We asked some of the city’s leading artists and creatives to tell us about how they decided to pursue an artistic or creative career. We’ve shared some highlights below.

Bryan Delgado | Musician, Artist, Model

was 22 when I realized I had never done anything for myself. Sitting in my car, having just completed Grad school, I started to reflect on the choices I’d made up to that point. I quickly came to the conclusion that all my life accomplishments were empty and meaningless because I didn’t do them for myself, I did them to placate others. I was in the midst of accepting a position as an adjunct professor at my university, a safe and respectable job. My parents were proud of me, I managed to avoid dropping out of school like I wanted to and I had convinced myself this was the right decision for my future. Or so I thought. Read more>>

Linda Blue | Photographer

When I graduated from high school, I asked for an SLR camera and when I got it, I had no idea how to use it so I took a summer class at our local junior college. I found myself in the darkroom for 8 hours and came out happy & excited! After the class ended, I showed my images to my childhood friends and they said… those are really good! Why don’t you do something in photography?! Had they never said that to me, I would never have considered being a photographer. I looked into schools and found Brooks Institute of Photography and moved to Santa Barbara. After graduating, I worked for another photographer to learn the business side of it all. I then started my own business after a year. I never looked back and to this day, I absolutely LOVE what I do! I feel blessed and grateful to get to do what I love! Read more>>

Chérie Chan | Digital Product & Graphic Designer

I’m always drawn towards visuals or concepts that are aesthetically intriguing. I’m not that kind of type A Asian kids aligned with the doctor or lawyer-to-be stereotypes. Being a teenager, I knew that I would never want to bore myself with routine jobs and tedious tasks. But back then, I didn’t know what it means to have a creative career. Read more>>

Lauren Schwind | Lauren Schwind: Artist and Art Teacher

I have always been a maker. And it almost sounds cliche but I have been making art since I could pick up crayon. Making drawings, shapes with leaves, painting, working with clay. I have loved exploring mediums and materials. So for me I felt that making art was the only thing I could do because I had no other skill. I grew up with learning disabilities so I honestly tried very hard at school but found that the only thing that came to me naturally in any way was being an “artist”. Regardless of how little support I got from teachers or even family members, I knew this was my life’s purpose. Read more>>

Brandon Souza | Actor, writer, improviser

To get right to the truth of the matter, I have an overwhelming desperation to make people smile. Probably dipping into if not already and obsession. At my job it is my goal to make everyone laugh. Even in job interviews, if I fail to make the interviewer laugh, I have to seriously consider if I want to take that job. The emotional reasoning for wanting to become an actor takes us back to my first play ever in middle school. Read more>>

Eric Fallecker | Outdoor Adventure Lifestyle Photographer and Filmmaker

A long time ago my mother bought me my first camera and said that she always just wanted me to be happy, instead of chasing the so called “American Dream”. She knew I felt more alive when I was creating and exploring. Art gives myself fulfillment, and joy. It also allows me to communicate with the world around me. I have never been a nine to fiver and I am constantly looking for ways to bring more wonder and imagination to the world through photography and film. My artistic career allows me to connect with people and nature in ways that an office job could never provide. Read more>>

Arm of Casso Arm of Casso | Visual Artist

I chose an artistic career because for as long as I can remember, I have always found that I am most passionate when being creative. My oldest memory is participating in a city wide art contest, representing my elementary school in my hometown of Philadelphia and I have been creating art ever since. I initially didn’t think it was viable for me to have a career in art, and instead tried the corporate world, but quickly realized that none of the jobs I had fulfilled me in any capacity. With the support of family and early supporters of my work, I took the leap of faith to turn my creativity into a career, and I do not intend to ever look back. An extra plus is the fact that I don’t have to report to anyone and I get to decide what my schedule is on a daily basis. Read more>>

Leo Sfeir | Cinematographer

Ever since I was a child I’ve always loved to create my own worlds to escape reality. I’ve been doing art as one of my main way of doing so. I started with drawing, painting and music. Quickly I picked up a still camera which lead me to discover filmmaking. As a cinematographer I feel like my job is very similar to painting with lights through a lens. It always seems very organic to me. I’ve always been fascinated by the way lights react around us, both naturally or human made, it’s always the little things that get me fascinated. For example, if you live next to a pool, you’ll get some incredible reflections on your selling during certain times of day. I try to use those observations as inspiration for my work. I am also fascinated by water, how it reacts with lights and how it looks on camera which is also why I work also as an underwater cinematographer. As a queer artist I also wanted to make sure to be able to get more representation for underrepresented communities. Read more>>

Burkley Page | Photographer

Doing something creative really seemed like the only option. I had thought about many different careers that I might like to do, but ultimately, the only thing I can think of that’s worth waking up everyday to work on is photography. It excites me more than anything else I have found. I think I also enjoy the uncertainty of a job that will not be the same every day. Read more>>

Michael Dukakis | Actor & writer

It started as a necessity. Acting opened the door to a magical world. Escaping through my imagination helped me transform the harsh reality I was experiencing. Stage acting started when I was 12. Real salvation! It helped me get away from a difficult childhood and start planning for a better adulthood. Today, acting and writing for film are still helping me explore imaginary worlds and enhance my reality. The more I fantasize and live within imaginary circumstances, and the more I empathize with other human beings, the more colorful and meaningful my life becomes. Read more>>

louie Chapman | Actor/Entrepreneur

I don’t think you can simply choose to be creative or artistic, its just what you do and who you are. All my money and time all day is spent on art, watching it, making it and having fun with it. I can’t help but do it which means that the only choice of career for me would be an artistic/creative one. It is who I am. Like I am the opposite of a dentist, they are typically, clear cut and think inside the box. Like the last thing you want to hear from your dentist is ” ok, i’m going to creative here”. Read more>>

Adwoa Duncan-Williams | Actor | Singer | Dancer

It honestly became the only thing that I knew could keep me going, keep me motivated, keep me persevering, keep me competitive, wanting more and most importantly, make and keep me happy. Acting is the outlet I’ve known about for my whole life, it’s truly the only thing I knew I could easily do forever and never get complacent or bored. I had to pursue it, it was going to help evolve me as a person and bring some many layers I didn’t know existed. It was the uncertainty I was happy to have. Read more>>

Goby Prather | Sculptor

My artistic career serves as a time capsule in documenting and articulating the Black nonbinary experience. What defines this experience is its’ state in continual flux, and my hope is to show this liquidity through what I create; not only as a form of healing and education, but as a way to connect with myself and my community. Read more>>

Franco Machado-Pesce | Actor & Filmmaker

Pursuing an artistic career is never an easy choice. It comes with a lot of risk and with that, determination and dedication. Growing up, I was always certain of one thing: I was never going to work in an office. My journey has led me here, pursuing acting and filmmaking as my full time job. I could never pinpoint one or two reasons as to why I chose this path. As cheesy as it sounds, it chose me. I never feel as free and happy as when I create. Entertaining and telling stories was always something that was natural to me. I think that stories are what keep us going as a society. Read more>>

Ashley Vece | Freelance Hair & Makeup Artist

I think I’ve always been on this path without even knowing. From helping friends get ready for dances in middle/high school, to college parties, to special events thereafter, I was obsessed with how makeup and hair can make people feel. You can go from feeling like a gremlin, to knowing your the baddest b**** walking into a room. It helped bring out the goddess I saw but they needed help seeing. That end result of their reaction is worth the hours long process every time. Read more>>

Brian Finney | Writer and Professor Emeritus

We all want to share our opinions and outlook with others. We are most successful at doing this when we embody our ideas in the form of a story. Writing works of fiction in particular lures the reader into this act of sharing by making our stories a source of pleasure. How? Through form; through the creation of subtle, complex or ambiguous characters; through exciting turns of plot; by keeping our readers guessing; and by innovative manipulation of language. Accepting this challenge has always given me as much pleasure as I try to give to my readers. Read more>>

Ahmad Cisse | Model & Photographer

To envisage is very common for me. And often, the desire to express it surfaces. This attributes to the grounds of pursuing photography as my creative outlet, initially. I was commonly found in circles in which my aesthetic and style was deeply admired. Modeling came into the picture quickly after. Though, I was not moved by the sentiments to seriously consider this as a career. I was very reluctant, given how fixated I was on photography; enjoying curating and having models help execute my visions. However, this principle could also apply to models looking to idealize their expressions as well. I found that I was able to commit to the transition of taking on modeling by allowing my inspiration to locate a photographer and produce these concepts. Read more>>

Zac Westbrook | Photographer & Cinematographer

I pursed an artistic career without knowing it. As I was facing my depression I began to recognize it in others. The intention behind my work is to explore underlying emotions and internal struggles through the lens of photography. Only a few of my subjects are aware of why I photograph them. The reason is because I can see their pain and internal struggles. It’s encouraging as well as therapeutic for me to feel as well as capture their will to survive. For me to capture their essence as well as their mask. My desire is for my subjects to feel seen. Read more>>

Zhanrui (Jerry) Liu | Visual Development Artist & Cat lover

I feel like pursuing art does not come naturally to me. I loved doodling on the wall of my parents’ house when I was a kid, I feel most comfortable expressing myself with drawings and capture movement with my crayon, I still remember my dad have to paint the wall constantly. And growing up, watching animation is the best after school entertainment, But in high school, I stopped drawing and focused on the academic side, after all, there was no” artist gene or history” in my family, so it’s hard for me to picture artist as a full-time job, near the end of the high school, I tried to look into myself and see what do I really want, it was a difficult time with a lot of uncertainty and indecisiveness. I repeatedly asked myself where do I see myself in the future, and I just can’t deny the love towards animation, so I blindly hold on to this dream. and because of this experience, every time I look back but I never regretted the path I chose, I find a “home” for my heart. Read more>>

Lowden Harrell | Drummer, Percussionist & Producer

I’ve pursued an artistic career because I haven’t seen myself doing anything other than playing music! Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been interested in patterns and rhythms, starting as a baby with doodling on the instruments my grandpa made and continuing through high school and college with music studies. I’ve been enjoying playing my entire life and I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon (and getting paid to do what I love is a big plus, too!) Read more>>

Clara Aranovich | Writer / Director

Filmmaking has been the love of my life from a very young age, since I was seven years old or so. Of course, back then, I didn’t orient towards filmmaking as a “career” so much as, simply, “The thing I want to do with my life,” the distinction being in the practical details. When I fell in love with cinema I wasn’t thinking about one day having to hire or fire representation, form an S-Corp, pay union dues… all the things I associate with the “business side” of my vocation. Read more>>

elishéva | Pop/Soul Singer-Songwriter

I grew up in a family of doctors and I always thought I would follow the path. The summer before my senior year of high school I saw “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812” and it changed my life. I remember the exact moment it happened, the exact moment I knew I’d been lying to myself my whole life. I never took music seriously, but in that moment I swore I would give it my all, just in time for college auditions. I guess at the time I didn’t actually know what I was getting myself into, but once I started I couldn’t stop. A year into Berklee College of Music I started songwriting, and it wasn’t until a year later that I realized I wanted to be an artist. I wrote nonstop for a year, I worked to produce my music and start building my team so I can release songs people can feel through. Music has healed me and I hope my music can heal other people. It’s the biggest risk I’ve ever taken, but I could never regret using my voice in this way. Read more>>

Latifah Abdur | Founder/Brand Strategist

Growing up in my mothers’ salon in Ithaca, NY gave me a front-row seat to customers walking in for their appointment, sitting in the chair, and transforming like a fairy godmother swirled a wand and glitter sprinkled out all over them. Yes, that was the feeling of little me. It was magical! The joy I saw on the customers’ faces when they looked at themselves in the mirror after their new hairstyle showed me how artistry elevates and allows someone to leave better than they came inside and out. Read more>>

Devontae “Slim” Goodwin | Fashion Stylist

One of the biggest influences on my choice to pursue an artistic career is 106 & Park. Every afternoon when school was out I’d rush home to see the hottest music videos and the latest fashion trends. Seeing so many successful black and brown faces was inspiring. Where I’m from it’s not many routes you could take to make it out.. 106 & Park gave me hope! Read more>>

Sofia Rochin | Florist, Dancer, Artist

Art has always been a large part of my life. I grew up in a family of artists and art enthusiasts, with both my mom and dad being professional dancers and large supporters of all areas of the world of art. From a very youngest age, I can remember spending long afternoons with my family attending live dance performances, walking through museums wherever we were for hours, warm summer nights spent listening to the live music events at the summer series of the Hollywood Bowl. Read more>>

Jacqueline Garrity | Metalsmith & Sculpture Artist

Why did I pursue an artistic career… possibly because I’m clinically insane. Or maybe it’s because I enjoy the slow suffering that is being an artist. There is something to be said about living in a creative headspace, and how it affects every aspect of your life and your being. Being in the art world was not a choice, it was a necessity. From a young age art fueled my soul, even when I was not aware of it. Your whole life you are asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And for most of my life… albeit only 28 years, I never had any answers. I loathed that question. The older I got, I became less and less sure of my answer. And the more uncomfortable it would make me. Read more>>

Marissa Chandler | Hairstylist & Barber

I always say hair saved my life. I never thought about being a hairstylists until 6 months before I started beauty school. I hated high school and didn’t want to go to college. I’ve always been unapologetically an artist. I couldn’t write a good essay but I could write a good song. After years of being obsessed with music and wallowing in my “sad Seattle artist” complex I ended up in rehab right after my 19th birthday. Long story short, I shaved a girls head in rehab with clippers and thought it was fun. 6 months months later I was in beauty school. That’s where I really fell in love with hair. I actually liked school for the first time in my life because I was creating with my hands and learning by trial and error and that was really fulfilling to me. Read more>>

Kaleb Morgan | Dancer & Photographer

My first biggest inspiration growing up was my niece. As kids, she always had this amazing voice and she would sing for hours everyday. And I would always think, what could I be great at. When dance and photography finally made its way into my life, I couldn’t help but pursue both passions. Most of my childhood I grew up shy and I really didn’t know how to express myself as easily, art helped to overcome this. Art open so many opportunities for me not to mention the countries I’ve traveled to and lived in. I’ve met and been inspired by so many amazing people over the past maybe 6 or 7 years. Read more>>

Charlie Jay | Recording Artist / Writer

Man , being a creative is a great experience for me. I like to look at as, a painter right, so think… first each masterpiece created it starts of as a blank canvas and seeing what ideas and just creativity can bring about is a amazing feeling and dope as hell to be able to express yourself. Same with me and music understanding and seeing the process just makes the appreciation of the end result that much better. And honestly that’s why I chose to chase this path of being an artist I love creating and providing something people can enjoy an relate to. Definitely in my eyes the vision of what my life is suppose to consist of to bring me true happiness. TRUE BLESSING Read more>>

Alejandro Speranza | Music Producer / Engineer

Well… I truly tried to do Law, but it wasn’t working for me. Since there is absolutely no justice in the world… law simply would have meant a money driven career that felt empty of meaning. Despite lawyers are very necessary, I wasn’t ready to be that person. There’s enough people chasing that rabbit already! Instead, the only thing I seemed to be able to focus on for a long period of time was music and recording. It was natural to me, it made sense. Read more>>

Melissa Soto | Fashion Designer & Illustrator

Ever since I was a kid I always love drawing, painting, playing with clay. I think my mom being a painter herself influenced me into loving art, museums and creativity in general. As I grew older I found that fashion interested me from sociological stand point as well as an artistic one and that’s how I decided that I was going to pursue a career in Fashion Design. At the time I had a more naive vision of fashion maybe haha but I thought that what one would wear would be like a second skin almost, like a true representation of who we were. With time I started adding my passion for drawing to my fashion designs and incorporating more illustration and textile design. Fast forward all these years my career is the perfect combination of fashion and visual art. Read more>>

Martin Chavez | Actor

This is a great question because there was never a defining moment when I said, “I want to be an actor.” I am the son of immigrants. Mainly raised by my mother, who worked several jobs at the same time to make ends meet. So, there was no emphasis in pursuing the arts. I am an only child and watched a lot of movies and television growing up. I don’t know if that has any positive effect on ones imagination. But if it does, maybe, somewhere deep down that can be manifesting itself in my pursuit of acting. All I know is that there is some force that I don’t understand that draws me to it. Read more>>

Jessica Jane Peterson | Magician, Entertainer & Consultant

“Being on the Tightrope is Living. Everything Else is Waiting.” -Karl Wallenda It’s a quote I’ve closed thousands of shows with, accompanied by a piece of magic from my heart. For most of my life that quote has inspired me, and it helped me realize there is nothing on earth I’d rather be than a magician. Karl lived for the tightrope, and I live for magic. My mom was a magician’s assistant in my home state of New Jersey and the art of magic has always been a part of my life. I quite literally grew up watching my mother get sawn in half on stage…and I thought it was completely normal! Read more>>

Paul Newton | Fine artist

From a very young age my greatest passion was to draw and paint – it was my first love. However through my high school years and later at university I put that aside to study Science based subjects; but ultimately I was dissatisfied. One night I was chatting with a friend over a glass of red wine about my dilemma – not knowing what to do with my life. He suggested that I join him at art school as there was a great social life, and what’s more, he told me almost as an after-thought, I could learn to draw and paint! Read more>>

Taylor Hale | Artist

Being able to spread love and light through my passion of creating to help make a positive impact during my existence. And also tell my story through my work that will help others on there journey. Its the best way I have found to help me stay grounded and cope with mental health, through this journey of life.. I’m blessed with the ability to connect quick with others beings and creating art has given me the ability to travel wherever whenever and spread love and light with the universe Read more>>

Lauren Lukow | Producer & Arts Administrator (+ Painter!)

I love this question. Frequently I see people getting so sucked into their craft or their work, they forget their reason for pursuing a passion in the first place (I am super guilty of this). It’s important to know one’s “why,” even if it evolves! In retrospect, I can say that I pursued an artistic career for several reasons: 1.) Collaboration – there are few experiences in life I find as fulfilling as creating something out of nothing with a group of dedicated people. I love teamwork. Read more>>

Anthony Palmer | Film Director

Growing up I always was fascinated by movies. I would sit for hours and hours mesmerized by the story and characters that were portrayed in front of me. My mom showed me these home video recordings and in almost every one I am asking to hold the camera. I think from these experiences nothing else really caught my eye or interested me. Read more>>

Vivian Pullan | Cinematographer

I am an introvert to the world and I feel the most comfortable sharing my thoughts through the medium of art. And, when I am collaborating with others while creating art I somehow transform into an extrovert. I think most of the artists communicate best through the art they create, it somehow brings a sense of freedom. Hopefully this career path takes me to as many places as I thought it would. Also, I cannot see myself doing anything else other being a filmmaker. Read more>>

Shelly Nagell | Comedic Actor & Activist

I always wanted to be an actor. I grew up playing make believe and my passion never stopped. I love that acting embodies, integrates, and emerges all the senses. I feel like I have a paint brush and I get to paint my feelings, thoughts, and memories into another human. I love observing humanity and love looking at people’s quirks, eccentricities, imbalances, insanities, vulnerabilities, fears, desires, and making them into a character. I love comedy the most because it really gets to show people as imperfect and embraces imperfection. Read more>>