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.

Icemen Audio LLC | Production & Post Production Audio

Evan Menak: For me it goes back to when I was kid playing around with my Dad’s VHS camera, making videos with my friends like “magic shows” often done through simple in-camera editing tricks like having someone on camera, cutting, having them step off, and rolling once again so it looks like they disappeared. Making those videos and a keen interest in movies and TV shows growing up in the 80s and 90s led me to choose a vocational course in high school focused on video production and editing, using some of the earliest versions of such software as Adobe Premiere. From there, it seemed like a no-brainer to pursue a major in college focused around the same subject – which is where I met my fellow partners in Icemen Audio. Read more>>

John Peralta | Lover of Art and Science. Master of Suspense.

I’ve always had a keen interested in art and engineering. For most of my life it was only a casual interest, as work and family left me little time for it. I also never seriously considered the possibility of being a professional artist. But as I approached forty, I became more aware of the urgency of time. I also went through some difficult personal experiences, which drove me further to find a creative outlet through art. Finally, it was a comment from a client of mine about one of my early paintings that gave me the final push I needed. Read more>>

Brandon Lomax | Artist

I suppose I never really had much choice, although I still fantasize about being an archaeologist. Read more>>

Venk Modur | Stylist & Creative Director

There is no choice when pursuing a career in an artistic field. Some people work to live or live to work, but a career as a creative goes beyond a need to pay the bills, it’s a need to feed the soul. At the risk of failure, which I’ve had many, I would not want to work in any other field than that of art, and specifically, fashion. I moved to Los Angeles over a decade ago, and in the last few years really found my footing, but it was worth it. Read more>>

Ali Kihanmahd | Chef/ Restaurateur

I could never see myself in a traditional 9-5 job behind a desk. I was always looking for a creative outlet to express myself, first it was film, than music and now cooking. Read more>>

Chi Hey Lee | Surface Pattern Designer

My undergraduate major was Internal Trade. By senior year, I realized that the type of work it would lead me to was not fitting to my interest. So, I was sure I needed to make a change in my career path. Read more>>

Naomi Sarna | Gem Carver and Jewelry Artist

My earliest memory was working with my hands. It wasn’t the animal I was making that was important; it was the process of creation. That love of process has guided me my entire life, whether I was an artist, chef, psychoanalyst, hypnotist, writer. The act of creation has been the same for me. Sometimes terribly difficult, sometimes wonderfully successful. I was born with the need to move my hands. I’m a master at knitting and most other yarn arts, all forms of embroidery etc. I become uncomfortable if I’m not using my hands in a creative way. I can’t help myself. Read more>>

Rebecca Sjöwall | Singer & Recording Artist

It pursued me. I grew up in a working class family and was the first one to graduate from college. During that time, music was purely an emotional outlet. I completed a degree in political science and planned to go to law school after a a year off to boost my finances. However, enough people encouraged me to pursue a singing career that I eventually took the leap. Difficult as this particular year has been for the music world, I do not regret the choice. Read more>>

Robyn Sanford | Artist

Even now I am still discovering more about what interests me and fulfills me creatively and why I chose to work as an artist. I create art in many different formats but am only recently discovering that I am most happy when building directly with my hands. Much of my work requires pre-planning and some drafting in 3-D software since the work is large and structure needs to be considered, but I’m not truly happy until I am building it. I will generally conceive of work in how the viewer will experience it, which ties into what my work is about; so whether large or small I am thinking of how a room/space/wall will be seen, felt, heard, touched (or not), etc….and I think that is part of what drives me to continue to create – I want to reach people on that visceral level and affect their experience, at least for a brief moment. Read more>>

Joy Tirade | Visual Artist

My first introduction to Fine Art was in Houston. It was the year 2001, and I was visiting a friend’s family for the holidays. I went to the Museum of Fine Arts and encountered the James Turrell piece, “The Light Inside.” I stood inside the installation for a very long time and watched the light change from magenta, to violet, to blue. This magical light seemed to match my heartbeat and breath. I became obsessed with art after that moment. It was like falling in love for the first time. After this art encounter in Texas, I became a self-taught painter until I applied to and was accepted to college to study art. I received my BA in Studio Art and Art History from the University of Virginia. After this, I pursued my MFA at UNC-Chapel Hill. In graduate school for my MFA, I began to make experimental digital work and video. Now my practice is a combination of abstract painting, experimental video, intermedia, and installation. Read more>>

Sean Diamond | Photographer/VIdeographer/Director/Brand Developer

Photography & videography actually saved my life. Before I was pursuing this dream I was in a lost place with no direction. I did not know what really wanted to do with my life yet at 19 years old. I was around a lot of creative people in my life and everyone was super talented at what do, whether it’s producing singing, songwriting, rapping, directing, etc. Being around a creative atmosphere can motivate you in a lot of ways to try new things. My first niche was with photography. The first camera I started using was an HP camera that my godmother had. I enjoyed it and using the editing programs that came with the camera. While I was experimenting with the camera I was getting a lot of people wanting me to shoot for them. So it was safe to say I was really good if they only want me to do the shooting. After a while, I started thinking I should take this more seriously. And the more I think about it, the more I believe I can have and leave a beautiful dynamic legacy for myself while living a great life. Read more>>

Tim Cummings | Actor & Writer

If anything, the creative career pursued me. I let it catch me though because I enjoyed the feeling I had of expanding my artistic family along the way. The connections that are made in and around creative projects have lasting effects, they creative momentous relationships, they live on in the very cells. The creative life, as frustratingly insidious, unfair, and mercurial as it can be sometimes, allows a person to learn humility, acceptance, and, perhaps most essentially, presence. Presence is really important to me. It’s my thing. Making sure I am in a moment, really in a moment. Creative projects, and the creative life, make that presence flow very organically. Beyond that, there is great fun to be had, great adventures, and stupendous healings–if you need those. Read more>>

Russell Weiss | Perfumer, Artist, Teacher

To be honest – because I had to. My creative output has always been the center of gravity in my life. When I discovered natural perfumery, I knew I had found my medium. Scent is uniquely immersive, evocative, and transporting. I love to see the reactions people have to my perfumes: the distant memories suddenly vivid in their minds, the hazy associations on the tips of their tongues. Deep Field is an effort to share my craft more broadly, as well as a way to combine my diverse skillsets as an artist into one project. Read more>>

Stephanie Sherwood | Artist & Curator

I don’t feel as though I ever had a choice ti be honest! Ive wanted an artistic career since i was very young. I love to draw and once i started learning about art history i wanted to be a part of that conversation. The more i learned about it the more i was driven to be in the arts. Read more>>

Bridgett Davis | Dream Catcher

I’ve always been artistic and somewhat creative. However I was a late bloomer in choosing a artistic life/career. After selling Real Estate for more than 18yrs, I had hit a wall. I wasn’t happy and I was drinking my problems away… I wanted something more. After getting sober I began making natural products to help with my parents aches and pains. As I created products, I started to become excited and joyful again.. I knew I had something special and it changed my life from that point on. My parents loved my products and so did their friends. Shortly after that Big Momma’s Legacy was created. Read more>>

Ana Genesis Aviles | Chef

There are so many different ways to create art. I chose to create art and showcase my creativity through cakes. You can design something that is not only visually appealing, but entices your tastebuds as well. Being able to combine these two things is why I chose a career in the culinary industry. I am genuinely elated when people entrust me to create a special cake for their celebrations because in a way, they’re allowing me to be part of their day and if for that moment I made someone happy, that makes it all worthwhile. Read more>>

Ethan Carling | Artist, Producer, and Songwriter

I’ve always loved music. It’s been my pacifier since I was a child. It was something I’ve always been inspired and entertained by. I’ve always known that I wanted to make music for a living, just didn’t know how. I grew up in Billings Montana. The music scene was comprised of a few breweries and bands. Despite it being small, it always inspired me. I would make songs on our family computer in high school. When I got my college laptop I installed recording software right away. I went to college to discover other interests and to hopefully find another inspiring career path, but I ended up spending more time on music than homework. So I took that as a sign and moved to Los Angeles to start my artistic journey. Turning ideas into reality is magic. I still don’t know where music comes from, but I know what it feels like when it flows through me. I’m constantly chasing that feeling. Read more>>

Jacqui C. Smith | Freelance Illustrator

I always knew I’d work in a creative field growing up since I was surrounded by others who loved art, mainly my mother and grandmother. I’d spend hours playing alone in my room imagining far off worlds, tucked away rereading my favorite Roald Dahl books, or tinkering away attempting to build a reclining couch out of cardboard. When I wasn’t pretending to be a master inventor, I was watching cartoons, something my sister and I would obsess over, debate, and enjoy for years to come. I drew and drew and got a little better each day. I plastered my drawing attempts all over my room so I could compare my progress over the years. I thought about becoming an architect or a fashion designer since both careers would still allow me to flex my creativity, but ultimately, my guidance counselor was the one to encourage me to major in something I was passionate about, animation. I graduated from Columbia College of Chicago with a degree in Traditional Animation and moved to LA a year later with my best friend. Read more>>

Nadira | Photographer & Digital Artist

I am a firm believer that your job should be a paid hobby. Now, this does not mean that everyone should pursue a creative career, because that would be unrealistic. Ideally, any job could be a paid hobby with the right mindset. Personally, after working in various industries I could not imagine myself doing anything else. My eyes are forever looking for earth’s beauty, weather this might be a landscape, a beautiful sunset or somebody’s bone structure. As I grew up, I quickly realized that looking for beauty was not going to be possible if I spent half of my day in a cubicle. Read more>>

Bryan Patrick McCulley | Actor / Half-Ass Poet / Quarter-Ass Painter / No-Ass Writer

Can I throw this question back to YOU, the reader? Have you ever thought about the “why”? For me, the more time I log and the more experiences I am fortunate enough to be a part of…I’m beginning to think that I really didn’t get a chance to choose an artistic career, it just sorta chose me. Because, who in their right mind would “choose” this path, am I right?! But, in all honesty, as I look back at all the ups and downs and decisions made and forks in the road that led me to be here, in this moment, it’s…it’s crazy, really, when I think about it. That said, what I think I’m starting to realize this year it that I am sort of just a conduit for the art. Yeah, I get a chance to have some input on the process, but what I’ve found is when I remove myself from the equation and let the story, message or concept be what it needs to be, then not only do I enjoy that same process more, but I feel it resonates with people on a greater level. Read more>>

Phillip Suarez-Hamilton | Artist/ Creative Coach

When I ask myself the reason why I chose creativity to be a priority in my career endeavors I find myself in positions of extremes, I often ask myself this question during times of extreme highs of happiness or lows during inspirational or financial droughts. Like the seasons changing, the question changes as well. The negative voice in my head asks “Why would you choose a career that is deemed so “unessential?” while the positive voice reassures me with “What life is worth living if it lacks creativity and joy?”, I have become a master of balancing these perspectives to propel me closer to my goals. Being an artist is more than being a painter or illustrator, The act of creating a career from art is more about creative drive than the medium used to produce artwork. During times when I cannot make money off art, I will find ways to make art with the work that currently makes me money. This is less appealing but necessary to survive through times of creative drought. Read more>>

Juliana Bustillo | Studio Artist

It came from an obsession of looking. I practice painting to understand and dissect images and forms. School also shaped me into wanting to pursue an artistic career. Beginning in community college at ELAC (East Los Angeles College), where I took the first of many art classes. To then transferring into Cal State Long Beach, graduating with a BFA in Fine Arts. It was here that I realized that I wanted to become a studio artist. I am now in an MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University where I continue my practice as a studio artist. Personally growing up and seeing Boyle Heights and East LA skies, the liquor stores, cypress trees, and murals have definitely had and continue to have an impact on me and my work. Read more>>

Gary Martin | Songwriter & Musician

Being artistic, being creative, these have been major parts of my personality since as long as I can remember. Music is the thing that makes the mundane tolerable, and the exciting memorable. I’m just trying to contribute some tunes to the soundtrack. I love every bit of it; from the spontaneity of inspiration, to the tedious bits of preparation and problem solving. There are times when you can take immense pride in achieving a goal when you had only yourself to rely upon, and there are the times when the best solution, and the most rewarding, is teamwork. I have tried, on many occasions, to do the 9-5 thing. That world keeps refusing me, telling me to ‘get lost!’ over and over again. I’m cool with that. Read more>>