Deciding to pursue an artistic or creative career path isn’t for the faint of heart. Challenges will abound, but so many of the artists we speak with couldn’t be happier with their choice. So, we asked them about how they made the decision in the first place.

Leah Anova | Cinematographer

My path to becoming a cinematographer was not linear. There were many events in my life that led me to this career. As a child, I had a habit of inventing wild stories to share with my siblings and schoolmates. These tales were outlandish and ridiculous, but my audience loved it. The look of amazement on their faces was awesome. Their big eyes, wide mouths, and excitable little bodies were my encouragement to tell more. Man, it was fun! Sharing my eccentric adventures continued into middle school. Read more>>

Terrelle Powell | Prop Designer & Builder

My career choice allows me to express my artistic and creative skill though my work which I have always dreamt of doing. Each day there is something new, challenging and exciting to design/build. I love being able to bring to life people’s ideas and concepts that become moments they will remember forever. Read more>>

Eric Finch | Snoop Dogg Look & Sound Alike

Looking back I guess I have always had the entertainment bug in me. Though I never pursued it till I was much older and had a family of my own did the actor in me start to emerge. I was always behind the camera, now I am front and center and loving every moment of it. Read more>>

Dina Rudeen | Designer & Maker

I really don’t believe I actually had a choice in the matter. It was either that or be incredibly unhappy. Read more>>

Abhishek Chandra | Producer & Writer

Because stories make me happy. I was 12 or 13, when my dad brought home half a dozen of Sidney Sheldon books. He said, “You are too young to travel right now, start here.” I clearly remember that day, and that was it. I was hooked. I’ve been an avid reader since and as I grew older, I traveled. A lot. And in my travel, met some wonderful souls with incredible stories. I chose cinema as my outlet to express. Read more>>

Tracy Kleeman | Filmmaker

When we’re kids, saying “I want to be an artist when I grow up” is often met with polite skepticism. It seems an unrealistic goal and a lot of people look down on such aspirations. To me, it is a badge of honor to get to call myself an artist. It means I am a dreamer, an innovator and a warrior. I always knew that I needed to do something creative with my life. I was the kid who would find any way to incorporate some kind of craft into school projects. Read more>>

Danielle Arce | Stand-Up Comedian

I am pursuing this artistic and creative career because that is exactly what I am – artistic AND creative. With stand-up comedy, it is truly an art with a creative process when it comes to having an imaginative mind like mine. I believe that most art comes from deep thoughts, dark places, tough life experiences, and more. My job as a comedian is to find the light in all of it/to find the humor in all of it. I have dabbled in other jobs and careers in the past, but nothing is as fulfilling to me as stand-up comedy. Read more>>

Blessing Oluwole | Professional Story Teller

I have always been an artistic person. I grew up playing drum, from there, I got a little Into music production, and then once I got into college, I started acting, It’s probably the only thing that makes proper sense to me; the arts. So when it came down to a decision I had to make between a career that was more STEM related versus a career that was more artistic related… well I had to do what made sense to me. Fortunately, it seems like I made the right choice. I certainly have my days but making art through whatever way I choose to, keeps me inspired, with a renewed vigor for life. Read more>>

Darrick Deshaun Ingram | Neon Artist, Industrial Designer, Apparel Designer

For me, art is the only thing that makes sense. Starting from as young as I can remember, I always carried sketchbooks and was compelled to capture everything that my eyes could see. Almost militant in my dedication, I would draw for 8 hours a day in my free time. When choosing colleges, I considered going into the medical field, as my grandmother who raised me was a home health nurse and taught me so much. Read more>>

Alexander Mei | Singer/Healer/Psychic/Medium

There’s no way that I could separate my healing arts and music/voice. I’ve been studying singing as long as I’ve been studying various techniques to release trauma /belief systems since I was 9 years old. For example, I was singing at a festival a week ago and someone came up to me and told me that he had a spasm going in his leg and when he heard me sing on stage his leg started twitching and then he could walk again. I never even told him I was a healer . That’s even more confirmation for me to never separate the creative and the healing arts. Read more>>

Brendan Dekora | Recording Engineer and Mixer

I didn’t think I really had a choice. I have loved music since a young age, and I knew that if I didn’t work in the music industry I would be unhappy. I don’t believe in work that you don’t enjoy. I could never work in a field that isn’t my passion. Read more>>

Hailing Liu | Conceptual/ Digital artist

My constant passion on artistic expression drives myself to step into artistic career. When I was still very small, I’ve already knew what I was going to do- I saw a horse toy in front of me, and my instant reaction is to find a pen to draw it down. This piece of memory is still very clear in my mind until now! I love observing, thinking and imagining things happening in our society and in our world, and then using artistic and creative way to translate my thinkings and feelings about these things. Read more>>

David M. Moriya | Screenwriter / Nonprofit Entrepreneur / Activist

Stories need a voice to tell them. Sometimes it’s our responsibility to take on stories as artists. Tell the truth about the world. As an artist and historian, It is my responsibility to turn a mirror back onto the world while holding a window into my own life. Not only do I tell the story of my people, but a clear message against war and for peace. Read more>>

Dan Cantrell | Multi-Instrumentalist and Composer

I never imagined doing anything else from a young age. As I grew older I refined what I wanted in my career based on feedback. It always seemed important to share creativity with the world, and transmit beauty in a unique way manifested by collaborative efforts. It feels like a vital circuit where energy is created from source, transmitted through creative artists to an audience and then back to source after spiraling around and getting yummy. Read more>>

Angie Yoo | Event and Floral Designer

I had always thought I would work a desk job once I graduated from university. You know, climb up the corporate ladder and all that good stuff! After experiencing what an office job entailed and also interning as an events assistant I knew I needed a more stimulating work environment. I got a taste of not having a 9-5 job, being out on the field and having every day be different. Not only were my hours flexible, I got to do the three things I thrive in: Create, Meet new people and Make lists! Read more>>

Calla Michaelides Lokku | Artist & Fashion Designer

I think the why really comes down to a few simple things- I felt called to create! I knew that something felt right, felt connected when I was being creative. Be it dancing, painting, making, planning, sketching, sewing, daydreaming…that’s were I felt a bit of magic. Having parents who saw that in me, encouraged it, and supported my every decision to dive deeper into it and persue it as a career is unequivocally HOW and why I was able to make it my reality. I believe you can absolutely do it without the parental support, however, any form (either from a mentor, peer, or yourself) of early encouragement is so important to developing ones creative self in a full and curious manner. Read more>>

Bran Merritt | Sleep Nation – Lead Vocals and Guitar

Growing up, I’ve always been a creative type. I used to draw Batman when I was in kindergarten when I should have been listening. I always wanted to be a cartoonist throughout elementary school, but my focus changed after turning 12 years old. My mother passed away after battling breast cancer for a little less than 2 years. I was what you considered a “momma’s boy.” We were very close. She made it a point to make sure I knew that I was her world. Unfortunately, the great bond was severed by the evil that cancer is. The pain that I had to carry around for essentially the rest of my life had to be dealt with. I didn’t know what to do or how to act. Read more>>

Celena Howland | Professional Dancer

I chose to pursue my artistic career because I believe life is meant for you to follow your passions, and once I found my passion for dance, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I found what lit me up and brought curiosity, dedication, joy and excitement into my spirit. Following this feeling of fulfillment has shaped me into the person I am today, always allowing me to discover new ways of expressing my creativity, connect to others, and tune in to my state of “flow”. Read more>>

Gloria Figueroa | Podcast Creator and Storyteller

It all started with just wanting to tell stories beautifully and to share stories from my community. These were stories I was familiar with and others like me were also familiar with, but they were hardly ever heard of outside of our community, let alone the media. At first it felt like a responsibility, but shortly after I realized that it was a calling. Read more>>

Profits | Recording Artist

Well for me i’ve come from a family with a strong love for music, there was always plenty of music playing in my household coming up. I believe the music and love for music has always been inside me. I noticed i connected to certain songs from a variety of genres very early. I honestly was super horrible my first recording experience, it was horrible well i was lol. Luckily i was in great company of artist with national recognition from my city they really helped me after a great chuckle. Read more>>

Amarachi Odinma | Plus Model & Journalist

From the time I could remember I’ve always had creative Arts in My heart. I have a blockbuster tape from when I was 5 years old talking about being on Tv.
As I matured, I learned making a creative career takes more than just dreaming. It takes hard work, persistence, action and education. After switching gears from Nursing in College, I decided to chose to coursework that would align me with my creative career vision. Read more>>

Johnny Guazz | Singer, Songwriter, Creative

I always found it fascinating how certain lyrics or melodies could control emotion so easily. Hearing an artist perform songs that relate to you in a way you thought nobody ever could is enough to make that bad day a little bit better. Even humming a specific melody can change my mood so easily, it’s scary. Once I started writing my own songs, and finding my own voice, I saw the same reaction from other people. Read more>>

Krystal Vayda | Actress & Producer

I’ve always felt the entertainment industry has a way of finding you. More specifically, it picks you – like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter. I was fortunate enough to have been born into a creative family; where artistic exploration was fostered and encouraged. I was allowed to dabble in fine art, in dance, in theater – and with my boundless energy and short attention span – these various outlets allowed me to find myself, both personally and creatively. Read more>>

Dyyo | Musical Performance Artist

When I see this question I’m reminded of a quote from the film “New York Stories” This quote is the response an art teacher gives to a student asking whether her art is good enough to pursue a career. The teacher says. “What the hell difference does it make what I think. It’s yours. I mean, you make art because you have to, ’cause you got no choice. It’s not about talent, it’s about no choice but to do it.” This quote hit me hard and has stuck with me ever since i heard it. Art is a calling. People are compelled to make art. I personally don’t think i consciously choose art as a career. Read more>>

An’Drina J. | Fashion Designer

In my opinion being a artist was something that was naturally installed in me. I’ve always been creative so when I started using my artistic talent to design clothes at the age of twelve it was honestly a hobby for me. If I would’ve known then how much potential I had within my artistry, more than likely I probably would’ve began my fashion career many years ago. Read more>>

Mengyao Mia Zhang | Film Editor

I’ve always been a storyteller in my life. When I was about two years old, my dad heard me reading aloud the book Journey to the West. No one had told me how to read at that time, and he was so surprised and thought I was a genius born with the ability to read. But then he found out that what I was “reading” is nothing like what was written in the book, turns out I was looking at the images on the book and making up my own stories! Read more>>

David Zimmerman | Hip Hop Artist, Poet, Founder of Herb & Olive

The story of my life has come full circle -from creative and shy empath, to tech startup life in silicon beach, to corporate consultant and digital product manager, back to a creative- It’s interesting looking back at who I was as a child and how my teenage years to early-20’s were a complete 180 from that kid… and how I’m now reverting back to that child-like self, but with more real world experience. I love it. This is my origin story. Read more>>

Katie Pumphrey | Artist & Open Water Swimmer

Art has a wild power to record and talk about the things happening around us- but one of the biggest powers in art, is it serves as a way to connect. It’s the connection I am particular drawn to. I am an artist because I want to, in a way, have a conversation with as many people as I can, and I think painting does that. It’s one of the many reasons I fell in love with painting. I don’t speak every language or know about every topic- Read more>>

Ashton Burridge | Designer & Owner Ashton Jewelry

I never thought I would be referred to as the “torch lady,” but here I am. What led me down this path? Joy. Pure joy. When I’m in my studio crafting a piece of jewelry by hand, I am completely immersed in the process. Lighting the torches and setting the flame. Watching the molten melt dance in the crucible. Hammering, forming, and heating repeatedly until the metal is forged. It’s the process that grips me. I started to wonder: why can’t I do this full time? Read more>>

Shantel Ureña | Dance Artist

Often times it feels like it chose me. Growing up, I always dreamed of being a “singing dancer” my family would add, “nurse” or “lawyer” at the end. Eventually I wound up graduating with my certification as a Medical Assistant but quickly felt that lifestyle was not fulfilling. It felt as if I was living a life others deemed acceptable. So I took a risk to pursue what was fulfilling to me and it’s been the greatest decision of my life. Read more>>

Starr Lee | Photographer | videographer

Because I wasn’t seeing what I wanted to see. Even if I did, I always longed for being apart of those creative process, and the only way to get your foot in the door in this industry is by creating, even when no one knows your name, create. I’ve been very lucky with the supportive people that I surround myself around. My advice to anyone who wants to get started is to just start, the people you’ll meet on your journey, the skills you get from producing work is unmatched. Start now, the only thing holding yourself back is truly only you. Read more>>

Zekorora Marzex | photographer

I pursued an artistic direction because I have always loved to shape-shift into a new alter ego. I change my physical appearance by having a new hairstyle and a different way to dress up. I like to express this side of me with photos and showing people online this art that takes months to flourish. Currently, I am growing out my hair into a mullet but the fashion hasn’t been decided as of yet. Read more>>

Claire Skelly | Artist and Designer

I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. My goal is to create artwork that appeals to others but also to myself. We’re surrounded by art everywhere we look, and I want to be a creator of something that has the capability to make people happy. Read more>>

Alton Allen | Singer-Songwriter

I’ve always been involved in some kind of art, whether it was acting, writing, or music. I think for me the best way to make sense of the world around me is to filter it through some kind of creative process. I’ve always been really wary of calling it a career, to me creating music has been almost more of a lifestyle choice. I’ve had many jobs in my life to pay the rent, sometimes music has been that job, sometimes working at a coffee shop, but that entire period I’ve never been able to stop writing songs. As cheesy as it maybe sounds, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I never chose to pursue art as a career, it’s just always been who I am, and I think the truest and most authentic version of myself exists in that process. Read more>>

Ryan Doyle | singer, songwriter, & actor

To put it simply, I pursue an artistic career because there’s nothing else I’d want to do. Ever since I was young I’ve always felt so connected to the arts. I don’t even feel like I even had to choose if I wanted to pursue it. As I grew up and realized just how passionate I was about being an artist, I began to put all my time and energy into it. Being an artist has its challenges, as our job is to feel every feeling, even the hard ones, and then express it back out into the world. But the beauty of being an artist is I get to channel all my emotions into something more beautiful than any one human feeling. Read more>>

Mark Hertzel & Fengwan Qing | Prop and Art Fabricators

We met at Cal State Long Beach while completing our B.F.A. in Sculpture. The two of us connected over a school art sale that we helped run for our club and we realized we had a real knack for working together making and selling our goods. Our love of art and creating is what brought us together and eventually would push us into our business. After a few prop making gigs we had several people ask why we weren’t in business for ourselves with all the skills we possessed. At the time, we had separate plans after graduating in the spring of 2020, so the thought had never crossed our minds to start a business together. Read more>>

MODERN COLOR | Musicians / Band

I think most of us in MC chose to pursue an artistic / creative career in music because it’s something we genuinely love doing. It’s been a positive outlet for us to express ourselves and a lens for us to navigate through life. The experiences we have through music and just being able to explore something we’re passionate about are a different kind of wealth that we can’t get anywhere else. Read more>>

Abi Wheeler | Registered Behavioral Tech/Therapist, Model, Event Coordinator & Personal Chef

I decided to take on modeling officially after a few years of participating in local fashion shows while pursuing my main goal of expanding my clinical experience in the mental health field— primarily to be able to exemplify that women can truly do it all! Maintaining structured mental stability takes genuine effort with this hobby. I want to make an impact on how important that is, but that it’s attainable! Also, I have ADD, I’m never satisfied excelling in just one area. I love multiple projects at a time! So I decided to be an event coordinator for the Hollywood Artisan Market, and also receive paid inquiries for personalized dishes from my cooking page occasionally. So rewarding! Read more>>

Jordan Stenvers | Illustrator

Honestly, I really just enjoy creating. I have been drawing since I was very young, but I didn’t really start considering pursuing art as a career until my first semester of community college. I was able to take more focused art classes and I could actually see improvement within my work. I also received a lot of encouragement from my friends and teachers, which was a really big motivator for me. But once I transferred to University, seeing art as a career for myself became difficult. The atmosphere in my few semesters of University was very competitive. Read more>>