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.

Olivia Faye | Singer/Songwriter/Country Music Artist

I had a calling from a very young age to pursue a career in the entertainment business. I loved to sing and perform in front of people. I was writing songs in kindergarten and very lucky I had parents who recognized my creative talents! They helped me get a jump start in my career by putting me in community theater at 6 years old, putting me in guitar lessons at 11, driving me to every open mic night and co-write I could find until I got my license! I really owe so much to them for being amazing supporters still to this day! Read more>>

Shu Wang | Jewelry and Accessory Designer

Designing is a way of expressing my feelings, my attitude and my style. My designs start with my reactions, emotions and expectations. I love experimenting on ways of interacting jewelry, accessories, and garments. When it comes to designing jewelry and accessories, there is no border between fashion and art for me. I love learning different things and the experience of learning can always expands my understanding on art and design. Read more>>

Giovanna Trujillo | Filmmaker and Photographer

Ever since I was a kid I have always been drawn to artistic outlets. I found myself wanting to act, write stories and mess around with the family camera. I overly consumed media from music to films and I simply fell in enamored with it. Throughout my life, I have always had an eclectic array of interests such as languages, arts, sports, etc. but nothing felt as magnetic to me as filmmaking and photography. I knew that I had to pursue this passion of mine, no matter what. Read more>>

Arina Sakun | Writer, Producer

I was into all forms of art since I learned how to talk and would annoy (or amuse?) my parents with all sorts of made-up stories for hours on end. When I learned how to walk, I started dancing, when I learned how to write, I would write poetry. It was pretty clear to me and my family that I would end up in a creative field one way or the other. I am forever grateful to my family for being supportive in that sense, Read more>>

Michaela Wadzinski | Story Artist, Writer, & Director

When I was in 3rd grade I used to draw pictures of Spongebob Squarepants obsessively. When I realized that people actually had to make those cartoons I was watching, I was stuck. I wanted to do that! So from a young age, I set my eyes on an artistic career and never looked back. I honestly never even considered changing my mind, it just felt right. So I spent a lot of my childhood drawing and eventually went to film school. Where along with continuing my love for animation, I found a second love in live-action filmmaking. As long as I’m telling a compelling story I’m a happy camper! Read more>>

Geraldine Fenn | Jewellery designer and maker & co-owner/gallerist of Tinsel Gallery

I started out wanting to be an archaeologist, but after studying it for a few years I decided I’d rather do something more creative and hands-on than have a career in acadaemia. On a whim I decided to study jewellery design and never really looked back. Passion really helps if you decide on a creative career because it’s not an easy way to earn a living, but the truth is that I also had a lot of moral and financial support from my parents which enabled me to do it – without that it would have been much harder to pursue this path. That’s not the sexiest answer I know, but that’s what it boils down to…. Read more>>

Kendel Dawson | Musical Artist

I believe the basis of life is creativity, everything in the world stems from someone creating an idea and working on it to its completion. I chose an artistic career because art is the best way to communicate for me. Whether it’s through songwriting, screenwriting, podcasting, all forms of media to me are the pinnacle of self expression and as an overly emotional person like myself I think self expression is important. Read more>>

Andrea Campos | Artist & Illustrator

I pursued an artistic career because at my core I’m a creator. I’ve always loved bringing things to life, and using my imagination to build something out of nothing. Now I wish I could say that I picked up a pencil as a kid and never stopped drawing but that wasn’t the case. Life got in the way, and as a first generation kid I had to start my artistic career in a less than traditional way. Read more>>

Benedict Koh | Composer, Arranger & Musician

I didn’t really get into music until I was around 12, and funnily enough it started because of a “mistake” my dad made. I was picking up an extra circular activity that my middle school required all of us to do and I decided to join the school’s after school music program for beginners. I initially wanted to do a percussion but my dad had mixed up a double bass with a percussion instrument and I ended up getting signed up for that. Funny enough, it was through playing double bass and eventually playing in the school orchestra that got me into music. I became curious to know how composers create the soundscapes they write and the orchestration; and the more I got into it, it eventually clicked with me that I wanted to write music. Read more>>

YaLLa The Melodica | Animated Singer/Songwriter

I am someone that struggles with social anxiety so writing music is a way to express myself. It’s something that came natural for me. I love creating music that’s multidimensional and sends everyone into this atmosphere of pure bliss and melodic sounds. Read more>>

Jordan Lewis | Film Editor

The thing with “Flow,” it will only favor you when you are living within it. No matter what you do or how much money you’re making if you are outside of Flow you will not be happy. From I was a young kid I wanted to be a part of The Movies. Growing up watching Superman, Starwars, and even Jaws, I was curious about how they made these films. But a young boy from South London had no access to this industry. Read more>>

Edwin Joseph | Performer, Writer and Entrepreneur

My decision to pursue this artistic career was born out of the realisation that I’d be miserable doing anything else. Growing up in Delhi, India, it’s never the obvious career choice- far from it. I was studying Economics in undergrad and one summer got an internship at a marketing agency (the only “real” job that I thought was slightly more interesting than what my classmates were doing). I left that summer completely burned out and emotionally drained. Read more>>

Damu Malik | Photographer, Singer/Songwriter, Actor

I tried to fit myself into the conventional lifestyle of the job with a steady income, paid sick leave, vacation time, etc. But 13 years in, I got to a point where I realized I was sleepwalking through life and if I didn’t wake up, I’d miss the whole journey. So, it didn’t seem like much of a choice to pursue an artistic career or not. I just had to accept that I’m an artist and I wasn’t designed for the conventional life. Read more>>

Treasure Park | Comic Artist & Illustrator

I’ve been drawing since I was a child and never thought of myself having a different career. Bringing something to life on canvas was the most satisfying and fascinating thing for me. For that reason, I live to be an artist. Read more>>

Claire Norris | Animation Production Coordinator

As the oldest of three kids, I always took the lead in trying to entertain my younger siblings. I wrote books and comics, made short films, and came up with new games for us to play. I love making my family laugh, and the community aspect of working in animation is one of my favorite things about working in this industry. Read more>>

Erin Choi | Visual Development Artist & Illustrator

Even as a kid, I think I always knew I wanted to do something art related as a career because creating art was how I spent literally all of my time. I spent most of my childhood writing and illustrating short stories and comics, drawing and painting landscapes, and making sculptures out of recycled objects. I enjoyed the messy, tactile experience of arts and crafts, as well as the sense of freedom that came with creating anything I wanted. Read more>>

Courtney McKenna | Musician and Marketer

From a very young age I knew I wanted to be a singer but it wasn’t until I moved to New York City and started meeting other artists that I knew whole heartedly that I could be a performer and make music for a career. I grew up singing in church and school choir. As a pre-teen I knew instinctively how to channel my emotions into song. Singing has always given me great joy and I would sing for hours. I applied to talent shows and I performed where I could without a car but I never fully felt supported enough to believe that I could make it as a professional. Read more>>

Chris Aresco | Independent Filmmaker

Well, I pretty much spent the first twenty years of my life watching movies. I sort of always wanted to be a filmmaker, if for no other reason than to be able to say I didn’t waste the first two decades of my life alone in my basement for no reason. I didn’t really see an attainable route towards becoming one, though. It isn’t really the type of job that gets posted on Indeed. Once I discovered guys like Shane Carruth, James Ward Byrkit, and the Duplass Brothers, I kind of realized there was a way to just try and make a movie yourself with what you had. Read more>>

Grace Balbo | Actor | Model | Singer | Dancer | Songwriter | VO Artist

In brief, my interest in the industry was originally piqued by voice-overs. I was fascinated by the range of voices behind animations, video games, and commercial work; and the concept of acting with only your vocal inflections. Inspired by this topic, I began exploring the industry’s many disciplines. I took workshops and courses at every opportunity, even if I had to beg the teacher to allow me into a full class. My passions were bolstered by unforgettable classes and the guidance of my teachers/mentors. I’m grateful for all of my creative outlets and opportunities, but I act simply because I must. Read more>>

Allie Rick | Actor & Dancer

I consider myself lucky in that I knew without a shadow of a doubt I wanted to be a performer from a very early age. I began taking dance and acting lessons as a child and instantly fell in love. I feel the most “me” when I am dancing and acting and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else as a profession. I have held that vision for myself and never wavered in my decision to pursue dance and acting professionally. When I was in my early twenties, I made the big move to Los Angeles and have been training and working on my craft ever since. Read more>>

Sarah Sellers | Story Artist for Animated Films and Television

When I was six, I firmly wanted to be a marine biologist – mostly because I was under the impression that marine biologists were allowed to play with dolphins, and that seemed very important to a six year old. In reality, I think I wanted to be a marine biologist because I’d read so many books and watched so many movies about dolphins. Read more>>

Kengchakaj Kengkarnka | Pianist, Improvisor, Composer

I believe it is a calling for me; I recall having this urge to create something since I was a kid. Moments that, I discovered some new melodies on the piano and figured things out on my own outside of a piano lesson. My mom told me she wouldn’t want me to go to kitchen ware store with her because I would go into the store hand drumming and making rhythm on kitchenware, plate, and breakable things. Drawing and creating visual art were also a big part of my growing up. Read more>>

Clifford Leonard | Photographer

To be honest I think it chose me. As funny as that may sound. I have always been into visual arts. Photography was something that I always admired. I was going through anxiety and pretty much the camera got me out of the house and got me going. I ended up getting good and loving being behind the camera. It’s almost like therapy. Read more>>

Connor Hanlon | Vocalist | Looper | Promoter

I make music because if I didn’t I think I would loose my f***** mind. I have had music floating around my head for as long as I can remember, when I was a child I wander aimlessly through the creek behind my parents house in Missouri, singing to myself. I know that there is something sublime in both my body and mind and it needs to be shared with the world. Read more>>

Andi Obarski | Cinematographer

It took me a while to sort of figure out what I “wanted to be when I grow up.” Photography always interested me, as did movies, and at first I really wanted to make documentaries. Then in college my interest moved towards animation, but when I realized that working until 4 am alone in a dark room wasn’t necessarily healthy for me, I started shooting other people’s short films in college and found that cinematography was a good fit. Read more>>

Chelsea Gorham | Arist

I can’t deny that creative expression is in my genes. Coming from a long line of makers and artists, my upbringing consisted of many explorations that fine-tuned my appreciation of beauty that could be shared. There were many years of discovering watercolor, charcoal drawings, illustrative design, digital media and technical design. And while my educational studies were headed for success in ambitions to become an architect, Read more>>

Travis Prow | Cinematographer

I drew a lot as a kid. Mostly dinosaurs, Ninja Turtles, and big monsters with the sharpest teeth. I found myself in art classes at 8 or 9 years old; watercolor and pastel chalk and so on. When I got to pick my classes in Junior High and Highschool I guess I kept following that lead. I enjoyed drawing still life and recreating images from magazines and anime. Read more>>

Jantana Hennard | 3D Designer

I was very curious as a child and found comfort in drawing during my spare time. I was spending countless hours watching music videos on TV (way before I could search something on Youtube) and the creativity back in the days really blew my mind. After seeing visual effects used in 90’s music videos, I’ve installed Photoshop and Flash to try recreating some effects by myself. I’ve always been quite intrigued by new technologies and digital softwares were powerful tools to create artworks from scratch! Read more>>

Heaven X | Hip Hop Artist & Producer

You can say I pursued it, but in many ways, it pursued me. I’m picking up from a previous life. Creativity and art have always been like breath to me. I’m ready to move forward with a mission to inspire greater change through the medium of arts and entertainment. Let’s go Read more>>

T’ai Sekyere-Harte | Model & Olympic Weightlifter

I started working at 17 years old. I’ve worked in Amazon warehouses, in Walmart stocking shelves, and even got my SORA and worked as security officer. At every single one of those jobs I felt like a robot, I mean a robot could do what I was doing, stocking shelves and moving boxes doesn’t require much expertise. I was never one for mundane tasks, I quit all of my jobs and spent the summer of 2018 broke and roaming nature reserves searching for something I’d do for free but could end up being paid for it. One day I had truly realized just how much work I had put into my body purely for my own satisfaction. Read more>>

Elena Pineda | Designer/Editor In Chief/ Creative and All around BadAss

Back in 1993, I had just graduated high school and college was the “next step”. Although, I was never a star student and school was definitely not for me, I only did one semester and decided, “I shall become a chef!” Food is one of my greatest loves and at the time I had a passion for it, Now, mind you, this was way before The Food Network and Iron Chefs, a 20 yr old female chef in the third world was NOT a good choice! Read more>>

Tamara Jokic | Singer / Songwriter / Educator

I believe that art and creativity give us a place to express, grow and explore all the intricate details of human existence. It is very important to stay connected to all kinds of sources of creativity, so I believe that writing, listening to music, composing, reading, attending theater plays and different festivals are all empowering us in many different ways. Read more>>

Jaimie Pangan | Music Composer

I like to create. I believe it is not just my passion, but my purpose. Whenever I get to work on a project I like and has the same vision I have, I get really excited. I specifically chose screen scoring because it’s a combination of a lot of things I like such as music, linguistics, art, psychology and philosophy. With screen scoring, I am able to tell a story through the language of music. It hasn’t been easy being a creative and starting my brand as a composer, but it has been a great journey. Read more>>

Lia Suzuki | International Aikido Instructor

I simply wasn’t able to stop my art/practice of Aikido. I continued, being completely obsessed by it. Eventually it became my livelihood. Read more>>