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.

Jeanette Benitez | Artist

Art has always been a part of my life since I was a little kid. I began to draw at the age of 7 drawing classic cartoon characters. By age 13, I was gifted one of those art kits that came equipped with markers, graphite, color pencils, crayons, watercolors, oil, and acrylic paint. That gift alone, helped me experiment with different mediums. By the age of 15, I began to learn how to use adobe photoshop/lightroom/illustrator when digital art was starting to become a whole thing, and it is crazy to see how far digital art has come along nowadays. Also, around that time I began to take a lot of pictures with a point-and-shoot digital camera which I took on trips or at any gathering I attended. By the time I attended college, I fell in love with art history and pursued that as well as studio art. In the fall of 2019, I had the pleasure to work with a small group of people on an exhibition at California State Northridge entitled “Ex/Ordinary” exhibiting works from contemporary Chinese artist Wen fang. Read more>>

Lauren Stockton | Photographer and Visual

I’ve always had a fascination and also a desire for depth. Depth in relationships, depth in conversations, depth in art, etc. I have always felt things so intensely in every way. This has been a blessing in some ways but a burden in others. I eventually realized the only means of expressing myself and the intensity I felt towards life was through art. When I was in high school and the time came to actually start figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, I never even considered a career that didn’t involve the arts. Imagining going to work every day where I couldn’t express myself and create sounded absolutely awful to me. I wanted a career that could move with me, and move me. This is why I pursued an artistic lifestyle and career. Read more>>

KJ Khaotic | Singer/Songwriter

Honestly I’m not sure if I chose to be an artist or if Art chose me, haha. I know it’s cliché but, I’ve been making art since I was old enough to hold a crayon. So when it came down to choosing a career I knew two things: I want it to be a part of my artistic expression, mostly through music, and I want to help people. Music was there for me when I couldn’t turn the way I felt into words. It’s powerful, it’s the language of the soul. Everyone speaks the language of music. You see it when toddlers dance, its just instinct. I want to use that as a way to heal people by relating to them. If I can pay my bills while helping people, I couldn’t ask for anything more!. Read more>>

Becky Seo | Artist/Illustrator

I was always drawn to art. For as far back as I could remember, whenever I had a pencil and paper, hours flew by without notice. Art supplies were my most treasured possessions. My childhood dream was to become an artist! But even as a kid, I noticed that art did not seem feasible as a career. (Don’t worry, obviously there’s a happy ending to this!). I think that as a child in a family of immigrants, my parents wanted the best for my success and comfort in the future. They graciously raised my brother and I without the awareness of the struggles we faced as new immigrants, but I still realized from early on that, from their perspective, art did not promise a stable lifelong career. So for most of my time in secondary school, art was just a hobby and an escape from the formulas and equations that boggled my mind. As the notion of college drew closer, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do with my life. I often played with the idea of pursuing a career that I knew my parents would love. Read more>>

Megan Margeson | Motorcycle Enthusiast & Stained Glass Artist

You know those families that spend almost too much time together? Yeah… that’s my family. My entire life, we have just done everything together: 4-week long camping trips across the US, days in the middle of the desert dirt bike riding, family bike rides on the beach, karaoke nights at home, you name it. Of course, we’re family and can get on each other’s last nerve, but we love hard. I can honestly say that my parents and siblings are my best friends. It’s fun to see your relationship with your parents change as you leave behind adolescence and enter adulthood; a transition happens. At some point in time, they go from just being your parents to also being your friends. Our family road trips have changed a bit since the early years. What was once a family crammed into a Chevy Silverado has become a family riding old Harley-Davidson Choppers cross-country. Motorcycles have always been a big part of what we enjoyed to do as a family. Read more>>

Lizi Phoenix | Fine Artist + Designer

I have been creating for as long as I can remember. What started as illustrating my homemade stories with marker, and collaging tickets and flyers from school trips has become painting custom pieces for an A list clientele, and a national tour to brighten peoples homes with my custom Abstract series. Throughout this journey I have continued to find myself creating works in every corner of my free time. At one point I realized that the only path would be for me to turn this into my career – there was nothing else I could imagine myself doing. Read more>>

Nazish Chunara | Aerodynamicist and Painter

I pursued a creative career because it was soothing, it was a clear mental path, it was what I knew. It was also an unknown career for big-timers, and well, a curious lifestyle. I don’t recall exactly how, but making art was a practice that found me. It is more than just making art and showing work in a gallery; it was soothing. the practice is about continuing what my uncle and grandfather did. It is about understanding the world around me. It is about weaponizing a tool I found solace in while living as a pre-teen with unattended trauma and grief, and the ever pre-teen problem of making friends. I feel the need to honor these happenings and continue my art practice. I honor my ancestors and my memories. I also honor the best friend I found in the form of a paintbrush. With this epic form of communication that is art, I’ve met and made incredible friends along the way, and they too should be honored by refusing to resign to the riskiness that is building a career in art. Read more>>

Victoria Vertuga | Actress, Writer, Producer.

I think artists have an insatiable and undeniable need to create. Period. What arenas are used to fulfill that creative need may change over time, but the need remains the same. For me it’s something that is completely necessary in order for me to be a happy and well functioning (or at least functioning LOL) human. I’ve been writing and performing for as long as I can remember. It’s just a piece of who I am. I honestly resisted it for quite a while because of how challenging and unstable it can be. Initially I thought that stability would be more important to me and I worked on the business side of entertainment for my first few years out of college. That was such an important lesson because it taught me that freedom and the ability to create are actually MUCH more important to be than stability. I truly just love being able to MAKE something. It’s an amazing feeling to sit back at the end of the day and know that you breathed something into existence. Read more>>

Abigail Keever | Costume Designer

Growing up I loved the idea of fluidity and change and felt that having a creative career would allow that to be apart of my daily life. One week im building a muscle suit and the next im doing a period piece. I love that versatility. Read more>>

Piero Valdizan | a.k.a. Baby Boi Peru

I always wanted to make a song that would go down in history, like a endless classic that’s timeless, you can hear it during any era and still enjoy it. I believe I wanted to have a creative career because I see things in art. I consider everything I do art, whether it’s running a business, cooking or cutting hair it’s all art, it’s all about creativity and feeling your intuition in order to guide you to what wants to be let out. Read more>>

Jorge Soto | I Draw Stuff Sometimes

In the beginning I didn’t think of an artistic career and for the most part didn’t even realize that one could be had. I somewhat stumbled into this when I drew something and posted it online. I was feeling a bit low and saw a painting on Instagram that i liked so i tried to paint something myself. I recorded myself doing it on my stories and after I posted it, people I didn’t know began to follow me and message me. I didn’t really know that there was such a thing as an Instagram artist but someone pointed it out to me and I looked it up on YouTube. After that I deleted all of my personal posts and decided I would try to be an Instagram artist in my free time. I don’t draw very often because I think its important to not take myself to seriously but I think its been going pretty well. Read more>>

Lucas Tadini | Performer, Songwriter, Record Producer and Educator

I see art as a means to an end. My final goal isn’t to make art, but it is through it that I can express wherever I see and feel, including relevant matters regarding our social reality. Making art is a great way to combine all of my skills and knowledge to create something that is able to express what I am. Pursuing art as career was something natural, part of my way of life. I didn’t really have to think about it, it was something that happened organically.I believe art is precious and it is the best, if not the only, way to transcend the chaos of our existence. Read more>>

Carly Birker | Talent Agent

I was always a person who loved some sort of structure in life. I was a self-starter and loved my freedom and didn’t want to work a typical 9-5 job in a cuticle. I think the combination of these traits just made me fall into creating something of my own and once I started work on the pursuit, I didn’t look back……I just went “all-in” with it. I was also never a technical or mathematical person, and I grew up knowing that I wasn’t, so that helped me narrow down what I DIDN’T want to do with my life. Disclaimer: Not that there’s anything wrong with being a mathematician 😉. Read more>>

Sergio Manique Jr | Music Producer and Touring Musician

Music came into my life in an organic way. When I started learning drums, I quickly realized that what I was learning in school wasn’t fulfilling. I spent majority of my time practicing, analyzing, going to live shows and absorbing as much music as possible. After graduating high school I started studying economics and realized I will have to make a decision. At that time I was already playing shows on regular basis. Music kept me very busy everyday so I decided to audition to a music school and keep doing what I love. Read more>>

Linda Jacobson | Fine Artist/Painter and Art Instructor

I had a passion for drawing and painting as a child which stayed with me as I grew up. I remember when I was about seven years old, sitting in a neighbor’s upstairs room with the sun pouring in, I put the colors Prussian Blue and Canary yellow next to each other and I truly had a mystical experience. I think that moment made me want to be an artist! When I started college, I didn’t think It possible to have fine art be a career path but soon my heart led me to art school. Even though I didn’t think I could actually make art a career when I was eighteen I made a commitment to being a painter. I have always found true joy and centeredness in my art-making to this day. I remember reading the book “Art Spirit” by Robert Henri which made a huge impact on me. I think that “Art” called to me to follow it more than I made a decision to be an artist. I had no choice in the matter. I worked as an illustrator for a fashion newspaper for a while after Otis, then went to Art Center to study illustration. Read more>>

Juliana Rico | Artist & Educator

I believe that images have power. Seeing a figure you can identify with be portrayed as powerful, intelligent, a hero, or even a professor can change the way a person perceives their own future. This is one reason why identity and representation are prominent themes at the core of my art practice. I come from a background of rarely being “the norm” and consistently being “the other.” I am an introverted, queer, full bodied, woman of color. I am a 3rd generation Mexican-American who was not taught Spanish as a survival strategy to better assimilate into US society. I was taught to blend in, assimilate, embrace, and aspire to Eurocentric and Western ideas and ideals in order to succeed. The painful ideology of fitting “the norm” can be decoded as embodying colonialist values, left me continually feeling like an outsider and an imposter who never truly belonged. Read more>>

Lauren Neale | Photographer

I chose an artistic career because art fuels my soul. The fact that I can cultivate my creative passions into a career has been a game changer for me, I have never been a desk job, 9am-5pm kind of gal and I’m thankful that I have realized that I don’t have to fit into that mold to be successful. Read more>>

Stephanie Gerard | Singer, Actress, Tv Host and Animal Rights Activist.

Because it’s in my blood! Since I can remember I always wanted to sing and act and I knew the path wasn’t going to be easy but I decided to follow my dreams and fight for them!. Read more>>

Lara Mrgic | Singer-Songwriter, Poet, Composer

Art has always been so incredibly important to me. If I’m being frank with you– it’s been a form of survival. Throughout the years, as I have grown.. music has grown with me.. I always knew this was my path, that I had found something for me at such a young age.. I’ve always been so passionate about it and felt like I had good insight from personal experiences and being a wallflower.. I could never picture myself doing anything else and that’s how I knew. So whatever hardships I’ve had to endure and whatever may be on the horizon. I’m in it for the long run. Read more>>

Alex Budman | Woodwind Artist

The choice to pursue an artistic career wasn’t exactly a cut and dry decision. Music was huge in my life before college, but I went without a declared major and took a wide variety of classes. The music program at UC Santa Cruz ended up being incredibly intense and time-consuming and I naturally spent most of my time (once the school’s soccer season was completed) hanging around the music building and with my musician friends. There was little curriculum focus on the actual making of a career in music, so I just worked on being a well-rounded musician. (Person, too, hopefully!) At some point I started getting calls to play gigs and it sounds quite silly, but I was short-sighted and hadn’t thought simply playing miscellaneous gigs was a viable option as a career. After moving to San Francisco, I found myself playing in dozens of bands covering a wide variety of music and realized I totally dug doing that!. Read more>>

Kacey Azucar | Dancer/Choreographer & Future Fashion Merchandiser

I chose an artistic/creative career because a it will never feel like a job to me. Yes, it is my “job” but it doesn’t feel like a hard labor job would. My career is an extension of my personality and allows my to be creative and expressive. Read more>>

Racquel TW | Medicine Woman & Poet

Poetry and my heart centered creative business were born out of my passions and spiritual practices, that have saved+blessed me throughout my life. .Everything that I offer now through multiple mediums, my podcast; Spiritual Tools for Daily Living, Spiritual Tools Shoppe; and the latest Rock Your Beauty LA, People would often seek me out for answers, and I figured others could benefit from my tried and tested, hard earned lessons. If I can help others get out of their dark days faster than I did, that’s what it’s about. Read more>>

Chuang Xu | Film Director & Producer

I think artists should capable with the power over the story that dominates their lives. Art is to link human history, life, language, culture, feelings and other things that are closely related to us. When people participating art, the art works become a medium, allowing artists and the audience to connect and interact. This is also what the unexpected artistic values reflects, the art work itself only a part of art, and interpretations from the audience is also another part of the whole art creation. To me, art is the most intimate and effective carrier of life and human, that’s why I became an artist because I feel free, but keep participating to live so closely at the same time, and I enjoy it. Read more>>

Derek Prado | Artist

I felt that my interests were more expressive than any other career path so I took the chance. Read more>>

Brandon J. Rolle | Composer and Conductor

I think in the beginning it was not so much a conscious decision as it was a lifeline. I started as a jazz musician and the improvisatory and interactive elements were really the language that best allowed me connect, express myself, learn , etc. The discipline of learning an instrument and theory and scales so deeply that you can forget about them completely in the moment of creativity was–and remains–a huge part of my approach to making, learning, and teaching music. Those years performing and writing/arranging as a young person taught me an incredible amount about myself. In college, though, I started studying classical music more seriously and that really changed everything. The intricacy of the scores by people like Schoenberg, Berio, Ligeti, tapped into something deeply personal for me. Their pages encoded intense, complex emotions into musical notations, and I felt I was discovering the language to describe feelings I had always thought I was alone in experiencing. Read more>>

Adrian Snow | Actor and Herbalist

I’ve always had an interest in storytelling. In kindergarten we had writing and art competitions, and I won little awards for that because I was probably a bit weird and good a recreating Picasso paintings with cardstock. But, I guess what I took from that is how art affects other people and how it shapes us. Although, I can’t paint to save my life, and writing, while occasionally enjoyable, I find to be stressful, so acting found it’s way into my life when I was a kid. I recall watching All That, and realizing that it was an attainable career. Once I realized that I may not have the personality for sitting in dark labs as a chemist, I turned to taking on acting as a career in late middle school. I don’t think my parents took me seriously until I paid money to get an acting degree, and even then it still seemed like a pipe dream for me to appear on TV or on stage. But it really all comes back to storytelling. I’ve found that even when I pursue things outside of acting, it’s because I want to share a viewpoint or tell a story that I’ve yet to see on the public stage. Read more>>

Brianna Seaberg | Content Creator

Growing up, I’ve always been a creative. Whether that meant putting on a performance for my parents in the living room, attending theatre summer camps for many years, or taking art classes, I’ve always been involved in the arts. My dad is an architect that creates custom dream homes, hand draws all of his own designs, and is an artist and writer as well. I would attribute my main love for the arts to him because he is the one who inspired me to keep pursuing creative endeavors. In addition to this, almost everything I did in my free time as a child was related to the arts: I’d go to improv classes after school, dance classes, art workshops, and even use the family camcorder to film home videos of myself. After attending Dreyfoos School of the Arts (a performing arts high school in South Florida), I knew that I wanted to continue my creative passions into college and beyond. This is main reason why I chose to attend the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where I study both in the Communication and the Film school. Read more>>

Frank Shi | Co-Founder and AR Creator

I have always been a gamer my whole life. I always admired the art and design that goes into the making of these beautiful worlds. The amazing concept art, realistic 3D environments, and characters. The amount of pain-stacking detail is really astounding. It really shows how much these artists care and also its impact on the millions of fans that play these games. And that really inspired me to learn how to draw, paint and venture into the creative industry. However, I never made it into the games industry, but I extremely grateful to be doing something similar in Augmented Reality. Read more>>

Rianne Vestuto | Embodiment Teacher and Healing Artist

I pursued an artistic path, because honestly, I don’t know what worse i possible could do! From a young age, I was always really creative- imagining music videos in my head for every song I heard, putting on elaborate performances for my family (where I was always in charge of costumes, hair, makeup and choreography,) and I also had an uncanny ability to turn any hand me down into an awesome fashion statement that had my school buzzing. I couldn’t not be creative, and that inner fire taught me to embrace my weirdness, and which I feel was training for creating my own career. Being in my creative expression feels like home to me. As a very intuitive and creative spirit, I would feel incredibly displaced, confused, and even depressed if I wasn’t being creative. It’s an inner fire that needs to be expressed. But I was always was told that a successful creative career was basically impossible, and that my skills were not going to make me any money, which caused inner conflict about if I could actually pursue my art. Read more>>

Jon Bauer | Expressive Artform, Artist

I began to pursue my artistic career as a “second year project” while obtaining a masters degree in Spiritual Psychology at the university of Santa Monica. I liked the poetry or prose that came forward when I would do a style of journaling called free form writing. This is a process where I would write freely, giving no thought to structure, topic or words. It would be a way to clear my mind of an issue that might be disturbing my peace. I would always burn or shed these writings unless something profoundly meaningful would show up, and then I would save that part of the writing. It had a sense of graffiti to me. .When it came time to choose a project in our second year of the masters program, I choose visual art form of graffiti. I wanted to keep the energy I felt around writing and create a visual piece of art at the same time. I took expressive art classes with Helen Bradley of PlayfulArtStudios while searching for instruction in graffiti. Read more>>

Courtney Sell | Filmmaker

I sincerely believe that no pursuit was really made aside from simply listening to my heart and knowing from my earliest moments that this would be my destiny. From as early on as four years old, I knew that I would become a Filmmaker and there would be no other future. This cinematic destiny would eventually arrive and unfold due to my undying passion for the medium. In elementary school, I began making movies with my childhood friends in my parents backyard and honestly, it seems like those experiences just kept progressing from one stage to the next in regards to cinematic growth and development. Now, at 36, I see all those past stages as wondrous moments to a long creative journey. I have never had a moment where I felt that all of a sudden, I would finally “become a Filmmaker” because it was my life the entire time. Read more>>

Baptiste Piriou | French Author & Fashion Content Creator

I decided to pursue my creative career because that’s the only way for me to be happy and to be able to express myself. As a French author, words are my only great freedom today. It can be hard sometimes but you have to know how to persevere and always believe in it. for the fashion and content designer part, it was my mom who gave me her love for clothes. She always explained to me that clothing was above all a way of expressing yourself and asserting your character. Read more>>

Rookie Morgan | Film Director & Producer

When I was a child, I had a collection of movies on VHS tape that I would constantly watch on repeat, I mean, I wore those tapes down. But I quickly began to pick up on the pattern in which the stories were told, I didn’t know it yet, but I had already learned story structure before I knew how to read myself. There was a video rental store just down the street from the apartment where I grew up called “Odyssey Video,” it’s long gone now, but the sign still stands in North Hollywood today. Every week I would go to Odyssey Video with my dad and we’d pick up a couple movies to rent. Sometimes it was new movies, but most of the time I rented the movie “Matilda.” Matilda used the stories in books to escape the clutches of a messed up reality and this also gave her superpowers as well. Naturally, this inspired me to read as much as I could in hopes that I would be just like Matilda. It wasn’t until I saw Toy Story for the first time that I was blown away, I had never seen animation like that before, I became obsessed with trying to find behind the scenes videos, which was not the easiest thing to do in the age of VHS and dial up internet. Read more>>

Salvador Pérez García | Film Editor

I can trace back the beginnings of my drive to be artistic and creative to when I was around eight years old and my dad purchased a video camera to capture family moments and trips. I must have been very curious about it cause I ended up sort of taking ownership of it and using it to film home movies with friends and family, and the motivation to do it just continued to grow as I learnt more about filmmaking and started diving into the proper editing process more and more. By the time I had to choose a career, it was almost not a choice anymore but rather a natural progression. Read more>>

Breann Broussard | Small Business Owner, Hairstylist, Creative Director

My career chose me, I never thought in a million years that I would be a hairstylist let alone a business owner. Well, this all started back at Hamilton High School girl’s restroom (just wait…let me finish), it was my safe place, I turned into my own little glam room. Due to being teased about my appearance, I became profoundly serious about my appearance. When my schoolmates would come inside and see me using a flat iron to straighten my hair, eyeliner, lashes & lipstick being applied it became the newest attraction. Friends & classmates begin to make appointments before school, during our breaks and during our lunch, for simple touch ups or just to clean up their look. They would pay me with lunch tickets or their daily allowance, I cannot lie the money, or the extra food was rewarding. However, when I would see the smiles on their faces or how it would make them feel, it no longer became an appointment, it became fulfillment beyond my imagination. Read more>>

Sahand Fardi | Filmmaker & Future Doctor

Pursuing a dual career in medicine and film resulted from a unique experience happening when I was just 11 years old. Before this age, I dreamt of nothing more than becoming a professional soccer player. I worked hard from the first moment I touched a soccer ball to develop the skills and instincts needed to achieve my dream. Essentially, soccer was my life, and I loved nothing more than the exhilarating feeling of each game with my teammates. Shortly after turning 11, I received the flu vaccine as I did every year. This time, however, was unlike any other. Over the next few months, I saw my body deteriorate in ways beyond anyone’s imagination. Doctor after doctor, test after test, all yielding nothing. It had gotten to the point that I couldn’t even do the most basic personal activities, let alone play soccer. After six months, I was diagnosed with Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare autoimmune side effect of the flu vaccine that caused my immune system to attack my nervous system. Read more>>

Keona Crenshaw | Singer & Songwriter

I pursue the creative career because nothing else makes me happier. Like, I truly feel alive every chance I get to hold a mic and sing for people and for the Kingdom. One of the main reasons I choose to pursue it is because I’m reminded of “The parable of the Talents”. While God is gifting us, it’s only right to sow by using what we have, gifting it to the world, you never know who you might come in contact with while pursuing. In pursuing, you meet people and connect, you network, and you build relationships. This may be cliche, but I was truly born to do this. I’ve tried other things, such as being a behavior therapist, but it’s just not for me… while it may be great for whoever decides to pursue it, being an artist is the best thing I could have ever done. It’s truly a joyful thrill. Like, it truly makes me happy when people say my voice touched their hearts. I want to touch the hearts of people with what The Creator created me to do, that’s why I pursue the creative career. Read more>>

Vitória Vasconcellos | Actor & Director

Art is the only way through which I can explain the world to myself – that is why I’m an artist. I don’t think it is a conscious choice really, it’s more like a need. I heard from a brilliant lady once that you should never try to be an artist, you should avoid it if you can. If you are happy doing anything else then go do that…BUT if there is nothing else that makes you whole, if there’s nothing that can make you understand the world, then there’s nothing to be done, you’re an artist. It is also how I’m able to communicate, to yell, to rebel. No matter how many languages I speak or for how long I talk, the things I need to say the most can only be understood through film. Read more>>

Dom L’ Amour | Entertainer

The only things that have been consistent in my life are family and music. I’ve never seen myself doing anything but performing. The only job I’ve ever loved is being on stage. Read more>>