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.

Colleen Allison | Photographer & Writer

I grew up in the Texas Panhandle — a place where hard work and tenacity are admired above all. I never realized that there were even careers in the creative field. I thought that art was something you did in your time off from your “real” job. That changed when I turned 18 and took a trip to Los Angeles. A friend took me to MOCA and there happened to be a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit. I was immediately taken with his work. It spoke to me all the tangled things my brain tried so hard to work out but couldn’t, like some sort of key. I learned that day first hand the power of art, and perspective, and I switched my major from Pre-Med to Visual Communication soon after. Photography helps me make sense of my thoughts and it also helps me show others how beautiful they truly are. Read more>>

Natalie Patterson | Poet, Teaching Artist & Curator

I measure success by three things: quality of life, freedom to sleep, and happiness. As I looked around the world, at the people I knew and the people the world considered successful I didn’t see people that met my success scale. I knew that to be successful on my terms meant I’d have to be creative because a traditional 9-5 wasn’t going to allow me the feeling of success even if I had all the material benchmarks of success. My interest in poetry was peeked in high school, but it wasn’t until college that I really began looking at how I could turn the poems in my notebook into a respectable career. Being a member of the creative community is really the only space that has ever felt like the right place for me. Read more>>

Breanna Hogan | Storyteller, Producer & Publicist

I don’t even know if I can say that I pursued a creative career. More like, a creative career chose me. My freshman year in college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I was on the mock-trial team. I even had an internship at a law firm that following summer. It was there that I realized that a career in law would not be fulfilling for me because there was no room for creativity. The truth is that I’ve always loved the arts: music, poetry, stories, painting, film, television. I’ve always wanted to be close to it. It wasn’t until I was 2 years out of college, living and working in Los Angeles that I realized that not only did I want to be close to art, but that I wanted to create it. After the success and fulfillment of creating, writing, and producing my own show, I knew I had found my calling … or my calling had found me. Read more>>

Justin Butts | Visual imagineer, Photo & Video

I chose to pursue this path unknowingly. I started with a camera and just making videos of my friends and I feel I’ve just always had fun with it and I’m still doing the same thing. Making cool videos with my friends, having fun. I think it’s just an extra blessing that people value what I create enough to support myself and my family with it. Read more>>

Tatyana Figueiredo | Actress

When I started acting, I was a kid and I fell in love with the magic and ludic experience of the theater and how fascinating that new world was, where anything could be possible. Eventually, as I become more mature and acting became my career I realized how important art is in everyone’s life and how art can impact someone’s life. I felt like it was my duty to use acting as a tool to communicate, to connect and to transform society. Back in Brazil, theater is very strong and powerful, and a lot of people go to watch plays to feel, to learn, and to grow as a human being. Later on, I experienced acting for film. It was a completely different world for me, a different experience. Read more>>

Stevie Love | Visual Artist

My earliest memories are of paint and paper, the feel of the finger paint in nursery school, the smell of the paint in kindergarten, and the look of my painting of a “horse” pinned up in the breakfast room of my grandmother’s house when I was probably two years old. The magic of a visual image, and the realization that I could make that magic happen has always been a part of my psyche. Pursuing an artistic career was not really a choice – it was in my DNA. Read more>>

Robin Conrad | Choreographer, Teaching Artist & Dance Scholar

My career has been based around dance: as a concert/commercial choreographer, teacher and scholar. In a sense, both my work in dance and the answer to why I chose it comes down to the same thing: possibilities. I’ve always been fascinated by what we as embodied beings can make happen, alone or together, at any moment. And I suppose that’s an inherently artistic point of view, so maybe it’s no surprise I wound up in a creative field. When I’m working as a choreographer there are so many considerations¬¬––different ideas that I want to convey or working with a director on how to bring their vision to life. Shaping movement based on how different people experience their bodies is totally thrilling to me. I also love teaching and how it’s not just creative for me, but I’m encouraging my students to tap into their own creativity. Read more>>

Helane Marie Anderson | Vocal Empowerment Activator, Singing Sound Vibrational Healer & Leadership Coach

I honestly don’t think I had a choice as the arts felt like a calling from my earliest memory. The musician & artist side of me was always the most prevalent driving force, always stepping into any space where I could express my voice. When I was young, music, drawing and dance were the things I was most drawn to explore. In those moments of creation & connection I always felt, and still do, truly in my purpose. I also feel that the arts are what reflect humanity in the deepest ways and music is especially powerful in its ability to move energy, change energy and create the ripple effect of healing. As my career developed, I originally pursued the classical music side of my studies (I was a classical piano major and also studied classical voice) and spent more than a decade on the Arts Administration side of the business before pursuing my own music & healing practice full time. Read more>>

Elaina Adrianna | Actress

Acting has always been in my bones. I’ve tried so many different things in life, a myriad of sports, playing different instruments, but nothing really stuck like acting did. I started acting when I was little in Germany. My family was stationed in Hanau and with a deployed father, a full-time working mother, and a brother in afterschool sports, I needed something to fill my time. I remember first auditioning for the theater. They were putting on a performance of Babes in Toyland. I was so nervous but so excited to get up on stage and be in the spotlight. I remember the feeling of first stepping on the stage, the bright stage lights blinding me only for a few moments then, the audience slowly fading into vision. They leaned in to see what would happen next, hanging on to every movement and word slipping from my mouth. It was invigorating. It still is. Read more>>

Vincent Rivera | Writer

It’s the cliché artist answer but I needed more in life than the conventional 9-5 and safety nets; which neither of those things equated to a “happier” life. Also, as an artist, I don’t know how to instinctually be something else. I can go to work and pretend to be diligent and get the job done, but after a while I become miserable if I am not doing something creative. In addition, I only like structure to a certain point. I like to leave room for spontaneity to make things interesting. Now for some professions, you can’t really do that, but that’s also why I don’t work in those fields. I stay in my lane, and prefer it here. Plus, art is the only craft where it can be a life’s body of work. Read more>>

Julio Garcia Escames | Filmmaker

I pursued a career as a filmmaker because I loved films so much that I decided I wasn’t willing to do anything else. Since I was very little, I had dreamed of making movies. Initially it was more of an abstract idea, since I wasn’t sure what making movies really meant. On the other hand I’ve been always very creative. As a kid I was all the time making up stories with dolls and toys. Probably because of growing up in the south of Spain, becoming a professional filmmaker was a very unrealistic path. In high school I used to stand out in sciences, math and physics and I always liked computers. So when it was time to go to college I signed up to pursue a computer sciences degree. By that time, I had done some homemade films and during the first year in college I directed my first short film with professional actors and film students. Read more>>

Treshelle Edmond | Actress & Performer

I really didn’t pursue an artistic career. I genuinely believe that it chose me. It is my passion, my calling. Read more>>

Anngelica-Marie Eshesimua | Writer, Actress & Filmmaker

I pursued an artistic career because I knew deep down that I would not be fulfilled doing anything else. I have always loved storytelling and the arts, and thankfully my artistic inclinations were supported and nurtured at a young age by my mother, who is also an artist. My mother has always had a skill for the written word, but was encouraged to pursue a more “reasonable” career in the law. When she faced prejudices an injustice in her career as a Haitian attorney, she gave voice to her plight through creating a short film; at eight years old, I watched strangers become family within the confines of our home as they worked together to tell my mother’s story. Read more>>

Audrey Brianne | Fashion

I love creating a visual that’s immediately accessible for public consumption and opinion. The challenge of taking ready-made pieces and presenting them on entertainers in fashionable, wearable ways that translate off the runway is exciting and rewarding when people “get” it. I’ve always had an eye for pulling out pieces on a rack that go well together and I’m good at balance and pairing things together that normally wouldn’t work. Read more>>

Koryn Ann Wicks | Choreographer, Immersive Dance Maker, Multimedia Artist & Dancer

Oh gosh, there are days when I find myself asking that very question. I don’t know that I ever felt like I had much of a choice in the matter; the decision came out of a combination of luck and being headstrong. Effort is a big part of how I express myself in the world. It’s a sense of identity I’ve adopted living under capitalism; productivity = worth. As a result, I’m most comfortable when I’m busy. Making art; in my case, making dance/immersive dance/multimedia dance; happens to be the arena I’ve always found myself most motivated in. And so, I am a choreographer. I think that is how a lot of us find our ‘calling;’ accidentally, by following the rewards and positive reinforcement from the social structures we live in. I’m lucky that the path I stumbled upon empowered me to explore and express myself. Read more>>

Noveen Crumbie | Official Voice of E! Network & Disneyland Performer

I pursued an artistic career because I’ve always felt this immense amount of energy inside me eager to find a way out. When I was young, I wanted to choose a lively career path that would both support and compliment who I was for the long run. In high school, joining the cheer squad and the competitive show choir team really helped to hone my energy and express my talents in the best ways possible. Even after, attending a musical theatre college was a dream come true. I love being able to act in various shows around LA, dance in parades at The Disneyland Resort and sing in stage musicals – it just makes me feel so alive. Nothing beats being able to captivate others with my bubbly personality to make someone else laugh and feel good too. Read more>>

Rita Janikyan | Artist & Makeup Artist

Art is a way of seeing the world and a way of expression without any words. The role of art in my life means lot. I was only 4 years old when I had the feeling to express myself through art.  As I have grown older it became a place to escape the world. Having an artistic career is a commitment as you have in the marriage, I know no matter what, the long term commitment I have with art is tied with my imaginary art ring. I am very passionate about my career, I love showing to people the journey of my emotions and soul in every art that I create. It is a great pleasure to turn your hobby into a source of living. The reason I chose art as my career is because I wake up every day by thinking of solutions and it brings me a pleasure when my works can be more influential than words by itself. Read more>

Lucas Holter | Vocalist, Songwriter & Producer

I was raised in a very stoic region of the US. I never understood why people there would give up on and criticize the arts and being creative. It was always discounted and looked down upon during my early years. Performers and artists were “gay” or “weak” or “don’t know an honest days work”. It wasn’t until I left and moved to California that I realized that it was all fear based. Being artistic, being creative, as great as it is, makes you vulnerable to criticism. It forces you open and exposes the fibers of yourself that most people are too scared to show. That is an emotional juggernaut to accomplish and most people will never be able to do it. So, I chose to run directly into the void, because I could no longer justify a life controlled by fear. Am I too old? Too young? Too fat? Too ugly? It doesn’t matter. Truth in expression is the only real thing in the world anymore. Read more>>

Susan Rubin | Children’s Book Writer

From the time I was a child I wanted to be an artist. I knew I wanted to illustrate children’s books because books meant so much to me at a young age when I was isolated due to illness and couldn’t play with other kids. Over the years I’ve learned that many children’s book artists and writers had a similar experience when they were very young, especially in the days before antibiotics. I started attending the Art Students League in New York, where I grew up, at age 10 and a half and I loved it. Then I went on to the High School of Music & Art, now part of La Guardia High School. But at college my parents urged me to be an English major because I was a very good student. Of course, studying art history would have been just as challenging but I greatly enjoyed my years at Oberlin. Read more>>

Josue Catalan | Sound Engineer

I went through tough times when growing up and music was always there to help calm myself and understand the world I was facing, It was (and still is) like therapy. Music has the power to attract you deeper and deeper into it, and before I knew it I was playing drums and other instruments with my friends and I knew that I needed to create and work with music for a living. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else but working in the music world. I think we all need to be honest with ourselves at some point and face who we are and how we are wired inside despite what family or society says. I accepted the fact that I need to be creating and experiencing my creation to be a happy person, and while doing it, helping others. Read more>>