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.

Isabella Dioguardi  Filmmaker

This is a complicated question, that even I have had a hard time answering in the past. However, the easiest way to explain it, from my experience, is that in a way being a filmmaker was something I always wanted to do. For as long as I can remember, film has been a part of who I am. It has been a mentor or a friend that is always guiding me through life. I’ve been on adventures with Marty Mcfly and Doc, I have been stuck in detention with the Breakfast Club, fallen in love with Rick in Casablanca and cried alongside Simba when Mufasa died. All these films helped me grow up and understand the world around me, even if I wasn’t aware of it at the moment.When we are young, people around us start asking us questions and push us to decide  what our future will look like. Deciding your future is a lot to put on the shoulders of an 18-year-old girl. There are so many options and paths to choose from. Even though 18 is an age where the world starts seeing you and treating you as an adult, I feel I lacked the maturity to take such an important decision that would have a great impact in my life. Read more>>

Malayla Fields | SWIMWEAR DESIGNER & FASHION GURU

From a very young age I had a love for fashion. My mom was a model in my younger years and she always allowed me to express myself through clothes. I started by picking out my own clothes, I would accompany her at fashion shows, and I was a huge fashion magazine collector (I still have hundreds). Once I got to high school, I began studying fashion; designers, sewing, modeling, etc. I soon fell in love with every facet of the fashion industry. After HS, I decided to get a Fashion Merchandising degree! While in college I created Fashion major t-shirts that I sold to my classmates that was a huge success! , I then signed up to be a vendor at our semi-annual university fashion show where I sold a variety of things like hats, phone cases, swimwear, etc. For my Sr. project I created my brand BAECATION! Baecation was inspired by my love of travel and my hopeless romantic ways. Today my business is approaching three years old and has been growing significantly over time!. Read more>>

Vincent Lanty

I grew up in a creative environment raised by a single mother who was a screenwriter. I started playing the piano at age 6 and only one year later, was admitted at the “Conservatoire Superior of Music” in Paris, France’s most prominent music institution. It was clear to my teachers and everyone around me that i would become a musician. I entered a Christian school at age 11 where i developed an appetite for choirs. Maybe this is why I love harmonies so much today ! I can’t really answer “why” I pursued an artistic career .. it was obvious that this was going to be my every day job. Read more>>

Victoria R | Painter, Fighter

I love art. Growing up i always saw so much and such a variety of fun & scary things, and even then I was always curious. Mainly about what not why, so why not go with what makes me feel better. So I art, I draw paint and do what the self naturally feels to do or to be. Sometimes it is more difficult or such a challenge but like I said I’m always ecstatic about making something. I love colors and shapes, line and many other things as well. Personally, painting, and drawing makes life so much better; in all ways possible. It’s my fix. And at least it’s a better one. Read more>>

DJ ARI | DJ/Singer/Songwriter/Producer

I love that you asked this because one of my favorite topics to touch on is following a “traditional path”. Don’t you just love the “back-up plan” questions? ha! I’ll start by saying – I was blessed with parents that encouraged my siblings and I to have autonomy over our own lives. They never pressured me into choosing college, marriage or any specific career. Aside from that, from a young age, I felt I was different than a lot of my peers. I was easily bored with the curriculum and would write songs in my notebooks or try to get passes out of class to go back to choir. To this day when I meet fellow creatives/artists we typically share this same sentiment. I know my parents certainly nurtured the “uniqueness” in me, but a majority of why I chose this path is because it is my destiny – the same thing that led me here in this interview with you today. Still as I say this I never knew I would be a full-time artist at 26. Read more>>

Matthew Jennings | Actor, Writer, Director, Singer

I think I realized that art in any medium is a form of ministry because it is meant to reflect the truth about humanity. I believe the concept of theater and Film/television is like church. I don’t mean promoting a religion but I do see the audience as a congregation, the theater (or the camera) is a tabernacle, the play (or the script) is the sermon and the audience is the congregation. After I developed that understanding for myself it gave me focus and determination to pursue my career as an actor. Read more>>

Dylan Fleming | Music Journalist, Comedian, Content Creator

This is what’s inside of me and always has been. Even if I was working at a job where I was just sitting at a desk crunching numbers (which I’ve done before), I’d still be cracking jokes and trying to put people onto new music, or attempting to find common ground with others through music. To be artistic/creative/ humorous is who I am at the core. Read more>>

Jermaine Mcgee | Painter/Instructor/Curator

The reason that I pursued a career in the arts stems from my childhood experiences. When I was young, the arts brought me much joy, especially knowing many creatives in my family. I drew on walls which evolved into painting, then came ceramics. My whole childhood was filled with graphite, clay, and paint. As I grew older I started to experience graphic arts and filmmaking in my teen years. Once I began to understand the gifts that I had, I began to hone them, and during my college years I explored all possibilities. Things began to come full circle after learning art history, 2d and 3d design, and game design. After I graduated college with my Bachelors in Art, I understand that I was entering a super competitive workforce, and as much as I had the drive to compete, I made a decision to start from the bottom to work my way up with my own business as a creative. Read more>>

Karloz Manufactura | Musician & Graphic Artist

The arts and all it’s various creative aspects have always been a kind of cathartic therapy for me, from a very young age. It helps me stay connected and in touch with a deeper understanding of the human condition. So it’s always been a part of my life and I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not have that part in my life. Read more>>

O Future | Artists, Musicians, Composers, Sculptors, Painters, Directors, etc

O Future is an electronic duo and art collective in which we create all of our music, images, sculptures, covers, and videos entirely by ourselves! O Future consists of artist, composer and singer Katherine MIlls Rymer and and myself composer, producer and multiinstrumentalist Jens Bjornkjaer. Since the age of 5 I have been playing music, at first I started playing classical violin then jazz saxophone and then electronic music and then everything in between. It was never a choice for me to be an artist but something that was almost predetermined by my upbringning. The same is true for Katherine since she also started very early drawing and dancing ballet. Singing was something she only started doing for real when we started this band. But her immense talent quickly became obvious and probably was caused by her close relationship with music at very young age. Read more>>

Kierra Bazilio | Meal Planner

I wanted to pursue an artistic career because most of the jobs I’ve had in my lifetime had limited my creativity and stifled who I truly was. I needed the space to express myself without feeling like all my time for creative activities was being drained by me being at my work. I also never took being micromanaged too well, so I knew the only way to manage this was by doing things on my own terms and starting my own business. Read more>>

Katherine Vlamis | Content Creator & Social Media Marketer

Ever since a young age, I’ve always had the passion to create and share with the world. At first, I believe my proudest creations were finger-painted butterflies. Not long after, I started writing music at the age of five and putting on living room concerts for my very patient family members. Since then, I’ve tried expressing my creativity through blogging, photography, fashion, and of course, social media content creation. I think the latter has stuck with me the most because it made me realize why I enjoy my artistic and creative pursuits so much: they help me entertain, inspire, and engage in authentic conversations with an audience I may have never reached otherwise. I enjoy all my creative endeavors because of the positive impact they can have others and the connections they can foster. Sure, I may not be writing the next government policy that will help people save millions of dollars, but as long as I’m touching lives and making a difference through something I’ve created, it’s all the same to me. Read more>>

Calvin M. Thompson | Actor, Singer, Writer

In my journey to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, what resonated most with me was the path of the artist. I realized that I could hone into language to fiercely shift rooms, layering in frequencies and tones that can penetrates to connect with our collective humanity, It’s constant discovery and unfolding with this artistic life that I have chosen. And because of that I feel that I am always an evolving and growing human being. Read more>>

Heather Mogel | Stylist & Salon Owner

I pursued an artistic and creative career because I wanted to bring beauty to others and I wanted more than anything to help women feel beautiful. There is a difference between looking beautiful and actually feeling beautiful… and it has nothing to do with ones actual features. That was my initial motivation behind trying to be the best artist I could be. However, I realized very quickly that I didn’t feel creative enough, I didn’t feel artistic enough. I almost left the industry more times than I can count. And as I was trying to navigate my way through feeling like I didn’t fit in to this uber artistic career, I realized that everyone is creative. Humans are creative, period. It doesn’t matter if you are a file clerk, a scientist, a school teacher, a landscaper, a front line chef, a programmer, a mechanic… we all bring creativity to our jobs and careers. And what do most people have in common? They don’t feel creative…. They don’t feel creative enough. Read more>>

Chris Kleckner | Actor, Writer, Comedian

Because I believe, at our core, it is what we are meant to be doing. Read more>>

Bebe Couri | Creative Director/Wardrobe Stylist

I pursued an artistic career, because I’ve always seen the world a little different I believe. I actually grew up wanting to be a Vet Tech, and had an opportunity to model at the age of 18. From there I fell in love with the runway/stage. After years of doing local shows in my home town, I was intrigued to see what more the world had to offer. Hence the reason I made the jump from a small town to such a large place like L.A. I’ve always been inspired by what I was raised around, to grow and challenge myself, and with the journey across country I did just that Read more>>

Leon Calvin Mack | Writer & Content Creator

Being able to express myself through art or any creative means has been the primary source of happiness in my life. I was pretty much raised by television. Growing up I had a very over-protective mother who would only allow me to go to school and then back home immediately after, and I rarely had any friends so my exploration of the world, people, and different topics of conversation all came from media. Whatever entertainment I had on my screen at the time was my friend. It kept me company and contributed so much to the person I am. So, when I ventured into writing and eventually journalism, it was my way of giving back to a world that has given so much to me. Creating & performing in the arts is all I’ve ever wanted to do and hopefully one day my work will be able bring joy and enlightenment to others or just simply keep them company the same way my favorite films/shows/clips did for me whenever I need them. Read more>>

Anoush Nicoghosian | Lettering Artist & Founder anoush dsgn®

I’ve always loved to draw and had a thing for the Armenian alphabet. Even when I was a child back in the Netherlands where I grew up, half Armenian half Dutch. When I first decided to combine my love for art and Armenian letters, I began with the idea that I could take an ancient script and bring a new & adventurous approach to the table. I called it “Armenian Alphabet Art with a Twist” and it drew the attention of both Armenian and non-Armenian viewers. What started as a hobby by sharing my hand lettering experiments on social media, grew into owning a small business where people can find a selection of my artwork they can relate to and would want to welcome into their home. Read more>>

Irene Hsu | Writer

I think the most honest way for me to answer this is to start with my belief that life is a creative journey. The side of you that creates lives on no matter where you’re working or what people tell you to is the right path to take. My work life up until 2020 was defined by a sort of tug-of-war between jobs that ensured immediate financial gain and my consistent desire to switch to a creative career in writing. My last job was practicing law for nine years straight. I thought I could give up my dreams of becoming a writer during that time but I’m sure any creator can attest to the fact that dreams don’t die easily. I realized I had been helping others achieve their dreams for years but I hadn’t spent any time on achieving my own. That was when I had to take a good, hard look at what direction I wanted to take in my career. Read more>>

Aravis Rey | Actor, Entertainment Artist

I’m a storyteller through and through and have been for as long as I can remember. I LOVE stories, tales, legends, myths and I love the way we share them. We have movies, music, art, theatrics, books, even basic communication when we talk to our friends – all sorts of stories and so many unique ways we can tell them. My favorite part of Stories has always been the characters. Characters have so much to them – their own depth, growth, struggles, morals, experiences, all unique to that particular character whether they’re the hero, the villain, the best friend or even someone who’s just in the background. Even music is written to be the character in its own medium. Characters have fascinated me since childhood as has performing arts and filmmaking. The idea of taking our knowledge of a character and story, digging deeper and connecting, being able to portray and be that character to tell the story to an audience grew into a true love and passion for the artform of it all. Read more>>

Summer Payton | R&B Artist/Songwriter/Producer/Actor/Engineer

Growing up I was a model student. I was the kid that got straight A’s pretty much elementary through high school. And if not, I beat myself up for falling short with the occasional B, (always in math) and one dreaded C (precalculus, yuck). Throughout all those years of being that dedicated student, it was always clear to me that nothing about my academic life felt FOR ME. I got straight A’s because it made my parents and grandparents happy and pleased my teachers. It was what I was supposed to do. None of those classes fulfilled me, none of those subjects interested me. I was just doing my time and excelling at it. Things that made me happy and felt FOR ME, were always artistic and creative endeavors. Listening to music, playing piano, or sitting next to my mom watching our favorite TV shows made me happy. It made me feel a lot of emotions actually. I always felt like I wanted my work to be in a medium that was able to move people in the way art moved me. Read more>>

Claudia Chávez | Photographer

From a very long time I’ve been interested in photography but leaving in a third world country like El Salvador, where artists doesn’t get support as much, it’s almost impossible to dream about it. There is always that phrase “you will not make a living out of it” or “Is that even a carrier?”. For a long time, I was confused on what path to take because of the negative comments that others kept saying. However, one day without a plan I took the courage to apply to a college to study photography in Los Angeles. Till this day, it has been the best decision I’ve made! not letting my fears to take control over me is what has taken me where I am now. So really why did I choose to pursue an artistic carreer? simple, it’s what I’m the most passionate about, it’s the place where I know I belong, where I’m free to use my imagination and lastly where I can be myself without letting people’s negativity to get on me. It’s my work and I love what I do. Read more>>

Miss Art World Katherine Cooksey | Los Angeles-Based Artist Miss Art World is a Conceptual Interdisciplinary Artist Specializing in Performance Art That Explores Body Image Issues, The Beauty Industries, and Gender Inequity.

Blurry, fuzzy, or pixelated are all ways I have explained my eyesight. I have dominant optic atrophy, which is an incurable and degenerative eye disease that causes a lack of visual acuity, living in low resolution. When I was in middle school, my dad began teaching me how to paint. With my new creative interests, I planted myself in eighth-grade art class. “You can’t be an artist if you can’t see” were the poisonous words my teacher thought to share with me after finding out I had difficulty seeing. To my young mind, this made sense, but I was devastated and struggled in school. A challenge I have is communicating how I see. I am not blind and have no physical indicators to show I am visually impaired so most people don’t know I don’t see well or they make assumptions about what my limitations and capabilities are. Read more>>

Myra Vigil and Erika Castaneda | Creative Mamas & Balloon Stylists

We are big believers that we all need a creative outlet that helps us unwind and unplug. For us, party decor and balloons, just happened to be ours. When we tap into our creative zone, it allows to be still and present in the moment…it’s hard to describe but it’s a great feeling! We’re incredibly blessed to be able to do this on the side of our 9-5. Party decor and balloons is our very own version of creative therapy. Read more>>

Azize Erim | Comedian, Actress, Writer, Producer

I’m gonna be hones! I tried so many different industries. And I do not like the corporate environment, because I always think outside the box and in most corporate jobs they do not allow a lot of creativity. I always put an extra time for my creative work however it’s different when you are surrounded by artists and creative people and you can only do that with being in the creative environment. While I was working in a corporate office, I realizes that, my artistic spirit is fading away and I did not like the feeling. I get super excited when I’m with my artist friends and find joy in every moment. I cannot think about my life without creating. Read more>>

Janice Robinson | Artist

For two reasons: I wanted to help people and because there was nothing else I would regret not doing. From very early childhood I’d wanted to be two things— a doctor and an actor. I started to talk less of wanting to act when I saw how adults reacted to artistic pursuits versus how they reacted when I told them I wanted to be a doctor. So it was ingrained in me very early on, as I think it is with many (far too many) people, that some types of careers were worthy of respect and interest and others weren’t. So that’s the version of myself I presented when ever asked about “future plans”. I was never steered away from the arts— I took dance classes, participated in school productions, artistic clubs, etc. and was very supported throughout all of them, but it was clear that those things were always viewed as a hobby by others while they meant so much to me. Read more>>

Padraic Culham | Visual Effects Artist/Compositor

Priscilla Emprechtinger | Film Director, Creative Writer, Podcaster

I decided to pursue a creative career in Film Directing, Screenwriting and Podcasting because growing up I always had a passion and drive to portray real authentic human stories through the use of compelling visuals. I was born to be a Film director. As a child, there was nothing I enjoyed more than going to the movies or the theatre, absorbing the scenes and stories like a sponge. Then going home and trying to recreate the film in my bedroom, and having so much fun doing it. As an adult, I was lucky to turn my passion into a career. I am a self-starter Storyteller that takes personal experiences and mixes them with a creative twist. Living in various countries has opened my eyes and formed a strong interest in capturing the beauty and diversity of different cultures. Over the past 3 years I’ve studied the film industry extensively at the New York Film Academy. Combined with writing and directing my own films and collaborating with teams, I strive to capture the real beauty around the world. Read more>>

Trèvon Slaten | Singer-Songwriter

Growing up I always felt like I was a natural born star. I would do anything to entertain my friends and family that would leave them in awh. I remember when I was a little kid I would always tell my mom that I am going to move to California one day and become a star. I can’t see myself working a regular job because I was born to stand out and be a light to the world. I love the feeling I get when someone tells me the heard my music and love or even when they send me videos of them singing along to my music. It validates me that I am on the right path. Read more>>

Omar Renfro | Performing & Mixed Media Artist

I’ve been an artist most of my life, in a lot of different mediums. I often refer to my self as a living installation. Always changing, always adapting.
Honestly it was never really a second thought, it was just in my nature to create. The hard part was figuring out how to convince other people that their norm wasn’t my norm. Ironically I did want to have a basic cubical 9 to 5 but every time I had a “job” it was never enough. I felt my time was being spent for the benefit of someone else. It also suppressed me in ways I couldn’t put into words, which affected my art. Read more>>

Sudi Karatas | Writer, Actor, Producer

I love writing and creating…It’s something I have to do. Drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I almost need to do it as much as I need to breathe air. Okay maybe I am exaggerating a little. Especially since it’s hard to breathe air in L.A. I think it’s important to follow your dreams, do what you love, you will be happier in the end no matter of much success you achieve. I actually did not follow this path right away, went to college for business and then took some acting classes at HB studio and slowly and steadily kept getting more and more involved with the arts but wish I had jumped in full force much earlier. Read more>>

Constance Jaquay Strickland | Physical Movement Artist

I can’t trace an exact reason why and perhaps why I’m unable to, is deep down in my gut I know it was a feeling that riddled through my bones back in my childhood that would leave me with no choice but to tell stories with my body. I also believe my artistic career was the answer to quiet prayers I spoke aloud to the universe, alone in the dark. As I have no answers as I witness my beloved mother begin to experience cognitive decline. I did not have the tools to help my childhood best friend as she lay in a hospital room after trying to take her own life. I could not release nor speak clear words as I watched a mother wrap a blanket around the body of her only child as they slept on the streets. I still am unable to assist an old friend now addicted to heroin and living on the streets despite being loved by so many. Read more>>

Benjamin Fortin | Professional Guitarist and Teacher

I decided to pursue an artistic career because I wanted to inspire and reach out to others through my music. I learned very quickly that music is one of the most powerful things we have in this life. Without music, I honestly don’t know what I what do with myself! My decision to study and pursue music as a career was the only thing that made sense for me to do with my life.
When I was in High School, I would literally just lock myself in my room and play my guitars for hours everyday after school. When I went to college, I did the same exact thing except I learned how to play my instrument at a professional level. At that time, I literally played so much my fingers constantly bled.I also pursued an artistic career because of my passion for playing live music. When I play on a stage, I feel empowered and I feel proud that I have taken on an artistic career. The feeling I get from plugging in my guitar into a loud amplifier is the most special thing in the world to me. Read more>>