Artistic and creative careers are among the most rewarding, but they also come with unique challenges. We asked some of the city’s best creatives to tell us why they choose to pursue a creative career.

Allison Dayne | Actor, Writer & Director

Ah…of course! Why have a creative career when there are so many other options. To me it was the only option. Charles E Gerber, a dear friend and who was in Group 1 of Julliard asked me, “Do you need to do this?” And depending on how long it took you to answer you knew if pursuing acting and writing was for you. I believe artists find a need in their bones to have a creative career. It is not for the faint of heart. It is for the dreamers who understand that today’s struggles lead to tomorrow’s dreams. I pursued a creative career because it is my dream and goal to create stories for TV that help people not feel isolated or alone. The power of storytelling is addicting. The moment you find your life’s purpose…you don’t give on it. As an artist I found that making the private public was my duty. To put a lens up to the situations, topics and cliches we need to discuss as a society. We need to meet in the middle. Art imitates life. To create passion art…creates a passionate life. Read more>>

Sunahtah Jones | Visual Artist & Photographer

I started creating at a very young age, whether it was poetry, drawing, photography, or other creative mediums. I used to just sit in my room for hours creating. As I got older, I let societal pressures convince me that I couldn’t make a career out of my art. When I finished my masters in 2019, I was working in corporate America and very miserable. I also ended up getting rejected from what I thought was my dream doctoral program in Atlanta. At first I was devastated, I felt so lost. Then I watched a documentary about Jean-Michel Basquiat, who has always been a huge creative inspiration for me. Listening to him talk about his growth and determination despite people continuously doubting him picked me up out of the lost space that I was in. I realized that I never actually wanted to go back to school, I just wanted to create art but I was scared of failing and played it safe. From that day on, I decided to take myself seriously as a creative instead of letting that fear hold me back. I fell back in love with my art and moved to Atlanta anyway. Art and creating has always been a part of who I am. When I create, I feel so much joy and fulfillment, it’s undoubtedly my purpose. Read more>>

Drew Sinclair | Designer and Creator

I pursued an artistic career because I’ve always liked creating things with my hands. Whether it be a pillow, a painting, or a knitted creation, I just loved it and it was somewhat therapeutic to me. Once I learned how to sew, that just opened up a new world of creativity for me. Creating any garment I wanted to…. from scratch! It’s exciting, when it comes out right. If it comes out wrong, as a seamstress, you learn something from that lesson and adapt. With creativity, there is no right or wrongs, no true definitions of success and that’s why I pursue it. It’s freeing. Read more>>

Kimberly Green | Professional Makeup Artist

I’ve always had a passion for art and beauty dating back to being a kid…My Mom would often find me in her bathroom in the middle of the night trying on her lipsticks and I vividly remember the feeling of excitement I had after having my makeup done professionally the first time. Initially I started my journey interning as a wardrobe stylist later transitioning into makeup artistry, which pretty much go hand in hand. I’ve always loved the feeling of seeing a look come together full circle. That time I spent working on sets helped sharpen my eye by fine tuning attention to detail. This experience gave me a better understanding of versatility when creating different looks. There’s a lot more to it than just slapping a color on someone. It’s the intentionality of making selections that work best for what’s being conveyed. Most importantly it’s a collaborative effort between me and my clients. Seeing the right shades and tones transform and elevate a look, or even how lipstick has the ability to shift a one’s mood. Read more>>

Q The Philosopher | Rapper, Songwriter, & Beatmaker

I started an career as a creator because it felt like something I should be doing. I love music and seeing everything that can be done with it was something that inspired me. Take a music video for example, the video usually tells a story from the song that you may or may not have realized was the focus. That may not be a big deal to everyone but for a song to have another level of understanding is amazing to me. It gives a deeper meaning. Art has depth. Read more>>

Just Call Me Willis | Wise Sage, Trap Enthusiast, Fine Artists, Street Aficionado

I pursued an artistic career because of how regimented my life was in the military. I feel like the military taught me discipline and initiative, but I never got to express myself or be the individual who I ultimately longed to be. and art lets me explore that in a way that I don’t think any other profession would. Read more>>

Emaje Harris | Digital creator

Growing up the Stars I saw on TV rather it was Kim Kardashian and her famous family or heard Beyoncé on the radio they both gave me hope from my own reality. To some the entertainment industry was just that “entertainment” but not for me.. It made me believe I could start a new life one day..Create a new reality for myself and give my future family the life I felt I deserved from the beginning! Since a child I felt lost and as if I didn’t belong in the world I was born into..many times I felt trapped in my family home even in between the various cities my family would move to.. but its what I saw on Tv that gave me the vision that there was more to life than my surroundings..Fast forward to 2016, I was 20 years trying to get my feet wet in the industry by interning to Wardrobe stylist on Commercial and TV sets and working a full time job at a popular department store until one gloomy day I fainted while working and later found out I had rare Heart condition and would soon undergo multiple surgeries..lose my job ( both of them ) and eventually have to live with a pacemaker today! Read more>>

Giovanni Gonzales | Music Producer

I chose to pursue music because it is my passion. Music has always helped me cope with different situations from the heights, to the lows of my life. While attending UNC Charlotte, I would make music with pretty much all of my down time. While you would think being a college kid means partying and all that, that wasn’t me. I was more interested in getting better at my craft. That’s when I knew music is what I wanted to be doing. I also love the idea of being your own boss. Read more>>

Marquis Hardy | Performing & Recording Artist

Wow, this is a question. The answer is pretty complex and also very simple at the same time. I pursued it, because I love it. I LOVE creating. I love being able to make something out of nothing and share it with the world. I love creating things that I would like to consume. I think that’s the best part, being able to sit back and evaluate, “hmmm, what would I want to listen to?” and then going out and making that thing. It’s wonderful. Read more>>

Misty Oaks Paxton | The Spiritual Attorney

Well initially, I pursued a “safe” career. While I was always fascinated by spirituality and metaphysics, I thought it better to pursue the safety of a legal career–something I could always make money doing. I got caught up in the societal programing of: go to school, get a degree, get a job, get married, buy a house, raise a family, and eventually retire. I followed the prescribed plan for many years, only to realize I was stressed, pressured, overwhelmed and miserable the majority of the time. There was pressure from my clients, pressure from my employer, and pressure from myself to know more, do more and be more than I was, in order to satisfy everyone. It was during these stressful times that I was led back to my spiritual practices of meditation, mindfulness, energy work and card readings to bring me peace of mind and calmness of spirit. I became fascinated by all I was learning and was enlivened every single time I dove further into spirituality and Universal laws. I started doing card readings for close friends and family, and my passion was set on fire by the downloads I was being given from spirit to share with others. Read more>>

Ari LaShell | Singer, Songwriter & Vocal Coach

Music has always been my salvation. My mom told me that I could sing before I could talk. Growing up I used to perform in talent shows and I played the clarinet in middle school. l was a vocal major at my performing arts high school and just received my degree in Music Recording Technology from Hampton University. My parents always told me that they didn’t care about the specific profession that I pursued as long as I was passionate and loved what I did. Therefore, I chose a career that allowed for me to freely express myself and truly feel. That’s why I chose music. Read more>>

Karl Niiranen | VJ & 3D Animator/Motion Graphic Artist

I’ve always had interest in pursuing a creative path whether it be audio, visual, or otherwise. I participated in band & orchestra in middle school. I also tried to take some art classes but these outlets didn’t quite click with me. It wasn’t until 2016 when I attended a festival ran by the Tipper and Friends crew that I saw artists like Android Jones and Johnathan Singer performing live visuals for musicians and realized this was something I wanted to try and truly chase after. After learning how to utilize some of these softwares and having the chance to perform in front of a crowd I was immediately drawn into pushing it as far as I could. The feeling of creating & manipulating art while being able to share it with others instantly became one of my favorite experiences. Read more>>

Deedra Ludwig | Visual artist / painter

Pursuing a creative path as an artist began as far back as I can remember. My grandmother Julia who lived in New Orleans opened up her studio to me to experiment with pigments and brushes amidst volumes of art books in a lively artist community. It was a natural progression that always felt like the right path for me, a path I have never doubted or regretted. Four decades of painting and I am more excited now than ever. I feel as if my paintings are a continuation of my grandmothers vision. She’s definitely my life inspiration. Read more>>

Carla Green | Bookbinder, Pencil Enthusiast, & Higher Education Administrator

I have been surrounded by so many creative people in my life that I am not completely surprised that I’m on the path of pursing a creative career. Just in my family, my great-aunt was an excellent baker, my grandmother was a seamstress and milliner, my brother is great at drawing and my mother is wonderful with oil painting and quilting. I knew I wanted to be creative and share my art at the art fairs that I had spent so much time at growing up, but I just didn’t know what or how. During college, I dabbled in black and white photography and then after graduate school, I tried stand-up comedy and improv. Both photography and comedy were fun, but they didn’t feel completely natural. I was in my head way too much, and it took away from the fun I was supposed to be having. It wasn’t until I started taking calligraphy that I learned about bookbinding and decided to learn more about book arts. Bookbinding felt very natural and calming to me. There is a sense of accomplishment after I complete a book. I have created something that has long-term utility. Read more>>

Trenecia Hamerter | Creative Director

Creativity it’s the freedom to express yourself, the surfacing of your identity, the introduction of your unique style and designs to the world. I have always been an introvert except when I am creating when creatively I am the life of the party, the illumination that the everyone sees. Career wise I was never certain of the path I would travel I was not America’s next top model, I had no desire to be American’s Idol nor did I relish the idea of being a doctor, lawyer or anything of the sort none of those spoke to my soul. Coming up I read a lot of books that was my great escape I even rewrote some of my favorites, then I developed a eye for nail art I loved the colors, and shapes but branding makes my heart sing it is what conquers my fears and takes me beyond what I can see. With paper, scissors, vinyl or just graphics I am in a world all my own. I am the author, the designer, and the advisor all on my own right here is where is comes to life. Read more>>

VanSwan White | Independent Singer-Songwriter and Motivational Speaker

I pursued a career as a singer-songwriter because it is a natural extension of who I am. I need music to breathe! Also, I believe that God called me to do this. It is my way of fulfilling my purpose. I want my music to reach people and hopefully help or inspire someone to be better, to do better, and to live better. Read more>>