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.

Janice Walters | Branding, Graphic Design and Production

Growing up, I had two divergent role models: my mom was ever-practical and strategic; my dad was successful in a creative business. As I embarked on my studies and initial career in sales and marketing, I chose to pursue a field with a strong corporate structure and the solid promise of growth and stability. Interestingly, all the companies I worked for existed in creative types of products, but their operations were decidedly corporate. As my life evolved, I realized that the possibility of creative entrepreneurship was of great interest to me, combined with a fascination with the power of visual communication. As I look back over the arc of my entire life, I recognize that this interest has been a persistent focal point, but I had wanted to experience the mainstream functioning of the business world as a proving ground for my organizational and relationship skills. Read more>>

Kate Gilman | Experiential Graphic Designer

Being creative through design has always found a home in my life, from early Christmas card design when I was 8 to being the go-to t-shirt designer for friends. I discovered Adobe’s photoshop and illustrator in early high school and was hooked. There was so much to learn in these programs, creating digitally was so accessible and it was a ton of fun to see my work off-screen. In late college, I stumbled into Experiential Graphic Design (architectural signage or wayfinding design). The creative challenges and problem solving within the field just resonated with me. I love working with clients to develop story driven wayfinding design systems, and guiding fabricators through the development of those systems into memorable experiences for the developer’s guests. I love to research and learn the history of a project or destination and incorporate that story into the final designs. Plus, it’s thrilling to see my work at such a large and public scale. Read more>>

Tim Trusss | Artist & Entrepreneur

I chose an artistic/ creative career because…..well my career chose me. It was just a feeling its in my blood making music runs in my family. The wild thing is my life has been similar to the Alchemist (The Book) where everything just came to at the time i needed it to without forcing things. I know its my calling to create, inspire, and speak to people through my art. I feel as though an artistic creative career also allowed me to fully be myself and express myself. A lot of times other careers are restrictive of your personality, emotion, etc…and those are the keys. TRUSSS. Read more>>

Andrey Tarasov | Skateboarder, Model and Photographer / Creative

I felt growing up that our time in this life is too finite to not follow what I love to do. I also wanted to feel creatively inspired and didn’t want to follow a boring career path. Read more>>

Bailee Wolfson | Makeup Artist

Growing up, I had a wide variety of interests, yet, when it came to what I really enjoyed most in school it was the arts: dance, pottery, drawing, photography and art history. I could never picture myself working in an office behind a desk, and after college I moved to New York where I found myself doing just that. I had this feeling, like I was missing out on doing what I really wanted to do, so I knew I had to make a change. I always remember Oprah saying, “If you do what you love, it will never feel like work”. Although it was a hard decision to upend my career, it was worth it. Being a makeup artist allows me a lot of creative freedom and it’s a gratifying way for me to express myself. I love being able to work in different environments and locations, as well as team up and work with other creatives in the industry on photoshoots. I also love that every project is different and that I am able to work for myself. Read more>>

Neha Saroop | Poet & Model

I pursued a creative career because I have always seen my creative outlets as therapy. Since I was a teenager I found that I had trouble telling people how I felt emotionally and so I started writing poetry. Poetry became my way to speak to people, through the paper. Something beautiful that happened that I was not expecting was that people seemed to resonate with my words and feel connected to me. As my writing career continued I also began modeling on a whim. I ended up falling in love with it. I had tried many different artistic outlets but I had always seen the human body as the most beautiful art. When I realized that there was a way I could be the canvas and be captured for everyone to see I knew that it was the perfect thing for me. The dance between a model and photographer, finding their perfect rhythm…its an art in itself and it’s also something that requires chemistry. Read more>>

Alessandro (AM Dandy) Meynardi | Musician & Composer

Simply because I truly believe that a critical point of being happy and satisfied in life is to make your biggest passion your job. You wouldn’t even feel like you’re working! More specifically in my case though, I really feel the need of artistically express myself. It happened to be through music, because of my childhood experiences, but it could be with anything else art related. Read more>>

Hugo Arvizu | Mexican Director & Cinematographer

Since I was a child, I have been interested in visuals, music, and creating. I remember playing with whatever would be in front of me, fidgeting and creating new worlds in my head. I would always make stories off anything, really. Growing up, at an early age I was already interested in music and the arts, then I started reading a lot, started writing a lot, and when I planned on making and writing music, I got interested in movies and filmmaking. Since then, I think I started combining everything I like and focused on. creating new stories. I think choosing an artistic career was really the right decision for me, I don’t know what I would be doing instead, because even though I do have an interest in science, math, and history, the arts will always be my passion. Read more>>

Clay Fields | Photographer

It’s funny, it actually all started with my ex. She’s a photographer and she use to ask me all the time on what I thought about her work. And I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth, but instead I thought I could do it better. After we broke up, I bought a film camera off eBay and haven’t looked back since. Read more>>

Samantha Van Der Sluis | Composer For Video Games & Film

I chose to pursue a music career because I am my happiest self when I am working on something creative. It brings me a lot of fulfilment, and when I am not being creative I feel a pain in my chest from a lack thereof. I am naturally a career-driven woman and as all creatives crave, I would like my work to be meaningful to a project and those listening to it. Read more>>

KyannaSimone | LGBTQ | Travel & Lifestyle Content Creator

I decided to pursue a creative career rather than the “traditional” 9-5 because I knew there was something inside of me that wanted to explore freedom and becoming my own boss and owning my work and my brand. I went to college and got degree in journalism and all I understood at that point was “working for someone else in a field that I wasn’t 100% passionate about.” I listened to my mother and pursed that degree because she explained to me that “becoming an author, and having a degree in English wasn’t a stable enough career,” so I was forced to obtain a degree I didn’t care for. Once I graduated collage, did a couple of internships in the field, I knew I wasn’t in the right space to succeed in life, both monetary and mentally. Eventually, I found my way back to the arts, telling stories through video and photo formats, starting a blog and now on my way to starting my own business as a resin shop owner. It took some time to get here, but understanding and knowing my passion lies within in arts and pursing that is what makes the journey worth it. Read more>>

Delaney Hogan | Dancer and Actor

I knew I wanted to be a dancer from the time I was 8 or 9. I never had a back up plan or even really considered doing anything else because I loved it so much. Even when teachers and kids at school told me I was “too smart to just do that” or questioned how I would ever make any money, I never wavered in my choice. The way other people doubted me while growing up only motivated me more to be successful. I knew I could make a career out of doing what I loved most and I did just that. Being an artist is not easy, and I truly believe it is a calling. I could not possibly imagine myself doing anything else with my life. Dance was my first love and will always be the thing makes me feel the most like myself. Read more>>

Scott Knapp | 3D Artrist

I pursued a career as an artist because I love helping bring stories and worlds to life. A lot of my favorite memories come from late night sleepovers with friends and family, playing video games or watching movies. Games, film, and music are great tools to put me in a specific time or place and help me to remember important parts of my past. I’ve been passionate about creating new things and want to help make things that inspire others and hopefully create nostalgia for future generations. Read more>>

Ramon RAMIREZ | Artist

The goal, since I was five years old, has always been to be an artist. I didn’t know what it was to be an artist back then but I knew that I wanted to draw. I didn’t know any artist or had family mentors that I can ask, but I knew that drawing was magical. I studied architecture and art in college. I did a ten year stint as an architect and another 10 year stint teaching at the college level but now, after a long and winding road, I can finally call myself an artist. It’s actually my day job…which has always been the goal. So in a way, I never really had a choice. Read more>>

Kevin Kliesch | Film and Television Composer

I’ve always known from a very young age that music needed to be the direction my career would take. From the very first opening orchestral chord blast of the score to “Star Wars,” I was hooked. John Williams’ music throughout the years (including “Close Encounters,” “Superman,” “Indiana Jones,” “E.T.,” “Harry Potter,” etc.) has had an immense emotional impact on me, at turns causing me to laugh, cry, give me goosebumps, and just shake my head in disbelief as if to say, “how can one man possibly conjure these emotions out of me?” I wanted to be able to do that as well. I *needed* to do be able to do that as well. I’ve always been curious about how things worked since I was a child. I would take things apart and then put them back together to observe their inner workings. Music was no different for me; I needed to dissect a piece of music to understand *why* it did what it did to me. Read more>>

Matthew Keranen | Designer, Artist, Dynamic Problem Solver, and Aspiring Impactful Voice.

Fulfillment. It is what I measure everything I set about doing be it eating, cooking, exercising, working, leisure… whatever it may be. Sure, some things are far less fulfilling than others, but the pursuit of that fulfillment I get when I do something that *I* (my nemesis and worst critic, me) actually like or enjoy? Nothing tops that kind of satisfaction. Being so fortunate to turn a creative outlet into something functional and helpful to others has been one of my most fulfilling and stubborn achievements. I hope to keep achieving. Read more>>

Shatia Chesson | Plant-based Chef & Wellness Creative

I grew up fascinated by the arts. The idea of expression through art, sound and movement always held my interest. Through out my years of study I took part in many artistic and creative hobbies including dance, fashion blogging and wardrobe styling. Through my years in fashion studies I grew a strong interest in creating visual work. This interest became a passion of mine and I saw myself diving deeper into the creative felid with my career choices, hobbies and even relationships. The ability to do what you love is something out of the norm in our society, Ive never had an interest in your average 9-5 corporate job, and the ones I had never lasted long, they killed me inside. So the risk was always way more fun in that case. Naturally I’m an expressive person and Ive always made a promise to myself to do what feeds the soul. When you do what you love, it just feels better. Read more>>

Rafael Dante | Visuar Artist and Designer

Because art is my favorite thing to do since I was a kid. I grew up in Brazil and my dad always told me that no matter what I chose, I would have to find a way to make money and have a career out of it. I have always been into drawings, paintings, comic books and ended up finding I could use those skills in the Advertising industry. I went to design school and also graduated in Advertising. I started working at agencies when I was still in college, which was good because I could learn and find even more about the creative career and how I could still use and improve my artistic skills. Read more>>

Béchir Sylvain | Actor/Writer/Producer

I choose to pursue this career because of my fascination with television as a child and the unexplainable high that I get when I bring life to a story when I play a character. Although acting was not my first choice due to my upbringing as a haitian kid and my love for law and wanting to be my fathers twin. It took until college to really pursue it. I fell in love with the way we can use not only language but our entire instrument meaning our entire body to tell a story and relay a message. I fell In love with the power of influence through movies, music, painting, and more importantly the power of expressing how you feel about things creatively and showing people a different perspective then what they are use to. I also live that I still get to use the skills that I’ve learned in law to do my work. Which is investigating and breaking down a scene and really understand every dynamic of it. Read more>>

Doug Frerichs | Photographer & DP

The way I’ve found to be consistently reminded of the unique experience we get to have here on Earth has been through participating in the creative arts. Making, viewing, sharing, discussing — your intro into the shared human experience can be through art. Once that direction was clear to me, there seemed no other choice. Devoting my life to a creative pursuit seems the best way to fulfill my life and give me the answers I’m unaware I need. Tackling creative endeavors and stretching oneself artistically is the rat race that is worth the hassle. Read more>>

Chad Phillips | Designer. Creative. Futurist.

From a very early age I was often found quietly staring at my toys or questioning why a ceiling fan had the amount of blades it had. I was clearly a dreamer and an observer, who soon became obsessed with what the future could look like. As a boy I would visit the local IKEA by myself, or find my way into car showrooms to touch and feel everything. Where I grew up in Hong Kong in the 1980s, there was so much great design all around me. Iconic architecture like I.M. Pei’s Bank of China right next to the portable architecture of Sir Norman Foster’s HSBC HQ. The world’s top fashion brands manufacturing clothing locally, meant heavily discounted access to the best in clothing. And then there was the huge diversity in transportation, from the highest per capita amount of hand-built Rolls Royces, to one of the worlds most efficient subway system, to double decker busses, to boats of every kind and size criss-crossing the harbor. Read more>>

Cristina Benedetti | Choreographer, Creative Director, Performer, Educator

Discovery, Adventures, Independence… My mom once told me that when I was little, I always wanted to be in my space and never wanted to stay home. Any chance I could get to go to friend’s houses, grandparents, or new trips, I would have jumped on the opportunity. I used to dream to live in different realities. Here I am as a grown up, able to experience new things every time I start a new project. Thanks to my artistic career, I have lived in different countries, learned different languages, cultures, and religions. I am grateful for this. It keeps me alive. It gives me purpose. It fascinates me. I cannot stop. Read more>>

Erica Ostrowski | Comic Colorist and Freelance Illustrator

It may sound cheesy but perusing the arts felt like my destiny. I come from a long line of artists starting with my great great Aunt. She taught my Grandma who passed the gift to my Mom who passed it to my 3 siblings and I. There wasn’t a time in my life starting at two years old that I wasn’t creating art. Family time at my home was drawing together after dinner and making handmade gifts to my relatives and teachers at school. I would watch the handsewn pillows my Mom and I made together bring smiles to everyone that opened it. It hit me that making art for others brings them happiness. Being a kid in the 90’s you were surrounded by cartoons and animated movies. I would re-watch my worn down Lion King VHS tape over and over and was mesmerized with how Mufasa moved. It hit me again that making art like this would bring me happiness and I knew this is what I wanted to do. My Mom was very excited and enrolled me in child’s art studios at Maryland Institute College of Art. From there I got into an art magnet high school, and soon went to MICA. Read more>>

Jakk Fynn | Singer & Songwriter

Like most artists, I pursue my career as a musician because my desire to create cannot be quelled. When I was younger, music saved my life. This statement may seem trite, but for a trans person, there’s a certain heaviness to it. The percentage of trans people in the United States is less than 1%, and the attempted suicide rate hovers around 50%. With that in mind, you can start to imagine the level of loneliness and invalidation one internalizes at a very young age. I personally grew up in a conservative environment, so I couldn’t embrace my identity. This caused me a tremendous amount of guilt and shame, but music gave me a place to process these emotions. Unfortunately, representation was nil then, and as I grew older, I became more and more resolute to create visibility. I want to be what little me sought to see. So what better way to achieve this than in pop music? Its universality truly has the power to bridge the gap between everyone’s sense of “otherness”, anchoring us in a shared human experience. Read more>>

Cat Thompson | Recording Artist & Songwriter

I knew that I wanted to be a singer-songwriter since I was a little girl. As a child, I loved writing stories and poetry and I loved playing instruments and singing. Writing songs allowed me to combine the things that I loved into something that I could share with the world. Music has always been integral to humans. It makes us feel, think, laugh, cry, it brings us together and gets us dancing. I always loved performing and I wanted to create something that other people in the world could connect with and enjoy. Read more>>

Katrina Anne Willis | Author and Essayist

For me, it wasn’t necessarily a deliberate choice–it’s just who I am and who I’ve always been. I wrote my autobiography at 8, and on the back cover it said, “I hope this book changes your life just like it changed Katrina’s because she put her words on paper and let her feelings show.” I’m not sure my handwritten, yarn-bound, 20-page booklet changed many lives, but I had the right idea. Even at that tender age, I understood that words are powerful enough to transform lives, that vulnerability connects us at a soul level. I’ve always had an innate need to see and to be seen, to understand and to be understood. Studying English in college was a natural step, and creating a career in words was an inevitability. Because I gave birth to four children within five years, my creative career also gave me the flexibility to do both things passionately: mother and write. Read more>>

Brendan Whitt | Author, Screenwriter and Educator

I’m really passionate about what I do. I’ve been writing since I was 13. I started publishing my own books at 22 and I couldn’t stop. Now I teach and my students hang on to every piece of advice that I give them. I love writing and I’m learning that I love to groom them as well. I’m a born creator and this what the rest of my time here will be spent doing. In one capacity or another. Read more>>

Helena Cortázar | 1st Assistant Director & Producer

Visual arts are something I’ve always been fond of, and movies are just another beautiful form of art. When I was 8 years old I started to go to a lot of sets and being able to watch castings in person, my aunt Isabel, she’s a Casting Director in México. I started to fall in love with how movies are made, when I was in 5th grade I started making videos of my classmates and I made my graduation video. As I was growing up I fell more and more in love with this career. In 2017 one of my aunts Adela who’s Wardrobe Designer took me to a film set, I worked as a Trainee and that was the moment I decided to do that for the rest of my life. Then I came to Los Angeles to study film, worked in various productions and I graduated last year… the rest is history and the best is yet to come. Read more>>

Kat Hooper | Tattoo Artist

Art has always felt like the only thing I was good at. Most people in my life tried to steer me away from making it my career, and for a little bit I tried to follow that. I’ve worked a lot and of random day jobs but at the end of the day I just felt empty, drained, and unhappy. My job performance would always drop off significantly after a month of working at non creative jobs. I realized I don’t dream of doing labor my entire life so I tried to figure out options to actually survive off of my art. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by tattoos and even secretly tattooed the bottom of my foot when I was 12 years old. After a couple of bad starts at trying to apprentice as a tattoo artist (with some truly misogynistic artists) I finally found someone I could actually learn from. Once I tattooed myself for the second time I realized there was no going back, this was the only thing I wanted to do. Read more>>

Gerry Rothschild | Musician and Bandleader

I really had no choice. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Music grabbed me from as far back as I can remember. There was a lot of music in the house growing up (records and radio). Classical and broadway mostly with a good helping of New Orleans Jazz and the occasional Spike Jones parody records. From my teen years on it was Rock and Folk and Country. I started playing in bands when I was 13 and have been playing, performing and studying music ever since. Read more>>

Jason Young | Film Maker, Motion Graphic Artist/Animator, Actor & Musician

Im not sure I actually picked the path of an artist, more that it picked me. Thru my journey on this blue orb floating through space I have tried my hands in many different occupations, from construction to office work. But for some reason I always found myself leaning towards the creative processes behind those jobs, be it building a house or shuffling paperwork around cubicles. You can always find a way to be creative in even the most mundane job. Luckily I was fortunate enough to realize early on that I wasn’t designed for the life of an office worker. Construction was a very important piece in me taking my next steps to pursue a life in the arts. It taught me the value of creation and the satisfaction of watching something you created come to life and hopefully inspire others. Read more>>

Mary Alayne Thomas | Mixed Media Artist

I grew up in a haunted, pink adobe house in Santa Fe. I would run wild through the high desert landscape, while my parents created art in their studios at home. My father was a ceramic artist, and my mother hand dyed and wove Ikat wall hangings. We traveled everywhere, showing their work at arts and crafts fairs across the country. I spent my childhood wandering the vast and completely magical isles of the fairs. When home, I would sit at my father’s kick wheel, watching him knead clay or I would try to use my mother’s loom when she was out, tangling her weaving into a giant knot. Art was a staple in our home, a necessity and a way of life. That ideal never changed for me. Read more>>

Mickey Jackson | Photographer

I feel like I chose a creative career because I needed to hold on tight to my identity. Jobs always seem to take away from that. I never felt like any decent paying job would be concerned with their employees individuality. I also really love to make stuff. That’s who I am. The life of an artist is hard but I keep choosing it no matter how difficult it gets. That tells me that I’m not out here trying to be a creative. I’m not really here to prove anything to anyone. I just want to have the freedom to work on projects that feed that urge. We won’t all make a living off of art but it really comes down to, for me at least, the passion. It feeds my soul and I’m fine with that until it feeds my stomach. I’m also fine if it doesn’t. Read more>>

Davon Lloyd | Original Content Creator

My choice to pursue an artistic career as an original content creator stems from a lack of originality on social media right now. Every platform is overly saturated with challenges, and recreations. I wanted to do something completely different and out of the box! It seems to me that very few people are actually creating original content anymore. Therefore, I saw an open lane, and I took a leap of faith. Read more>>

Lindsay Grossman | Writer

Pursuing a creative career never really felt like a choice for me. From a young age, I was indoctrinated into the classic film and musical theater cults and I never gave a real thought to doing something that wasn’t in the arts. What is interesting is that I always kind of knew that, even with all my interests, that I wanted to write more than anything else. I was always a huge reader but the books I read and the shows I watched were constantly put down (not a surprise considering female-driven stories are consistently undervalued). Those stories that I loved made me think, laugh, cry. What’s really incredible about storytelling is that it’s a safe way to experience a situation and that’s an incredibly valuable tool, especially for young women. In college and even in the years that followed college, I lacked the confidence to fully throw myself into writing, feeling a sense that I wasn’t smart enough or talented enough to actually do it. Read more>>

Orlando Garcia | Drummer and Backline Tech

I’ve always had the drive to create my own content early on, I grew up reading punk rock zines and buying albums via mail order, I didn’t realize a lot of the bands I grew up on were on the regional or national level, once I realized how so many of my favorite artists took a DIY approach to their music career, I thought to myself its possible to create your own space without mainstream appeal or permission from the gatekeepers, I’ve been playing drums in bands since high school, it was always something I made time for, when it came time to find a job, I would work wherever I could, my first job was at FedEx packing trailers, I hated every single minute of that job, it wasn’t really that bad of a work place but just the physical demand of the labor, very intense work and it was only part time but I was determined to at least be good at my job, eventually I got employee of the month so I think I hit my goal. Read more>>

Kyle Mayfield | Musician, Composer, Engineer and Label Director at Outpost 31 Studios

Music is my life force. Its my blood. When i was a little kid my parents used to wake me up by putting music on in some way. Whether it was a Buddy Holly record, a Black Sabbath 8-track tape, AC/DC’s Live at Donington VHS, or a fourth of July concert seeing Herman’s Hermits play their classics: my family was always big on music. I was replicating New Kids On The Block dance movies to my VHS recorded concert when i was in preschool. By the time I was in middle school I started writing horror/sci fi short stories and I would make soundtracks to them by shoving the microphone end of the boom box up against the tv speaker when their music videos came on. When sleep would escape me(which has always been often) I would stay up binging VH1’s insomnia hours and just soaking in every second of every bit of music I could find. Read more>>

Joe Weber | YouTube Content Creator and Podcast Host

I’ve always been creative but I never knew how to channel it, or make money off of it. When I was younger, I wanted to be a Chef, so I spent years in kitchens learning new cooking techniques, flavor palettes, and plating. When I eventually achieved my dream of becoming a Chef, it was managing a kitchen at a retirement home, and it wasn’t at all what I had imagined. It’s all administration and management, nothing creative about it. Suddenly everything I had worked my whole life for didn’t mean anything to me anymore, much like how I would imagine meeting an idol who turns out to be super boring would feel like. So after 10 years in the restaurant business, I decided to pursue a career through another aspect of my life that had become my most cherished hobby: comedy. It took a lot of hard work and networking, but finally I’m doing something creative again, and it’s way more rewarding than I had ever expected. Read more>>

Juan Andrés Matos | Composer & Pianist

Ever since I started playing the piano, I knew music was going to be a big part of my life. Although I don’t focus on the performance aspect of it anymore, I still play piano and use it to write music on a daily basis. The main draw for me to pursue this patch is the challenge of creating something new in each of my projects, hopefully enhancing peoples lives with it. Read more>>

Chance Utter | Percussionist & Teaching Artist

I feel very lucky to have found my calling early on. Drumming has been a huge part of my everyday life ever since I started playing music in Elementary and Middle School. It wasn’t until I completed my Bachelors degree and worked many different jobs, that I decided I wanted a career as a full time musician and teaching artist. I feel it’s important to share the little bit of knowledge I’ve learned with others, as well as continue to learn all I can. While it is very hard work pursuing an artistic career, it has given me the opportunity to hone and master my craft, while helping enrich my own life and others’. Read more>>