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.

Cami Levin | Artist

Ultimately I became an Artist because I love bringing to life something that only exists as a feeling. Self expression is so vital to my life that it wasn’t an option to pursue anything else long term. Art creates my bliss and that’s what I want my life to be. Read more>>

Shaun Dennis Covington | Arashi Supanova The Artist | Author, Singer, Model, Actor

I truly had no other choice. As a creative you have to create. And i could not sit around at a regular 9-5 making other people money. Id rather go hungry making my creative ideas fly then do that. I have way to many talents to not explore them all and so that’s what I choose to do. Im I’m grateful for it. Read more>>

Spenser Reich | Editor

We spend so much of our life working, so I wanted to pick a career I would enjoy. I always loved storytelling, so at some point it became really clear to me that filmmaking was what I wanted to pursue. Read more>>

Rosemarie & Candice Bravo | Sudz Kitchen – Mother Daughter Team of Soap Makers & Creators

When Candice was younger we would always do hands on activities like painting on t-shirts or knitting. She was also enrolled in many dance classes at the time so I taught myself the basics of sewing to make some of her costumes and save money. Later in life, we both pursued business-related careers but the attachment to creativity was always there as we explored cake decorating in our spare time. Two years ago, I started making soap and I would present soaps to my family that resembled food such as a cupcake soap or a hot dog soap! We thought this was hilarious as our collection of faux food soaps grew. When Candice joined in on the fun a year later is when we really began challenging our techniques. We were mixing colors, testing new scents plus even adding bath bombs to our list of skills. Read more>>

Adam Chester | Musician

I started playing the piano at a very young age. Whenever there was a stressful situation? I turned to my little electric keyboard that my parents bought me when I was about 4 years old. I remember having an accident in grade school. Peed my pants. Hell, I peed all over that bathroom wall. Aiming for targets where there were none. Got sent home embarrassed, somewhat ashamed, and a wee bit happy (excuse the pun) to be out of school for whole afternoon. After getting to my room and changing, I turned on that keyboard and played. When a few people started applauding after I finished a song, I realized that a small crowd had gathered downstairs, set up chairs in the parking lot where my bedroom window overlooked. From that moment on, I liked the idea of entertaining people. Making them happy, through music. Read more>>

Austin Wade | Artist

I was brought into the world by two artists. My dad runs a dance company in Cleveland, Ohio called Inlet Dance Theater, and before that he taught dance and toured the country in a modern dance company. My mom is a multidisciplinary artist. She spent my young years as a potter, but has dabble in everything from painting to jewelry making. Now she’s refinishing and hand painting vintage and thrifted furniture. It’s just in my blood, I guess. I’ve never cared about sports or law or medicine or anything like that. I grew up around artists, so it’s just what came naturally. Recently, though, I decided to step back from freelance graphic design and to dedicate all my time to painting and street art. That’s been really refreshing and fun. Read more>>

Cheryl Nathan | Filmmaker & Photographer

I’ve always loved art– from photography to filmmaking to music. When I was 6, my dad bought me my very first digicam and not a day went by that I didn’t use it. I fell in love with taking candid photos of people because it showed the genuineness behind their smiles in moments where they were actually happy– something I didn’t see a lot in myself. Growing up, I experienced a lot of difficult and traumatic situations which now contribute to the kind of stories I like to express through my films. I used to write books as a child and of course at the time, I never thought to put any of those stories out there. I never really thought anything of it. But then one day at school, a friend of mine introduced me to a production team on Youtube called Wong Fu Productions, who told stories mainly about life situations and romance, and I remember thinking to myself, “Wow. They have almost the exact same style I use to tell my own stories.” and from there, it clicked. I loved visuals and storytelling– two huge aspects that make up films. So why not try that out?. Read more>>

Rebecca Weaver | Boudoir Photographer & Body Empowerment Coach

I’m a Virgo at heart and soul. I can’t stand someone trying to tell me what to do or how to do it and the idea of a normal 9 to 5 type job sucked the soul out of me. But I did have a “big girl job” before the pandemic started. But the dental practice I worked for had to close, so I decided I would focus my energy on something else. I was inspired to start boudoir photography by Tay Nelson, a boudoir photographer who showcases the beauty of all bodies. Body shame is something I’ve lived with my whole life and I figured I could pick up a camera and learn how to help others heal by showing them the beauty in their bodies exactly as they are right now. Read more>>

Sara Friedman | Actor, Director, & Writer

As far back as I can remember, I have had a very vivid imagination. This can present in negative ways, ultimately leading to diagnoses of anxiety and OCD when I was a teenager. However, I’ve learned that I can channel that imagination into writing, acting, and directing. The act of taking a thought or image and molding it into a piece of writing, art, or character is therapeutic and fulfilling. I also find immense connection with the world around me in story telling. During my most difficult times, I turn to books, TV, and movies for comfort, and I want to give that back to the world. I have also always been very connected with politics, feminism, and activism and have found weaving those into my filmmaking not only helps me express my personal ideals, but hopefully brings certain issues to light for a larger audience. Finally, a major reason is happiness. Since I was six years old and had my first role in a small theatre production, I have felt the most “myself” when I am using my story telling abilities and emotional life to connect with an audience. Read more>>

Katherine (KB) Young | Professional Artist and Innovator

This is an authentic life for me, as I have identified with being an artist since a young age. Art and creativity are a core part of my identity. I love working with my hands and making something beautiful. I love going to work every day. I did not start my career as a professional artist. My first job was in materials engineering and then I went to medical school to become a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. This was a great fit with my artistic background, and I loved being able to use my skills to help people. My surgical career did not leave me a lot of time for art, and I realized that I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t make time to pursue art again. When I had my daughter, I took some time off from medicine and really leaned into my art. It was such an authentic choice that I then left surgery and began painting and drawing full time. The flexible nature of being a professional artist has really allowed my creativity to flourish. Read more>>

Alyzza Suarez | Pastry Chef & Entrepreneur

At the age of 16, I began my first job at a local Dairy Queen. I learned how to make the perfect ice cream cone with a swirl on the top, blend together the perfect blizzard, and learned how to flip the cup before I served it to the customers. One of the most gratifying things I learned, was how to build and decorate the ice cream cakes. I was able to express my creativity and quickly learned how gratifying it is to create something that would bring joy and happiness to others. I fell in love with being able to see a vision and bring it to life but most importantly, I loved to make others feel happy and special. I decided to pursue my career in pastry arts at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. After graduation, I began my entrepreneurship journey by making cakes from home for friends and family. I worked day in and day out while supporting a full time job in a Swarovski Crystal jewelry store. While taking a one week vacation to visit my sister in New York City. Read more>>

Angel Osorio | Photographer, Videographer and Creative Director

I don’t think I pursued creativity, so to. speak. It felt more like a tug, or a way to express what words couldn’t alone. I always did something creative growing up. Whether playing guitar or animation. I was really into writing poems at one point too. Photography for me just kinda happened. I started in church for events. That lead a lot of people reaching out to me for weddings. I then started practicing portraits with friends for fun. in random places. Eventually the auction, Abell Auction, I worked at as a mover noticed my photography and was in need of a new photographer so they gave me a shot. I ended up helping run all their social media and photographing all these crazy antiques and paintings to eventually running the website and training another photographer to do what I did. Now i’m a photographer for Miss Lola, a women’s fashion boutique in LA. Read more>>

Roger Garcia  | Music Composer & Orchestrator

This is something I’ve known since I was very young. Interestingly enough, I wanted to be a paleontologist because in 2nd Grade we learned about Dinosaurs, and then in 3rd Grade Jurassic Park came out in the theaters. It was like, “this is my life!” Then, my grandmother got me an old organ/keyboard from a swap-meet. This thing was old! It only had two octaves, and when you plugged it in it sounded like it was preparing for lift off! I can’t recall much else other than not being able to control the volume. When I was older, my dad told me that I would notate music, in my “own way”, and try to remember songs I played that way. Thinking back on it, I was 7 or 8 years old, and it probably didn’t sound anything like music. But the artistic nature in me was clearly budding, leaving my Dino-digging future in some alternate universe. Read more>>

Luna Manm | Actrice

I have always liked change in my life, that’s why a lot of careers aren’t really for me. But when you’re pursuing an artistic career, you’re always finishing projects and starting new ones. And each one is like an adventure. Every adventure teaches you different things and you become better every time. This constant change and improvement is very important to me. I want a career that makes me feel like there is always more to learn and like I am never done exploring. I also feel like you generally get to work with people who really love what they do and wouldn’t change it for the world. When I would think about a career in the film industry, I saw inspired people working together to create something amazing. You never know where it’s gonna go or if it’s even gonna be good but that’s what drew me in. It’s an adventure. Read more>>

Gavanni | Musical Artist

I feel like I’ve always had a passion for music. As a consumer, long before I ever thought to make music, I would truly study the songs I listened to; I was familiar with every break, every beat, every melodic progression, I memorized it all. I feel like this helped develop my understanding of what “good music” is and what sounds good to me, and I applied this understanding towards creating my own art form through music. Pursuing my own artistic career became very important to me because for me, making music isn’t just about making music, it’s about creating an experience. Read more>>

California Star Chaney | DJ & Travel Writer

Music and travel are my two biggest passions, and I’m so fortunate to pursue them in unison. I feel the same energy when I’m DJing as I do when I’m writing about a place or destination I love: It’s a greater reminder that no matter our differences in life, we have the power to create one collective energy. With music, there’s no greater feeling than playing the right song at the right time. It’s a moment you almost can’t describe. I’ve felt that same vibrant energy spending an afternoon at a multi-generation, all-women weaving ceremony in the mountains of Peru, salsa dancing in a warehouse in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, and at the wild celebration of life that is Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’m blown away by how music travels the world and the way rhythms can have a million meanings to so many people. Read more>>

Dana Marie Chan | Collaborative Pianist

Music has always been a part of my life. I started playing the piano at age 5 and always loved to play in duets or ensembles with my friends. I had my first accompanying experience playing with my friend on clarinet in middle school. That experience opened my mind to how pianists can do much more than play solo pieces. In college, I was the pianist and co-founder of the Intermission Orchestra at the University of California, San Diego. Playing as a concert pianist is another field, where you are not only featured with solos, but where you also must blend with the rest of the orchestra members. As a collaborative pianist, there are so many opportunities to play in different settings such as concerts, competitions, lessons and playing with different musicians like professionals or students. Read more>>

Young Go | Rap/Hip Hop Artist

I really don’t know if I’m pursuing my art or in some ways, if it’s pursuing me. But if I just to answer the question in an objective way, I would say, I’m just expressing some of my innermost thoughts and I had no intentions initially of making it a career, it sort of just happened naturally. Although my team and I have built an enterprise around my art, the art is the driving force and so without the art, there wouldn’t be anything else I have going. I’m also a relatively new artist and up and coming as it pertains to a career and my team and I’s success is still developing, so I might have a different answer later down the line. In short, this career choice is just driven by my intuitive need as a human being to express myself and its only become a “career” because of how I leverage my art based on the support I get from people who hear it and experience it. Read more>>

Natalia Pehlivani | Fashion & Lingerie Designer

After a health issue I encountered during my late teens, I decided to develop skills and do something that I could use my creativity on a daily basis. For me, doing so is therapeutic. I feel that arts in general are some kind of medicine to my soul; an out of body experience that I want, so I want to prolong this feeling for as long as possible. Discovering the power of arts and what using my creativity can do to my psyche, it seemed as a natural career path from then on. Coupling the personal with having a social impact with my work is the best combination I can think of. My vision is not only an empowerment of the woman experience, to break stereotypes about the family body, but also to invent an alternative, a feminine language which does not adhere to old binaries. Read more>>

Michael Obermeyer | Traditional/Representational Fine Artist

As a child, I loved to draw- anything, anywhere, anytime. I would even draw in the air with my finger, something my kids tell me I still do occasionally. My parents recognized that I had a talent and signed me up for after-school art classes in studios across the Western San Fernando Valley. My fourth grade teacher, a very thoughtful nun, presented me with an art drawing package in front of my class and signed me up for a summer art program at one of the local public schools. I grew up wanting three things in life – to be a pilot, have lots of animals and to be an artist. I always knew that I was an artist and that my life would be centered, somehow, around my creative talents. Anything else would be a waste of the talents God gave me. Visiting Europe in high school exposed me firsthand to some of the masters of drawing, painting, and sculpture and I knew I was on the right path. Read more>>

Michelle Rodgers | Hair and Makeup Artist

I was born in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, a true native of California, I knew at an incredibly young age, that I had a passion for color and fashion. I was always playing with different types of foundations, lipsticks, eye shadows, hair styles, you name it! If it had color, and an available head of hair, my hands were in it! I knew back then at that point, I needed to figure out a way to pursue a creative career as a hair and makeup artist! I attended cosmetology school, and received my license to work on hair, nails and skin as a professional. I have also continued my education by taking classes that were dedicated to makeup artistry, hair styling, as well as learning the art of special effects for motion picture magic! Throughout my journey as a hair and makeup artist, I am truly thankful for working with such incredible photographers, models, actors, wardrobe stylists, producers, directors, PR Companies and especially the ever-amazing modeling agencies. Read more>>

Lisa Zahiya | Dance Teacher, Business Coach and Founder

When I was little and we did the activity in school of drawing “who you want to be when you grow up,” I drew two things: a bathing beauty and a tightrope walker! I loved the idea of performance and decorating myself. I was always choreographing shows with my cousins in my parent’s basement. However, I also did well on a standardized test which put me on an academic track. I danced my whole life but was told to focus on school. I did and went through academic achievement and was always slightly miserable and always working to do just enough to get by. After finishing an MBA, I was getting ready to go to law school. I was 26, pretty unhappy, and had a marriage of one year that was already ending. That allowed me to realize that I should follow my heart. So I dropped out and rented a large loft. I lived in the back and started to teach dance in the front. It certainly wasn’t an easy path, but the adventure has been worth it. Read more>>

David Emenheiser | Photographer

I started my creative after battling drug addiction for 20 years when my life was at it’s lowest and I was starting to heal what was broken in me I found photography. Today I have 7 years clean and sober 🙏 early in my recovery I would just go out on these adventures with my camera phone and 3 years ago I got my first camera and the progress I’ve made since then has been huge and such a blessing. I went from low life drug addict to a well known and respected photographer it’s just mind blowing to me and I’m so humbled to be recognized again and again for something I truly love and honestly something that saved my life 🙏. Read more>>

Mike ‘MJ’ Schilling | Cinematographer

For me, there never was never an alternative to having a career in a creative setting or artistic expression. From a young age I always had a passion for cameras, lenses, and how light worked. I was fascinated about how putting them all together and pointing at a subject could tell a story in one single image (or moving images to be more precise). I would watch dozens of home movies my Great Grandfather had made with his 8mm and 16mm cameras. He even showed me how to thread the projector and to be careful not to tear the perfs (sprockets). When my parents thought i was old enough, they bought me a 35mm still camera. From there on out I always had a camera in hand or was talking about what I wanted to do next with it. I became more and more obsessed with how all the elements came together and wanted to do more. Read more>>

Angela Hoover | Actor, Comedian, Impressionsist

I literally cannot work in a cubicle. I did it in my twenties. The job security was nice but the soul sucking was unbearable. I’m grateful I had the experience working at a desk at so many places though because it showed me what I really wanted. I did Drama starting my Freshman year. I tried out for Drama 1 Honors and as soon as I heard the director laughing, I was done for. I think we all want to affect people and make a positive difference in some way and when I make people laugh I feel like I’m doin that. Read more>>

Jenny Eisenberg | Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer

It’s funny because I actually have a degree in Commerce from the University of Virginia, a very practical and arguably uncreative area of study. I studied business because it’s a strong foundation for every industry, and I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do for a career when I was in college. After graduation, I moved to NYC and worked in Fashion and then in Media, but I hated sitting at a desk all day, felt unfulfilled, and had no freedom of expression in my jobs. I wanted to be more active, work with and help people, and be able to express myself through my career. Creativity not only keeps life interesting, because change and freedom are at its core, but creating something is exciting! With my Pilates practice, it challenges me mentally to design workout programs with movements and choreography specific to each client’s needs. Read more>>

Aaron Becker | Creative Director & Designer

As a kid, I was always drawing. Partly influenced by the fact that my grandmother was a draftswoman and excellent painter, I was always drawn to art. What started as the quite literal goal of reproducing the world around me in the form of a “realistic” drawing blossomed into broader interests in college: art history and eventually visual communication. I studied illustration, before officially making graphic design my major. It wasn’t until right before graduating that my focus grew even narrower, as I began exploring projects at the intersection between graphic design and film: the title sequence. Read more>>

Jayna Won | Tattooer

I pursued art because I always knew that if I wanted to be happy, whatever I did for work had to be a passion of mine. Creating art has always been the thing that has centered me and helped me express myself. Read more>>

Mel Depaz | Artist. Illustrator. Designer.

I’ve been an expressive kid for as long as I can remember but I didn’t actually consider turning my art into a creative career until I got to college in 2015. I took a couple of art classes and sold some small paintings. While I was in college I felt my bliss and the vibe I really enjoyed being in and around was where creative work was being made. I want to thrive in the energy to I decided to pursue a creative career. Read more>>

Charis | Singer/ Songwriter

The possibilities with artistic careers are endless. Especially in music. I love that musicians can collab even if they have different genres or styles, and still make the most unexpected, dope record ever. I also love how usually the ideas for the most impressive songs come when the artists’ least expect it. The process of making the music is also super exciting. Music is very experimental which leaves a lot of space for new, awesome ideas. That’s what makes each song so special because of its individuality. To be part of such a unique process is thrilling. The mystery of not knowing how the song will actually sound until recorded, or even until the very end, is always exciting too. These details are some of the main reasons of why I’m passionate about music and continue to pursue it. Read more>>

Hayley Johnson | Singer-songwriter, The Little Miss

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a singer. From the wee age of five or so, I had a lot of grand plans and theories about how I would achieve such a thing. I brought my lyrics to school and rehearsed dance routines with my friends at recess (mind you, girl bands were HUGE at this time). It wasn’t until college, however, when I was trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do with the rest of my life, that I thought more seriously about pursuing music as a career. My goals have shifted since then, but if there’s one thing that has remained true, it’s that I plan to make music and share that music for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t be able to shake it if I tried (and, oh, how I’ve tried). Read more>>

Tina Paredes | Web Design + Development

It was never a question for me on whether or not I should pursue a creative career but rather what artistic discipline and industry I would focus on. I started out by studying studio photography but fell into working for a newspaper and spent a couple years shooting concerts and all the Lakers games I was allowed to tag along to. Since I was more interested in the composition of the shot more than the technical aspects, I moved on to art direction and design. After years of exploring design, by working on marketing materials for the music, gaming and beauty industries, I knew I had to figure out a way to keep the variety going and not be tied to doing the same thing day to day. Read more>>

Nadia Beck | Wedding & Event Florist

I have always wanted to do something in the creative field. I was a theatre major in college with hopes of making it to the entertainment industry. The one thing I always told myself while growing up was that I would never have a “desk job.” It was always my dream to achieve a successful artistic-business lifestyle. Floristry was a very appealing career that allowed me to have my creative outlet while working. Read more>>

Erin R. Dooley | Screenwriter

A year or so ago, we were digitizing VHS tapes for my parents’ 50th anniversary. As I was going through the old footage, I came across a video of my brother, his friend and I performing a pretend talk show. My brother (10 at the time) was the first guest, as the most well-known detective in the US, and I (then 7) was the second, as a famous actress. Today, my brother is a Deputy Chief of Police and I am a filmmaker. So, why did I pursue a career in entertainment? It seems to have been written from the start! I was in theater in high school, but when I got to college, I realized others were more talented in that arena. With the dream of becoming an actress set aside, I went down a different path. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in marketing and had a career in that field for nearly a decade and a half. One day, I wrote down a story that had been in my brain for a while. Read more>>

Xiaowen Wang | Film Maker & Designer

Art is an essential part of my life. And I find that true happiness lies in doing what one loves. Should I be lucky enough to have a job working at what I love to do, I know I would never feel tired or bored. When engaged in designing, writing, or making films, and facing the challenges of solving the problems and finding new ways of expression, I never notice how the time passes. In contrast, during those times of feeling uninspired when writing manuscripts, I have learned that frustration follows. Through these experiences came the realization that it is better to struggle in doing what one loves than to easily succeed at doing what one dislikes. For me, the true meaning of success in life is to have the opportunity to work at what I love doing. I also believe that passion and perseverance are the most important elements in one’s ability to succeed. Read more>>

David Amberg | Animator and Storyboard Artist

I guess I’d start by saying that animation wasn’t something I planned on doing as a young child, and was something I fell into a bit later in my life. I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2014, a period after I had dropped out of a top political science program in Washington DC. I was having difficulty eating and sleeping, and most of the relationships in my life suffered greatly as a result. When I transferred to a new school a year later, I began taking art classes just for fun, and I found something really satisfying in it. I was really entranced by the ability to create, especially after having experienced so much failure in both my personal and my student life. When I felt confident enough, I tried animating for the first time, and quickly fell in love with it. I haven’t looked back ever since. Animation and world-building, are both things I’m really passionate about. I think there’s a level of storytelling you can achieve in this medium that you can’t anywhere else. Read more>>

Kelvin KT Taylor | CEO, The Mentortainment Group, LLC.

I believe my artistic/creative career chose me. Everyone has a special gift God has equipped us with. Something that we’re just super dope at, but it’s up to us to develop, cultivate, and share it with the rest of the world. Read more>>

Ray Brown | Visual Artist

Pursuing a career as an artist was born of a passion for craft and problem solving. Creativity is, to my mind, problem solving. One might have a goal and is given a set of parameters or constraints. Creativity is just navigating those constraints and parameters as deftly, beautifully, efficiently and perhaps unconventionally as possible to arrive at ones goal. As a visual artist my goal is to present my point of view within the self imposed parameters of medium, size, subject matter, cost, technique etc. as artfully as possible. Which then speaks to craft. The ability to hone ones skills in their chosen media to such a point that the manner of production is in itself intrinsic to its worth. In my case drawing. I want to be so skilled at the act of drawing that my goal of communicating my point of view through drawing is made stronger, clearer, and more eloquent by the virtuosity of my craft. Read more>>

PAX&Q | VideoArtist

As an artist you document your truth. Whether it’s a specific time period you capture because you live in it or the way you feel in a certain moment. The cool thing is, art in today’s age lasts forever. You transmit a wave signal which we can pick up with our eyes, ears, or any of the sensual receptors at any given time, even in the future. On a personal level, we both had very individual lifepaths but art is essentially what brought us closer together. We opened up an art space together and it allowed ourselves to explore and get to know each other even more. There is a beauty in creating art together because every piece is a journey. There’s the beginning which consists of an idea, preparation, planning, getting the stuff needed to create. The journey of creation which is full of trial and error applied with knowledge & skills. Read more>>