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.

Kelly Duong | Hair Artist

Throughout my life I’ve always enjoyed art in various mediums. Being creative felt natural to me and it was a dream of mine to pursue a career in a creative field. I was told from a young age that artists aren’t able to make a living to survive. Fortunately, now I don’t believe that to be true and I’m on my own path to achieving my dreams. I believe we need more BIPOC from the working class to be in the creative fields so our visions, dreams, and voices can be heard and represented clearly. Read more>>

Laura Kane | Actress

I got interested in performing arts and acting early on as I started dancing ballet in my hometown Oulu, Finland, when I was 4 years old and soon after I was doing plays with my friends for my parents. In my youth, I was a part of different theater groups and then went on to study acting in the UK and USA, where I’m currently residing at the moment. Now I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do than acting. Read more>>

Samvel Krajian | Composer and Sound Artist

Since I was a child I had a passion for inventing fictional characters, and then imposing narratives and circumstances that my little brain conjured at the time, onto them. These stories I created were very imaginative and oftentimes beyond the scope of reality. I believe that there are those of us who have an urgent need to share the stories and ideas that we believe are important. Whether it is through self reflection, fictitious narration, or historical reference, Read more>>

John West | Dj & Photographer

Ultimately, I pursued a creative career because of the influence of my father. My father instilled in me the importance of working and having multiple sources of income starting in 8th grade when I received my first Dj board and speaker set. As I have grown older I realize photography and music are two of the ways that I as a Black man can express my individuality and freedom while living within an anti-black world. Through djing and photography, I am able to connect and celebrate my communities authenticity and beauty. Read more>>

Terrah Aldi | Choreographer/ hair braider/party entertainer

From a very young age I always knew that I wanted to create or be a part of art. I grew up as a competitive dancer and have followed that career path throughout my life. I have danced professionally and am still a teacher and choreographer. Come to think of it, I have actually never had a job I didn’t love. Sharing my passion for dance is one of my greatest joys. Then, when my daughter was born with amazing hair my love for braiding began. She would grow to challenge me to learn and create fun new styles and that is what brought me to create P and G Parties and P and G Hairstyles. A place where I can spread joy, combine my two loves and have a blast doing it. Read more>>

Kristi Murdock | Actress

Ever since I was a child, I have been artistically inclined. I loved to draw, paint and lose myself in books. And having an active imagination, I loved to play pretend. So, as I grew older, I found myself focusing on the arts in school. All throughout high school, I was mentored by my art teacher who was a great source of inspiration to me. I initially wanted to go to college and study to be an art teacher just like her. But sometimes Life has different plans! Read more>>

Jessica Mastro | Storyteller

When you look out the window of a moving car, the world you see is blurred enough to be malleable. All of a sudden, the once rigidly defined universe is only a suggestion. Some of my earliest memories are out car windows. Riding in the back seat of New York City cab, taking suggestions and running with them. I never wanted to get out when I reached my destination. Five more minutes. Please. Before I have to re-enter the unmovable world again. Doodles on a page of notes, embellishments added to the activities of the weekend, crushes concocted over the summer that disappeared on the first day of school. Read more>>

Abhilasha FNU | Filmmaker, Painter

Because I am an expressive person, who feels satisfied to form, explain, & listen perspectives. And what could be better than picking forms of art & pursue an artistic career as filmmaking & painting. Being a versatile and multi-talented being who is always looking to explore new expressions & its form, nothing seems better than being an artist to satisfy my soul. It was not always the same. Read more>>

Desi Torem | Co-Owner & Jewelry Designer of JustDesi

Creative careers are so personally fulfilling to a creative being, because they allow one to monetize their hobbies, but while I could have chosen many other creative paths, jewelry design gave me an opportunity to do that, and so much more. It was always so important for me to pursue a path that provided me a creative outlet for a purpose greater than myself. My love for design allows me to not only work each day following my passion, but also allows me to make a real difference in people’s lives. Read more>>

Rowan Newton | Artist

Painting and drawing just excites me more than anything else. It’s something I just wanted to constantly try and improve and experiment with. From a child I have been passionate about drawing, doing it constantly. Whether it is drawing from comic books or drawing from life, it is all exiting! As I got older my interest in drawing lead into painting and picking up a paintbrush opened up a new vocabulary of marks. There is so much you are always discovering and learning when using oil paints and a brush. Read more>>

Aaron’s Gift Aye G | Lyricist, vocalist, & artistic healer.

In 2015 my Annie Rae Rae (Aunt) passed away from breast cancer. She was in her early 50s. She was always and still is a driving force in my life. She aggressively encouraged me to sing, model, act. Whenever we had family members over she was always making me sing in front of them or dance or do something creative. After she passed, in her memory and in hopes to live up to and through my full potential I have taken my music/artistic path much more seriously. Read more>>

MaC Dee | Hip Hop Artist

I feel that I was lead to it by God. I had no intentions on being a rapper when I was growing up but based off certain events that have occurred in my life, this is what I was put on Earth to do. Read more>>

Christina Smith | Family & Wedding Photographer

I’ve always had an interest in photography but I never thought of it as a career. I followed a lot of photographers on Instagram and I admired their work. When covid quarantine happened one of the photographers I followed started offering a mentorship. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to develop my skill of a long time hobby. It just blossomed from there, I was able to practice portraits on my kids and I had fun with it. Then when the quarantine restrictions lifted I started posting my services. It gave me such a boost of energy when I did session I decided yeah I’m going to turn this into something more than a hobby. Read more>>

Audrey Davis-Dunning | African Dancer I Author I Entrepreneur

I pursued a creative career simply For the JOY OF IT! AFRICAN DANCE GIVES ME LIFE! From the cultural connection to the music to the movement, I feel driven to share these ancient steps. People find African Dance incredibly healing, fun, and empowering. I consider it an honor and privilege to be continuing this dance tradition. Read more>>

Ursula Vari | Photographer and Author

Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career? From the moment I can remember I always used writing and imagery as a means of expression. My father owned a 1978 Zenit camera and I remember being fascinated by it and I got such a kick out of him allowing me to press the shutter release and hearing the sound of it. As the years went by I started writing short stories and continued taking photos with my point and shoot camera. Art was always in me and I found deep refuge in the ability to express my feelings through the written word. Read more>>

Lon Levin | Artist

I don’t think I pursued it as much as it is me. For as long as I remember I wanted to create art. It started when I was very young trying to draw cartoon characters that I loved. (Daffy Duck, Heckle and Jeckle and Popeye) My mother was an artist and noticed my talent so she dragged me along with her to painting class. The instructor was nice enough to provide pencils, paints and paper and I was hooked. Read more>>

Daniel Monaco | Actor

I never really confirmed to the norm. In school, in activities, socially. I was always an outlier. So of course I was going to end up with a career that was unconventional, a creative one. Outside the box. Life only happens once, so you have to go after whatever you want to explore. Whatever makes you eager to wake up and experience. It’s your life don’t let anyone else live it for you. Read more>>