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.

TODD DEAN: Musician Photographer

I am 52 yrs old and I have always loved music, all genres. I was never musically inclined although my mother was a proficient pianist for several southern gospel bands back in the day. Over the years I’ve been to many concerts and always wanted to be involved with the music scene and not sure about the avenue to take. A few years back my granddaughter was looking through old film photos that I had taken of her mother in sports and with a solemn look she asked why I didn’t take photos of her? (Hence the door opening for a new camera!) I am a regular at a local tavern where musicians are on the stage every weekend, performing for it’s patrons. I photographed my first local band 4yrs ago and that band was The Jeff Rogers Band at Sixes Tavern. I realized after uploading the photos I had found my way into the music scene and could make possibly make a career in it. Now granted it started as a hobby and over the past couple of years it has develop into a second job. It is 10% pay and 90% fun I like to say. Photographing musicians on the stage or off is my love and my creativity that gives me hope for a career after, but hopefully before retirement!. Read more>>

Richard Jones Jr: Multifaceted Artist

I wouldn’t say I pursued a career in art, rather I grew up with several creative outlets and just had to realize that they were technically careers. I’ve been engaged in multiple creative outlets such as photography, videography, and acrylic painting since a very young age, so much so I only viewed them as hobbies I did for my own personal enjoyment. It wasn’t until college that I realized that these hobbies could actually translate into different career paths and since then I’ve actually started to share more of my art on social media to broaden my audience and build my network as a creative. Read more>>

Jessica jbunny Solomon: radio personality for Wlmrradio and party host

I pursued this career because I love music I was in every school band as a kid I love all kinds of music I enjoy it , I have a soundtrack for my life LOL , my father plays, he was in groups when I was a kid my mom sings in church , My life is music so I like to believe, I have a great ear for it I can also write music but that is more of my own stress reliever i also play clarinet and piano. Read more>>

Convict Julie: Musical Artist

I always had a dream ever since I was six years old of being a rockstar, but it wasn’t until I was about 19 that I realized music could and would be my career. Music is how I made sense of the world growing up. It helped me cope with the environment that I grew up in, it helped me make sense of my own feelings, and it was the only real outlet I had to express myself authentically. I knew that I would want my passion to carry me through life and my passion his music. I only get one time to live on this earth as the person that I am with this set of skills and talent and so I am committed to fostering those gifts share with the world and to live the life that I want to live as not only a creative but also a community person, philanthropist, and businesswoman. Read more>>

Abigail Johnson: Wedding & Event Designer

From a very young age I can remember others describing me as “Creative”, “Unique”, and “Out of the box thinker”. I can even remember the first time someone told me that I had a “very creative spirit”. I was somewhere around the age of 8 or 9 sitting in a required art class at my school. I remember thinking that I really didn’t understand what they meant. As far as I was concerned, I was just doing what felt right. Flash forward to high-school, and I was the go-to for class banners, homecoming skits, prom, and then some. I’ve always liked to decorate, create, and think of unique ways to accomplish the ordinary. I went off to college to pursue a nursing degree, and quickly realized I actually hated science and really wasn’t a 12 hour hospital shift kind of girl. My wheels started to turn and I quickly found myself in the school of business pursuing a marketing degree. I chose a concentration in marketing because while it had all of the essential business fundamental courses I needed like accounting, ethics, and management; it also had a mix of the fun and creative courses like advertising, web design, consumer behavior, and entrepreneurship. Read more>>

TaLynn Kel: Writer, cosplayer, chaos agent

I can’t not create. I’ve tried. There is something in me that demands to be expressed and I try to listen. It’s not always easy. In fact, most times it feels like a waste of time except that I need it and it brings joy into my life. I have this voice and it wants to be seen and heard in a myriad of ways. I write. I cosplay. I design stickers and t-shirts that resonate with me. I have so many projects I’m working on at any given time because that voice inside me needs an outlet. And now that I have the ability to create my own outlet, I’m making it happen. Read more>>

Zidane Dixon: Artist/Music Producer/Model

I wanted to pursue music because there was a point in time where I felt misunderstood. It was hard to express my feelings and thoughts to people without seeming crazy. Music gave me the ability to express my emotions through an idiosyncratic lens and styles of sonnets that are pleasing to the ear. Music serves as my outlet to not only create but to share in a community through eccentric concepts that are unique to each person that I meet. I look at music as a love language. I believe it helps me connect and empathize with people locally and globally, intimately and transparently. Read more>>

Jess Kantorowitz: Musician and Actor (Also known as AMI MOON)

In the book of Genesis, God bestows Jacob with the name “Israel,” which translates to “wrestle with God,” in order to communicate the lesson that identity arises out of what you struggle with. My name is “Jessica Faith Kantorowitz.” “Kantor” translates into the word “sing” and though my father can barely carry a tune, he bottle-fed me music, teaching me songs like “New York State of Mind” and “Purple Rain” as nursery rhymes. I quickly was indoctrinated with rhythm and story and began to hear them in everything. Today, as I interrogate the musicality of my own name, I realize my obsession has moved from finding story to finding fallacy in the stories we tell ourselves. Try saying “Jessica Faith Kantorowitz” five times fast. Rhythmically, it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. But never mind the clunky syllables, the etymologies of “Faith,” “Kantor” and “Witz” are so damningly Jewish. Read more>>

Lawrence D.: Artist/Singer-Songwriter

I pursued being an artist because I wanted to create something that was bigger than me. I realized from a young age that my gifts were not used for me only. It caught on that it brought other people happiness as well. I love the fact that when I leave this earth, I left behind something that people can be inspired by. I want the world to hear my story ,and the story of others. To show just how beautiful and raw life is and how everything moves in this balance. The fact the I can give something to help inspire somebody brings me true happiness. Thats why I sacrifice so much. Thats why I became an artist. Read more>>

Jade Roberts: Artist

I’ve always intuitively been artistic. I never really viewed it as a career, just more of an unfiltered ventilation system for me. It ties in alot with my belief system and how I release my emotions, theories and messages from my God. I saw people having a platform to spread to the masses and always thought to myself, “wow. imagine if someone with that platform had an undying passion for Christ?” So I use my gift and passion for the Word of God in strong faith that I will have a platform to spread His messages. Read more>>

Dale Keano: Director, Studio Owner & Music Producer

Since I was a child, every waking moment all I could think of was music. Whether it be playing with toy guitars, listening to my mom singing or watching my dad in the studio – I knew this is where I wanted to be. Like many Asian Americans though, I wanted to make my parents proud by becoming a doctor. During college I quickly realized that this wasn’t my dream. My grades reflected it and I got placed on academic probation twice. On my 2nd academic probation, my counselor asked me what I was doing besides studying and doing my homework. I told her I was making beats in my room. She responded “well that’s it then, figure out a way to make a living doing that”. That really resonated with me. I kept waking up thinking to my self that there’s got to be more to my life. Years later, after graduating college, after finding a good job and saving money, I finally found the courage to go all in and chase my dream. The choice wasn’t easy. The journey was defiantly not easy as well but its all worth it. Every blood, sweat and tear allowed me to live the life I’ve always wanted. Read more>>

Joi Brown: Executive Director, Advocate, and Storyteller

As early as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Creativity has always been a part of me at my core in everything I do – whether it be in the way I dress, decorate my home, or prepare a meal. If I don’t have a creative outlet, I don’t feel like myself. It was inevitable that I would pursue a career in a creative field. How that pursuit would manifest I wasn’t exactly sure of, but I knew it was my calling. As an undergrad in college, I double-majored in art and sociology – an odd combination that would actually prove to be useful at a later point in my career. After graduating college, I worked as a graphic artist for almost ten years while studying for my MFA in media design. During those ten years, I had the opportunity to work in the creative departments in the higher education, interior design, retail, restaurant, and tech industries. Read more>>

Alex Plavin: Founder & Owner of Charcuterie Chick LLC

My charcuterie business, Charcuterie Chick evolved from an initial love for food & entertaining. It started off as an Instagram page and hobby, but grew into a business when I realized that I was in a unique position to explore my creative side while also serving the Atlanta community. I decided to grow and pursue Charcuterie Chick because of the opportunity to connect the people I love but also take part in special moments in other people’s lives. To me, this business is a form of artistic expression and a representation of my love for food, my entrepreneurial spirit, and my extroverted self. It’s incredibly rewarding to personally connect with customers and other small businesses along the way. Read more>>

Slick Guruzee: Rapper / Entrepreneur

Music was always a huge factor in my life. There was something about listening to music that had the ability to capture my emotions in a way that allowed me to really process and understand different things through my life. Before I ever decided to write a rap, at maybe about 5- 6 years old, I was the lead singer of my nana’s church group called the Sunshine band. As I got a little older, I was able to use this experience to benefit my artistic career. Aside from that, my dad played a huge role in me pursing an artistic career. Growing up, my dad was a music promoter in many different cities. At first, one of my biggest goals was to use music as a way to spend more time with my dad considering he spent a huge portion of his time/energy working on music, but as time went on I was able to see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes of the music industry and eventually develop a love for being an artist. Read more>>

Daryl Elon: Creative Director & Videographer

It’s interesting because I never pursued a career in the arts. It pursued me. Like a call I couldn’t ignore. I perceive the world and express myself artistically, innately. The trees. The sound of the wind. The colors on a salamander. The earth. Our galaxy. The universe. Its all one divine artistic production to me. But when I moved to Atlanta for school and started seeing people who looked like me, creating as a means to live. I started to understand that I could do the same thing. And I’ve been on this journey to make a career of creating ever since. Read more>>

Q Monéa: Intuitive Visual Artist

I honestly didn’t pursue being a creative or artist as my career, it pursued me. I was born to be a creative. I know that before I incarnated here that my purpose was to bring healing through artistic expression. Every time I get an idea or when I am ready to create, I feel this warmth, a heat like sensation in my Solar Plexus area. That gives me that inner knowing that I was made for this. It gives me that confidence to transmute my creative ideas into actual things. Read more>>