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.

Jovonny Holloway | Film Maker

I chose to pursue an Artistic career mainly because I am a creative. I have had many jobs over the years. I realized early on that the jobs were all dead and ends, and in fulfilling. The sky is the limit for a creator. Correction there is no limit for a creator. Read more>>

Jimena Muhlia | Filmmaker, Art Explorer, Trained in Architecture

Since I was little I had an approach to art through dance and theater, at some point I decided to focus on my architecture career both in finishing university and in advancing in the office where I worked. At some point in my mid-twenties I realized that I was not developing something personal, and I thought a lot about the turn my life should take. So I did it. Currently I am mainly dedicated to writing, filmmaking and editing, but constant photographic experimentation and abstract painting is also part of my personal development, which comes from my training in architecture where you must connect your ideas with sketches that your hand draws. Let’s say that I am in a constant trans-disciplinary evolution where I try to mix my knowledge as much as I can because that is the way in which I find my emotional stability. Read more>>

Mason Hensley | Recording Engineer/Producer

I am chasing a creative career because every wise person I have ever known has said, “Find a way to professionally do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Obviously there are still difficulties and obstacles that come with building a business, and improving your craft is a life-long task, but I am so grateful to even have a chance to make a living doing what I love. Recording music for local artists has been such a rewarding experience. I love the challenge to create the best version of each artist’s work, and it is so special to be able to create a permanent audio “snapshot” of their creative ideas. Each musician has a different voice to share, and it’s a new experience every time I sit down to work. Read more>>

AnnaNoel | Model and Mental Health Advocate

Growing up I was interested in anything and everything. I played almost every sport in the book, did every artistic thing out there, and even had a blackbelt in martial arts, but constantly struggled with not finding my own passion to fully succeed in. When I entered middle school, I was hit with the hardest time in my life. I was bullied every single day for 3 years, which resulted in being diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and years to come of physical health issues. I was forced to stop playing sports due to these health issues and lost all interest in creative outlets because of my depression. However, on the road to recovery, I realized my creative outlets were my therapy. I dove deep back into music, my songwriting notebook became my therapist, and I started competing in pageants in order to help others struggling with similar things. I lived out my pageant career with 4 years as a semi-finalist in Miss California Teen USA, and numerous preliminary titles, one being Miss Beverly Hills Teen USA. Read more>>

Emilie PESANTE | Camera Operator

It came to me naturally. When I was young, I always had a camera in my hands, I was drawing or painting every day, I played music. Art activities have always been in my life. It was a game for me and I could spend hours and hours to create something. Even now, I always create gift for my friends because it s unique and personal. So naturally when I realized that my passion could be my job, I went to an audiovisual school in South of France, then to a journalism school to have more than one string to my bow, and now I travel all over the world to be paid to do what I love to do: film, meet people, discover new things. Read more>>

Jamila Hache | Actress / Singer

I have always loved expressing myself through art, in all forms and shapes. Since a young age, I joined a dancing studio, a music conservatory and some acting classes. During my spare time I loved drawing and coloring (however, this is not my forté). Why did I pursue an artistic career? I believe it’s because is the best way I know to communicate how I feel, who I am and my way to help others and contribute to the world. Read more>>

Moses Sun | Guitarist & Composer

I was one of many friends around me growing up who played an instrument or two. We all had lessons in piano, violin, flute, etc., and I later on picked up guitar from my dad. However, as we got a little bit older and at the point where we had to decide about what to do after high school, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else other than what I’m currently doing right now — which is playing/writing/producing music professionally. I always found an odd sense of joy and fulfillment when I heard something on the radio, and later learned it by ear. I was always in awe of the endless range of sounds that a guitar could produce, and wanted to learn everything about it. And as my iTunes collection kept on growing, I pieced together certain sounds from various tracks and had a lot of fun synthesizing them into my own styles…which would later become my signature “sounds” if you will. I was blessed with opportunities to learn more about music in college and graduate school, and I wanted to turn that into something that was fulfilling for me and also financially viable at the same time. Read more>>

Chris Von Hoffmann | Filmmaker

It’s pretty simple. I have no choice. I’m what some might call an emotionally immature person but that doesn’t mean I don’t have emotions. It’s that I have trouble conveying them, especially toward others. So in order to prevent me from feeling emotionally trapped on a daily basis, I have to tell stories in order to cleanse myself and feel human. Otherwise, I’d be in a straightjacket. Read more>>

Bryan Greg | Hair Stylist

Art is me. I have been always in art, music, dance, dj, sound engineering, hair , paint, color all design choices. I cant think any thing out of art, my job is my passion. Read more>>

Elizabeth Paravicini | Art Camp Director, Teacher & Artist

My decision to pursue an artistic and creative career was to share my love of art with everyone and give children a way to express themselves through any form of the arts. I have always been so passionate about creating art whether it’s painting, drawing, creating visual window displays, murals, organizing art shows or events, and running my summer/spring and winter camp. I feel so free when I am able to create something out of nothing! As a teenager growing up, I had to overcome anger issues within myself, and learn to heal from the trauma. Art helped me heal the broken pieces within my spirit, and gave me a voice to express what I couldn’t talk about to others growing up. I lived in South Central and while in Jr. High, I had a few amazing teachers that went above and beyond to make my feel safe, loved and cared for. They provided and unofficial after-school program, where we could play basketball, participate in theatre, cooking, art and allowed us to be safe, away from the gang life. Read more>>

Jiyeon Park | Aspiring Storyboard Artist

Movies, videos, and animations, in each world of fiction, there’s a magic that divides us from the world of our own. The magic allows the audience to escape reality, and follow the journey of a hero. I was fascinated by the power of magic, the power to make people dream. I started my art career later than my peers. I was not happy with my studies, and I was feeling lost without understanding why. Then one day, I met my first storyboard teacher from CDA (Concept Design Academy..) In one of his lessons, he told us why he wrote stories. “In the real world, nothing is fair, nothing is easy, and not every pain gets paid off.” He said. “But in the movies, every hard work gets paid off, and every dream can become true. We can write stories like this, so we can give hope to children and people.” His speech touched me deeply in my heart. Ever since then, I started pursuing an art career hoping to deliver the magic in people’s lives one day. Read more>>

LaToya Tyson | Visual Artist/Photographer

I came across my artistic journey very early in life. It was more of a subconscious thing at first but as I got older, became more conscious and pronounced. I always knew that a conventional career was not something I wanted to pursue. Being in a creative environment always brought out the absolute best in me: drive, passion and commitment. The ideas that were seen as too unconventional in the environment I grew up in, were celebrated in a artistic space. I was free to tell my stories the way that I saw fit. Art and creativity gives me purpose and a sense of belonging that nothing else I have done gives me. I know my artistry is what I have to give to the world, because l would pursue this regardless of the success or accolades or any of the reasons one chooses a career path. In my soul I am an artist. So when I finally discovered that for myself, it made all the pieces of my journey come together and make sense. Nothing else ever quite fit before. Read more>>

Emmy Meli | Singer/Songwriter & Artist

My entire life has been a series of feeling out of place. I never felt like I truly belonged anywhere, with anyone. Most of the time, it didn’t even matter how many lovely people I was around; I constantly felt a sense of abnormality, like existing was uncomfortable and there was something extremely different about me. My childhood was not one many others could say they experienced, and it was extremely out of the box. Art was a safe space for me no matter what was going on in my external world or internal world. The feeling of being out of place in the world followed me into adulthood, and was amplified with new experiences and sadnesses. I spent a lot of time thinking my creative habits were “weird” because they were just another thing that set me apart. My art brought my feelings out of my head and into the physical world. It wasn’t until extremely recently that I realized that instead of fighting the current I was born riding-I should flow with it, swim with it, and breathe with it. Read more>>

Caryn Ward Ross | Actress/Producer & MediTEAtions Founder

I didn’t pursue an artistic or creative career. It pursued me. From the time I was aware that I even existed, probably around 3 or 4 years of age, I’ve always had this subtle, inward interpretation of life that goes something like this: there is more to this human thing than meets the eye. As such I have always lived on a very intuitive and instinctual level. For me, this is the foundation of art and creativity. My artistic path in life has been fueled by a desire to bring these nebulous creative impulses and forces out of my mind and heart, into tangible physical expressions. Whether thats a dance piece I am choreographing, the emotion or nuance of an acting scene, or being a a producer/writer creating characters with depth, complexity and humility. To purse a creative career is most aligned to the Truth of who I am. I feel am most alive and as if I am making a contribution to the world when I am being my artistic self. In addition to my work in television and film, I created my luxury tea brand, MediTEAtions, to anchor intentional living and conscious imbibing. Read more>>

Will Link | Writer & Storyteller

Masochism? Narcissism? Lunacy? I’m sure those all factor in, but in all seriousness, I’ve always had a burning desire to be a storyteller. That’s what’s propelled me to continue my creative endeavors. Whether it’s writing a novel or just telling someone a story at a party, there is an art to it. I’ve tried to model myself on writers and artists who have been able work in many different mediums. My first love is film, and my heart is always going to be in screenwriting, but that love has taken me to perform stories on stage, host podcasts, and eventually publish a novel. Any way I can tell someone a story, I’ll take it. And I’d like to believe I’m good at it. It’s probably the one area of work I don’t have total impostor syndrome about, which is another reason I’ve kept pursuing it. Storytelling hits that sweet spot of being something I believe I’m good at and also just plain love. I think that’s what we should all strive to find. Read more>>

Chris Pudlo | Artist

I pursued an artistic or creative career because I don’t know any other way. My whole life has always been a movie playing in my head of how I want things to be, how I see the world and how my art should be created. I see images in my head like a music video or film clips. I then need to get that out whether it’s through writing, acting, photography or just coming out in a quirky personality trait. I never liked the idea of a nine to five job that you stay at for thirty plus years and then retire. I have never subscribed to the conventional norms that society expects. I think it helps being gay because you do a lot more soul searching and questioning which helps you be more free creatively. Read more>>

J. Morgan: Music Artist and Entrepreneur

Creating art makes me feel alive! When I was a kid I remember feeling the overwhelming urge to express myself and all I wanted to do was write and make music but I didn’t have access to a studio or anything close. Once I got older and was able to gain access to the things I needed to create , it was like I was finally free to fulfill my purpose in life. That’s the best way to describe it: to create is why I’m here on earth at this time. Read more>>

Laura Arten | Actress, Filmmaker

I’d say it pursued me until I finally gave in. The truth is for a relatively long time I sort of denied artistic endeavor for myself as a vocation, or a path. For all the usual reasons, such as parents, what’s in front of you, what’s expected. I always had good grades, was academically sound and probably could have been a great lawyer or some such, if the thought of it wasn’t making me nauseous. I think I like the idea of playing a lawyer. Or a secretary. Or whatever it may be. Eventually I realized the playing part is what is attractive to me. That I am someone who needs uncertainty to some degree. change and challenge as well as new impulses and wide variety of experiences. For some time I grappled with it internally until I realized that life is relatively long to spend most of it doing what gives you anxiety. So in the end I chose the panic attacks induced by what I desire as opposed to facing spending my life time trapped where I don’t want to be. Read more>>

Jeffrey Sugishita | Creator

I think the path to pursuing a creative career wasn’t by choice, but rather an inevitability for me. The act of creation for me can be best explained as an involuntary reaction to existing, much like the way I breathe. I started drawing and sculpting before I was able to read or write. I wasn’t taught or recommended by anyone to draw or sculpt- the urge to create manifested within me when I was three years old and I haven’t stopped making things since then. I never had the desire to make “art” or be an “artist”, as I hadn’t even perceived those concepts when I started creating (and I’m still figuring out what they are exactly). I believe the act of creating for me is a form of processing my existence within this universe, as I intake data of the physical world through my senses (like inhaling), formulate them into subjective experience that fuels my soul (like how oxygen fuels my body), and output my experience into a physical form (like exhaling). Read more>>

Joy Chen | Creative Director & Designer

Before deciding to pursue a creative career, I was deeply involved in the study of politics and public policy. I wanted to create effective change on issues that were important to me. However, I was unsure of the route I wanted to take. During this time, I was also discovering myself as an artist through the medium of photography. I began shooting series on the topics of Asian American women, sexual assault, and trauma. All issues that continued to manifest in my advocacy work in politics. I was able to discover that my voice was more powerful when I was able to express it through a visual medium. Ever since then, I have continued to explore and educate myself on a variety of mediums past photography. However, this only launched my desire to enter as a creative into the workforce. From there, I worked hard to create a meaningful portfolio that exemplified the work that I was proud of. I currently attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)’s Design | Media Arts program. Read more>>

Sarah Castro | Designer | Business Owner | Creative

For me, artistry is handed down. My grandmother was the youngest of 8 from a desolate wheat farm in South Dakota. Her parents were poor and handmade much of what they needed, from clothing and ceramic pottery to barns to wagon wheels. She began creating when she was young, using pieces of charcoal from the fire to sketch on scraps of wood. She left at 18 to California, following her dream to become an artist, and she succeeded, landing a job at Milan Studios in San Francisco. I’ve literally seen pictures of her on top of a 10-foot ladder painting a 30 foot Billboard, in a pencil skirt and heels. This kind of inspiration was paramount in rooting my love and admiration in art. My youth was filled with art lessons, using a mishmash of mediums. I have old sketchbooks from when I was 3 years old, sketching still lifes with charcoal and using pastel to draw the color wheel in an attempt to understand color theory. Read more>>

Leo Dolan | Singer, Songwriter, Instrumentalist

Music has always been the center of my life. It didn’t matter if I was in a stage of frequently playing live and making most of my income from it or if I was in a stage of writing, recording, and rarely performing, music is the Alpha and Omega of my life. I spent years trying to trick myself into thinking I could be personally fulfilled taking another, more stable and conventional, career path, but over the last year it has become abundantly clear that music is my only way forward. I was watching the Ken Burns History of Country Music documentary with my Dad this summer, and in an interview with Kris Kristopherson, a William Blake quote was brought up. Kris was talking about when he realized he has to make music for a living. The quote reads, “If he who is organized by the divine for spiritual commune, refuses and buries his talent in the Earth, even though he should want natural bread, shame and confusion of face will pursue him throughout his life to eternity.” Read more>>

Danielle Renee | Actress, Model, Singer, Dancer, Writer

When I was younger, I would constantly write in journals. Whether I was writing poems, songs, stories or simply writing down my feelings, it was always my go to coping mechanism. I had a hard time communicating my emotions when I was little and I found that writing was my only way to express myself and to get through all of the challenging times I was going through. It gave me a voice. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was creating and it was what I felt connected to the most. Then I discovered acting and knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. Till this day I choose to pursue a creative career because I feel that’s what I’m meant to do. Art is healing in so many ways and I just want to be apart of that. Art brings people together from all areas and backgrounds. No matter how different we may seem on the outside – art reminds us that we are all connected. It’s the closest thing we have to magic. Read more>>

S.A.G.A. Emcee | Hip Hop Artist & Songwriter

The short answer is that I wasn’t very good at school. Now I’m not one of those people that think college is a complete waste of time, but I don’t believe it’s for everyone. I had a hard time focusing on what the teachers were teaching and doing homework on subjects I didn’t care about was a struggle. I enjoy learning but most of the things they teach you early on isn’t always practical or fulfilling. At least it wasn’t to me anyway. When I started writing poems and raps as an outlet for what I was feeling and seeing in the world, it really clicked. I already loved music for being there as an escape, a vibe, and a way to heal. So I thought why not put my point of view and introspection on record so people can vibe and connect to it as well. There’s something about stringing the right words and phrases together over an instrumental that is so satisfying to me. I hear a melody or a beat and it demands my attention. Read more>>

Marissa Ruth Mayer | Actor & Entrepreneur

This is a question that I genuinely haven’t been able to answer until very recently, despite my entanglement with the arts for the last 17 years. I always knew I wanted to pursue a life as an artist, simply because of a gut feeling, and I’ve finally realized why I love it so much. It’s not the glamor (although that’s fun) and it’s not becoming a star. It’s the community of people. That’s what I love the most. I love rehearsing, collaborating, and learning with different humans. Especially after this year of community drought, I’ve realized that that’s what I miss the most. Read more>>

Alexander Bozicevich | Writer/Actor

I needed to tell my stories. That’s also why I’ve stayed in the pursuit. I don’t know what else there is for me. I don’t mean that to sound dramatic or self-pitying, it’s just that I’ve gotten to know the inside of my brain relatively well. I don’t know how to interface with reality unless I’m crafting some kind of narrative. I don’t know how to exist without a project. The motivation seemed so simple, in theory. I would take all the bits of myself that I didn’t know what to do with in the real world: the quirks, the anxieties, the scattered anecdotes, the random observations, the two-bit philosophizing, the traumas, the shames, the longings, and then I’d repackage all that into compelling works. I would cast these works out into the world, and thereby achieve the process of sublimation in a manner personally fulfilling, socially valuable, and lucrative. Lather, rinse, repeat. Here’s the thing: I tried to leave Los Angeles, and I tried not to come at all. Read more>>

Salise Marin | Professional Dancer/Figure Skater

I really just could not see myself doing anything else. I have a really hard time when I am not active, so I can’t see myself working a normal 9-5 desk job. I have always been like that. For example, in my schooling, I couldn’t really sit down for more than 2 hours a day. I needed to do something like; skating, dancing, swimming, tennis or any of the other movement based activities my parents were able to put me in. My mind is always flowing. I feel like I always have to be creating something new. I am very inspired by music, by my friends, and just by art in general. If I have something in my mind I have to just let it out in a creative way. Read more>>

Madeline Derujinsky | Photographer

I pursued a creative career because didn’t want to feel like I was working my whole life, thats not to say that photography isn’t hard work, just that I enjoy myself so much though the whole process that it doesn’t exhaust me. I enjoy every moment I do my job. My love for photography began as a child, I started out with disposable cameras my grandmother used to bring as Christmas gifts. She was a cover model in the 50s and 60s and, her husband, my grandfather was a fashion photographer during the same time. Before making the switch I was a communications major, with the intent to use my major to fight for social justice, I spent two years working towards transferring to UCLA, I even got in, and then everything changed. This was largely due to meeting some incredible professors at my college, and their excitement to meet me and have me in the program. They knew of my grandfathers work, they saw potential in me. Read more>>

Blake Anthony | Hiphop Artist

Music chose me to be honest. I’d taken part in a couple school poetry events in like 7th & 8th grade; I found a lot of enjoyment and energy in performing poetry live but truly wanted to be in video game design as a developer of plots & storylines. In high school I met my homies Kendrick and K-slang and we’d rap together at K-slang’s crib and by the time I’d graduated I started recording with my homie “Dont3” at his place. Soon as I left Texas and got to Tacoma WA, I sought out the first recording studio I could find, recording with mountain house & then DJ Phinisey thereafter. I’d had plenty of jobs, and money was always on my mind but writing and rapping were like second nature and always in my focus; I’d be on the bus just thinking of rhymes about the people I saw or places I’d go, and they usually were pretty trash but it’s the fun of it that kept me going. Read more>>

Hector Hernandez | Artist, Printmaker, and Educator

I began to draw at an early age by copying my older brother, and thought drawing my favorite cartoon, comic, and video game characters was cool! Since then, I kept learning about different subjects that interested me, as I continuously drew in my free time, and known as the kid that draws was a plus! So I just stuck to thinking about ways to continue to be an artistic and visual person throughout my life. As I matured and finished university, I also noticed and took pride in seeing an artistic/creative career as merging my love of learning and education with my love of play and working with your hands. So I see my artistic work as a way to appreciate and show respect to the manual jobs my parents (and so many other people) work in, while continuing to learn new things and refine my craft, and share/teach that knowledge with others. Read more>>

SANIA JOSIAH | Liberian Designer

I pursued an artistic or creative career because, it is something I grew up with. I began drawing at a younger age, while I hung around my mom when she sewed and had her tailoring business in Ghana. I come from a family filled with artistic individuals. Being artistic and creative came natural to us. I just ran with it and began of a path that would lead me into a creative field that is profitable. Read more>>

June Pascocello | Photographer

When I was 14 years old I would play around with my parents’ camera and take photos of people. By 16, my parents encouraged me to develop my photographic inclination into a career and gifted me my first camera, a Kodak. I remember my mother telling me, “We got this for you because you are so gifted at taking pictures”. The rest is history. I developed the art of taking photos of subject matter and capturing that in-the-moment feeling. By age 21, I landed an assisting job in Miami with iconic fashion photographer, Bruce Weber. He taught me the art of natural lighting and shooting fashion. After some time, I moved back to New York City for an opportunity to work with another iconic photographer, Bruce Wolf who was held in high regard in the advertising world. After being promoted into the ranks of becoming Wolf’s top assistant, I also was given the opportunity in being Wolf’s studio manager. This was an amazing experience as I dove right in. Read more>>

Michael Birnbryer-Lao | Musician & Teacher

While I’ve always felt that I could do most anything, I’ve consistently felt like I must make music. Read more>>

Sterling Scott | Photographer & Model

I chose a creative career because I truly enjoy it. I’m passionate about using my camera. I love being behind the camera as well as in front of it, and having the opportunity to tell stories with that, can truly be eye opening, not only for myself, but for others as well. I’ve mentioned this plenty of times, but I was on track to become a doctor, having graduated college with a science degree, although life had something different in store for me. I believed that the only way to do something worth while in this world, as far as giving back to others, having to be something “physical” or done in some substantial way, but that’s not true at all. Being an artist, a creative, is just as impactful. Bringing awareness to problems in this world, like Gordon Parks (a photographer that truly inspires me), and making people ask questions to promote change to those issues is vital. Read more>>

Jamuna Priti | Artist

I pursued an artistic career because it’s how I feel the most comfortable and became naturally. Read more>>

Alli | Streetwear Designer

I don’t ever want to get bored with my life or my life decisions. The fashion industry is intriguing. I like a consistently evolving work environment. Fashion is always changing. Today something’s hot, tomorrow it’s dead, on to the next style. And you’re always thinking about what’s next. Like it might be Winter right now but I already have my Spring collection drops rolling out, getting ready to start on summer swim, and putting ideas on the calendar for fall/winter. I also really like that I can handmake something for someone and make them feel special and extra fresh. It’s the best feeling when you make something for someone and you get to witness them enjoying it. I love that shit. Plus all my immediate family members have some form of creative side hustle, so I think it’s just in my blood. Read more>>

Carol Jefferson | Former TV News Reporter, Attorney and Professional Actress

It’s definitely been an amazing journey! I actually discovered my passion for acting working as an attorney. A friend recommended that I check out an acting workshop as a pursuit outside of my legal career. So, I started taking classes and getting involved in community theatre. And as they say, the rest is history. I absolutely fell in love with acting! I love the experience of bringing stories and characters to life on stage as well as on camera. Also, as artists we can have a profound impact on the world around us. We can truly can inspire others, raise awareness about important issues and be a catalyst for change. That’s what I love about being artist. Acting truly is my passion!. Read more>>

Michelle Tyler | Musician and Singer

I would say my career in music pursued me. I started out singing and performing music as a very young adult for “fun”. At that time I really hadn’t considered that I could or would be able to continue it as my career path, but the total joy that encompassed me, watching and interacting with my audiences, led me on the path I now travel. Performing music is such a wonderful symbiotic relationship with the audience – they give and you give back in a circular motion. Everyone is left with the feeling of creating something bigger together. Now I could not imagine doing anything else. Read more>>

George Paul Miller | Artist

The true meaning of being an artist means that you are engaged in a life long pursuit to master your craft, whatever your craft may be. My crafts are in the visual arts, and I have always had a great desire to achieve a certain level of ability to be able to create the artworks that I desire to create in a manner that others may see them as well as I see them in my minds eye. Read more>>