Artists and creatives face innumerable challenges given that their career path often doesn’t come with a playbook, a steady paycheck or any form of safety net. It’s definitely not easy and so we asked a few of the artists and creatives we admire to talk to us about why they chose to pursue an artistic or creative career.

Danel Azimova | Model & Actress

Because it gives me a freedom of expression. Through art of different forms (modeling, acting, photography, even business) I get to show the world through my eyes and invite people in. Moreover, it never gets boring. There is no routine. Let’s talk about modeling, for example. As a model, I am being a part of someone else’s vision. Magic happens when I trust their vision and they trust mine, so modeling becomes not just about a person showing off the clothes (although, there are not-so-fun jobs like that too) and being beautiful, but rather being an addition to the whole industry, being an expression of self-love and confidence in a way. Isn’t it cool? Modeling is very psychological. Yes, obviously looks are important, but now they seem to focus more on what’s behind it and that is the best part. They look for that another tasty layer that can be added to the cake (project). Read more>>

Anthony Tran | Photographer, Overthinker

I have a lot of expressive energy and so any other career/job where I’m not able to openly be myself would be antithetical to my existence. The nature of the industry is always changing in fascinating ways and as a person who easily gets bored, the fluidity of everything keeps me excited. It’s in my personal nature to share everything that I love, so something like photography was an easy and efficient way to express that. And I never feel stagnant within this creative universe because there’s so much to learn, not just from photography, but other avenues as well (like film, design, illustration etc). And that continuously fuels that fire in me. Also, I don’t particularly like someone telling me what to do. I personally don’t believe there should be dominance or elitism in any human relationships. For me, the collaborative nature of the creative industry is 100% more my speed and I feel often there is a mutual respect for one another’s position/role. Read more>>

Sarah Brown Carter | Actor, Producer and Unit Production Manager at Paxeros

I grew up performing every chance I could and documenting absolutely everything I could. I got my first camera (film, of course) at a garage sale when I was 8 years old and took pictures of EVERYTHING. I would then print every single picture I took and tape them to my bedroom walls… I’m sure my parents were thrilled. My siblings and I weren’t allowed to watch much TV or movies, but we did have wild imaginations and put on performances for anyone who would watch. As I grew older I loved being involved in film-making in any way possible, both in front of and behind the camera. Movie magic grew more and more magical and I knew I wanted a career in this world of story telling. I believe everyone has a story worth telling and I love having the opportunity to help people tell those stories. Read more>>

Jerilyn Guerrero | Illustrator & Designer

I pursued a creative career because I really love making all sorts of things and expressing myself through different mediums. It brings me the most joy and peace to be in the zone creating something that I could only see in my mind. You could say there’s always been a strong undercurrent pulling me in this direction. Read more>>

Brigitte Park | Photographer, Stylist, and Makeup Artist

At first pursuing photography was a way for me to have a creative outlet while in college. Taking people’s pictures and giving them a moment in time to treasure made me continue to pursue photography and incorporate more of my creativity through styling and makeup. I continue to pursue these passions to help people see the uniqueness of their beauty. Read more>>

Ethan Ziemba | Music Producer & Songwriter

My answer is two-fold in that firstly, I have always been an artist and impassioned about creating something that moves other people emotionally or establishes a story and purpose that other people can relate or empathize with. It’s inspiring and exciting to work toward finishing a piece of art that not only embodies your purpose for that work, but is greater than the sum of it’s parts and has the potential to touch other people in a meaningful way. Even when working for and with other artists, you have to be able to adopt those ideas and understand the soul of their work and execute on their intentions. Secondly, it’s what I excel at most. My biggest talents and strengths have always been based in being creative. Read more>>

Julian Scherle | Film Composer

Music has been an integral part of my life since I was a kid, so it wasn’t really a choice to pursue a career in music. It was more like figuring out a lifestyle around the passion. Read more>>

Alejandro Lee | Concept & Story Illustrator

For as long as I can remember- since I was five- I’ve been driven to create! I’ve always had ideas and needed some kind of outlet, but I wasn’t sure it could be anything more than a passing hobby. It wasn’t until my early twenties I learned about the entertainment industry – finding out there was a pathway applying my artistic energy while making a livable income. Read more>>

James Goins | Composer, Director & Writer

In all honesty, I think the creative part in me made that decision for me. My journey, as in everyone else’s journey is different than what you might expect and perhaps maybe not so different. When I was was young I was introduced to music through my godfather who taught me piano until he passed away. He was the one who planted the seed in igniting the musical gift in me. From there a fascination with theatre grew, then musical theatre, then writing, directing, and finally film and film scoring. The addition of the other art disciplines seemed a natural progression and one I would continue to cultivate, grow and participate in until now. To be clear, I had a 24-year teaching career while pursuing my craft so I always had a financial base from which to work. Some would say that was cheating. To that, I would say, “no, that was wise,” especially when you have a wife and children to feed and a mortgage to pay. Read more>>

Justin Piccari | Portrait, Product, and Fine Art Photographer

Art and creation has always been at the bedrock of who I am. The best way for me to explain myself and the complicated thoughts that are in my head are through visuals. Art has a way of describing ineffable thoughts and feelings like nothing else, and being about to feel and react to something that complicated, on a visceral level has always fascinated me. Read more>>

Giancarlo Burgos | Creative Designer

I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a kid but to be honest I had no idea I would be pursuing a creative career. It was something that I stumbled on as I progressed through my life. Growing up my family motivated me to strive for an education but I always found myself disengaged because it was never really something I was in love with. During high school, the few things I would always look forward to would be Art classes or cutting hair on the side. At the time, cutting hair was just a hobby for me and to be real it became a nuisance. At 15, I just wanted to be a kid and not working back to back hours in a hot garage but that’s when I realized that there was passion developing from it. After high school, I pursued a collegiate career in Northern California mostly in part to be the first generation to go to college in my immediate family. Read more>>

Alyssa Davey | Artist & Musician

I pursued a career in art and creativity because it was really all I’ve had to anchor me my whole life and given me the most happiness I’ve ever felt. Creating and playing music is literally like a high for me and that is a huge part of what makes me continue on. It’ seriously is the only thing that keeps me sane and gives me a sense of joy and purpose. It’s saved my life and that’s why I continue it. Music has always been my main passion and career path, but drawing and creating has also been a huge love of mine and I wanted to create pieces that brought out my darker side and appreciation for tattoo style art. My goal is to inspire people to pursue their passions and take the leap even if it’s hard and feels impossible. Read more>>

Parker Burr | Fashion & Portrait Photographer

I should start by expressing that I never planned on pursuing a creative career, it was more of a happy accident. I majored in business and worked for tech companies for about four years before becoming a full-time photographer. At one point, I was laid off from my job, and in the three months it took me to find/start my next job, I needed something to fill my time, so I bought a Canon Rebel for $100 on OfferUp and decided to give photography a go. Fast forward a few years, and here we are! I remember growing up and always seeing features like People Magazine’s ‘celebrity no makeup’ editions and I was obsessed with knowing the behind the scenes details. I was always drawn to the simplicity of these shoots, and the intimate perspective that they provided. I think most of my passion derives from this and has developed into showing people how fascinating they are just being themselves without much embellishment. Read more>>

Melissa (Mel) Barrett | Director & Marketing Manager, Visual Culture Arts

I have always been creative. Growing up as an only child, I was constantly making things and figuring out ways to entertain myself. When I was in high school, I enrolled in an art class as an elective — just to get the credits — and it turned out I had a knack for it! I ended up taking art classes for the remainder of my high school experience. Having found my passion, I decided to pursue art professionally. Now thirteen years later, I have become an artist, curator, gallerist, and museum specialist. I have worked with numerous arts institutions throughout California, such as the Carmel Art Association, Arts Council for Monterey County, William Turner Gallery, and many more. Along the way, I founded Visual Culture Arts (VCA), a consultancy with the purpose of helping artists, such as myself, navigate through the administrative side of the art world. Eventually, VCA grew and evolved to encompass an online art gallery and marketing consultancy. Read more>>

Colin Crane | Visual Artist & Social Entrepreneur

Since my final year of college I’ve known instinctively that I was cut out for something with more personal freedom than the typical 9-to-5 path. Throughout my life I’ve always been happiest when I’m creating, and I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to nurture that passion while building a social enterprise whose mission and purpose means so much to me. When we started our nonprofit organization, one of the most rewarding parts for me personally was the ability to use my passion for visual art in building our brand. From documentary videos, photojournalism, colorful graphic design projects, and other visual storytelling, it’s all helped keep that creative flame alive — ten years later it’s still surreal to call those things part of my job. Another huge thing for me is that the personal freedoms afforded by my career choice have opened up time & energy that I can dedicate to a range of personal art & photography projects that let me express myself and keep that part of my mind nourished. Read more>>

Sarah Wolff | Illustrator

The idea of having a conventional office job is something that never appealed to me personally. When I was younger I did not always imagine myself pursuing a career in art, for a brief moment I actually wanted to be a zoologist. However, as time went on and I continued to grow up I found myself growing more interested in art and various creative avenues. I have always been enamored with the process of taking a blank canvas and using it to create a piece. There is a quote that has inspired me the last few years made by Robin William’s character in “The Dead Poet’s Society”. He said, “…And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” I think as artists many of us want to make the world a more beautiful place and use our art as a forum for discussion. Art, in all of its many forms, has a magical way of unifying people and even sparking a conversation. And I want to be a part of creating that narrative. Read more>>

Sam Wilder | Singer/Songwriter

As a kid who loved music, I have wanted to be a singer for as long as I can remember. My grandfather and I used to bond over poetry and get lost in discussion for hours. His love of poetry and story-telling taught me the importance of having a life full of creative expression. Still today, I think of him before I write all of my songs. His passion and pure heart drive me to create meaningful music; which I hope can inspire others to look into themselves and find the beauty beneath their pain. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for his love and support. He has made me the musician I am today. Read more>>

Shylah Ray Sunshine | Professional Singer, Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Soul Voice Singing™ Vocal Coach

In all honesty; it doesn’t feel like it was a conscious choice. I feel as though I was gifted this voice, this natural ability to sing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been incredibly uplifted by music and singing along to it…so much that it motivated me to pursue a music career despite the many limitations and false beliefs around what I could not accomplish. I had made decisions when very young that would lead me in the direction of it…It was quite organic and its also a really great story that I could tell more in detail another time. But in brief- I think it pursued me. My singing voice has led me to new grounds, got me recognition, made me money and brought me opportunities I didn’t know existed. It showed me the way back to myself, and allowed me to expand the entirety of my creative expression. Read more>>

Ed Ponce | Photographer & Creative Director

The biggest reason I believe I pursued an artistic career is the fact that I held so many emotions in growing up & art itself opened my eyes and let me express myself outward in different ways. I drew a lot as a child and used my moms old point and shoot film camera without her permission funny enough and later rediscovered photography as a teen. Since then, photography has allowed me to express myself in many ways, whether it was capturing musicians on stage pouring their hearts out to their fans across the country or capturing the rollercoaster of emotions on a client’s wedding day. Read more>>

Hannah Getz | Cinematographer

I grew up in the film industry. My father is an actor and my mom is a screenwriter/playwright. I always wanted to go a similar path but it took me a little while to find it. At first I tired acting, then photography (a medium I worked in for over 10 years, and went to undergrad for), producing, and then finally found my way to Cinematography. I suppose the “why” is that I’ve always wanted to tell stories in one way or another. It was just about finding the way that fit me best. In being a Cinematographer, I am able to collaborate with a Director in translating words from the page to the screen, and I find that incredibly rewarding. Read more>>

Erica Vincent | Photojournalist

It was an accident. I never wanted to do photography. I had a point and shoot camera I would take on my hikes to show my co-workers in the nurse quad where I was hiking to encourage others to come enjoy nature and be active with me. While hiking with my dad (who was a photographer for 40 years), he saw a photo I took of Mt. St Helens on one of our hikes. A few days later, he bought me a Nikon D5100 and said, “Let’s see what you can do with a real camera.” Within a few months, My photos exceeded his. I went hiking all over the NW, taking photos, and then upgraded to a new camera. A band I had loved since the late 90s hit me up and asked me to travel 6 hours to photograph them. I had never shot a show but skipped work and did it! The photos ended up on the next tour’s posters and shirts! The rest is history. Read more>>

Jeff Fliegler | Creative Entrepreneur

The first 16years of my professional life were spent cooking professionally all over the US and world. I had an injury and at that time I decided it would be best for my health and family to hang up the knife bag. Soon after I began a short stint in the financial services’ industry. I learned some valuable lessons about our financial system and how money works, but the most valuable lesson I learned was it was best for my success and happiness that I find a career where I have the ability to bring ideas to life. It took a few serendipitous events but it lead me to open the creative agency The Point Solutions. Read more>>

Miranda Guiles | Owner

When I first started my career, I had just come back from working and studying in Japan. I moved out to San Francisco, California with no job at all. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I really just started doing things just to make it. I worked several jobs as a server, and event planning for a financial firm. Then I moved into working for several startups in tech, pets, and coffee. I’ve done customer support, social media, video production, and marketing, and eventually, I figured out which aspects of those I loved the most. I’ve found what gives me the most joy is being able to work with fun colors, designs, and flavors. I find that working with a product that I love, that represents who I am, is so much more satisfying and gratifying. I love getting to flex my creativity when coming up with cake ideas and oddly enough, I’ve found that it actually comes kind of naturally to me — so maybe this is where I need to be. Read more>>

Mikaela Fleming | Lecturer & Performer

One of my earliest memories, I remember running around on a playground making up stories and performing them for my mother when I was a kid. (Thanks mom for always being my biggest fan!) I was always positive that I wanted to create something. It manifested in many ways. I began writing poetry in Elementary school. I begged to take acting classes and sing in musicals growing up. I felt the most at home when I was given the tools and permission to be artistic. It’s an absolute shame that so many children do not receive the support at home to explore imagination. Children deserve for their creativity to be nurtured. I truly believe that you can learn the most about yourself and the world through an artistic lens. Now as an adult (wow, that’s scary to say) I have the incredible honor to be creative in a multitude of different positions in my career. I get to teach performance at a university. Read more>>

Carolina De Athey | Actress, Singer and Model.

I’ve always loved art. Acting, singing, writing music, creating a look. Since I was a kid, I knew I’d pursue something related to music, acting or both. I also knew I’d be involved with fashion on way or another. Read more>>

Jeremy Uglow | Painter, Bookbinder, Maker

I was always into making objects and drawing as a kid. I enjoyed being active outside and playing soccer or skateboarding, but I still needed time to myself. Quiet time with my bedroom door closed to draw, read, and think. It never really occurred to me that I should or could pursue art as a central preoccupation until a year out of high school when I had a job in an instrument repair factory surrounded by toxic chemicals, toxic personalities, and hardly enough earnings to make my own way. As I sat in the stripping room waiting for lacquers to break down and plating to begin, I drew. I imagined things outside of my reality and filled the small pieces of paper that were given to me for taking notes or tallies. After I woke up in the middle of the night, sick to my stomach, I started to reassess where I wanted to be. I thought about drawing, I thought about the way I enjoy teaching others and working with materials to make things that were free of direct or utilitarian value. Read more>>

Weston Uram | Embroidery & Digital Machine Artist

I pursued an artistic career because I loved the way art documented the experience of life throughout history. Art, in many instances, was the first time I felt kinship in an emotion or struggle I personally faced. Art allowed me to feel connected to the world, and made me excited to have conversations about what life is like today. Art encompasses a document of the past, a vehicle for sharing the present, and a way to fantasize and even manifest potential futures. Art taught me I am not alone, and I have pursued it ever sense as a way to continue the lineage of communication. Read more>>

Michael Riley | Creative Director

There are so many things that I love about the intersection design and entertainment. I love the art of storytelling. I love to draw and paint. I love photography and cinematography. I love the combining of live action, animation, and cinematography. And I love working with music. One really exciting aspect of working in my area of art and design is that, as technology evolves, the boundaries between these categories get more blurred every day, As the tools change, so do the creative possibilities. But one of the best parts of my career is that I get to collaborate with other creative people. Whether it’s a director on a feature film, a producer or a writer on a television series, a creative director at an advertising agency, or the team at Shine, the design studio where I work… I thrive on creative collaboration. You get to bring your own ideas to the table, hear the ideas of others, and then, together, make something that you never would have made had you done it solely on your own. Read more>>

Donna Letterese | Illustrator/Comics Creator, Educator, and Grad Student

I’ve chosen an artistic and creative career path largely on account of my love for storytelling.  I believe that pictures can communicate narrative as profoundly as words, and I love Illustration and Cartooning because of how crucial moments can be captured in a single image, while longer stories are told across a series of them. I also love how words and pictures can intertwine, either humorously in something with puns, or in something more serious like a graphic novel.  It’s one of my great joys in life telling these stories in my own practice (using Illustration, Writing, or both when working in the Sequential Art format).  And, I also truly love guiding others on how to tell stories themselves– which is why I have worked as an educator in afterschool programs, libraries, and art centers, teaching children and teens how to make their own art and comics since 2010. Read more>>

Emily Hoerdemann | Artist

Since I was a child, I was encouraged to be creative by my parents. My Mother was a graphic designer and artist, so I grew up around her painting studio and her career as a designer. My Dad was handy and played the accordion. So it was natural for me to have paints or a hammer or a musical instrument in my hand! I played saxophone actively for fifteen years, and I ended up studying painting and photography towards my career in the arts. Read more>>

David Zuckerman | Writer, Director & Producer

Art has always been a part of my life. Early on, I was a terrible insomniac. To remedy this, my mother would lay out a giant piece of butcher paper, and tell me to “draw her a picture.” The next morning, she’d find me asleep on a giant hand-drawn image. That passion for art transferred over to a passion for film. I became obsessed with movies; how they were made, what they meant, and how they were changing. It was a big scary step to tell two doctor parents that I wanted “to make movies” for a living… Needless to say, they weren’t thrilled. But it was situations like that that forced me to pursue it further. I’ve always had the personality that works harder if you tell me I can’t. Through my studies and schooling though, I found that not only was this my exact passion… I wasn’t terrible at it either. Read more>>

Ella Beyer | Singer/Songwriter

I decided to pursue becoming a singer/songwriter because I simply cannot imagine doing anything else with my life. The feeling I get from performing my songs with my band on stage is like no other. I write from my own experiences; the things I observe day in and day out. My favorite part of songwriting is that the main inspiration for it is simply… living. The more people you meet, places you go, and feelings you feel, the more songs come to life. Read more>>

Jessica M. Legrair | Self Love Advocate & Actress

The most important reason I am pursuing a career in the arts is because my 4 year old self told me that is one of the things I’ll do with my life. I’ve been performing in front of my Dad’s camcorder since then, not knowing that is what I’d do as an adult. It was in my nature to act or perform, and I followed it on and off for about 23 years until I decided to pursue acting professionally. The second most important reason is, it is therapeutic! Being able to release emotions in the form of creativity or art is beautiful and it is authentic. Even to watch it from another performer, moves me and allows me to release any feelings or emotions in a healthy manner. The third and final most important reason is it brings me joy to move people, and to entertain them. For however long they were entertained by me, I helped them be present, forget about their stressors, or get in their feels. Making people feel good is important to me. Seeing people happy, makes me happy. Read more>>

Kevin McGrath | Poet and Scholar

I think this life of artistry has actually pursued me … there is an imperative if not compulsive quality about this kind of life, for it possesses its own considerable necessity and force and it is that which supplies meaning more than anything else. Producing beautiful works of art is not an end, however, but simply a medium that takes one forward in time and also in consciousness. That is where the real artistry occurs, not in the words on paper but in the awareness, the apprehension of the kosmos and its timeless immediacy. I have supported this practice with a mundane or diurnal life of teaching, working as an academic in a great University. There, being a professional Humanist, one might convey such awareness to others via the action of pedagogy. That is where my material contribution to society and community occurs, in teaching others about how to read and about how poetry functions in our world. Read more>>

Corey Crandall | Talent Coordinator & Apiarist

I’ve always been a creative person, but there was something about Television and Film that sparked a lot of interest when considering a career. I wanted a job that would allow me to make a positive impact on the world. With the current state of California, there is not a lot that we can look forward to. Some days, all we do is watch TV, so being able to provide people with an escape and something that can make them smile has always been a driving force behind why i love my job. Getting started was a long journey because as an independent contractor nothing is guaranteed, but as I’ve progressed I’ve been able to build my life around a handful of network shows that give me the kind of schedule I’ve always strived for. I work hard for 8 months out of the year, and then get a break to pursue some other passions or just relax! For me, I’ve always loved bee keeping so my girlfriend and I have created a company @SNCHoney to bring some locally made honey to the greater LA area. Read more>>

Kelley-Ann Lindo | Visual Artist

Art was always a constant in my life. I was surrounded by people who supported me and my talents. Art allows me to share lived realities. It creates a space for conversation and ideas which resonate beyond myself and my immediate surroundings. It allows me to acknowledge the importance of experience and how the differences in spaces and histories impact one’s concepts of place. Read more>>

Disraeli “Daywalker” Odalys | Bassist of Aviator Stash

I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess. I presume most artists and creative types are masochists, in some form or another. It would explain a fair amount of the art out there, at least. I’m sort of kidding there. My serious answer is because I crave the power that comes with being the master of one’s own creative domain. The universe that only you create is a far more desirable plane to exist than a universe where your control is always going to be somewhat limited. There’s a thing Bukowski scribbled on a shirt cardboard during a two-day bender over a half-century ago: “the difference between Art and Life is that Art is more bearable” I figured he would know. Being honest with yourself is at least, if not more important than being honest with others. When it comes to music and art, its definitely easier to find honest people nowadays. Read more>>

Mariana Montes | Artist-Psychiatrist

I grew up in an artistic environment. My father was a painter and a professor of art. Read more>>

Cindy Vu Pantoja | Permanent Makeup Artist, Instructor and Beauty Boss

From recreating Van Gogh paintings at 9 years old to winning multiple art contests thereafter. I have always had a passion for creating beautiful art. Before becoming a permanent makeup artist, I was in the corporate world working with structural engineers. I was able to learn how buildings and homes could be improved with the guidance of an engineer. Now that I think about it, it gave me the same mindset to guiding clients on how to improve their natural look. With over 4000 procedures under my belt it gave me the confidence to guide my students. Becoming an artist in the PMU world sparked a light in me. I love knowing that I can always help an individual feel more beautiful than they already are by just enhancing and shaping their natural features. It has been over 6 years and my passion continues to grow after each client and student. Read more>>

Wil Crown | Actor, Writer, Director

Since my childhood, film has been my therapy. As a young boy I remember watching “THE OUTSIDERS” repeatedly in an attempt to string together some semblance of the drama in my own life. The soundtracks to the films I watched became the soundtracks to my life. So it made sense that, after starting a career in the world of business, I had to return to my true therapy, the only place where everything made sense… the movies. Read more>>