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.

Leah Thiessen | Artist

I have always been a creative. As a child I never stopped making, drawing and developing my artistic skills. My mother was a painter so growing up in this environment gave me the confidence to pursue a career in the arts. I tried many different pathways from ceramics, fashion design, sculpture and finally fell in love with painting. Read more>>

Etsegenet Tadesse | Musician

I pursued an artistic/creative career because that’s where my heart was since I was a very young girl. Throughout the years I kept on jumping from one artistic career to another one; so eventually I knew for sure that my calling was in the creative area. Read more>>

Ariel Garrett | Hair & Makeup Artist

From a young age my dream was to be an artist. I got my first taste of a creative job working at Disneyland as a face painter in the parks. I fell in love with being able to use my artistic skills to brighten someone’s day and make them feel pretty like a princess, fierce like a tiger or strong like super hero. To this day that passion is still there, I am able to use my creativity and artistic skill to show someone their beauty, or to bring a character to life. Read more>>

Bridgette Duran Artist | Artist

For me there was really no other choice. I am creative, visually creative, and working in an environment that couldn’t support that felt suffocating. In my early twenties, working at a few financial offices I would come home from work and work for hours on crafts making clothes and furniture etc. I wasn’t supported very much in pursuit arts, I knew no one in any creative field everyone was pretty traditional in their career paths. Even the adults in my life. I realized it wasn’t for me and that I would have to find a way to use my passion, talents and smarts in a creative field. Read more>>

Evan Wecksell | Comedian / Songwriter / Podcaster

My decision actually came from a college professor while I was taking a sports marketing seminar at NYU. I had graduated college and just wrapped up an internship at the National Hockey League with no idea what to do next. During the seminar’s final presentation I spoke about WNBA agent representation, but used hand puppets and silly voices. The professor didn’t care about the content of my presentation, she just wanted me to get on the stage. Once that possibility entered in my head, it seemed natural and it was a downhill pursuit. The decision to be continue to be creative now has taken on a bigger significance. With so much sensitivity and canceling going on in response to art, humor and the written word, the reception that awaits new artists has never been harsher. But that’s why you pursue it: to bypass the noise and express your artistic vision. Read more>>

Tom Disher | Composer & Auydio Post Engineer

The joy of playing music and creating sounds naturally took over my imagination as a pre-teen- and continued to expand as a way of life that allows me to share my innermost feelings in an artistic way. The discipline of classical piano versus the spontaneous improvisational dynamic of jazz both feed into the multifaceted world of composition for film. Rigorous academic study of composition versus free form experimentation versus salient absorption of traditional world styles leads to a unique perspective that allows for an infinite palette of possibilities that narrow down to the best way to enhance a story and fit within the vision of the filmmaker. I graduated from music school, and went to study at the Rock ‘n Roll Road of Hard Knocks! That was fun, financially rewarding and highly educational! Then, I walked into a studio in 1992, and I never left, but the guy who ran it did in 1993! I had studied sound engineering in graduate school, and was graduate assistant in charge of the Synclavier Electronic Studio at Hartt College, so I was very well versed in the newly exploding capabilities of digital sound manipulation. When Paul Zahnley joined my company in 1995, we truly began on a journey to provide a full spectrum of resources for the independent filmmaker. Read more>>

Breanna Policar | Portrait and Wedding Photographer

I picked up my first borrowed camera from my dad when I was 15. Ever since, I’ve been figuring out my own style and learning from other photographers. It wasn’t until college did I realize that I had the ability to make people feel beautiful and confident through this medium. I never really planned on becoming a professional photographer, it kind of just happened. People started to notice that my style and approach were different, and my ability as a photographer kept improving. I love the fact that people hire me for my style now, because it has taken me years to cultivate. I decided to really commit to it in 2020 because my past jobs left me feeling empty and drained. My business has been growing a lot this past year and I’m excited to see where it will take me. Read more>>

Stev Elam | Director/Photographer

For as long as I can remember, I was always drawn to the arts. Whether it was film, music, acting (yeah, drama class), the arts always had my interest. I moved to Los Angeles at 18 and got a job as a driver, delivering production equipment to film sets. Delivering to sets lead to my desire to actually work on the set – I just didn’t know in what capacity. If I wanted in, the only choice for me was to start at the bottom, which, in hind-sight, was the best schooling for my eventual career path. On my first day as a P.A. on a commercial shoot, I found myself in front of one of the monitors. It was staring into that monitor and seeing the visual perspective being created that grabbed me and never let go. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to be the one behind the camera, bringing commercials, and eventually films, to life. I pursued this path because it was, and is, the only path for me. Read more>>

Stephanie Cozart Burton | Professional Makeup Artist to The Entertainment Industry

Many years ago someone told me – for your career, do what you would do for free and you’ll never work a day in your life. I am ever so grateful to have followed that advice. I am an artist/creator at heart. I live to create beauty in every part of my life. Choosing a career based on that creativity has helped me thrive and succeed. My life as a makeup artist, wife, mother and domestic goddess (my self title!) have lent outlets to my expression of art in so many ways. I encourage every young person that looks to me for advice to make sure they look to their passions when choosing a career – it truly does make a difference in how success is measured and achieved. Read more>>

Farah Ghatala | Jewelry Designer and Artist

I am a natural creator. No one taught me how to be artistic. I was born an artist. Therefore, it felt very natural for me to pursue a career in the arts from the start. I knew I could not be a doctor or a lawyer, I don’t think like them, and they can’t think like me. Read more>>

Dianne Hoffman | Mixed Media Artist

One of my earliest memories is as a small child, one Sunday morning, eagerly pouncing into my mother’s bedroom, climbing under the covers, and relating in explicit detail every colorful image, sensation, movement and emotion that I had experienced in the vivid dream I had just woken up from. My mom exclaimed “Well, you have quite the imagination!” I did not know in that moment what that meant…but I knew I was proud to have it. Instinctively, I have fed my imagination so that it would grow as strong and capable as my physical self. Eventually the ideas in my mind began to spill out into an expression of creativity. However it would take many years before I matured to a confident place in my life where I would comfortably proclaim myself as an artist. It had always seemed like an imposing title that would be best reserved for accomplished, educated and validated talent. Eventually I realized that my heart, mind and soul have always been that of an artist and I’d better start owning it if I was ever going to find validation and accomplishment. By reaching out and surrounded myself with a community of similar creative minds and spirits , I have been found encouraging support every step of the way. Read more>>

Liv Aanrud | Artist

I usually whisper a version of this question to myself from a fetal position several times a week, ha. There was never an exact moment where I made this decision, it might have been one that came slowly after realizing I didn’t really have any other ideas and simply wanted to keep making art. I didn’t really fit in as a kid, so I think I reconciled the idea early on that my career path might not fit the trajectory of a mainstream adult either. I didn’t have an idea of what the life on an artist might look like, I chose the “make it up as we go along” approach which means I’ve managed to continue making artwork, never really limiting myself to a medium–no matter what job I had or where I was living. I guess if you do this for enough years without giving up, and you end up with a lot of stories and the dubious title of “artist.” Read more>>

David Bragger | Record Label Founder, Traditional Fiddle & Banjo Instructor, Performer

Ever since early childhood I’ve had quite the obsession with musical sound, as well as moving images. Flip books, silent movies, talkies, photography and music have always fascinated me. In my teen years, I started playing electronic guitar and exploring music from around the world. That led to my interest in country blues, experimental music and Indian music. I also taught myself how to make films on 8mm and 16mm which led to directing experimental shorts as well as music videos for Bad Religion. In college, I studied religious folklore, film and ethnomusicology which led to my travels in India where I spent months with itinerant street magicians. I studied their sleight-of-hand magic and recorded their music and folktales. Basically, my life has been saturated with many forms of art that hearken back to old times. Then I discovered the world of traditional American folk music that we call “old-time” music. I study it, play it, teach it and produce albums and videos of the greatest traditional musicians alive. My obsession with old music and documenting traditional artists took over my life. I guess it all found me. It was never a conscious career decision. Read more>>

Alex Garcia | Billionaire Male Super Model Race Car Driver Lead Guitarist Actor Doctor Heartthrob

It’s who and what I was made to be. If I don’t do art I get depressed. Read more>>

Yevgeniya Mikhailik | Artist

It wasn’t so much a deliberate decision as it was a natural course of evolution for me. I was never interested in pursuing anything that did not involve making things, be it a hobby, an education or a career. Growing up, drawing and making things with my hands was a source of great joy and a way of learning about the world, so it never occurred to me to stop. I think a lot of it had to do with my family where more people are in creative fields than not, so developing my interests and skills in that direction was encouraged and nurtured from early on. That’s not to say that I had a particularly clear idea of what a career as an artist would look like. No two paths are alike in the arts and not having a clear roadmap is both a point of anxiety and a thrill. But I never made a plan B because I never really questioned that I would make art or be in a creative field of some kind, which over the years has included teaching and making sure other people’s art gets seen. Read more>>

Elizabeth Estrada | Model & Artist

The idea of pursuing an artistic career was always something I battled with. When I was younger I had dreams of going to art school in Scotland but that never came to fruition, mostly due to my lack of focus and lack of funds. At my heart, I am an artist but there’s a side of me that’s also a businesswoman, and that business side of me did not understand why I would spend so much to go to school to learn something that I do inherently. Luckily, I fell into modeling and photography which allowed me to make money and still be a creative person with creative freedoms. Read more>>

Ingi Hrafn Hilmarsson | Actor, Director and Producer

Since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by the theatrical world. I remember sitting in the audience, mesmerised by the magical atmosphere and images that were brought to live on the stage. It wasn’t until I enrolled in an amateur acting course as a teenager where it finally struck me that I could become an actor myself. I went on to study acting at Rose Bruford College in London, and have been active as an actor, director and producer ever since. Being dyslexic, I’ve often struggled with the written word, both reading and writing. But through acting and physical expression, I felt I could finally express myself on a deeper level. I am a passionate storyteller and love entertaining people. I feel like I can use my imagination and visual talent to create memorable experience for the audience. And in return, I feel like I can be seen for who I am. Read more>>

Josselyn Partida | Social Media Content Creator

Being in the social media industry is all about creativity. It’s about creating content, both written and visual, that appeals to your target audience. I’ve always enjoyed creating, whether it’s creating photos, creating scenes, or creating content. Being creative lights my day and helps me see the world through a different lens- literally. Working in this creative field has helped me grasp the idea that anything is possible. It might take some time and lots of imagination, but where there’s a will there’s a way! Having creative freedom is a deal-breaker when working because it’s where I thrive and produce content out of the norm and create something completely new. Read more>>

Jane Free | Creative + Healing Arts Dean

Having the healing arts as my main business practice allows my internal life to stay aligned with my external life. Studying the performing arts for the first half of my life, it was not a surprise that bodywork + the healing arts found me on a professional level when I was 23. I was not planning to become a bodyworker, but family members, friends and colleagues started coming out of the wood work for some “deep breathing relaxation therapy.” I was an avid yogi at the time and my sessions integrated pranayama and floor massage. Relaxing in itself is an art form. To answer the question prompt “why did you pursue an artistic or creative career ?” – the arts chose me. I could not deny the creative juices: bodywork, writing, singing, chanting, music making all flow through. I choose to walk with the awareness that we create our own realities. I choose to create meaningful expressions that help unveil self-realization, self inquiry and self acceptance. I persure the arts to find more of myself and illuminate the human condition. Read more>>

James Gardner | Motion Designer | Visual Arts

I was always fascinated by artwork and creativity. I have many artists in my family that cover many different mediums. I was raised with a deep Native American cultural influence (yes I am Native :0 ). My parents filled the house with southwestern artworks and we regularly took trips to museums and galleries. It is something I cherish now looking back. This definitely manifested the desire to pursue a creative career. Read more>>

Kimberly Judy | Business Owner

I pursued an artistic career because I truly believe that art runs in my veins. My grandma was an amazing artist. We used to always paint together. She really showed me the beauty you can create with anything from a pencil and paper to huge canvases and oil paints. I’m happy that I have art as an outlet. It allows me to turn off and just be. When it come to my career with art I started Rad Love hats with my cousin in San Diego. I loved taking someone’s vision and making it a reality or being given the freedom to design something for them. This is also true with Card de A which I own with my best friend LiLah in REDONDO Beach. Bringing in products we hope people will love as much as we do. Giving a space for creative people to showcase their products which I believe now is more important than before. Giving the small businesses back their place! I am able to seek Rad Love hats at the shop which is so amazing. To be able to wake up and love what you do everyday is TRULY a dream come true. Read more>>

Blaize Hall | Actor, Singer, Writer, Dancer, Mom, Yoga Teacher, Reiki Practitioner and Meditation Guide.

As far back as I can remember, I have felt a NEED to express myself creatively. Art has filled my days since early childhood, and I grew up dancing, singing, playing piano, violin, and writing. I experienced some trauma in my day-to-day life as a kid, and pouring my pain into art gave me great joy and solace. When I discovered acting, it quickly became the greatest escape I knew. Any given day, I could live through another character and wrestle with my questions in a world separate from my reality, or simply find glee in a more happily colorful world than my own. Couple that with a deep love for performing and I was hooked. As I grew up, I sought after every opportunity to get on stage, to deepen my crafts of acting, dancing, and music. I always knew I wanted to follow that love in college and beyond. But many people in my life discouraged artistic career pursuits. A college professor told me “if you can do ANYTHING else and be happy, do it.” So I studied journalism, figured I could still be in front of a camera as a reporter and be storytelling, and I loved writing. Read more>>

Jaymes Bullet | Recording Artist, Singer, Composer, Musician

I didn’t feel as if I’d made a choice. Music, drawing, poetry, singing captured my imagination from a very young age. Creating, even only in my mind then, was where I felt good, safe, and a sense of belonging. It was always effortless. Sometimes the absence of love and encouragement opens a space for us to fill with powerfully beautiful things, although we may not know it until later. Music drew me most because of its sheer force and intangibility, not to mention the influence on style and culture. My first recordings, in my early 20’s, were life changing for me. Once I began to understand the recording end of things, composing, tracking, etc… I was obsessed. That feeling has never diminished, even all these years later. Read more>>

Mariyah Rahman | Background Artist & Illustrator

I chose a creative career because at the end of the day, when my wrist is killing me and I’m slightly cross eyed from staring at the screen and frustrated from not getting something done the way I want it, I still want to draw and paint. Read more>>

Nick Vera | Cinematographer

Like many individuals who pursue artistic or creative careers, I pursued cinematography and filmmaking because it is what gives me a sense of purpose. It’s what makes me feel content. There are these small moments I have when I’m working on a shot list, or analyzing a camera move, or creatively thinking ways I can visually make a story beat or character’s actions visually stronger, that I forget about my other stressors in life. I’m so focused on the creative task at hand that ego and worries fade away. In a way, it becomes a form of meditation. That is something that filmmaking and cinematography do for me personally. It’s an influential reason why I love cinematography so much. Saying that, choosing a creative career is both very rewarding and yet terrifying. In one end, you are doing something that allows you to express who you are in a visual medium. You are using your cognitive abilities, your creativity, your instinct, your emotions to create something that you hope will influence you and the audience’s living experience. Read more>>

Lynnda Rakos | Artist

As a child I was drawn to creating, from doodling to designing dresses for my Barbie dolls. It was the one thing I could do that would make me feel so happy. Later, I saw that it would make other people smile when they saw my work. It was so fullfilling. I could spend hours doing something I loved, and never regret the time it took to create something. Read more>>

Ashley Sere | Food Blogger & Online and Social Marketing Coordinator

I initially started pursing a food blog because I wanted to keep a memoir of restaurants and food that I enjoyed. However, as time went on, I started seeing it as a form of expression and a therapeutic remedy when expressing my day or advice with others through my food blog, such as sharing an article I found interesting on my story or adding an update of my life with a pun on a post. Through them, I hope to spark a conversation (be-it with me or with their loved ones), continuing the chain of conversations and growth. 2020 has taught me that we are not stagnant and that we have a lot of purpose in our lives. The year has also taught me that there may be challenges that are unexpected, but when our minds are open to change and ready for action, we can take on these inevitable obstacles. With these constant changes around us, I have actually started to branch out of just focusing on food and started to focus on fitness and health and social justice. Read more>>

Zach Oldenkamp | Artist

I remember seeing a realistic drawing done by a contemporary artist in my late teenage years and being completely blown away by it. At the time I knew there were amazing paintings done centuries ago but I didn’t realize there were artists doing it the modern day. I had no concept of how someone could draw something so naturalistic and evocative and I couldn’t stop thinking about it as a problem to solve. Almost like seeing a magic trick and I couldn’t stop thinking about how it’s done. I was hooked and knew it was something I had to learn. The challenge and problem solving of art and design has continued to be a constant drive in continuing my artistic career. Read more>>

Omar El-Deeb | Film Composer & Music Producer

I discovered music relatively later in life as I was going to college (studying something completely irrelevant to the matter). It just seemed intuitive to pick up on. One milestone after the other, I grew confident that this is what would make me happy. The more I gave to my craft, the more it gave back and it made me feel better about myself. I just knew that if my life did not revolve around music, I would be unhappy. Read more>>

Carmen Callahan | Company Dancer/Assistant To The Artistic Director

When you choose to have a career in the arts, you dedicate your life to something that few will understand and even fewer will value. I can’t speak to times before I was alive, but it seems to me that the average 21st century person’s interest in the arts is at a critical low. The modern person no longer seeks to weave art into the fabric of their everyday life. And in a world that is ever-increasingly digital, some art forms fade into the abyss more than ever before. It’s a bit ironic, really, that in a time when humanity needs it most, art is considered “inessential”, and “a luxury” by many. As someone who exists in today’s society while simultaneously critiquing it, I felt a responsibility to ballet as an art form, and all of the arts, to dedicate my life to bring the arts back to their greatest cultural relevance, in whatever small way I am able to contribute to said goal. Read more>>

Melissa Martell | Artist and Tattooer

Art has been a part of my life since childhood. I was always drawing instead of doing homework, skipping class to hang out in the art room and doodling in the margins of my notebooks. I was on a mission to make art, even though I didn’t really have an end goal in mind, I simply found joy in creating something. As a tattooer, I get to make art every day and I think my childhood self would be thrilled to know I’m still doing what I love. Read more>>

Jairo Morales | Photographer & Brand Owner

My decision to pursue a creative career was based out of me not wanting to work for someone for the rest of my life at a job that will drive me crazy lol. I never liked being tied down to a regular 9-5 so I started doing photography. Creating a life that would be supported with the photos that I make is what I’ve always wanted to achieve and will achieve but you know, it all takes time. The best thing about making photos is the impact that it has on people when they see my work. That is one of my favorite things about why I chose this creative career. Read more>>

Aaron Wilson | Motivational Speaker, Singer-Songwriter, Actor

I pursued a creative career, because I knew I wanted to live out my passion and ultimately make a difference. Anytime I am able to get up on stage to speak to an audience, or act out a scene on camera, or sing a song: I become alive. I discovered this passion about 10 years ago, and ever since been working diligently towards my goals and bringing them into fruition. Read more>>

Aisha Harris | Wedding and Events Planner

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I was born with a creative gene. Everything I did had some creative aspect to it. The way I played, and the way I lived. I had no idea how my destiny of my creative career would play itself out. I started working at a very young age out of the need of necessity and wanting to help my mom. I became a mini entrepreneur in the eighth grade. I learned floriculture, made floral arrangements and sold them at my mothers job. After that was my babysitting service, thanks to my favorite book “The Babysitters Club”. Every business had a spreadsheet, folder, color tabs, and accounting done every month. I worked throughout high school and never stopped. I’ve worked in the food and hostess industry, retail, and before becoming a wedding and events planner my last career was in the mortgage industry. Which was one of the most grueling and demanding. I moved my way up and was one of the top funders at my company. I worked multiple days in a row at the end of the month with no sleep. My job responsibilities were increasing and there was little joy for me in just doing a great job. Read more>>

Shalene Bain | Organic Skincare Creator

I have always been a creative thinker, a wonder in thoughts and imagination. I have the ability to see something in my head and create it in real life. I didn’t realize my ability to create would be with chemistry of organic ingredients but somehow after having my children that is where my path lead me. My children had some skin issues and as a mom I was going to find the solution my own way, an organic healthy way that was farm fresh. Read more>>

Arzu Fallahi | Concept Artist & Illustrator

As a kid I was most fascinated by the pure magic of how a drawing happens on a piece of blank paper. I had a friend that was really good at drawing animals, when I watched her drawing a dog, all I wanted was to draw like her. It was like the most exciting and out of reach dream, also from a very young age I had an obsession with stories. At bedtime my mother tells me so many stories and then she just made some more up but no matter I wanted more and more, my sisters recorded my voice repeating, “tell me a story” like a thousand time non-stop, my poor mother must have been exhausted. When it was time to go to high school I had a choice to go to Art School and there was nothing else I wanted to do besides art, so that’s when I finally started following my dream of becoming an artist who can draw anything she wants. Read more>>

Denise Luce | Photographer, Graphic Designer, Digital Artist & Editor-in-Chief

I decided to pursue a creative career because art and creativity have always been a huge part of my life. Ever since I can remember, I would doodle with chalk on the sidewalk, or bake and decorate cakes and other baked goods, or draw up new fashion, work on mixed media projects, paint, cook, and so much more. Everything is art to me. Read more>>

Dave Rodway | Drummer, Teacher and Student.

I was turned on to music at such an early age, really early. My parents were musical and listened to music and I have 3 older brothers that were listening to music and playing instruments. There was always music and dancing in our home AND my uncle owned a restaurant that had a piano player. There were so many great parties and music was everywhere. When I was 6 years old my brothers took me to see the great drummer Buddy Rich. I was amazed. They stayed with me and forced me to wait in line for his autograph, which I did. I still have it somewhere. And then of course there were the Beatles. I was playing pots and pans on the kitchen floor. Eventually I was given drums. One at a time, then a cymbal, then better drums. I received my first ‘real’ kit when I was 8. I never looked back. I’ve always known that I wanted to play drums in bands and on recordings. Read more>>