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.

Anne Maslen | Storyboard Artist

When I was a kid, I had severe ear infections that lead to temporary deafness. My speech was delayed as a result, and so my mom encouraged me to communicate by writing and drawing. My hearing eventually came back, but I kept drawing at every opportunity. As I grew up watching cartoons and anime, I knew that this was something that I would love to be a part of, that I could communicate stories through the medium of animation. Now, as a storyboard artist, I get to do just that, and I hope that my art can encourage other people to do the same. Read more>>

Misha Bhola | Poet & Author

I’ve learned over time that creative expression is a part of who I am and a necessary part of my being. There is something very liberating about spilling your thoughts from heart to paper. And there is something very gratifying about knowing that your words could potentially help someone through their own journey. Read more>>

Destiny Sutton | Plus Size Model & Photographer

I pursued a creative career because ever since I was a young girl I was always involved in the arts through various mediums and I knew I was destined to be involved in arts in some way. When I was 7 years old my mom had me enter many different fashion shows and modeling competitions and it really peaked my interest to want to take things further. Unfortunately during my teenage and adult years I did not see much plus size representation so it discouraged me to continue pursuing my passions. Read more>>

Kahli Smith | Cosmetic Tattooer & Business Owner

I’ve never been one to take the usual path in life, so this made sense with my career choice as well. I never wanted to have a 9-5. I wanted to the freedom to work when I wanted/needed to, I wanted to be able to take time off to still enjoy life! And I was lucky enough to find a passion where I was able to provide this freedom for myself. Read more>>

Renqian Yang | Artist & Educator

I grew up in Xiangtan city (Hunan Province), China. My parents were usually busy with work, so I stayed home by myself a lot and started drawing every day. My mom sent me to study traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting because she knew I had a strong interest in drawing. We thought Art school might be a good option, so my mom supported me to take some art courses from a local art studio. Drawing and painting were all I want to do when I was in high school. I spent my entire senior year practicing drawing in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. Read more>>

Salvador Verano | Freelance Illustrator & Graphic Designer

My name is Salvador Verano Calderon A.K.A. Amor de Verano, I´m a freelance illustrator and a graphic designer from Pachuca, Mexico, I have drawn since I was a kid, then when I was like 12 or 13, I discovered Punk Rock and Do It Yourself movement (DIY) which open my mind so when was time to choose a career I picked Graphic Design mainly for be an illustrator. Read more>>

Jessica Wen Jun Ciprian | Film Composer & Pianist

I don’t think I’ve ever really asked myself this question, and so therein lies the answer to the question of “why?” – it was simply done without thought or hesitation, an innate part of who I was, as natural as breathing. I’ll be honest, it took me a moment to think of an answer, hoping I’d form some sort of elaborate, philosophical reasoning… but I truly don’t have one. Read more>>

Herald K | Folk Noir Singer-Songwriter

The creative arts, literature, film, music, painting, have always been important for me. I never saw them as just pastimes. Actually what can be expressed in art sometimes somehow seems to transcend than what goes on in our temporal lives. Yet for most of my life I didn’t go after any of it actively. That only happened as an adult. First through dabbling a little in poetry for the page, but later through identifying another way through songwriting, recording, and performing. Once I started learning those crafts, I realized this was gonna stay with me for the rest of my life. Read more>>

Seda Saar | Artist and concept designer

Creating has always been a part of my life – mostly to improve life ! Ever since I can remember I was curious to express as well – through song, writing, poetry and music as well as first and foremost drawing – drawing stories as they played on my head – characters from cartoons , drawing from nature or creating abstract paintings – o pursued design after highschool so as to create solutions to space , beautify environments or create fantastic scenes – architecture and design became a natural way to do it – working as a theme park designer was the height of that creativity and I still enjoy concept design and painting is a way to express my interest in color and physics of perception or how we experience the world. Read more>>

Annice Lyn | Photojournalist

I decided to pursue my artistic / creative career being a documentary photographer because I believe that photography holds no boundaries in regards to anyone’s social status. It is a medium used that being able to provoke understanding and captured to create human connection
. Where I find photography is a tool for change, now more than ever, by capturing the present and preserving the past with the ability to impact and unite people with great magnitude. Read more>>

Stacey Zielinski | General Manager & Fitness Trainer

I have always been on the move from a young age and have not really slowed down since! Being a part of an artistic and creative career field has been exciting, enlightening, creative and an experience that I will never take for granted. I grew up dancing and I feel as though dance has taught me a great deal about discipline, building relationships and getting outside of the box. These traits have been mirrored in my current career as it is a position with lots of movement, creative thinking, relationship building and energy. Read more>> 

Andrea Burke | Artist & Owner of Burke Manor Art

When i was 3 years old i was put into the foster care system until i was about 20 years old. The only comfort I’ve had most of my life has been creating and I’ve always been most interested in things that involve design or art in some way. Creating is so fulfilling to me, it makes me feel safe and calm it gets me through the bad days and keeps me motivated to enjoy the good days too. I’ve always known i wanted to be a entrepreneur that i needed to be on my own to make the most impact and also where i could let my ideas flow. Read more>>

Allison Greenlea | Wedding Photographer & Halal Charcuterie Company

To me it seemed like there was no other path. I took the conventional route and completed college and I even majored in something completely different than what I am currently pursuing now. Believing something would just stick and I would find myself on the “appropriate trajectory”. Read more>>

Catherine Dao | Filmmaker with a specific purpose to bring humans together to help each other.

Ever since I can remember, I knew I was different from the other kids. Born and lived my elementary school years in Taiwan with very strict rules of behavior, I never felt I belonged. It was something I embraced but my teachers found annoying. For various reasons, our family of three immigrated to the United States when I was 12. Landing in Los Angeles, California, I immediately felt right at home. This is not normal. Many blessings and tragedies in my life gave me peace and sadness, often at the same time. I felt that the world needed help though there is much beauty, there is much turmoil. Read more>>

Hollyanne | Singer – Songwriter

I come from a musical family, it all started with my great, great Grandfather, he was a Bugle player in WW2, and his ‘musical genes’ have passed down to me via my great grandmother, who was an Organ player for her church, her son, my Grandfather took me to jam sessions as a child, he plays rock keyboard, sings and also the mouth organ. Lastly, my Mother shes a singer and I watched her play in bands, singing and music just felt like the right path. Read more>>

Matt Munoz | Musician & Multimedia Journalist

Growing up in a small farming town in the central valley with limited access to entertainment in the 80s meant you had to use your imagination and deep dive into the creative interests of your heart. Mine was and will always be music. During my youth as a beginning musician, I watched MTV and imitated my musical heroes, and of course spent a lot of time daydreaming. That passion has stayed burning inside and to this day brings me the most joy. Read more>>

Joshua Kim | UX/UI designer

I want to be helpful person on UX/UI design field. Last year, I had a UX/UI web design personal project called ‘VAP’. VAP is an AI-based music streaming application, and its target audience is the MZ generation. I researched the music services preferred between Korean users and foreign users. According to the results of Korean users, Koreans preferred cheaper services to sound quality. And Chinese and American preferred sound quality to service price to the point where set the prices differently depending on the sound quality they provide. Based on this user research experience, I want to be helpful person on this field. Read more>>

Rio Chen | Object Designer

I have always considered the process of creativity fascinating. I was interested in automobiles at age five, mobile phones at age thirteen, and home goods at age twenty. Previously, I viewed design as the final solution to any and all difficulties we have or are currently experiencing. However, as a result of recent social disputes and national-political conflicts, I’ve recognized that there is more to learn about the design process. There are numerous issues that cannot be resolved by merely creating a simple cup. Political design, in my opinion, is a philosophical influence that transcends design processes and results. In the design process and every decision made by designers, the political language and mindsets are evident. Read more>>

Liv Cleverley | Illustrator & Designer

Creativity has always been a massive part of my lifestyle and upbringing; I have fond memories of my Dad taking me around art galleries and exhibitions even as a child. However, throughout school, I didn’t think a creative career was a feasible option to create a living. The only options seemed to be an art teacher or fine artist. Once I found out I could pursue my hobby and passion as a career, I decided that was the only option for me. I did lots of research into illustration and design and, luckily, the information about how to become an illustrator is becoming a lot more readily available! After all, if I can do a job I truly love, why wouldn’t I want to do that? Read more>>

Kelley Brooks | Portrait Photographer

As a Mom of 4, I realized having a portrait with your children is very important! We have become so obsessed with cell phones and having digital images that we have forgotten about having an actual portrait or print placed in our home! My goal is to give my clients a beautiful peace of art that will become a conversation peice when they have a guest in their home. There is nothing like sitting in your home and looking at a a beautiful images of yourself or family. Read more>>

Sam Mirpoorian | Filmmaker

I subconsciously pursued an artistic/creative career once I stopped playing competitive basketball. In high school, the first video I made was about encouraging my classmates to recycle. I dressed my best friend up as a tree and we shot the piece in my backyard; it was a revelatory experience to say the least. The journey early-on felt subconscious due to my father’s IT-based job. Every night he’d bring a new gadget from the University (where he worked) for me to play with. From my childhood through my undergrad and grad studies, I had always been exposed to filmmaking and storytelling, juxtaposed with technology – all because of my father. Read more>>

Tania Campos | Cannabis Marketer & Crochet Designer

Being a third generation, Mexican American, my parents always pushed the academia on me with high importance. As a result of my over achievement and high test scores, I was pushed to go to a college prep high school when I really just wanted to attend the local high school and keep studying the arts – which I had an innate passion for. I loved to draw, write stories, comics and plays (a play that I wrote in the 3rd grade wound up being acted out by my peers later on when we were in the 7th grade – much to my surprise), and generally use my imagination to create things. Read more>>

Lauren Darlene | Actress, Artist, Producer

I fell in love with acting and music at an early age. I grew up in the entertainment industry after I was born. Because my mother sang and my father produced music that had a lot of effect on me. I grew up watching Janet and Michael Jackson perform, inspiring me to be a big entertainer. Growing up watching Disney and Nickelodeon, actresses like Raven Symone, Keke Palmer, and Hilary Duff were the “it” girls at the time. Read more>>

Bretina Pittman | Curl Specialist & Educator

I’ve always been a relatively creative person and my interest in the beauty industry started when I was super young. So I guess you can say that being hairstylist has always been my “dream job”. I love that what I do allows me to express my creativity but it also creates an opportunity to pour into those in my chair and help them feel beautiful and confident in their natural hair. This is to me is what makes the this job so rewarding. Read more>>

Kate Namowicz | Animator

I’ve always wanted to be an artist since I was a little girl. When I was having a hard time figuring out what kind of artist I wanted to be, a family member pointed out that I loved animated films I should be an animator. That sparked my interest to go into the animation industry. I went to Ringling College of Art and Design tp pursue an education in animation and made a short film called “Mime Your Manners” with my co director Skyler Porras. The film has one many awards including the Silver Medal for Best Domesticated Film from the Student Academy Awards. Read more>>

Lexie Chacon-Rios | Hairstylist & Makeup Artist

I’ve always been creative and artistic from a young age, whether it be drawing or dancing. I remember specifically when I was younger in dance, I loved getting ready for my dance recitals because I knew I was able to get my hair and makeup done. It was truly the best experience. I didn’t realize until my junior year of college that I wanted to pursue a career in hair and makeup. It was definitely scary at first to telling my parents that I wanted to do makeup, but they were very supportive and made an agreement for me to finish college before going onto Makeup Designory for their Master Artistry Program. Read more>>

Cheyanne Witter | Photographer and Visual Artist

While I was growing up, I never really felt like I had a specific passion for anything. I liked to doodle random things and play video games, but as for a career, I really had no idea what I was going to do and I honestly didn’t even think that much about it. When I got into high school, I was required to take at least two “art” credits in order to graduate, so for some reason I just randomly decided to take the one photography class that my school had as well as a set class that my school’s theatre had. Both of these were horribly underfunded because nobody at that school really cared much about art, but I ended up having a pretty nice time despite that. Read more>>

Reagan Brummett | Dancer

Dance is the one thing that I was best at and I loved it so much at the same time. I think it is super special to be completely in love with what you get to do everyday, because a lot of people on the planet don’t get to experience that. When I realized that dance could be a real career for me I had to run with it and see how that could play out. Read more>>

Andrés Gallegos | Cinematographer / DP

Great question! I would like to start by saying that like any art form, cinema is constantly looking for mutations to create new representations of the human condition. The cinematic experience is a theatrical illusion that uses narrative or non-narrative structures as a technique for interpersonal persuasion, and I strongly believe that one of the key goals of cinema is to expand the consciousness of society. This is basically why I was drawn into making movies 🙂 Read more>>

Deborah Michelle | Designer and Owner of Maison D

I don’t feel I chose it, I feel it chose me. From the age of three I designed my own Halloween costumes and played the piano. At eighteen I started my first line of handbags with a friend, while I was in design school. If I’m not creating, I’m not happy. It’s really that simple. Read more>>

Carla Cordelia | Visual Development Artist

I have always been into watching shows, cartoons, anime, and movies growing up. I picked up on drawing not long after, just doodling for fun. In my last 2 years of university, I discovered Visual Development, something that I can actually make a good career out of. There’s nothing more rewarding to me than having a creative outlet and for me it’s through painting. Read more>>

Carys Gooi | 3D Artist & Game Developer

I’ve always loved art. As a kid, I was creating art all the time – whether that be sketching in the back of classrooms, writing short fiction to read to my aunt, or freely composing on the piano. I find it amazing that you can create literally anything under the sun with just your imagination, bring it into the physical world, and share bits of yourself and your own story with everyone. And not just that – those creations can also bring people closer, through shared interest and passion. Read more>>

Terrell Pierce | Actor

Acting and writing stories are my 2 passions. My mom used to tell me when I was like 6yrs old that I have to either write stories, act, or play an instrument. It seems like she knew that I was going to be something in the arts and she was just trying to point me in the right direction. Read more>>

Janice Oh | Cosmetic Tattoo Artist

I decided to pursue a career in beauty because beauty/makeup is something that I have always been extremely passionate about. It all started with my love for makeup and skincare products. Growing up, I would collect all kinds of makeup and experiment with different looks that were way out of my comfort zone, but allowed me to learn what my strengths and weaknesses were. Read more>>

Jasper Cole | Actor/Producer

For me, pursuing a career in the arts started with my love of acting and my love for theatre, television and film. I was the youngest of 4 boys and the “Arts” really wasn’t something I knew much about growing up. We were focused on sports and school and small town life in a college town. I always say I was a “closeted Thespian” because I secretly dreamed of being an actor but I had no real concept of how to ever make that happen so I immersed myself in everything Television and show business. Read more>>

Wendy Ann Powell | Dancer, teacher, choreographer, playwright, director and educator

I pursued an artistic career out of an abundant need to escape, keep myself sane, and search for a way to explore my mother’s mental illness. Growing up in a household with a mentally ill mother meant that I was subjected to constant trauma. My mother suffered from schizophrenia and from a very young age I had to navigate her illness and being homeless. Although my mother suffered from mental illness she was also very creative . Read more>>