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.

Danae Vlasse | Director, Piano Instructor & Composer

I began studying music so young I don’t even remember my first piano lesson. In some sense music was so ingrained in my life that I just kept doing it because nothing else was powerful enough to pull me away from it. So the question is not so much why I chose a career in music, but mostly why I kept doing it in spite of an auto immune disease which over the years increasingly made practicing and performing a painful experience. When I couldn’t perform I started to refocus my energy in two other areas; teaching and composing. I essentially stumbled on a path that suits my creative need even more now than where my career trajectory began! Read more>>

Julie Hopkins | Portrait Photographer & Photo Studio Owner

From a very tender age I have always been attracted to the arts as an experiential situation and as a beneficiary of its healing and uplifting characteristics. Early on my affiliation with the arts was the ballet and the magic of the theater and music. Later in life I studied art history at Loyola Marymount University and after graduation I began working at some prestigious art galleries in Los Angeles. And, finally looking for something that I could be as passionate about as I was for the ballet, I found photography. Discovering photography as another passion with what to carve out a career, and something that I am good at doing, I took great strides to learn as much as I could about the art of photography. As I delved deeper into this chosen field I realized that I could not only contribute to society but also do something that will affect people’s lives in a positive way. Read more>>

Andrew Hunt | Illustrator, Comic book Artist & Concept Artist

Ever since I was young, 5 or so, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I had a obsession with all things comics an art due to an older brother that drew and painted. I picked it up from him and never really stopped. Read more>>

Joseph Grescovich | Residential Designer & Artist

Watching my father do “soul-sucking” work everyday at an epoxy flooring company made me realize that I better find work in something that I love and will be continually motivated to do. Drawing and painting was always a way for me to escape the world and create my own. Today, I use drawing and painting as a form of mediation and flow state. I decided to go to school for architecture because I have always been fascinated by the built environment and I wanted to keep drawing/ painting as a hobby, not work. It made sense that I should pursue a career in something that felt natural to me. Architecture is a way for me to use my talents and abilities towards goals that involve others. Read more>>

Carina Tafulu | Hairstylist

It’s tough to say when or how long ago when I decided this was the career for me. I started dabbling in hair at a young age. As time went on I just loved the feeling of making someone feel beautiful. I tried different career paths and hairstyling kept coming back. I took the chance and went to Cosmetology school. I fell in love my first week there. I have now been licensed 18 years! My career has taken so many turns and every one of them has been rewarding. From editorial, teaching, behind the chair and social media. Being a hairstylist gives me the freedom to be creative and transform my clients and make them feel amazing! Read more>>

Jaden Kim | Musician & Clothing Designer

Growing up, I’d never been afraid to be myself. I credit that to my parents for always supporting me and encouraging me to be an individual. I first started to play music around sixth grade on flute but wasn’t super passionate. As I grew up I considered careers in law, science, as well as the arts. Evidently, the arts are what really stuck with me. I remember having trouble paying attention in class during many of the traditional school subjects but felt myself come alive when creativity was required for a project. I’ve always felt a deep need to express myself, be that through what I wore, what I said, and eventually, how I played music. Being a creative to me means more than simply having ideas and putting them out to the world. One of my favorite aspects of developing myself as an artist is the more technical, logical side of art. Read more>>

Laurie Shapiro | Artist

I grew up going to a good public school just outside of NYC. Many of my peers were getting ready to college and become doctors and lawyers – for reasons such as family pressure and financial security. As a person who feels things deeply, and had no family pressure regarding an occupation, I could not see pursuing an internally unfulfilling career. As a teenager, I understood that the occupation you pick is how you spend most of your adult life. That being said, I knew I had to pursue art. At the time, I didn’t even understand that I could be a full-time, studio artist, but I made the next step of applying to art programs. At Carnegie Mellon University, I realized I. could pursue a life as a full time artist. Read more>>

Lee Jordan | Sculptor

Art was something I was interested in most of my life. I took a class or two in high school, but only actually pursued it in my early 30s. at the time I was being driven to do something physical with my hands. I spent the best part of a year looking a sculpture class. the one that I found was fantastic. the instructor knew how to basically everything, so I was able to try various mediums before settling into stone carving. real classical carving, by hand. it was great. and I slowly moved work with power tools. same result, just a bit quicker. Read more>>

Mary Tamura | Social Media Coordinator & TV Drama Writer

I pursued a creative career because it was always something that I was drawn to. Writing has always been in my veins. Growing up, I’d always write in journals, write short stories, and make short films with my friends. I knew it was something that I was good at and growing up in the Valley, the entertainment industry was not a secret to me. I knew it was out there and I knew I wanted to join. After watching a movie or tv show, I realized, someone WRITES these things, and I told myself that it is what I am going to do! And I knew that was my way in! So here I am, pursuing my dreams one step at a time. Right now, I’m a social media coordinator, writing fun exciting copy for a animated TV show. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else than something creative. Read more>>

Jordan Rivers | Singer-Songwriter

Music was always my voice when I didn’t have the words to express myself. My guitar sometimes felt like the only thing that could understand my ‘Complicated Soul’. But to pursue it professionally always seemed like an unreachable dream. Until I finally took the risk and started playing live in bars and galleries across Los Angeles back in 2015. I saw that the audience connected to my words, my melodies, my songs. Knowing that I could share my story, inspire others to do the same, and actually make a career out of it, well I guess there was no going back after that! So it’s been a journey, and still is, but this is my dream and I’m not giving up on it! Read more>>

Crystal Zhang | Actress, Model, Casting Director & Producer

I’m always wondering why I always pursue art for my whole life? Recall the memory that this seed should have been planted when I was very young. Learning dancing, painting, and piano from an early age has made my artistic perception especially developed. After entering university, I studied acting. I love the feeling of being able to play different roles in different stories. To experience the pain and happiness of the characters. It’s like a fish swimming in different oceans. In the world of characters, create with your full of passion. Be a special person, because you are unique! Read more>>

Lacee A. Norris | Jewelry Designer & Metalsmith

I was always encouraged to explore art growing up. In my family pursuing a career as an artist, designer or any sort of creative field was never seen as something negative but something so important to the culture of a society. My family has always been far more interested in and encouraged careers that don’t fit the mold of society so to say, to think outside of the box. As I have gotten older I realize how fortunate I am for that upbringing. My grandmother was an artist, my grandfather a woodworker, art and being creative was engrained into me from a young child. As soon as I could hold a pencil, a brush was also put into my hand. I would spend afternoons painting at my grandmother’s house, learning how to oil paint in elementary school, visiting museums during summer break. Read more>>

Chloe Taylor | Actor-Turned-Filmmaker

Honestly, probably because I was young enough and dumb enough to believe that I could have one. No, but really artistic stuff was the only thing I was ever any good at . I come from a long line of artists, My great grandmother was a famous Broadway actress, my grandfather, a Hollywood screenwriter, and both my parents were writers/journalists so I guess I just sort of expected that type of life. I would find the 9 to 5 thing excruciating. I will never forget when I landed my first job. I was in my early twenties and fresh out of acting school and I had this day job working at a bagel shop. Once I got the play I had to quit the bagel place. There was this really sweet old man who owned the joint. I explained to him that I had been cast in this play and gave him my two weeks notice. For the last two weeks of the job, I brought my script with me to work everyday and tried to learn my lines while at work. Read more>>

Elizabeth Burgoon | Entrepreneur

Part of me always knew I would pursue a career in the arts. Although my dad constantly told me I would be poor, my mom was on the other side being my cheerleader. I studied political science and law, and I truly did enjoy it. I still have a passion for the at-risk population. However, art feeds my soul, and at times, it feeds my family. When I was married, it was just a means of making ends meet, but once I divorced, it was my survival. Not just financially, but emotionally as well. I continue to choose this career because it is rewarding, and I love the connections I make. Read more>>

Mic Rose | DJ & Producer

It was a given. I have always had a passion for drawing and music. I grew up in a musical family. My dad would always sing, play records and instruments daily throughout my entire childhood. Im literally a mirror image of my dad. It is only right to follow in his footsteps. Read more>

Irene Diaz | Musician

Writing songs, singing is just me, it’s who I am. I feel most alive when I do it, when I write and play. I can’t imagine myself not creating songs. So at 23 I decided to pursue it professionally and haven’t looked back. Read more>>

Jason Wolchin | Artist & Colorist

When I was young I was exposed to art shows, concerts and foreign films. All of my family are readers. That helped my imagination get developed by reading a lot. Also my exposure to many different cultures. That lead to my attraction for art and music. I was maybe 13 or 14 when I saw some skateboards at a store and I thought I could do better. I was making wood skateboards from wood shop at school circa 1964. I gave some of them to my friends. It put an itch in me to make stuff. Music is my bliss. When I would listen to music when I was young, I would imagine how I would make the song sound. I was interested in music production. I was exposed to recording sessions and live music and I got the bug. In the early eighties I had the opportunity to be in the commercial recording business and I went for it. I had some friends that were ceramic potters that I lived with in early 70’s. Read more>>

Carlie Stracka | Sculptor

Growing up I always loved art, and was a naturally creative spirit. Once in college, I took a sculpture class and became obsessed. It was clear at this point that sculpture was my passion. I was so excited to work on my projects that I would work late in the studio perfecting my sculptures. It was an area of life I thrived in. Read more>>

Gary Palmer | Street Artist & Abstract Painter

I grew up in northern Ireland during the early years of the conflict there – as a child drawing painting offered a doorway to world of the imagination – a safe interior domain protected from the hard realities of the outside world. I initially went to university in Edinburgh to study theoretical physics – and it was the creative aspect of the field that that drew me in Architecture in the end seemed a better fit – combining artistic expression and rational thinking – but painting was always my passion from an early age. After university I took to the streets to travel the world make large scale chalk paintings – that offered a way to travel around the world picking up inspirations for my work. The public art – street art and murals – integrated some aspects of my architectural training – and the studio work was more intimate – a way to explore the interior world and emotional territory. Read more>>