respect. Read more>>

Nicole Pedraza | Artist/Entrepreneur

I knew at a young age that I needed to work in a creative field. I never did well in a very structured environment, I needed the freedom to do things on a whim and go wherever my heart or my gut took me. While I have worked 9-5 jobs, I was left emotionally drained and with no time or inspiration to pursue my dreams… all of my time was committed to working towards someone else’s goals. I am hands on person who needs to constantly be creating to feel fulfilled, and sitting in front of a computer for 40+ hours a week wasn’t cutting it for me. Over time, I was able to find a weekend job that allowed me to pay my bills and was able to free up my week to work on whatever project I was doing at the time. Being my own boss was the only solution for me. Now, whenever I feel inspired to do something, whether it be music, woodworking, crafting etc. I am able to take that inspiration and run with it. It is very satisfying to be able to create something for others and I hope that I am able to influence other people to follow their dreams as well. Read more>>

Annie Zhou | Guzheng Artist/Composer/Music Instructor

The way I found my true passion was seemingly a coincidence, but it was really destiny. Spending my childhood in mainland China, I have always been deeply touched by traditional Chinese culture. The traditional Chinese instrument Guzheng immediately grasped my interest when I first saw a master playing it on TV, I couldn’t take my eyes off it, this 21 strings instrument is just so beautiful with a heavenly sound! Since then I’ve dedicated myself to learning this instrument with firm resolution. Besides the stage performances, I feel playing something out of my heart is the most satisfying thing to me, It is such an enjoyment to compose or improvise on my instrument. It brings me into the music and beyond, blends the tradition with my new interpretations, takes me travel between mysterious ancient China and the contemporary Western world. Read more>>

Hansjeet Duggal | Animation Director & Editor

One major factor in pursuing a creative career is my parents ~ my Mother is a photographer and my father is an interior designer. In addition to it, I think it’s your career that chooses you instead of you choosing a career. I grew up watching Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, Dexter’s Lab, Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack all the classic animation cartoons, I would draw them all, I was eight years old then I think and that’s when I started drawing a lot. I didn’t know then what animation is or how it’s done but I would enjoy drawing cartoon characters. It was only when I turned 18 I realized what animation is and how it’s done and during that time I got my first job in animation as an inbetweener. Drawing cartoons and bringing an object to life lead me to pursue animation & editing. Read more>>

Oscar Alfredo Ramirez | Visual Artist

The first attachment to the arts came because it felt as if it was the only thing I excelled at throughout my youth. The sentiment of, ‘I’ll do this because I’m good at it and they encourage me when I do.’ In my teen years though, I developed a relationship with not my work, but with the process of creating and conceptualising. A relationship that I couldn’t ever see myself without. They say you should love the work and the process of creating, but for myself it is a complicated relationship. Sometimes it hurts and is confusing and frustrating. The important thing is though that it is where I go when I am happy, sad, lost, inspired, etc.. It is the space where I am free to simply exist and express myself and my spirit. I pursued a creative career because it feels like the only correct way to live truthfully to myself. Creation has become a necessity. Read more>>

Karen Louis | Executive Director, Neighborhood Music School

I have known I would pursue a career since I was a young kid. I distinctly remember being in a department store during the holidays with my parents. This was in Kent, Ohio, and tagging along to go holiday shopping at O’Neill’s was a big event that generally included being bored to tears and dragged from section to section of the store complaining that it smelled like chemicals. There was a woman who had been hired to read stories to the kids while she was dressed as Mrs. Clause, and I was transfixed. I listened so intently to the way she read, the characters she introduced, and I was sold. I wanted to be a storyteller. From that point forward, I made my Dad promise that I could be on Romper Room when I turned five(spoiler alert-it didn’t happen). There was no stage that was safe from me jumping on to perform-something. This was the late 70’s into the early ’80’s, so there was plenty of inspiration from which to draw. Read more>>

Jasmine Crowe | Recording Artist

Ever since I was little music has been part of who I am and my soul. I grew up in an extremely musical household – my dad was a concert pianist having studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and he often performed in the university orchestras and the county band on clarinet. Growing up I was obsessed with Broadway Musicals and performing on stage in the local theaters – but it wasn’t until I started writing my own songs that I discovered I wanted to become a recording artist. I also love the process of the birth of a song, painting with sounds, creating something that wasn’t there before out of thin air – stories that can connect with people going through the same thing you’re feeling, around the world. That’s what makes music so powerful. As with any career in the arts, I don’t feel like you choose to pursue it, it chooses you like a calling, like a dance with the muse you cannot control. All you can do is work on your talent and craft so you can become a better channel for the inspiration as it comes through. Read more>>

Shiver | LA-Based Rock and Roll Band

I think there’s a primal desire for us to create something that will outlast us. We want to have the right words at the right time, and when we do, it’s fulfilling to capture it and know that it’s there for others to hear. Storytelling is a powerful thing, and that’s what songwriting is. When you a capture a mood, feeling, or scenario that feels unique to you, but then realize that others can connect with it too and they appreciate you for it, you just want to tell more and more stories. BRENDAN: I chose music because I felt the most comfortable on stage and knew I would be able to express my creativity to those with a love for live music. Nothing beats forgetting the problems of the day for an hour or two entertaining cool people from all walks of life! JUSTIN: Heard Led Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’ in middle school and it was all downhill from there! It’s such an intoxicating feeling to finally crack that hook you’ve been working on or hit that moment onstage; way too fun. Read more>>

Carleen Williams | Singer-Songwriter & Recording Artist

I chose an artistic and creative career because it felt like the only thing(s) I was good at. Things I wasn’t good at had felt too scary. Creating is where I feel the most safety and presence. When I was in my adolescence, there were expectations I wasn’t meeting. I lived in a polygynist cult that glorified the patriarchy even more so than this “outside world” I know today. With patriarchy came misogyny and unfortunately many of the women were misogynistic, too, including my multiple mothers. As a woman, I was expected to be able to cook, sew, clean, etc. Some of this contributed to my craftiness, but it still didn’t feel as safe as being behind an instrument. As a woman, I was not accepted as I was and therefore I felt the need to perform. I got quite good at wearing a mask, but I also had an inherent wisdom knowing that I needed to care for and accept myself. Read more>>

Haley McDonald | Digital Marketer & Artist

Ever since I could hold a pencil, I was drawing. Art has been my biggest and longest passion ever since I could remember. I work best when I have free range, so a creative career was the only path that made sense for me. Read more>>

Keith Coleman | Photographer

I made a decision to be a photographer during my sophomore year in college. I was lucky Northeastern University was a Co-Op college. I had the opportunity to work at a ad agency during a Co-Op and quickly gravitated towards the art department and the work they were turning out. I made the decision to make photography my major that year. I always had a interest in photography growing up, I should say cameras. I was intrigued during high school years you could freeze time and liked the different perspectives lenses could provide. I’m talking basics here, wide angle and zoom. I was naive in regard to the technical aspects and was happy to just take photos. Now looking back at my decision I think I was attracted to being my own boss. When I was at the Co-Op jobs and any other job I had I was a spoke in the wheel. I never felt comfortable in those situations. Read more>>

Sarah Lynn Dawson | Actress and Producer

I have always enjoyed acting, I asked my Mum to take me to ballet and dance classes and joined a community theatre when I was seven. The thrill of performing is something I love to this day. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic I’ve just participated in a live reading of Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters with actors across the world. We raised money for charity and it was amazing to feel excited about performing across the globe. Our actors were in six countries and our audience similarly disbursed. I felt really proud of what we achieved. The company is called the New Era Group Theatre, and you can look us up online and watch the recorded version on our Youtube. Read more>>

Welder Santos | Actor

I realized that through my career I could make a living by inspiring others and give them an escape from reality for a moment in time. I remember after performing a one act play at a studio in Los Angeles an audience member approached me after the show to tell me how impacted he was through the performance and that he saw himself in the character I was portraying. Seeing this persons joy in something I was doing is mostly why I chose to live as an artist. Read more>>

Samantha Nandez | Photographer & Retoucher

Truthfully, it’s the only thing that ever made sense to me. Though my medium has evolved over time (performing, writing, filmmaking), I’ve always had a creative mind and a passion for the arts. Funnily enough, photography was something I had never intended to become my career, yet here I am 12 years later!. Read more>>

Nichola Mottram | Beauty and Special Effects Makeup Artist For Private Clientele and in Film/TV

An interesting fact about me is that I originally went to school for psychology and criminal justice, fully expecting to pursue a career as a psychologist. The subject always fascinated me, and I love it still. I also enjoyed doing makeup, but I never thought it was an option as a career until a took a class in my freshman year of college. For fun, I took a Fundamentals of Stage Makeup class and throughout it, I began to hone my skill and I began to see myself pursuing it professionally. From then on, my sights were set on doing makeup. I still finished my degree in psychology, but after graduation, I went to makeup school in order to perfect the art. I pursued this career because it makes me happy. It is something that I truly enjoy doing. And that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy studying psychology, but makeup brought out an emotion in me that I never felt while studying psychology: passion. Read more>>

Monique Gray | Massage Therapy Instructor and Owner of Mo Betta Brews

I chose a creative career because. It was destined for me. My great grandfather was an entrepreneur renting out jukeboxes and washing machines etc. So I knew at a very young age that I was going to do something creative. This life enables me to live freely and I wouldn’t have it any other way..I love art. I am a lover of the arts, for art is the labor of love. I believe in the future that the only jobs left will be those for creatives. Read more>>

Charlotte Xia | Artist & Actress

I am a person who always has strange ideas, I liked to paint all my fantasies with a brush When I was a little girl. As I grew older, I gradually found that art would sublimate my soul, and I liked to create, perform and paint. Whether it is to create my art works or performances, I always feel happy and relaxed; What’s more, I can express my inner feelings at will. Read more>>

Annie Bueno | Plant-Based Chef & Environmental Scientist

Because creative work just makes me happy! I find so much pleasure on creating beautiful things and experimenting with colors, flavors,textures, etc. And when you make something that you feel passionate about, the rest comes with in. You just attract abundance because you’re vibrating in that frequency of happiness and passion! So that’s why I pursued a creative career, because I knew that if I trusted my gut and went after what made me happy, I’d be successful. Read more>>

James Diaz | Colombian Composer & Sound Maker

I never dreamed of becoming a composer, or an artist at all. When I was around 12-13 years old, I overheard a close friend saying that his uncle was an accountant and that it was a job. I feel that the idea of a stable job sounded to me like a plausible way of life. However, it was only through music, and especially composing music, that I was able to find myself, my own identity. Being an artist is not my career, being an artist is who I am. Read more>>

John Ennis | Actor, Writer & Director

The first time I performed I realized it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. And then everything around performing became interesting as well. Read more>>

Johnse Allende Jr. | Actor

Ever since I was a kid, I used to replace all the main characters in tv shows including cartoons and movies, with myself and daydream about being the characters and imitate them. I was inspired at an early age. I would say around 5. Read more>>

Scott Damian | Writer | Director | Producer | Branded Maverick Entertainment

Stories literally saved my life. As a youth who battled stuttering, I lost myself in the movies that redefined a generation of filmgoers. More specifically, I was engaged in how characters evolved and arched within a story. The epic adventures of a cocky archeologist whose thirst for fortune and glory is replaced by unselfishly saving the world, or a naive farm boy who chooses the arduous path to save a galaxy far, far away inspired me to create heroic stories where I forgot about my impediment and believed in worlds bigger than I. A place where I was accepted. A place where I could express myself without anyone judging me. I mean, that’s what draws us to stories, right? We feel like we are part of something big. From movies to books, we find sources of knowledge and entertainment that remind us of our humanity. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? All I’ve wanted to do is create stories like the ones that inspired me. Read more>>

Youna Jang | Creative Art Director

As a child, I was never one to go by the rulebook when it came to art, design, and creativity. I was curious about everything and anything. I allowed my imagination to run rampant, using it as a foundation for the things I found joyous in life. I created dolls made of tape, bags from old jeans, and even designed numerous typefaces (granted I didn’t know what that was at the time). From the very beginning, I knew my rightful place was within the arts. One thing led to another, and now I am blessed to be able to use my job as an outlet for what I love. Working as an art director, there is no such thing as a boring day. From the different artists I get to collaborate with on a day to day basis along with the variety of clients from the typical corporations, to the mom and pop shops, at first I used art and design as a way to express myself, but quickly realized I have much more to offer. Having the opportunity to grab a client’s idea and run with it, all the while creating something so beautiful, so meaningful, not only to myself but the intended audience is something I will never get tired of. Read more>>

Jaymee WINS | Author, Blogger, YouTuber & Podcaster

I’ve always been artistic and creative even at a young age. But somewhere along the grown up world, you have to set aside your passion because bills need to get paid. But I always go back to it and as of right now, I’m pursuing it full on because I realized, after going through a health battle, how life can be so short to not do the things that make you feel alive and joyful. Hence, I’m here taking the risk. Read more>>

Federica Campagnari | Visual Artist

I inherited the love for the Arts from my family and I have an inner thrive for a visual research through different media, styles, forms, and colors. Creativity brings me joy, helps me find resourceful ways to overcome challenges and reach out to my aspirations. Read more>>

Oscar Alfredo Ramirez | Visual Artist

The first attachment to the arts came because it felt as if it was the only thing I excelled at throughout my youth. The sentiment of, ‘I’ll do this because I’m good at it and they encourage me when I do.’ In my teen years though, I developed a relationship with not my work, but with the process of creating and conceptualising. A relationship that I couldn’t ever see myself without. They say you should love the work and the process of creating, but for myself it is a complicated relationship. Sometimes it hurts and is confusing and frustrating. The important thing is though that it is where I go when I am happy, sad, lost, inspired, etc.. It is the space where I am free to simply exist and express myself and my spirit. I pursued a creative career because it feels like the only correct way to live truthfully to myself. Creation has become a necessity.  Read more>>


Vaja ⚜️🖤⚜️ | Recording Artist | Electronic Music

I pursued an artistic creative career because it was my calling. I knew since I was born that Music deeply resonated within my Soul. Read more>>

Hanalei Maae | Jeweler & Artist

I chose to pursue a creative career because I felt there was no passion in where I was heading. Growing up I had it hammered into me that I had to do well in school and get accepted into a good college. I was led to believe that that was my only option for success. That earning a degree and working a solid nine to five would make me happy. It was halfway through college that I realized that the goal p[an I had set for myself didn’t bring me any sense of happiness or accomplishment. I was going through the motions in life, walking forward on steps that were placed there by others expectations for me. I was always a creative person. I had cycled through so many different hobbies before finally settling on making jewelry. I loved the idea that something as small as a bracelet or a ring could really showcase someone’s personality. When I started doing more research, practicing new methods, and setting up goals for myself to improve, I knew this was what I was meant to do. Read more>>

Riley Bowes | Actor

I’ve wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember. I got an honors degree in an unrelated field in university and never felt fulfilled on that path. I finally decided to pursue an artistic career for two major reasons: Firstly, I knew it would be most fulfilling to me. I’ve always had a passion for film and performance art. I find nothing in the world more exciting and exhilarating. Secondly, I felt I had a genuine chance at being great at it. I’ve always been competent enough at everything I’ve done career-wise, but I always had a feeling that I could actually be distinguished in the Arts. Whether that ends up being the case remains to be seen. What I know for sure is that this is the path I’m supposed to be on, for better or worse. Read more>>