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.

Yuehan Tan | Storyboard Artist and Animator

I was facing two paths when I prepared to enter college: the one to study law, for which I could clearly see the direction, and the other to study art, which was completely opaque to me. And I chose the winding and unknown path. If we consider law as maintaining a sense of order in the world, then art is the moment that occasionally overrides the order. These moments, like fleeting fireworks, are not meant to last, but the emotional value they bring will remain in our memories for a long time. Read more>>


For me it wasn’t really a decision. It was sort of a natural progression that started from when I was a little kid drawing. My Mother, Egle is an artist. Growing up she always bought my siblings and me “nice paper” to draw on and gave us access to all sorts of art supplies to have fun with and experiment with. Read more>>

GUIDØ | Drag Queen

I perused my career in drag because it combined so many things I love into one art form, and I am the one that gets to execute It myself. Makeup, hair, performing, fashion, & being a personality we’re something I had always been interested in as a kid to be able to now showcase all these ideas I’ve had in my head and bring them to life to share with society is a dream come true. Read more>>

Kyle Oechslin | Film Director & Photographer

I, as a child, actually had a dream to be an astronaught. I wanted to go to space badly, exlore our soloar system and eventually more. Growing up, discovering we no longer go beyond orbit, barely have any rover like things beyond our planet, I thought their would be no way to go beyod earth. I had been watching sci-fi, mostly Star Wars. I enjoyed film. When I was a kid, me and some friends were playing with legos and came up with a story with ’em. We decided to film it, with us acting. We used an old sony camera on Hi8 tape. I thought this was so cool and watching it was like this is fun! I didn’t know making movies was a job, as a child I thought they just somehow existed. Read more>>

Kevin McCants | Artist / Instructor

Create is my life’ passion! I’ve been on this path since the age of Six, when my interest in drawing and painting began. As a child my parents allowed me all the tools I’d need to pursue my artistic goals. Be it Painting, drawing or any creative endeavor I undertook, I was put in an environment where I could thrive. This only fueled my passion for Art and creating art. This opened the doors to all manner of creative fields, where one could not only express oneself but develop the skills to help others thrive as I have. Read more>>

Shaquille Wharton | Rapper/Actor

I have always loved creating things ever since I was a kid, and I love the creative process as well. To me it’s one of the best feelings in the world to make something out of nothing. Once we become adults, it seems that we forget how to have fun, and enjoy our time on earth. I wanted to make an attempt at making my career something that I love to do. Read more>>

Maria Castro Medela | Drummer & Singer/Songwriter

I am originally from Panama, and artistic careers are still very stigmatized. I knew I was taking a risk by doing so, but I never really saw myself doing anything other than arts. I was a straight A’s student back home, so choosing to pursue a music degree came as a bit of a shock to some teachers and family. I did have a couple of options: it was either music or writing (because I love poetry), but both of those options were artistic. At the end of the day, I would have definitely resented my younger self if I didn’t give music a shot. Read more>>

Anna Rawr | Tattoo Artist

I hadn’t actually planned to, I just kept falling back into it. I went to college for fine art and Sociology, and I had planned on going back again for Bio Chem. But I fell in love with 3D art and became a sculptor, working with mostly wood and metal. At the end of school, the country was in the middle of the economic depression and I was barely existing, working a ton of dead end customer service jobs just to make ends meet. I had a hard time getting out of it and never thought I would be able to become an artist of any kind and live. About 8 years and a million awful abusive jobs later, my older brother hit me up and got me a job as a fabricator in Red Hook where he was an IT guy. Read more>>

Demetrius Collins | Visual Artist, Sound Alchemist, Custom Jewelry Designer, & Wood Crafter

I pursed it because I know I can make an impact in society and the world with all that I have to offer from the visual aspect to the healing aspect. Read more>>

Kal Marshell | Recording Artist, Philanthropist, Content Creator & Motivational Speaker

I chose a career in music & the arts because It’s the one true passion & constant force in my life and I feel this gift of mine can inspire positive change throughout the world. I was born singing & writing songs. I was born into a musical family in Chicago,IL. With music being with me forever, honestly I hope that I’ll be able to keep creating music and performing until I’m ready to stop. I pursued a musical career my whole life. I did more as a child but wasn’t prepared and had some struggles to overcome. Read more>>

Kemoy Newman | Soap maker

I was trying to find something to do to make me happy and I looked at a few different things. Soap making just stuck out and i decided to try it. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2017 and it was devastating to me, I could not do most of the things that I was normally able to do. Including using my hands and now that it’s controlled I can make beautiful soaps and amazing products with my hands. I love it Read more>>

Shavonda Robinson | Award Winning Published Author, Published Spoken Word Artist, Published Poet, Published Songwriter, Fashion Designer Business Owner of Colorful Vibe Designs 3, Mother of 2 Beautiful Children.

I feel like Creativity chose me I know I was born to create something
Unique and Important This is my birthright, This is who I am. Read more>>

Farbod Ardebili | Filmmaker

It was not much of a choice. It was more like an urge. An urge that, if not satisfied, could break me from inside. Read more>>

Josh Sweiven | Musician – Glooms” (if you’d use the stage name that’d be awesome)”

I’m not sure if I COULD be anywhere else. Thinking about holding down a job or existing in the current US workforce personally sounds like a nightmare. The only thing I’ve found myself being capable of, while expressing myself and feeling any sense of purpose, is music. Until I stop having the urge to create and share those pieces of myself I don’t know that I could fit anywhere else. Read more>>

Lynnie Monae | Influencer

The reason why I chose an artistic or creative career was simply because I use it to express myself through my fashion , dancing & lifestyle. Read more>>

Christopher Fuentes | Singer/Songwriter & Leader of The Mysterious Experience

When I was a teenager I fell in love with music. I picked up the bass guitar and just dived into a lot of pop music. I eventually found that I really Iove the psychedelic rock era of the 1960’s, along with the pop music from the 1980’s. The blaring loud and crazy guitar solos from Jimi Hendrix, to the beautiful song writing from The Beatles, to the big dance grooves from Micheal Jackson. I found so much rich substance within the music and I really wanted to be a part of It. It spoke to me. a new tongue that I felt blessed to understand. Read more>>

Abraham Chavez | L.A. based guitarist

Simple. I fell in love with playing the guitar. Since the age of 9, I knew that playing guitar is all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s a creative tool, a way for me to express myself. Whether that’s through my own music, someone else’s or even a cover band gig. I’ll always enjoy what I do. Read more>>

Ryan Jones | Publishing Associate & Author

From a young age, it was easy to say that I was more right-brained than left-brained. You can ask my mom — I sang before I talked. Apparently, when she went grocery shopping, I’d sing in the cart throughout the aisles until the moment we left. I also grew up around reading and books. My parents always made it a habit to have nighttime reading before bed, and that grew into reading chapter books on my own, and now to the love of books I currently have. Read more>>

Michelle Ly | Travel Blogger and Content Creator

I decided to pursue an artistic career to relieve stress and be able to find a way to express myself. For me, photography and creating short-form videos was my way of showcasing who I am to the world. I have always loved social media and I thought to myself, why not share what I love on the networks I love? Honestly, I am very appreciative that social media gives me an outlet to share what I create and possibly work with brands doing what I love. Read more>>

Charles L Chatmon | Author & Poet

It started out as a hobby. I started writing when I was about twelve because it gave me something to do. I grew up an only child and very lonely so writing my thoughts in a poem or short story really helped me to become the author I am today. There’s something about sitting down and creating on paper and on screen expressing your feelings, your dreams and hopes, everything you want to describe in that space. I enjoy it now that I’m producing books and talking with readers of what they felt about what they read. That means a lot to me. Whether it’s a poem or story, I always want my audience to feel they’ve learned a lot about the written work and about me. Read more>>

Chloe Adona | Actor | Singer | Songwriter

Performing and entertaining through my music, singing and acting has always been a dream and a passion of mine. Read more>>

Zander Reddis | Bassist, Guitarist, and Stringed Instrument Tech

I pursued a creative career in a couple of fields, because artistry and creativity have always sparked the most joy and inspiration for me, for as long as I can remember. From getting lost in the fantasy of Harry Potter books, to seeing my dad build incredible things out of nothing with only his hands and tools, to discovering the vast world of musical genres and instruments, my most visceral and vivid emotions and ideas have always come from art, in one form or another. For me, that kind of enveloping inspiration is the essence of a truly fulfilling and joyful life, and exactly what I wanted to spend my life doing. Read more>>

London Reese | Artist & Entrepreneur

I cannot even fathom an existence where creating art, of some kind, was not the focus of my life. Making art helps enrich all of the nuances and relationships in my life and I truly cannot imagine doing anything else for a living. I need to make art. It’s in my bones. Read more>>

Samiyyah Muhammad | Artist & Sound Healer

I didn’t choose art as a career; it just sort of happened because I couldn’t focus on anything else. Creating makes me feel alive; it reminds me that I exist. My creations embody my spirit, mind, ideas, and emotions. It makes the things about me that would otherwise go unseen and unheard real, something tangible, something you can see, touch, hear and feel. I think of my art as living bodies of work that will live on when I am no longer here, breathing life into people that have the opportunity to experience it. I create to live. Read more>>

Lauren Fleishman | Screenplay Writer & Creative Consultant

I had a quarter life crisis at the age of 23, attended Vipassana (a 10 day silent meditation course) where a little voice inside my head said “Move to LA and become a screenplay writer for a top tv show, then create your own. You will make change in this way”. Prior to that, I was a college grad, total booky nerd obsessed with law, politics and the false idea that systemic change can magically happen within a severely corrupted system. I see art, creativity and authentic expression of the self as a more effective way to make bottom up change. Read more>>

Armelle Ngo | French woman, artist, mother, wife, yogi, friend

I have come to painting quite organically actually. Even though I have pursued a carrier in translation and interpretation in the early stage of my adult life, I have always been drawn to arts. As a child and teen, I would draw, paint, model with clay or even sew and using my hands was always a source of satisfaction. Growing up in Paris I frequented the world famous art museums and these years have been very formative for me as they shaped my vision and my sensitivity. Read more>>

Clar Angkasa | Author-Illustrator & Animator

I’ve loved drawing from the moment I picked up my first colored pencil and I never stopped loving it. When I was a child, adults would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up and I would always say the same thing: I want to be an artist. To me, art was a form of escape and expression. Sometimes the world would get too frustrating, too noisy, too chaotic, so I turn to my art for some peace and quiet. Growing up, I was anxious and depressed (still am) and with limited resources to properly deal with my mental and emotional health, Read more>>

Anthony Valdez | Creator/Entrepreneur/Skateboarder

I personally am not happy unless I’m creating. plus, it’s cool to know that something you created is being consumed by people that enjoy what you create. I would also have to say the timing. . . everything now is on the creative. I mean, creators/artist have always been in high demand but in this generation it’s amazing how much your life can change just by being creative & the power of social media. Read more>>

Shannon Shui | Model, Content Creator, and Talent Manager

Growing up Asian American, it’s typically ingrained in you that artistic or creative careers don’t equate to success. It’s often discouraged because our cultures usually value safety over passion. However, I always knew I was happiest as a creative, being on camera, producing visions in my head, and creating visual art. Doing a “regular 9-5” was just never my portion. When I was fresh out of college, I began working at a beauty marketing agency in New York where I learned the ins and outs of brand campaigns- everything from content creation to hiring talent. Read more>>

Lucy Peru |

I pursued an artistic/creative career because it felt like home to me. I gravitate towards what I love, and what I love the most has always been the arts and creativity. A pivotal moment for me was when I was given a very small classical guitar at the age of eight. I bought a Joni Mitchell songbook and started to learn one of the songs when I realized I wanted to sing about my own thoughts and feelings- not someone else’s. I wrote my first song about pancakes. I was so in love with that tiny guitar; I took it everywhere! Read more>>

Tatyana Figueiredo | Actress

I pursued an artistic career because it is a way to express myself to the world in a way that people would want to see or hear. Being an actress allows you to escape and be characters or people you otherwise would never be. You can find the strength or even the weaknesses inside yourself and bring that to the surface in an artistic way, giving a sort of emotional release. And having others feel inspired by your work or feel an array of emotions about it can be very fulfilling. Read more>>

Hannah Park | Lead Singer and Multi-Instrumentalist of Shiro

I pursued an artistic career because I needed to see more faces like mine on the stage! I remember as a lifelong fan of music, I would go to shows and feel a distinct pain from feeling as though there were no notable Asian-American creatives, at least not while I was growing up in the late 90s and 2000s. Now I feel there has been a shift and more minorities of all sorts are taking back the narrative, and I am very happy to be able to be a part of that. Read more>>

Michael E. Gordon | photographic artist

Artistic careers – especially in non-commercial fine arts – can be risky endeavors. This is not necessarily the ideal career for those who require a steady and consistent income stream or a fixed daily schedule and team with which to collaborate. It may also not be a great career consideration for those that are not self-motivated and driven to find their own success. But for those who possess the ideal qualities of independence and desire personal freedom unchained from the corporate world, there probably is no better path than one in the creative visual arts. At the end of the day, Read more>>

Christan Van Slyke | Screenwriter/Producer

I have always enjoyed the arts since I was a wee one; whether it be drawing or film and writing. In high school I started writing songs for the bands I was in, and entering short stories into contests. As I got a bit older, I realized my passion in art was mainly based in film and writing. I started pursuing filmmaking head on in 2008. Read more>>

Bronwyn Leigh Jones | CEO/Entrepreneur & Executive Producer

I started out as a model, actress and singer as a teen in Australia which spanned my teens and 20’s into my early 30’s. Creative endeavors such as acting and songwriting was a hunger I had to satisfy and enabled me to have a creative outlet. After “growing up” on Australian television and signing publishing and record deals, touring as a singer in our band and being a Vee Jay on MTV Australia I had filled my creative cup. I then started to become more interested in business endeavor’s and found I had a knack for putting deals together so I entered the world of venture capital. Read more>>

Joseph Rusnak | Composer & Music Producer

I remember a pivotal point in my mid to late 20s when a band I had dedicated a few years of my life to abruptly called it quits; a pregnancy between two members can do that. The void and loss of a focal point with which to put my creative energy into suddenly appeared in my life forced me to consider how I’d move forward with regards to both my creative impetus and need to find work, or even better yet a career. I remember a conversation with my father in which I had mentioned grad school as a potential way forward, which he swiftly rebuked (let’s just say my undergrad academic performance was a bit uninspired). My father had seen how I had been actively creating music since I had begun learning through different instruments, styles, bands, etc., Read more>>

Jennifer Love | Fashion Designer

I learned in life that if you are not happy with what you do don’t do it. Knowing my purpose and what I loved is why I chose a creative career. Having the freedom to design and create things has been my passion since I was a little girl. Showcasing all the ideas that popped in my head. Being creative taught me a lot about myself as well. Seeing women wearing what I create makes me happy and know I am leaving a mark on the world. I want to leave a legacy for my family, to show that I was here. This the best job I have ever had, as a Fashion Designer. Read more>>

Joel Pulido | Photographer

Time only goes forward, for better or worse. With cameras, you can capture or record a moment for years to come, whether it be a planned shot, or a spontaneous moment. Having that mindset, I believe it’s a wonderful thing to be someone who can be there for those people wanting to have their moment captured. Building the skills and experience needed for that is valuable, and through that value, is what I’m able to offer myself for to others. Read more>>

Lisa Segal | Poet/Writer & Artist/Teacher

I teach writing and the creative process, but for all of my official higher education, I stuck to the safe plan—no artistic, creative career. But I was also in an art class or sharing studio space whenever I could. I’m a good project manager so I would have stayed in the print production department of the ad agency Wells, Rich, Greene, but the Century City office closed. After that, I returned to secretarial temp work. I got a degree in library science to have a steady job so I could buy art supplies. Read more>>

Irving Green | Actor, Voice Over Artist & Comedian

I decided to get into this business because it aligns with what feels to be my purpose in this life. I truly feel as though part of my mission in this lifetime is to enlighten people through the power of art – specifically, entertainment. To be a part of somethign that makes one think and feel. I remember that every chance I got, Read more>>

Michael (Mike) Melnick | Photographer/Videographer

I pursued an artistic career because most of my life I told myself it wasn’t possible. Sticking to the ‘status quo’ was a mindset I couldn’t shake. Although I come from a creative family, most of my life I felt like the black sheep who fell into a sales job because “that’s what you do when you don’t know what you want to do.” My brother also played a big factor in expanding my horizons beyond sales and into music/editing. After years of drug abuse, his sobriety and success as a hip hop artist inspired me to step out of my own comfort zone and try something different. Read more>>

Yrene Ramirez | Concert Photographer & Music Journalist

As a concert photographer and music journalist, there’s an indescribable amount of fulfillment that comes with taking that perfect shot in life (pun definitely intended). Not only does it feel good to beautifully encapsulate a moment in time, whether it be in writing or in practice, but it feels far greater to make the subject of the image feel as bright as their captured passion. With a picture alone being worth a thousand words, I almost always hit my word count when writing reviews! Jokes aside, Read more>>