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.

Raf, Mauro | Actor, writer (books, films, plays., songs. poetry). director

I knew by the time I was 9 that I was going to be an actor. In my junior year in High School that decision was cemented in as I was in rehearsal for a school play. It was one of many school assemblies and other performance based activities. I quit college before my freshman was finished because I was living a lie being there. I went to work to save enough money to audition for and enroll In The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and never looked back. Read more>>

Marcus Stricklin | Writer/creator

I chose to pursue a creative career because when I was younger, my parents told me the arts didn’t pay bills. So I went to business school, toiled away at a boring desk job for a decade and hated nearly every nanosecond of it. I wanted to do something that freed my brain to allow me to feel and be like me. Read more>>

Basil Sakr | Actor – Comedian – Voice Over Artist

I pursued an artistic career in Acting because I always found myself creating videos for entertainment. I worked in Television for 4 years at NFL Network behind the cameras but I always wanted to work in front of the cameras. When my dad got sick I ended up getting my Real Estate License to help out more at home. Real Estate opened up doors for me to become an Actor. That’s when I started shooting video content to promote myself. Read more>>

Mark Navarro | Music Artist, Producer, & Audio Engineer

I’ve been listening to music longer than I’ve been learning music. Ever since I was a kid it always made the most sense to me more than anything else I learned while I was in school. So naturally I fell in-love with music. I’m also humbled to have friends and colleagues who would also have the same intimate relationship with music. A lot my creative career was built upon the many nightly hangouts where my friends and I would sit around together and just listen to our favorite albums or new music from our favorite artists at the time that just got released. Read more>>

Andra Gheorghe & Roxana Parje | Horse On The Loose owners

A creative career came to us naturally, and was rooted in our childhood. Growing up, my sister and I spent our time in the countryside at our grandparents’ farm. This was before the smart phones, cable TV or social media. Our grandmother taught us how to draw, so we started drawing and painting and writing stories about imaginary characters. Throughout the years, our passion to create stayed alive, we kept working on our skills, and naturally, we gravitated towards careers that would let us pursue these artistic paths. Read more>>

Nicole Williams | CEO Set Life Images (The Agency), Founder House of Vegas Pride (The Festival), Founder Social Influence Foundation (The Giveback)

I always knew I wanted to be in the entertainment business. I planned all my school dances as I served as Class President 3 out of the 4 years at Clark High. I received the Millennium Scholarship for the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I cheered and studied business while attending. My passion was so strong for event planning I decided to transfer to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles where I received my degree in Visual Communications. Read more>>

Angela Rico | 3D Character Artist at Sony Santa Monica Studio

For me, the moment I knew that I wanted to get into 3D art was while playing the original God of War series back on PS2. I just really fell in love with the art style and the overall look of the game. It was really inspiring to me, especially the creatures in the game and the Greek mythology. I wanted to be one of those people that brought these types of experiences and worlds to life. Read more>>

Lus Linda Juarez | Small Business Owner

I decided to pursue a creative career because I’ve always been passionate about arts and crafts since I was a little girl. I enjoy inventing and crafting my own ideas. My biggest inspiration was my mother, as I would watch her make clothes for my siblings and I. At the age of 10, I then took the initiative to learn how to sew on my own, and started creating clothing and accessories for my dolls. Ever since then, my passion for arts and crafts has continued to expand. Read more>>

Jolene Siana | Photographer & Author

I have admired photography for as long as I can remember. Once I began taking photos in an elective class in college, I knew it was something I would like to do professionally. After my first year at The University of Toledo in my hometown, I transferred to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh to get my degree in Photography. I loved everything about it, although I did not immediately begin my photography business after I graduated. I moved to Los Angeles and held many different jobs…I worked in film production for 4 years, I also worked in hospitality. I continued working in hospitality once I moved to New York City, and eventually took the leap and started my photography business. Read more>>

Tifanie White | Textile Artist + Emmy Nominated Makeup Artist

I grew up in a small {for California} farm town. While I did well in school, I was always daunted at the thought of choosing a major- because nothing really seemed like me. My high school aptitude test suggested I undertake a career as a park ranger (and a friend to all things nature I am not). So I went to college flip flopping for the next three years (Liberal Arts, History, Political Science, etc.)… until my dad sat me down and gave me the best piece of advice one can get. He told me to think of the thing I thought was the most fun and do that, whatever it was. Read more>>

Lindsay Kellar-Madsen | Children’s Author & Business Developer

While I’ve always loved to write, I decided to publish my first children’s book (The Lovely Haze of Baby Days) after the birth of my identical twin girls. Like many new moms, I was overwhelmed. I was juggling the round-the-clock demands of 4 kids born within 5 years. Amid that chaos, a fire was lit and I started writing about what early motherhood looked like. It was always as sugar-coated as is often depicted in the books we read our children. I envisioned a baby book that would serve as a playful and honest symbol of solidarity for new parents and a reminder that we aren’t alone. Read more>>

Arnie Cantarero | Writer and actor

Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career? A: Why indeed. It wasn’t a straightforward path, but then again, that’s rarely fun. When I was younger, I believed the only way to make money (and be happy) was to pursue a high-paying degree and follow the career path that this entailed. While I did enjoy reading, in Honduras at the time, if you followed any kind of creative career, you were labeled a communist or a trouble maker (Usually both). Read more>>

Keith Hamilton Cobb | Actor/Playwright/Theater Maker/Creator

“Pursue” is a tricky word. Did I “pursue” an artistic/creative career, or was I just a dreamer who loved to play at things more than I liked to work at them? It’s never really gone the way that I had intended it to go. So perhaps I should have done the “pursuit” thing a little harder. But I’m still living the only life I ever understood how to live. It’s all playtime. Of course, the real world comes crashing in regularly, but it hasn’t changed what I do. Whether I’m acting or writing or banging some boards together to make a piece of furniture, whether I’m doing it well or totally screwing it up, it’s the only time I’m happy. So the question of choice isn’t a real one. I didn’t choose to do what I do. I didn’t choose to be me. It’s just who I am. Read more>>

Timothy Melgoza | Artist

I decided to pursue a career in art because it is something that has always been a part of my life from an early age. I started drawing around the age of 5 or 6, and was always pushed by family and even my classmates to pursue a career in the art world. I can’t really see myself doing anything else, and even if my career in art never takes off, I will always continue to create artwork for myself and others. Read more>>

Pegah Eidipour | Fine Artist and Art Historian

Growing up in Iran, I was constantly surrounded by the very rich Eastern art and culture. From old buildings within the city ornate with detailed tile and plaster work, artists performing within the streets, museums, and galleries, it seemed as if your everyday life was filled with artistic creativity waiting to inspire the ones who would open their eyes and heart to such splendid sights and it was from very early on that I knew for sure that my main goal and passion in life was sharing this beauty with as many people as I could through my own artistic creations and writings. Thus I pursued my education and career in the fields of art and art history, founded my own brand, and created collections of handmade works of art inspired by the beauty and details of the Eastern art and culture. Read more>>

Ollicia Maeona | Performer/Hair&Makeup Artist

I discovered a love for the arts at a very young age. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a desire to impact the lives of others in very unconventional ways. It started out as me standing up on my mothers dining room table using anything I could find as a microphone while singing at the top of my lungs, at 5 o’clock in the morning. No training. No mic. Just me and whatever song came to mind. As I got older I joined a repertory theatre company in my community where I was able to train and be myself unapologetically every single day. Read more>>

Averiel Blair | Aka- Clipperranks Barber and Entrepreneur

I come from a family of Barbers Cosmetologist and Tailors so I always knew that it was in my blood to do something creative and when I finally went to barber school it really clicked for me. Read more>>

Katie Nowikow | Artist

I never thought I’d wind up following a call as an artist, or creative entrepreneur. Growing up, it wasn’t something that came naturally to me. I have tried so many different paths over the years, from corporate jobs, to health coaching, to art. What brought me back to this creative outlet was the feeling of limitlessness when creating. There are not many rules that need to be followed, if I get an idea to create something, there will be countless ways a project could unfold. I’m constantly surprised in the ways different ideas actually play out into a finished project. Sometimes they go exactly as I imagined and other times it takes on an entirely different life. The magical element of creating is the the best part, sure the finished pieces are wonderful but being in the moment of putting ink on paper, mixing resin, or clicking my camera, I’m in a moment of time and space where everything is possible or available. Read more>>

Christian Belton | Visual Artist: Paintings & Graphics

I pursued a creative career because I felt the unwavering desire to share my creativity with as many people as possible. Being creative isn’t second nature for me, it’s first nature. It is really who I am. I have always been creative. And as my relationship with creativity grew I began to understand its power. I decided that the power of creativity was not just something for me to keep to myself but something that was meant to be shared. My career in art and graphic design is my way of sharing the power of creativity with the world. I believe that there is something that I can offer this field to help bring awareness to the benefits of art and creativity. Read more>>

Brad Hammer | Music Video and Commercial Producer and Director.

It took me until I was over 30 years old to realize that I would never be happy unless I pursued a creative career. I was working as the Director of Business Development for an architecture firm in Chicago from 2006 to 2009. When the recession hit during that time, I realized it was my chance to pursue a creative career, because I literally had nothing to lose. Read more>>

Kayla Kelly | Actress

It’s the strangest thing. I guess you could say that I enjoy living the lives of different people. No other job in the world offers you the ability to be an office worker or nurse one day followed by a sniper or hitman the next… you get a lot of life experiences and learn new skills as you take on different roles. Your workday could take place in 1880, the present or even years into the future. The life of an actor is challenging. It requires serious dedication and a unique ability to help create the minds of fictional characters. Read more>>

Miguel Bezanilla | Film Music Composer

I was so into music from the beginning that it just was a no-brainer. From a very early age, I started to show an interest in listening to all the music my parents had laying around, the reason why I’d start playing an instrument soon after and writing small pieces of music. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in other stuff. Depending on the point of my life, I’d focus on different topics, more often than not popular science stuff (kudos to all the science communicators out there!). And of course, cinematography and photography which, in the case of the latest, I do some. Read more>>

Travis Moore | Artist

It’s what I do best. I have always considered myself an artist, having made art all my life. So, it was a natural choice to dedicate my life to the creation of art. It’s how I communicate with the world, and as an artist I feel as if those lines of communication have to be maintained. Without art I’m not sure how I would express myself. Read more>>

Lauren Bridges | Comedy TV Writer

Ever since I was a little kid growing up in suburban Philadelphia, I’ve loved reciting lines from my favorite shows and movies. At first it was just Mary Kate & Ashley movies, but thankfully, I’ve evolved. As I evolved, I learned that there were some lucky people out there whose job it was to write those lines that I loved reciting so much. Now, I’m one of those people. I love writing because it’s therapeutic. It gives me an outlet to express myself and make sense of my thoughts, experiences, and feelings. Read more>>

Odera Nduka | Makeup Artist

I kind of believe my career as a Makeup Artist was something that chose me. I didn’t really grow up feeling like I was really creative and didn’t really even get into makeup until after college. My love for the beauty industry really started as something I wanted to do for myself. I woke up one day and decided I wanted to be the women I saw in LA. The Rihannas, Beyonce’s, SJP in Sex in The City who were always put together and wore makeup everyday. I got so into learning about makeup that I didn’t do much of anything else. Read more>>

Matt Kim | Co-Owner, Club Paradise

I’ve always gravitated towards creating – whether an aesthetic, a tangible product, or an emotional feeling. Mixing the creation process with apparel seemed to be something I enjoyed so I pursued it. Read more>>

Saad Waseem | Producer, Engineer, DJ

Growing up, my parents encouraged me to try different things creatively. However, coming from an academic background, there was always a heavy focus on school. While I excelled in my studies, I was always doing something creatively on the side: clothing, music, DJing, or videography. As I was finishing my last year of university, I realized that the thing that brings me true joy in life is art. I reached out to some connections I have in the music industry, found an opportunity, and dropped out the following semester. Sometimes you have to follow your heart and your dreams! Read more>>

Kevin Gance | Actor & Producer

After experiencing life in corporate America for nearly a decade, I was ready to act on my dream and go for it! Growing up and into my adult years, I’ve always been a fan of the movies and how films are made (IE studying locations, special effects, watching behind the scenes clips), and I never truly got any satisfaction out of my desk job. It was rather bland to negotiate multi-million dollar contracts for fixed price, high volume commodities, and after moving to Southern California with Boeing in August, 2012, it was always in the back of my mind to pursue a change in my career/life. Read more>>

josh Florhaug | Stand Up Comedian

I got into this business to make people laugh the world isn’t the most happy place sometimes and if I can give a group of people joy and help them forget their problems for even a short amount of time I feel I did my job. Read more>>

Amelia Deren Steppacher | CEO & Founder, Amelia Rose Design, Inc.

Throughout my childhood and adolescence I loved activities that were artistic and involved crafting and cooking. In high school my best friend and I started a chocolate covered fruit business, catering to weddings and special events. After college I attended law school in Boston, practiced for a few years, but that nagging feeling and calling for more creativity took over and eventually I quit law and founded Amelia Rose in 2007. My career 180 definitely through my friends and family for a loop, but in my heart I knew I had to follow my passion. This major switch pre-dated my babies and the deal I made with myself was to give it a try for a few years and if not profitable, pivot back to law. To this day I keep my law license active in Massachusetts, but I’m beyond grateful my risk of starting a small business designing jewelry has worked out quite well! Read more>>

Bianca Gomez | mixed media artist

I decided to pursue an artistic career because being creative genuinely makes me happy. I can’t see myself living a life where I’m not being creative. When I was growing up, I had teachers convince me that I would never succeed as an artist because a creative career was too unstable. So for a really long time, I was too afraid to take that risk and my art became my hidden sanctuary. I tried to focus on what was considered to be a stable career path, but I was miserable doing it. I didn’t feel like myself and that’s when I knew that being an artist was the only career that I wanted to pursue. Read more>>

DeeIsaac Davis | Groovy Conquistador

I chose the life of a creative road warrior for the simple fact that it is my truth at a thousand miles per hour. I played football for the majority of my life. I had the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. Playing for the University of Kansas. Football was not my first passion though. Skateboarding was, I had to retire early for the harsh climate skateboarders in Kansas experienced. I used to be called all sorts of things outside of my name and have drinks thrown at me from the road. I got fed up of being different and attacked for it. Read more>>

Ross Allen | Video Creator

I decided to pursue a creative career because I literally could not stand doing anything else. In my twenties, I chose jobs in retail, service, I.T., etc. Every day I would wake up and dread going to these jobs. For a period of time, I assumed that this was just how jobs worked. You aren’t supposed to enjoy work, I thought. Then I started pursuing creative work on the side. Initially, I was just doing things for fun, with no goal in mind. I would photograph friends, create music videos for 80s songs, and spend hours learning video editing. Read more>>

Xiyin Wang | Visual Development Artist& Illustrator

Grew up reading great literature and watching animations, I always have a strong passion for creating something from my imagination since I was a kid, and drawing was the most important way of self-expression to me. I always knew art was my calling, but I used to think that pursuing a creative career was an impossible thing. Read more>>

Robert Dill | Producer, Director, Actor, Stuntman

Ever since I was a child I always had this urge to perform, act-out, make people laugh, play make-believe. Theater, film/television became the only real outlet for that frustrated energy inside me I suppose. My childhood wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but it was still a unique experience for me! It had it’s ups and downs, as does all our upbringings, but I was an overly sensitive child it seems. I would dive into my imagination and distract myself from life’s challenges. Read more>>

Kenan Nadar | Pediatrician & Music Producer

Growing up, I always felt that my interests and my career choices were incongruent. On on end, I was great at school and had a classic middle eastern boy’s parental-influenced dream of becoming a doctor. On the other end, I was completely infatuated with music. My family and I moved around a lot when I was young and consequently I was always the new kid in school. It was hard, always having to start over, but music kept me grounded by offering me some sort of consistency in my life. Read more>>

Bill Marmor | Film Editor & Owner of Rex Edit

I came from a traditional family, my father was a professional(Judge), and the expectations that I would also be a professional, noncreative. I graduated college with the dream of doing something in the film industry, a passion from a very young age. I had always wanted to make films, and do something in creating. In my pursuit, I met directors, producers, and editors. The only people who gave me time and were encouraging were editors. So I focused on becoming an editor and gave myself a year to try and make it and if not, law school would be my backup. Read more>>

Mballa a.k.a. M8alla | Singer-Songwriter

I wish I knew the answer to this question. The truth is that the artist space is the only place I’ve ever felt that I belonged. I couldn’t focus long enough to care about my school work or my 9-5, but somehow existing in the art space has always felt easy — particularly when you’re not looking for validation from it. Read more>>

Rachel Catchings | Tattoo Artist

I think I pursued a career in the arts because ever since I was a toddler, I was thrust into the rigorous and demanding world of classical music. My entire life was about structure and discipline. On top of this I was homeschooled for a majority of my life, and being so kept me pretty isolated. Art was always an escape for me and I carried that with me throughout my life. Read more>>

Aris Alvarado | Actor

As a kid I wanted to have many different professions and do lot’s of things. I would watch TV and wanted to be on every show. I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t do something that would make me feel alive. So I wanted to be an actor and have many different lives. Although I was shy, I loved performing these one kid variety shows at parties. I would lip sync, dance and tell jokes. It was in those moments that I would come out of my shell. I felt free to be foolish. Read more>>