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.

Zachary Kibbee | Recording Artist/Songwriter

I think in my case, music kinda just chose me. When I was just starting my freshman year of high school my good buddy urged me to get a bass guitar and be in a band with him. About two months later I knew that music was my future, I had no other choice. Read more>>

Greg Brandt | Maker of Guitars

Truthfully, I didn’t mean to. I was interested in music from the moment I heard The Beatles and started playing guitar as I got a bit older. In my late teens & early twenties I was working in a restaurant kitchen and found I enjoyed working with my hands. One day, a customer gave me info on a book about building guitars. Read more>>

Sara Siegel | Actress | Fashion Stylist | Model

For me, there has been no other way. I have tried multiple times throughout my fashion career to jump back on the corporate train – Mainly for security purposes with health insurance and a steady paycheck, however something would always happen where I would get pushed back off. I’ve learned my soul doesn’t expand in a environment like that and that’s okay it’s against social norms. My soul wants to feel free with a schedule that isn’t repetitive. Read more>>

Bre Fernandez | Senior Copywriter at BBDO NY // Cofounder of BreakingAD

A creative career was never written in the stars for me, I literally stumbled upon it. My parents are immigrants, and they drilled in my thick skull at a young age—“Brendita, you have to be a lawyer, doctor, engineer or you will starve.” Seriously, growing up, I didn’t think any career paths outside this were a viable option. I never questioned it, so I did what any obedient immigrant daughter would do and listened to her parents. Read more>>

John Holland | Filmmaker and Home Chef

I’ve always had a very strong imagination. Not the point where I had imaginary friends lol, but very vivid visions of ideas I had. I started out drawing and painting as a kid, but always was fascinated by the camera. I’d bug my dad for a video camera, but thank God he didn’t because 10 year old me would never have been responsible enough to not break it (and camera’s weren’t cheap in the 90’s). Read more>>

Karen Mack | Creative Community Leader

I believe I am a creative person although you wouldn’t know it given my initial majors in college – aeronautical engineering and accounting. I was a complete failure at the first, and successful to a point at the second, having passed the CPA exam. But that was only a way station to my current career, providing a valuable set of skills to allow me to effectively run an organization. Read more>>

Sascia Schloemer | Wedding Planner & Designer of Customized Event Props

For me a creative career means freedom. Freedom to create what I love. Freedom to work with people that inspire me and lift me up. Freedom to work flexible hours. Freedom to share my creativity with others. Freedom to be who I want to be and most importantly, freedom to create a slice of happiness for others. Read more>>

Charli Michelé | Plus size dancer and choreographer

I decided to pursue dancing because it honestly makes me feel good! I live for inspiring others and making them feel confident in the dance community. Being apart of the plus size community there has been many challenges however every time I get over an obstacle it provides me with an opportunity to help guide and coach someone else through my exact process! I love music and movement it puts a smile on my face and is a great way to express myself! Read more>>

Roann Mesina | Singer/Songwriter & former Nurse.

The reason I’ve decided to pursue my artistic/creative career is because it is what’s truly liberates my soul and spirit. I have worked jobs, one of which made me a really good amount of money and could’ve easily been a career path to settle for, but after years of prioritizing a job over my passion, it started to make me realize how much no amount of happiness could ever amount to my peace and sanity, especially if it meant dedicating myself to a schedule and lifestyle my heart isn’t completely committed to. Read more>>

Yu’e Wang | Founder and Creator at Sunnie Creative

Passion in Art was something that was instilled in me at a young age. I grew up in China and at school, I wasn’t excelling well as the environment around me was extremely competitive. For those unfamiliar, education in China is structured in a way where you are ranked from #1 all the way down to the last student which made it very difficult to pursue interests and passions outside of school. Luckily my parents were really understanding and gave me opportunites to explore new things. My parents signed me up for an art class I immediately fell in love. Art became my escape and it was the only time I didn’t want a class to end. Read more>>

Marcus A. Carr: Actor-Writer

I chose to pursue a career in the arts because it brings me unrivaled fulfillment. I feel most alive when I am creating. Read more>>

Gary McKee | Actor/Writer

I recently had a consultation about what how to fix my mindset and my mental blockade. It was enlightening and solidified things about myself that I otherwise wasn’t fully aware of. They had me do a prompt where I boil down the question of “Why do I do this?” Read more>>

Anastasia Gerber | Singer & Songwriter

A few years ago, on a faithful Sunday afternoon, I was improvising and singing on a public piano when suddenly, a random woman approached me. She said and I’ll never forget: ‘‘I thought I didn’t have a heart anymore, but after hearing you sing, I realised, I still have one, thank you young girl’’. These words have turned my entire life upside down because it was the day where I decided to become a professional singer. Ever since I’m on a mission to have a positive impact and reach the hearts of as many people as possible through music. Read more>>

Gina Marie Napolitan | Animator, Filmmaker, and Media Arts Activist

Honestly, I’ve never felt like I had a choice in this. I remember from an early age wanting to an artist of some kind (aside from a brief period of obsession with dinosaurs where I thought archeology was the way to go). My desire to be an artist always shifted slighted in its specifics: at first I wanted to be a painter, then a sculptor, then a filmmaker, then an animator. Read more>>

Chris Shaw | Film/TV Writer & Director

My decision to pursue a creative career comes from the freedom and artistic high that I feel from the work. I have the ability to express myself in ways that enable me to be vulnerable. Art allows me to pull from the bad experiences I’ve had in life and turn them into something beautiful. My work has also taught me how to be present in my everyday life. Read more>>

Ashlynn Yennie | Actor

To be honest acting was just always what I was going to do. I was a super creative kid growing up. I did my first play when I was 4, Goosey Loosey ( I player Goosey ) and the bug never left. I was involved in local / school theatre all through grammar, middle and high school. I moved to NYC at 19 to attend NYCDA and that’s where I knew that acting would be my career and lifestyle. Read more>>

Leanne Melissa Bishop | Director/Actor/Writer

I always felt like something was missing, like there was something more. That creative part in me simply would not shut up, there were stories to be told and I needed to tell them. That’s where my journey began, and today, my imagination and creativity have become my vocation. Read more>>

Ariel Dale | Actress, Singer and Activist

I’ve known I wanted to be an actress since I was four years old. I’ve always believed I was meant to perform. When I am on stage I feel like I can do anything and be anyone. I pursued this career for many reasons and none of those involve fame or money. I love this profession because it fulfills and inspires me to be a better person. It has also introduced me to my best friends and created a safe community for me to thrive in. Read more>>

Tom Ptasinski | Film Director, Screenwriter, Film Professor

I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. As far back as I can recall, I have always possessed creative and artistic impulses. Making up stories for my parents at the dinner table or corralling my grade school friends to put on a full production of A Christmas Carol (which I wrote down from memory).  Read more>>

James Abrams | Filmmaker

There was a time in my youth when I considered growing up to be a marine biologist, but deep down I always knew I was ignoring a greater passion. As such, the art of making films never felt like too much of a discovery for me, but what I was always going to end up doing. Read more>>

Errol Bangz | Producer & DJ

I chose to pursue an artistic/creative career because I wanted to be able to inspire and touch peoples lives in a different way. Sure I could use my gifts to solely pursue riches and fame but that wouldn’t be fulfilling to me personally. I have to make an impact! Change Lives! Inspire! I’ll sleep like a baby every night knowing I touched someone’s life with my art. Read more>>

Noreen Valdes | Music Educator & Pie Baker

I was always a musical child and I began singing when I was four years old. My aunt was the choir director at our church in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico. My beautiful Titi Lily with the voice of an angel recruited me into the children’s choir at age four, we traveled around various cities in Puerto Rico and won awards for our choir. I wanted to sing just like my Titi, so I found my voice at church. Read more>>

Ryan Kline | Photographer

I started my pursuit of a creative career shortly after I graduated high school. I was enrolled in a stage craft class for several years and working close with other creatives really stimulated my creativity. After I graduated I felt somewhat lost when working the mundane 9 to 5 job. At the time I was an aspiring musician and somehow scored an amazing opportunity mixing audio for our towns single A baseball stadium. From. Read more>>

Stella Velon | Award-Winning Writer, Director, Actress

I have been drawn to arts for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I played the piano, took dancing and singing classes, and even won a poetry competition or two. But the one thing that marked me the most was movies… I have a clear recollection of how certain movies influenced my childhood and teenage years. I used to become pretty obsessive and would even watch some of them over and over again — films like “Empire Records,” “Romeo + Juliet” and “Strictly Ballroom” by Baz Luhrmann, among others. Read more>>

Roberto Hannibal | Photographer

It took me a long time to find the courage to pursue a creative career. Like many others, I was taught from a young age that college and office work was the way to become successful. I followed that path and obtained a Master’s degree and worked hard in many office jobs. When my sister passed, I took a leap of faith and pursued a career in hospitality management.  Read more>>

Michael Clark | Horror Author

I’m 55 years old and have been “consuming” movies, TV shows, and books for so long that I grew tired of seeing the same old things either remade or rehashed. For example, how many different versions of Batman have we seen in the last thirty years? And why did they remake Pet Sematary? I found myself complaining more than enjoying. The kicker was, my nephew turned to me and said: “Why don’t you like anything?” So I decided to put up AND shut up! Read more>>

Aisha Holden | Entertainer

A lot of people are probably going to think this is lame, but whatever it’s the truth. I really believe that I was called to be an actor, mostly because nothing else truly excites me or makes me feel as alive as I do when I am performing. I tried to ignore my dreams for many years, this career after all ain’t for the faint of heart, but doing so left me feeling lost and directionless. Read more>>

Laura Pakasaar | Professional dancer and choreographer

I am a dancer, choreographer and also a teacher. Dance career brings a lot of creativity and art into my life, however, I have never asked this question from myself before. I started dancing when I was very little and I grew up with it. Dance has always been my biggest passion and as cheesy as it sounds, I could not imagine living without it or doing anything else. I love the freedom of it, I love the way it makes me feel and express myself, also, I love the hunger to learn and improve my skills every single day. It is also a career with high risks, challenges and struggle, but you just have to find the beauty in the struggle and seek the lessons you can learn and benefit from. I would never choose another career and if I had to, I would choose dance over and over again. Read more>>

Warumono | Living Art

Honestly I’ve been an artist of some sort all my life. I’ve done all sorts of both traditional and digital art when I was growing up, moved to teaching myself how to sew which turned into costume competitions, which evolved into my love for the stage and the bright lights, and then I took the dive to become a performer – starting out with drag and using it to push myself into being braver and stepping into (or out of, haha) burlesque. Read more>>

Frances Fu | Intuitive Healer and Guide

During the beginning of the global pandemic, I would ask myself, “How do I make my healing my full time job?” As an Asian American woman and daughter an immigrant single mother, I, along with other people of color, were conditioned to believe that working hard and pursuing higher education would be our ticket out of poverty and to a better life. Read more>>

Kate Russell | Author & Actress

I knew I was an author from a very young age. I grew up in an abusive household with drug addicted parents and, as a child, I thought, “I’m gonna write a book about this one day.” Because I knew that I wasn’t alone. That other people were going through the same thing. I understood that the way to heal was to reveal my story and find my people. By sharing with each other we have the ability to rewrite the narrative. No longer do we see ourselves as trauma victims. Now we are bulletproof survivors. Read more>>

Sam Sargeant | Director of Photography/Cinematographer

You know, from as early as I can remember I gravitated towards my imagination and the creativity that comes with it. As much as it was entertaining and enjoyable, I think it also became a survival mechanism for me. Something to get lost in, and I guess a place where I felt safe. And so naturally I think I’ve just moved towards an artistic and creative career. Though some restrictions in the work still exist, I don’t feel bound to something conventional. And not that there is anything wrong with conventional. Read more>>

Kate Newham | Professional Dancer, Teacher & Choreographer

The short answer to this is because I love the hustle and gratification! Ever since I can remember I’ve loved performing, teaching and helping people succeed in what they love and are working towards. I was definitely drawn to the stage and a creative career and knew that from a very young age. Being the middle child of 5, I’ve always loved the spotlight, so why not a real one! My career has taken me all around the world, traveling to places I would probably have never of been to if it wasn’t for performing. In the last few years I’ve come to terms with that fact that I will obviously not be able to “perform” forever, but know that whatever comes next will most definitely be something in the performing arts industry. It’s what gets me out of bed every morning! Read more>>

John Alan Hulbert | Performer & Creature Actor

Growing up, I wanted to be so many different things. My career aspirations were always changing every single day. Playing pretend was the closest I felt I could get to being anything I wanted and dreamed of being. So, when I discovered acting at a young age, it just clicked. As an actor, I get to play, tell stories and pretend to be all of the things I wanted to grow up to be. Read more>>

Rob Styles | Writer & Director

I would say why I chose an artistic career, but it wouldn’t be truthful. I didn’t choose it, it actually chose me. From childhood, the allure of art, in all mediums, has lived in my conscious and sub conscious. From, building houses, and cars with Lego’s, to drawing, to creative writing, to poetry. Plus an unmeasurable love for the cinematic arts. No matter what I did in my life, prior to being a writer/director; the calling to create art, hovered over me. Read more>>

Tristan Ervin | Photographer and Film Maker

I feel like it’s been the perfect way to express myself, my interests, and sharing my thoughts with anyone who cares enough to be interested in the things I’m interested in. Read more>>

Sara Galiana Sola | Music Composer

I often ask myself this question. I consider myself an enterprising person; I have always had a lot of imagination and I strongly felt the need to face new projects. Before studying my bachelor’s degree at the Superior Conservatory, I studied Fine Arts. There, I developed my painting, drawing, sculpting skills and so on. Read more>>

Koury Angelo | Photographer & Director

I have always loved art and music. I spent hours as a kid drawing in my room and passed time in grade school by sketching in class. As I got older, I dreamt of being a painter like Picasso or Dali. Photography was very intimidating and seemed so technical with all of the numbers and settings you had to know. I never really gave it much thought until I got to college. Read more>>

Brie Brown | Owner & Curator

I truly don’t remember a time where my life didn’t revolve around art. I was an introverted child that spent hours in my room painting, writing music, and creating tv scripts. In a way I feel lucky that I’ve always had a passion for art because I’ve never had to go through the awkward phase of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. Read more>>

Philip Smithey | Actor/Writer

My career ambitions as an actor began very early, around age 5 or 6. It’s actually one of my earliest memories. I was riding in the back of my mom’s Chevy Conversion van. You know the ones that had pull down curtains for the windows? Yay, early 90s. Anyways, I was looking out the window and thinking about careers for some reason. I didn’t know that many careers at that age. I knew my dad was a doctor, so I considered that. He was smart, strong, in charge. Read more>>

Brooke Capozzoli | Wedding & Portrait Photographer

Growing up, I always knew that I wanted my chosen career to be creative and have something to do with people. I love the connections and the moments shared between loved ones, and I love to think outside of the box! I’m very close with my family and always knew that I wanted a career that would allow me to be home and share in all of those moments with my own family and kids someday. Read more>>