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.

Liese Gardner | Brand Strategist

I believe a creative career chooses you. I have always been led by my passions. Although that word might be overused today it’s the best one I can think of to describe what inspired me to what I do now — help brands with their marketing for the past two decades. During my college years, I explored my passions for journalism, photography, film and art. All these fields of study kept me looking at the world differently and honing my love for storytelling. For instance, when it comes to developing your own photos there is nothing more fascinating than watching the image emerge out of nothing. Read more>>

Drake Dalgleish | Actor & Filmmaker

For as long as I remember the most fun I’ve ever had is living a fantasy. By myself and with friends and family. Playing pretend is something I did as a kid and will continue to do forever. I just think it’d be nice to make a career out of that. Weather it’s creating new worlds and characters or playing the part, I want to be free and creative. Read more>>

Brandi Thomas | Composer for Visual Media

I grew up watching all of the 90’s Disney movies. Mulan, Tarzan, Hercules, you name it, I watched it. When I was around six, I remember I was sitting on the kitchen floor watching the Lion King and heard “King of Pride Rock” by Hans Zimmer for the first time. I still remember the feeling that washed over me back then when I heard it. Just this overwhelm of emotions as Simba climbs Pride Rock, and eventually makes it to the top. And then in the end credits I heard Elton John singing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” It was while that song was playing that I told my mom, “I want to play piano like that.” From that moment I just couldn’t live without playing an instrument or singing, or making some sort of noise! But really, the reason I’ve always wanted to pursue film scoring is because those films gave me such an awesome gift growing up – the feeling of hope. That if you work hard and do what’s right, things will get better, no matter how unlikely it may seem in that present moment. I want to help filmmakers give that gift back to people who are struggling today. At the very least, I want to help give those people an escape. Read more>>

Josh Price | Photographer & Videographer

I decided to pursue a creative career because it helps me express myself, my feelings, and my thoughts. Capturing a moment in time is something that blows my mind, it encapsulates the emotion, and the feelings that were there in specific time that no longer exists in the world but was captured to have forever. Another reason is to help people make their visions a reality. Helping someone take this idea from their mind and turn it into a video or photo is very rewarding. Theres nothing more amazing to me than taking something from thin air and being able to see it come to life. Read more>>

Jess Modzelewski | Baker, Artist, Hustler

I’ve always been drawn to the arts… I actually have a Masters in Fine Arts from SMFA/Tufts. University! Since I was just a kid, I’ve wanted to have a career where I use my creativity and my hands to make beautiful things. Once out of grad school, I held so many weird jobs: professional dog walker, safari tour guide, textile design, operations manager even community management for a tech company based out of Krakow Poland! Everywhere I interviewed, I told them I held a Masters degree in “creative problem solving.” When I was living in Krakow, I came to miss American treats and sugary bliss, and took it upon myself to learn how to bake. I was bringing my body weight in treats to the office every day, from apple pie to layer cakes to chocolate chip cookies. Baking after work provided me with that creative outlet I was so desperately missing in my life, especially dealing with a thankless tech support gig day in and day out. Read more>>

Ryley Gordon | Content Creator, Model, Artist, Conscious Living Enthusiast

Art has always played a huge roll in my life. I was raised by two creative parents, and when I was younger I always found myself getting lost in something creative whether that be painting, playing dress up, or messing around with my guitar. As I got older I struggled finding my place in this world and I felt like I had to fit society’s mold of going to college then get an office job to be successful. It never felt right to me. I knew that I had to follow my artistic gifts I was given and create something beautiful out of them. Art is supposed to allow humans to look at life in a unique way, and I knew this was something that I am very passionate about. My whole mission during my creative career is to touch peoples lives and inspire them in any positive way I can. Read more>>

Todd Drootin | Record Store Owner (LPGuru and Deadly Wax), Musician (Boo Hiss, Books on Tape)

Since I was little I knew I’d never thrive in a typical 9 to 5 setting – a failing of my own, nothing wrong with a normal job! So I’ve always set out to find ways to keep on a schedule and lifestyle that works for me. For about a decade that meant making music, hitting the road to play shows, getting TV licensing deals, and doing whatever it took to make being a musician a viable career. When I decided to move into having a record store, this built off my past as a musician while giving me a way to do something cool for my “forgotten” community of Granada Hills. There’s not much fun for younger adults around here and I am set on changing that. A record store was an essential part of my growing up and education and we are looking forward to opening the doors to ours in the near future. And in the meantime I’m still banging away at music, planning a 4 night online festival called Sikestock at the end of April to celebrate various forms of psychedelic weirdo sounds!. Read more>>

Melodi Bac | Novelist & Screenwriter

I was born to create. I believe everyone has a purpose in life. People might not know their purpose just yet or some people might never figure it out. But it doesn’t mean they don’t have a purpose. I was lucky enough to know my purpose. I can’t imagine a world where I don’t create. Creating gives me freedom, and as a Capricorn woman and a writer, freedom means the world to me. I was always free-spirited. When I write, I get to create a world that only belongs to me; where I can do, say, or control everything I want. Paper I write on is a playground where I get to play with the perception of time, space, and even matter. So, at the end of the day, I didn’t pursue an artistic or creative career. I had to because creating new things is what makes me who I am. Read more>>

Katie Meyer | Actor

Once I discovered theatre, I basically put my blinders on because after that there was no other future for me. When I was a kid I never really felt comfortable in my own skin. I was pretty insecure and shy. It wasn’t until I started doing the musicals in high school that I really came into my own. I finally felt like I belonged to something. I had something that was mine, something that lit my soul on fire and gave me purpose. Now, the life of an actor is not for the faint of heart, you have to REALLY love it to live this lifestyle. That being said, we spend about 30% of our lives working. That’s roughly 1/3 of your entire life spent doing this one career you’ve chosen. How lucky to spend that time doing something you love. That’s why I chose a creative career. Read more>>

Jes Marie | Musical Artist

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always been obsessed with singing. When I was in Kindergarten, I was always humming and singing out loud in class, and the teacher told my mother I had a nice voice and that I should try taking singing lessons. I started taking lessons right then, when I was about 5 years old, and then my love for singing only grew. When I got older I started writing songs, which has been an amazing creative outlet for me. I love the experience of songwriting and writing down my thoughts, feelings, and what I take in from the world around me. Sharing that with other people feels amazing and it’s incredible when people say that they feel a strong emotion from your song or a performance you did, whether that’s a happy one, like the song makes them want to dance and makes them feel good, or if a song brings them to a more emotional place that they needed to access at that time. I love communicating with people and songs are how I often do that. Read more>>

Keelan Ellis | Singer

Growing up with my dad being a guitarist, I was naturally listening to his favorite bands as a child and one day at 5 years old I went on stage for the first time and gave singing a try and felt a rush that nothing else can replicate. Ever since that moment I wanted to get back on a stage and get that same fix in my system. I sang at every school talent show and played in cover bands in high school before playing original music which is a whole other beast, but with a greater satisfaction. I’ve been chasing that feeling of getting a reaction from the crowd ever since that first moment and that rush has never changed to this day. Read more>>

Lyrica Wafer | Entrepreneur/Makeup Artist & Content Creator

I have decided to pursue a creative career because I have always had a creative personality. I had being stuck or confined to a box; aka “cubicle” or “Coroporate America”. I always knew I was so much more than that. I would be working a 9-5 job and just think of all the things I could create in that 8 hour time span of being a customer service agent or whatever I was doing at the time. I would always find myself rushing home after clocking out to be able to create something dope. I have always felt the creative path was the best for me because I am such an antsy person, always looking for things to do, create, collaborate with and so forth. Theres is too much that people havent seen me create to be put in this bubble of working for someone for 8 hours then leaving the rest of the day to do work on my dreams. So I decided to employ myself, work for myself, pay myself and create the content that I have always wanted to. I feel like my dreams are sometimes bigger than myself and that scares me. But if it scares you, thats means you’re on the right path. Read more>>

TYRIK J PATTERSON | Movement Artist

My pursuit for an artistic career stems from my desire to create the world I want to live in. We are born into spaces with pre-existing rules and normalities, but it didn’t take me long to feel excluded from what was considered “normal”. So I made a professional commitment to using my art to build room for my full self. And like how I was inspired in my adolescence by the authors of my favorite songs, films, and dance performances, I work to be an example for the next. Read more>>

Emilia Stiegler | Actor

Creativity always ran in my family. Both of my parents were artistic in their own way. My dad to this day paints, performs at a local theatre and is a published poet. I realized I enjoyed acting from a young age but everything really changed when I had the opportunity to travel from my home in Chicago to Los Angeles for an acting convention. It was an incredible experience and I ended up being voted the best junior actress of the year. I remember thinking this was it! This is where I belong. I had fallen in love with the city and shortly after I decided to move to Los Angeles and pursue my dream in working in the film industry. Read more>>

Rachel Amanda Bryant | Actor – Producer – Cat Lover

I’m kind of a shy/reserved person, and I think that’s in part due to me not having a lot of friends when I was kid. I was a bit of a weirdo. I remember once, when I was obsessing over The Power Rangers, I was sitting in the back of class one day zoning out. I started imagining that I was the Pink Ranger, (you know, the coolest one) and I kept lifting my hands up as if I was about to transform. Well of course, the teacher saw me and told me to stop playing around and all the kids turned and looked at me and I was MORTIFIED. I was teased and belittled in school by classmates and by people I thought were my friends. I started to hide away some of my oddities in an attempt to fit in. When I started doing theater in high school, I found a whole group of outliers and I suddenly felt as though I fit in. It was refreshing and I started to let my weird self out again. Storytelling lead me to a supportive community, and helped me not feel alone. Read more>>

Walter Ino | Multi-Instrumentalist, Producer, Singer/Songwriter

It’s what I fell in love with at a very early age. I heard music and I basically became obsessed with everything about it when I was a young kid. Read more>>

Sophie Crowley | Illustrator & Designer

To be honest, I can’t imagine not pursuing a creative career. If it wasn’t animation, it would be sculpture or another artistic field. Growing up, I was surrounded by imaginative people who taught me the importance of fueling your imagination through reading, music, writing, architecture, films, art. light and shadows. In animation, I’ve worked with artists who always a little bit intimidate, impress and inspire me, so my own work grows in reflection with theirs. Animation is really powerful — when you watch a live action movie, there’s something specific and slightly limited about the actor playing the part, but in animation there is a certain abstraction to the characters that allows you to engage with them on several levels. That’s one of the great things that drew me to animation. Read more>>

Oliver Li | Film Editor

I do have a typical career: I’m a science majored student who studied all the way for GAO KAO in my teens age, like other Chinese students do. My parents are open-minded and well educated. I chose Chemistry for my undergrad major not because of passion, but my ignorance of what a career of science or engineering is like. After entering the top university in China, I started to develop my interests in wind music, photography and filmmaking. I had a vague plan to learn filmmaking/storytelling for my graduate, and admitted to Chapman as an editing student, which starts my film editing career. But that’s superficial. Leaning filmmaking is also a journey that I trying to understand more of myself. Those conflicts in the film stories recall my own experience in life: homesickness, school bullying, institutionalization, manic depressive psychosis, violence etc. Some of them I tried to avoid because I didn’t know how to deal with, some of them I fought against, but non of them I could really neglect. Read more>>

Billi Sarafina | Entrepreneur/Writer/Content Creator

It seemed like I was destined to pursue a creative career since childhood! I was always having lemonade sale and putting on performances for the other kids in my neighborhood and now as an adults I have my Shea Butter line “Body Vibes Beauty” and monologue content creating page “Modern Monologues”. Both previously featured on Voyage LA. Read more>>

Maud Guerard | Actress

In her Oscar acceptance speech in 2017, Viola Davis said “I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life”. I think that this sums up beautifully how I feel about acting. To love, mourn, fail, thrive, forgive, reveal, lose, dream, have passion, heal, beauty, ugliness, compassion… I could go on and on, words and words that enclose the beauty of being alive. I love people, behaviors, I love embodying a story, a human, discovering and sharing all the depth there is to a single relationship, or a single moment, to a single line or a single look. This is what I strive to do in my acting — okay I sound cheesy now, I’ll stop hahaha. But I meant all the things I just said. Read more>>

Evie Erickson | Artist

I have pursued an artistic career because creating and making is second nature to me. My art synthesizes my interests, my surroundings, my thoughts, and my views. It all goes in there. I feel most fulfilled as a human being when I am in my studio making art. In these extremely faced-paces times where images go by in seconds with a flick of the finger, it is my hope to give the viewer an opportunity to slow down and contemplate my work. Read more>>

Heather Kathryn | Singer-Songwriter

Growing up I knew that I could be anything I wanted to be in life as long as I had a passion for it. I spent a lot of my early years in dance class, art class and church choir. When I was four-years-old I had my first performance in the “Three Piggy Opera” and I knew from then on I wanted to be on stage. I never fit in as a kid but I knew whenever I stepped foot on a stage that my voice would be heard and I would be seen. Music was the only thing that was ever there for me consistently. If I had a good day or a bad day I knew music would be by my side. In life, it’s hard to find a place where you can fully and unapologetically be yourself, for me that place was music. I think that’s why I care so deeply about my music and the songs I write because with it I want everyone to know that they are never truly alone. Read more>>

Karol Bartoszynski | Fashion & Costume Designer

I decided to pursue a creative career because creativity is what I’ve always been about. From the time I was an infant, I liked to draw. As I grew up, I discovered a love for movie making and costumes. Eventually, I acquired a passion for running themed events. I spent a fair bit of my adult life working medical and teaching jobs. It paid well, but I knew it would have been a loss if I had never tapped my potential as an artist & creative person. Life is meant to be lived, and I’d rather spend my time doing things I am passionate about than simply being a cog in a wheel or letting my creativity flounder as I work on tedious & monotonous tasks. Read more>>

Yeon Soo Kim | Character Designer & Visual Development

Art has always been part of my daily life. I love observing people and objects. Even though I did not think of art as my career in the beginning, I have always interpreted what I think or imagine into drawings or doodles. Until junior year of my high school year, I only considered art as my hobby, because paintings and drawings I saw from my friends who were taking advanced class were overwhelming and I thought I was not at the level to consider art as my career. I enrolled in the class because I still had passion to learn about art, and my first assignment was to develop a self-portrait. When my instructor saw my work, he laughed and remarked, “You really like art, don’t you?” He made me realize that I should have thought, “how much I enjoy doing art” instead of “how other people are better than me.” Read more>>

Anthony Kreed | Hiphop Artist

I’ve always loved performing in front of people, but I feel as I gotten older writing and expressing is my outlet for what I can’t express through myself. It is a way of letting out my inner thoughts whether they are positive premonitions or insecurities I have. It’s my very own therapy. So through my own thoughts or beliefs hopefully it resonates with others listening and helps them through a tough time like it does for me. That’s what is my ultimate goal. Read more>>

Joseph Idowu | Artist & Pyropainter

I have always had a flair for drawing since my childhood just like every other Artists’ stories. Read more>>

Luke Enyeart | Musician/Songwriter/Producer

It wasn’t always my goal to pursue music as my career. There was a time where I thought I would go to business school and take the more “conventional” route. But when I began applying to schools I was gigging and playing shows a lot more in Minneapolis (where I grew up). It was at that time when i decided to take this passion further and pursue music as my career. I had dreams of playing on other artists records and touring the world as a guitar player. So far I have had the privilege to live that dream. It wasn’t until recently that I gained the confidence to write and record my own music as an artist. As much as i enjoy elevating other’s music, there is something even more gratifying when I take an idea out of thin air and create an original song I can share with the world. It’s all i want to do from sunrise to sundown and can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. Read more>>

Buddy Chambers | Writer & Director

I think this answer varies for every single person who is pursuing this career path, but for me, it comes down to a few different things. When I was a young child, I knew that I was going to write and go into film/television. I was so convinced about this that I would tell my grandparents this all the time. Fortunately for me, they were very supportive and encouraged me to go after this goal. I knew that my pursuit was not going to be easy but nothing in life that is worth anything should be. I sought a career as a creative because in a weird way, it’s my own personal form of therapy. Creating characters and telling stories that are in my head and sharing them with the world can be a little overwhelming but it’s such a wonderful experience. I pursue this career because it gives me a chance to work alongside many talented artists as well (whether they are actors, cinematographers, makeup artists, composers, etc.) who I have the privilege of collaborating with. Read more>>

Martin Belmaña | Actor & Goofy Dad

I pursued an artistic career simply because I could not envision my world without entertaining people. I started out in theatre in middle school and high school in my hometown of Visalia, CA. I loved that when the audience was focusing on the play, musical or film, they were immediately transported to a different universe. And, for those hours spent being entertained they could forget about any daily stresses. When I was a kid, learning English was challenging for me. So I would turn on the TV and watch sit-coms to put my mind at ease. I would laugh and be entertained for the parts I understood, but I would also use that time to learn English. It didn’t matter that no one spoke to me at school that day (except the teachers), or that I missed my family back in Argentina. For the moments I was captivated by the tube, all of those worries simply vanished. I was figuring out the power of healing that comes from laughter and entertainment. Read more>>

Justin Aguirre | Director of Photography

I pursued a creative career by virtue of being exposed to photography at such a young age. Around 10 years old I started learning film photography with my dad’s old SLR camera and became mesmerized that I could capture the world around me and started to realize I could manipulate the image and create new realities for the images in my mind and bring them into existence. Read more>>

Chloe Park | Art Director, Designer & Strategist

It’s funny how life is cyclical and everything always comes back around– even when you least expect it to. I’ve always been good with my hands and had a vivid imagination. Creativity has always come very naturally for me. I read a lot of books as a child, I still do – as I love learning and I love diving into worlds. Strangely, one of my favorite things to do is stare at a white wall, because I find with blank space, the best ideas come out of my head. I never knew I could pursue a creative career. It really does seem like a dream. I wake up every morning doing what I love and sometimes I pinch myself, because I get to make a living from my skills, experience, taste and ideas. It’s been a long journey up until this point- with steep inclines, rolling pastures, and freefalls running downhill, but as I go further into my career, I realize that my pursuits and intention has remained the same since I started. Read more>>

Ashlei Shyne: Actress, Comedy Writer, and Filmmaker

Growing up, I was an extremely creative child! I would act out scenes from my favorite movies and soap operas. Fully morphing into characters. It got so bad that I would stop answering to my government name. My mom freaked out and took me to a therapist that determined I wanted to be an actress. So my love for acting and storytelling has always been apart of who I am, but having this beautiful love affair for the arts did come as a struggle growing up in the countryside of Dayton, Ohio. My school district did not have the funding for an arts program. I was very blessed with teachers who allowed me to pursue theatre even though there was no budget. In the 6th grade, I produced and starred in a play called Addy. The students and I made all the set pieces. The parents designed the costumes. Even though I was ten years old. Producing and acting in this play solidified my goal to one day work in Hollywood. Read more>>

Gino Perez | Artist

I pursued an artist career because it’s the one thing m, like love,like being one with nature, like feeling something greater than yourself. Read more>>

Junah Saje | Singer/Songwriter

I always liked Movies and Music, I wanted to be an entertainment journalist then at age 14 I performed for the first time to my Italian class and my teacher told me that my voice was amazing that I should consider taking lessons. I obviously did and I can’t see myself doing anything else. Read more>>

Lidia Napoli | Actress & Writer

Because I just love creating, it makes me feel alive. I love creating stories, dreaming up characters and breathing life into them. I fully express myself through acting and writing, and more. I’ve been an actress for almost 20 years, I’m also a writer and a producer. I think that creativity is so important in our lives. I’m a creative mind and I adore learning new things. Read more>>

Annie McKnight | aka McFunny Artist of Many Genres Writer, Actress,Stand-up and Faithful

Why I pursued a career as an artist/creative career one word “FREEDOM” Being an artist requires freedom. Freedom to Think and Share, freedom to Dare. My inner spirit was meant to soar lolol I was different. Living in a place with very little change and fewer out of the box dreamers allowed. So, there I was in a small town doing everything creative from putting balloons, a playing card or just plain old cardboard on a bicycle spoke to make some noise. It makes me wonder was I in need of attention or needed to be heard. I believe our destiny starts immediately. The nuances pile up then move forward for the challenge if realized soon enough or if parents, guardians, caregivers recognizes things about you it the creative will move smoother all within its perfect timing. As an artist it all unraveled with school plays, church plays, choir hearing my mom singing around the house.
All gave me unspoken permission to pursue a world of total uncertainty because it depended on my creative. Read more>>

Chip Jacobs | Author, Journalist, Dog-Enthusiast, Spiritual Optimist

In fall 1982, at parents’ night at my college fraternity, I dropped a bomb on my father, telling him I was switching my major from business administration to journalism. He’d been a child of the Great Depression, having me in his mid-forties, and ever since disdained newspaper reporters as sort of bottom-scrapers who recorded the day’s big events rather than contributing to society writ large. The argument that erupted between us that evening felt like the climax of a John Hughes coming-of-age movie. Suddenly, a 100+plus people listening to a speaker up front swiveled their heads to the back of the meeting hall to hear me scream that this was MY damn life, not his to plot out; that my heart would never be in a soulless corporate job, let alone the slow-suicide of working in family real estate business, however much it’d paid my way. We were a couple of distant planets afterwards, him furious, me terrified about the ramifications of my ill-timed declaration of independence. Somehow, we remained on speaking terms. Read more>>

Ken “Phybr” Dushane | Muralist & Designer

I think I chose an artistic career, because ever since I was in second grade I wanted to be an artist. I have been creating art since I can remember and I always had a feeling deep down that it was exactly what I wanted to do. I studied Computer Networking Systems and got my Associates in IT, then I studied my Graphic Design for 3 years working towards my Bachelors and that’s when I discovered graffiti artists painting murals and doing extremely large pieces that delivered a clear and present message most of the time. I realized I didn’t need the digital realm to be seen or heard, it was physically on the walls. To that point I worked in the creative field for a few years airbrushing and doing custom paint along with graphic design in my early 20’s. Read more>>