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.

Brittany Ciauri | Artist

From childhood to now, art has consistently been the aspect of my life that makes me feel undeniably worthy and whole. When I create something, it feels like a return to my authenticity, like I’m at home within myself. It’s allowed to me to stand out, to feel different, and most importantly to recognize “different” is a good thing. Art has pulled me from the bottom of extreme lows and allowed me to channel and express feelings where words would fail. I’ve dealt with anxiety through the larger portion of my adult life and using creativity as an outlet has changed the way I handle what feels like chaos. It is genuine, it is unique to me, and every piece I work on captures a bit of what I was going through during the time. Read more>>

Joshua Wright | Clothing Designer & Content Creator

Growing up I was always drawn to aesthetics. I would take photos and make skateboarding videos & skits with my friends, back before any social media even existed. When you’re young you don’t really notice it but you are molding your passion – simply by doing what feels fun. Our system was built to push the youth in a direction of higher education. You were told that you go to school – then get a job. Making money without a college degree was bewildered… Until the internet birthed social media, and business was never the same. I was in college for a semester before realizing it was clearly not the pace, nor place for me. Read more>>

Valinda Cochella MA, E-RYT | Yoga & Meditation Instructor

I never really understood I was an artist, a creative, until I started working full time out of University. I was craving the artistic life and missing my days as a dance minor at University after moving across the country and working for about a year. I decided to get my Masters Degree in Dance-Movement Therapy at UCLA and dove head first into the 2 year program and LOVED every minute of it. I got to dance again, and create, and perform. I also got to help people and study Psychology, which fascinated me! I started working as a Dance-Movement Therapist at group homes in Santa Barbara, CA after graduate school. I worked all day as a Dance-Movement Therapist, counseled troubled teens, worked at a run-away shelter and waitressed at night to make ends meet. I don’t think I ever ‘consciously chose’ an artistic/creative career. It chose ME! Read more>>

Anne Reburn | Musician & YouTuber

I love this question because there are as many answers as there are artists. I grew up very involved in the arts but always balked at pursuing a creative career for fear of not being able to support myself. It wasn’t until I graduated from college and spent several unhappy months in a non-creative job that I realized I had to take the plunge. Read more>>

Den Johnson | Artist, Musician, Vocalist & Filmmaker

I’ve always been compelled to be creative, it’s very fulfilling and rewarding. In grade school, high school and college, I was the kid with crazy drawings and doodles all over their notebooks! I was also the class clown and the kid who made trips to the principals office quite often! Ultimately, I was a person with a need to perform and to create. I always felt different, but never knew why. I’ve since realized, I feel and express thing differently because I’m an artist. I have many layers of creativity, never just limiting myself to one creative interest. I’m an artist, voice actor, vocalist, musician, game developer, usual effects artist and filmmaker. There’s still so much still I want to learn and do too! Read more>>

Alston Novak & Sarah Landauer | Co-Founders

I’ve just always been drawn to fields and hobbies where I create things. Pinpointing the specific thing I wanted to do in the realm of writing vs. animation vs. comics vs. illustration, etc. has always been a challenge, but the constant in my life was “create.” There’s just nothing in the world quite so satisfying as having a story or an idea and being able to communicate that vision to other people. Or to see the world someone else is creating and help them commit that universe to paper. Sarah: In the same vein as Alston, I’ve always known I need to create things. I’m just not very good at physically creating things. I’ve always been a person of many varying passions. Read more>>

Leah Martin | Visual artist, Actor & Nurse

For many years leading up to my discovery of art, I appreciated it, but I didn’t feel I belonged there. I was busy raising children and making dinner and following the career path I had chosen at 18. I watched the art world like a child with their faced pressed into the glass outside of a toy store – longing, but not having. “I’m creative, but not artistic” I would say. Then in 2013 when I found out I may have cancer, I sat in a doctor’s office questioning everything. If was going to leave this world – Was I leaving a positive mark behind? Was I proud of the person I was? Fulfilled? Setting a good example for my daughters? The resonating answer to all of these questions was, N-O!! I left that room and that appointment a changed person. Read more>>

Stephania Gambaroff | Artist & Muralist

Artists put a mirror to themselves and society; they help people to question reality and provide a place to think away from the busy race. Where everyone gets to be exactly who they are and be loved and accepted. Where we can hear each other’s voices. This is why art has always been on the outskirts of society, and that appealed to me. I didn’t want to be contained by the norms and the games. I always wanted to play by my own rules. As an artist, I like to create my own reality: full of colors, sounds, textures, and excitement; to create my own universes. Read more>>

Omari Washington | Award Winning Actor & Executive Producer

I chose a creative career because I feel mentally free whenever I’m in my element. Ironically I found my purpose for life through acting. Growing up I had really bad anxiety and depression and didn’t know how to effectively communicate properly because of that. The only thing that relieved the negative energy I was experiencing at the time was being on stage or doing anything related to acting. The stage or being in front of the camera was my safe haven per say. Growing up I remember watching Denzel Washington in Glory and it moved me in such an emotional way that impacted my life forever. Ever since that day I wanted to be the one impacting people with my performances and that’s exactly what I did. Read more>>

Gioya Tuma-Waku | Actress & Poet

I have always been an artistic and creative person. I knew from the age of 10 that I wanted to be an actor because I loved movies and I was curious about the characters and the people that brought them to life. I would perform for my family and friends when I was younger and I did theatre throughout high school. Outside of acting, I also used to draw and paint. I wrote poetry and would even write songs with my sister and braid my own hair and sometimes other people’s hair too, or sew and adjust clothing because I didn’t quite like the way in fit me. And even now, as an adult, I continue to pursue a creative lifestyle when I’m not auditioning or filming. I’m learning how to DJ, I dropped my first Poetry Book this past April for Poetry Month, I tie-dye when I can, I crochet and knit and I’m interested in photography and maybe one day learning an instrument. Read more>>

Juan Gomez | Artist

I pursued an artistic career because it gave me a voice and arena where I can share my thoughts, observations, and emotions about the world around me. I was raised in a working-class family where it was important to just have an income as a measure of success. I have always had the interest to pursue something outside a 9-5 schedule and take on a creative field. Walking this path has not been easy though, I have to be very committed and work very hard to keep sustaining my art practice. Other reasons why I pursued this path were due to the varied nature that comes with an art career. I, by no means, think that I have reached a peak in a successful run as an artist; it is always a work in progress. There are still plenty of things for me to pursue and I am learning something new every day. Read more>>

Anne Bergstedt | DJ, Plant-Based Chef & ASMR Content Creator

For me, it wasn’t a choice to pursue an artistic path it seemed as though it chose me? My journey as an artist has evolved and expanded, adapted and changed over the course of time but one constant always remains… That I am happiest when I am able to express myself through a creative medium. The vessel may change, or the medium over time, but I will always be creating as that is what fulfills me and keeps me growing. Keeps me tapped into life. Over the course of my life this has evolved into different things. I was a dancer, then an actress, also a body double. My growth and interest expanded into music and performing as a DJ. Since Covid-19 I have found all of my previous outlets limited. Read more>>

Tara Klingenstein | Jewelry Artist & Metalsmith

I started working in the fashion industry right out of college in a corporate position and then moved on to working in textiles and fashion industry sales when I moved to California a few years later. After a while I started realizing I wasn’t super happy not having creativity as part of my job. I ended up leaving the last job (in sales) without much of a plan…I just knew I didn’t want to be THAT miserable on a daily basis. After toying with my old hobby of making necklaces for a few months, I decided that I wanted to go to jewelry school and learn how to solder and make jewelry from scratch. When I finished jewelry school, Etsy was the “go to” place at the time to sell handmade goods. I started there and as my momentum grew I made the decision to GO FOR IT and make it my career. Read more>>

Don Holtz | Photographer

I’m not built for a Monday thru Friday 9-5 job. I’ve done it before, and I’d do it again if I had to, but it sure feels better to do something that I’m passionate about. I find it hard committing my time to work that I don’t enjoy or at least feel is making a difference in the world. I realize there are times when a person just needs to work and earn a paycheck, no matter what the job is. I’ve had plenty of those times, but right now I’m using my art to earn a living and that brings me a lot of fulfillment. If I won the lottery, I’d still be concentrating most of my time on improving the craft of photography and making beautiful photographic prints. Read more>>

Kyndra Kennedy | Filmmaker

From music to poetry to screenplays and film, I’ve always had a need for creative expression and storytelling. It is important for me that I love what I do for a living, and I truly love every step of the filmmaking process. My intellectual, analytical and artistic sides are fully expressed. Also, being an artist from Los Angeles, born and raised, pursuing a career in the entertainment business has always been a viable option (lucrative if you’re lucky). It is absolutely possible to make a living as a filmmaker in LA. So many people come here to break into the showbiz and make their dreams come true, and for that, I always felt blessed being a Los Angeles native. In addition to my innate passion for the arts and creative expression, what inspired me to go into film, was actually the lack of representation of minorities and female filmmakers. Read more>>

Kathe Madrigal | Fine Artist

I pursued an artistic career eventually because it fits better to my personality. After receiving a BFA, I studied interior design because I thought I was being “practical”. My father always worried I wouldn’t make a living being a fine artist. Into my 2nd year of design study, my father convinced me to go into his business with the idea that I would take on his legacy and have a good income for myself and my family. I have a really good head for numbers and contracts,and I was good at my job but ,after giving it a solid 4 years, I knew my heart was elsewhere. I was always painting or accepting mural work on the side. I broke the news to him and never looked back. Read more>>

Piers Dennis | Director & VFX Coordinator

I was drawn to art from a very early age–always drawing and writing–and I guess you could say that the passion just never really subsided. When you’re a kid, the thought of doing something 8+ hours a day for the rest of your life is incredibly daunting. I would often dwell on this thought, and while my initial career dreams jumped regularly, from being an astronaut to being an archaeologist, I realized that all of these positions were introduced to me by one specific medium: film. It then became clear to me that my career interest was not in doing what the protagonists of the movies I watched did, but rather the movies themselves, and understanding the intoxicating influence that they had on me and so many others. Read more>>

Michael Stiles | Illustrator & Designer

I struggled for many years over pursuing a career as an artist. Art always came natural for me (calm down I’m an incredibly humble person just stay with me). Not the skillset that is, but the act itself. I can’t recall too many memories from my youth, but there are some that standout. The earliest memories I have are of the living room in my childhood home. It was here; I would lie on the shag carpet in front of the television, watch cartoons (at distance that would make any parent scream), and draw. I would sit there for hours, and sketch all sorts of things, with a pencil or pen, whatever was handy. Occasionally I would grab a coloring book, but I literally never stayed within the boundaries of the lines. Retrospectively, I’d like to say I was ‘breaking free’, from the constraints of conformity, but realistically, it was because I was overflowing with inspiration. Read more>>

Channing Hiraldo | Artist, Oil Painter & Tattoo Artist

I’ve always been an artist ever since I was a young kid. Always drawing and painting at a higher level than my peers and to me it felt normal, but to others it was a gift. I went to school for art, but changed my major and pursued business. I worked in the corporate field for most of my working career and would occasionally have episodes of anxiety and other illnesses. Tests were done and the conclusion came down to it being caused by stress and not being happy. So I quickly chose my well being and quit working in the corporate world because at the end of it all, it’s no place for an artist. So, I started a new chapter and pursued and continue to pursue my life as an Artist. Read more>>

Yashna Malhotra | Film & TV Writer

You could say it’s in my genes! I was born to artistic and creative parents – my mother is an interior designer and my father started working in entertainment at the age of 16. Growing up, I’d spend my weekends and after-school hours on film/tv sets and I fell in love with the process. I’ve wanted to work in entertainment for as long as I can remember, and I always wanted to go to film school (strangely it was always and only UCLA). But because I was always what they called a ‘good South Asian student’, it was expected that I would choose something more scientific or commercial and less artistic. Growing up I also got to see how uncertain the entertainment industry can be, and in order to avoid the tough challenges that came with that, I ended up choosing a more ‘stable’ career path. But that never fully kept me away from entertainment. Read more>>