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.

E Spencer | Photogrpaher, Creator & Womanist

Coming from upstate NY, born from an Alabama-raised, God-fearing Black grandmother, and farm boy with little high school education, I felt as though it’s been my purpose to pursue my creative goals and careers. A family of settlers and trying to make a way for their children, and then children’s children, I came from developed a unique perspective in me on life. The arts have been rooted into my family for generations, but never explored beyond the small drawings my grandfather made for me and the photos he captured of our family. Read more>>

MOJO. | Entertainer & Serial Entrepreneur

I think the simplest answer I can give you is that it makes me happy. I tried living a “vanilla” lifestyle, a normal 9-5 thing and it never works. I love the freedom of being a creative & making money from my gifts never hurt either! Read more>>

Lil Strawberry | Model, Rapper, Dancer & Actress

Ever since I was born, I was born with a strawberry birthmark on my forehead so my mom knew I was always going to be a beautiful model! I was always dancing, and I had so much confidence when I started modeling at the age of 4! Then as I got older I wanted to become a rapper so I started freestyling and got really good at it and started writing my own songs! I just love the way music and the camera makes me feel so I know I am meant to be a big star when I grow up! Read more>>

Jill Holland | Artist, adventurer, wife and mother of two

I was that kid. You know, the one whose favorite subjects in school are art and P.E. I was a smart kid and did fine in all of the other subjects, math, science, english, etc… . But, if I’m being honest, I only did them because they were required and went through my day anxiously awaiting the “fun” classes. In those classes the time seemed to fly by and, especially in art, I’d easily get lost in whatever assignment was in front of me. Even now, I have to set an alarm on my phone when I am working so I don’t forget to go pick my kids up from school. Read more>>

Myra Jackson | Plus Size Model & Cosplayer

Creativity was my therapy but then it became my life. As a black woman with Autism, I have faced many challenges, trauma and prejudices. Being involved in fashion helped to foster my creativity, because I refuse to let my Autism diagnosis define my future. Being plus size model helped me discovered the inner part of myself, and gave me strength to create. Read more>>

Alana Fuselier | Salon owner, misfit, mom and crazy chicken lady

Honestly, I became a hairstylist because of a chance meeting in my early 20s. I was at an L7 show this really cool punk rock chick named Shannon and she was in hair school and she encouraged me to go as well. I was struggling to find a career, I knew I wasn’t meant for a desk, I had authority issues, always doing crazy things with my hair. Even with my new friend’s encouragement, I hesitated. I didn’t think I’d fit in to working at a salon. Finally she told me that “you can wear all black, have weird hair and listen to cool music all day. Why not??” So I visited her hair school and was immediately hooked. I saw that people from all walks of life get their hair done, and that I would be around other misfits too. The rest is history! Read more>>

Catrina Maxwell | Owner and Lead Photographer

I started out not knowing what I wanted to do as a career, so I ended up in administration and then moved up to accounting before realizing that I craved something more. At the same time, I was always the girl at the party taking pictures and capturing the moment. It wasn’t long before I was photographing my friends’ bands when they would play at bars in Atlanta. The bands started paying me, not a lot, but I would get a little cash and free entry to the show. Eventually, a friend said to me, ‘You should do this professionally.’ Read more>>

Ayla Burt | Lifestyle Photographer

I attended Charleston County School of the Arts in South Carolina from 7th grade until I graduated High School. I majored in Creative Writing and had a personal interest in poetry, but the entire school was based around every art form. From music, to acting, to visual arts, we were all immersed in creativity every day and it was incredibly celebrated. This became a core facet of my joy and personality. I briefly worked as a Veterinary Technician and in a pre-school. Both jobs were important and rewarding, but neither really filled my cup. It was only once I returned to photography, a marrying of poetry and visual art, that I found my joy returned and I’ve been able to grow in that space of passion. Read more>>

Devante Byrd | Media creator, model and writer

I honestly believe I had no other choice. In hindsight, I was pretty lost up until I realized I could contribute to music without creating it. I never viewed myself as an artist but I always knew I loved music and the impact it has on life and on pop culture. It took a long time to find my way in but once I decided I wanted to write about creatives and share their works and stories everything just clicked. My confidence went way up and I now have reason to get out of bed and I don’t know if I truly had one before. Read more>>

Andrew Van Camp | Actor

Growing up as a kid, I was very curious. I always changed my future job from a an architect, to engineer, construction worker, to scientist, astronomer, pilot, etc. Going into acting, the art world, allows me to explore, research, impersonate different careers. You get to be something different with each job. Through this, it feeds my curiosity and answers them. Read more>>

Danielle Dove | Graphic Design(HER)

I love this question! Being a Creative/Graphic Designer has been something I have always wanted to do, but never pursued until recently. You know this pandemic has really given me the time to reflect on things that really matter the most to me. I realized that what’s important is doing the things you can’t stop thinking about. Something you are truly passionate about and brings that fire to your life. I completely switched career paths in 2020 I realized working in a box didn’t let me be truly creative. I have always been the one that loves growth and being innovative. Sometimes working in corporate places it’s hard to really express your true creativity. I noticed that I would always feel stagnant in my career, and that I would conquer a position and quickly want to move to something else. I felt like I was never fulfilled! Read more>>

Sophia Dashing | Singer/Songwriter, Dancer

I’ve been performing, singing and dancing since I was six years old. Everyone knew me as the little girl who couldn’t stop singing and dancing! I would write songs and ask anybody and everybody if they wanted to hear them. I loved being on stage and in front of the camera. I started dancing at the Atlanta dance studios and soon got discovered in class and signed to Bloc South Talent Agency. I sang in local choirs as well and tried to emerge myself in my passions since I was super duper young. I’m very blessed and grateful to know what I wanted to pursue since a young age. Read more>>

Tyarria Duncan | Photographer

I pursued an artistic or creative career because when I turned sixteen I asked for a Nikon camera. Little did I know in me asking for a camera, a new passion of photography would be uncovered. Even though I asked for the camera when I was sixteen, it was not until I was nineteen in college when I realized that this is something I wanted to do and I wanted to do it because there is something I add to my craft more than than an average photographer. I pursued this goal to be able to push people past their boundaries but in a healthy way. I pursued this career to see the priceless smiles of individuals who built up more confidence in themselves when they saw the final product. It’s many reason why I chose this career but those are just a few. Read more>>

Isabel de Frutos | Art Director & Designer

I’ve been in “creative mode” since I can remember, I couldn’t go anywhere without my notebook and my colored pens, and I still have folders and folders of drawings dating 20 years back. I always knew I would pursue a creative career, however, I knew I didn’t want to be a so-called artist because I’ve never had a style of my own. My thing has always been to experiment, play with different styles and embrace continuous change. I found motivation on the functional side of creativity; creating something with a purpose, something that would make an impact on the audience. That’s how I discovered the designer in me. Read more>>

Ryen Cooper | Visual & Spiritual Artist

I have always had a creative eye and imagination. Growing up I would act out the lives of what I thought were fashion designers, painters, singers, photographers. I was always living in my own world in my room creating, reading, and playing. My parents would have to come and check on me periodically to see if I was still alive! But I made it a point to always stay connected with my inner child. Today, all of that imagination manifested into me doing photography and visual arts. At Spelman, I really walked into my purpose by staying active in the arts, glee club, and film. When I studied abroad in Belgium, I decided to dedicate my life to art and wrote my first documentary entitled “Noir” where I explored the lives and struggles of Atlanta University Students. Art is something that follows me no matter where I go. It’s essentially a part of me. Read more>>

Joshua Dubose | Producer

I was always into music, and all my friends were producing and I wanted to try it. Read more>>

D’nia Defrance | Multi-hyphenate Creative

I had no choice. Growing up, it was difficult for anything other than art or fashion to keep my attention. I tried hard to gain focus and even had thoughts on potentially going to college to major in forensic science but my spirit wouldn’t allow it. When I surrounded myself around creating and different creatives I felt heard… I finally felt seen. I was a very shy child and I found that for me if I didn’t have the words or was too nervous to speak up, that it was another way to speak. I found my voice through my everyday styles in apparel and drawing/painting was my therapy. Read more>>

Unique L. | The Bougified Hustla

After giving birth to a beautiful, smart & now 6 year old babygirl i lost all confidence within myself . I felt my best when I walked out of the hair and nail salons but dreaded walking into the gym! That’s when Bougie N’Fit was born. Read more>>

Ragin Prunty | Model/ Influencer

I decided to pursue modeling because ever since I was young I’ve been told time and time again to model. I’ve always wanted to but I never had the self-esteem to do so. I’ve been playing sports my entire life so when I step outside of my box and started modeling it was new to everyone including me. Pursing modeling and eventually acting is really personal to me because its something I’ve wanted to do since i was young. Read more>>

Topanga Von’tee | Publicist & CEO of Post Jupiter PR Agency

Topanga Von’tee is a driving force in the media industry. As an infant born addicted to opioid drugs, I was a product of the the 90s crack era, I spread awareness through my business which is named after my daughter, Jupiter .
The next chapter of my journey was “Post-Birth ” the evolution of “Post Jupiter” . I advocate for awareness and education in the media and public relation industry . I strive to break generational curses by helping my clients create generational wealth through their talents & business ventures. Whether the client is a first time creative, entrepreneur or a seasoned professional, our agency brings the vision to life . Read more>>

Anthony Wilson Jr | Singer, Songwriter & Producer

I pursued an artistic career because I can truly be myself. It’s a part of who I am! I’ve always tried to run away from singing but life seems to bring me back to it. It’s something I can do effortlessly and actually enjoy doing it! I would sing all day if my voice allowed me too. Read more>>

Kaii 1of1 | Producer & Director

Music has always been a passion of mine , from watching family members pursue music helped shape me into the scene . Being Original is a big stature of mine , so when i discovered fl studios at 13 I instantly took the initiative to explore it & create a possible life of wealth & steady income from it . Photography has always had a place in my heart as well when i was blessed to get my first camera ( canon eos rebel t7 ) . Images came alive in my head as if I was looking through a lense . Read more>>

Catt McCreary | Pop Artist & Songwriter

I started performing and playing instruments very early in life. Like most kids, I tried different sports, arts classes, musical theater, and almost anything you could think of, but rhythm and music are the things that resonated with me. My mom started me in dance around the age of three and I began piano lessons when I was five-years-old. From that point on, I loved performing. I received a drum kit for Christmas when I was six, so I started drum kit and classical percussion lessons along with piano. When I was around 10 I taught myself guitar which my mom had laying around. Eventually I started writing my own music. Although I loved to dance, I gravitated towards being a musical performer and incorporating the rhythm I learned through dance and drumming. Read more>>

Kerrie Jay | Makeup Artist

I’ve always been both an artistic person as well as a creative since I was little. I would always love to write poetry, draw, & paint any time that I had the chance. So once my mom let me play around with makeup as teenager, I knew then that I wanted a career as a makeup artist. It always felt therapeutic to me whenever I would just sit & play in makeup. Read more>>

Izzéo | Musician

I have always been into music from an early age. I love how the right music at the right time can make a moment that lasts with you forever. Between my parents, I’ve been exposed to many genres that influenced my sound and even know after a decade I’m always improving. I kept at it this long because this is the medium that has allowed me to express myself and it’s what I love to do. Read more>>

Donnie “Crumbs” Counts | BreakBoy “Bboy”/Dancer/Choreographer

I decided to pursue a artistic career at age 14. I believe when you truly find your purpose/passion in life, you should put your heart and soul into it. I never wanted to feel like I have a job. I don’t consider my career path a job although it is how I make a living financially. For me, life should be about doing and pursuing what you love. What motivates and drives you to get up everyday happy and grow to be better. It was the one of the easiest decisions in my life that I’ve ever made. Read more>>

jason minor | Super Producer

It merely was my calling and I realized that there was nothing else I would be doing. If you want something bad enough you will see it through Read more>>

Tori Meeker | Event Manager, Bartender and Small business owner

My full time job has always revolved around providing great experiences- huge festivals, boutique events, or an amazing cocktail. But I loved the idea of creating something for a person in the quiet moments too. When they wear one of my bracelets and glance down at it randomly, I hope that it provides them with a burst of empowerment or encouragement or even a quick laugh to help get them through their day. I love being able to create those pieces and help positively influence their lives, even in a small way. Read more>>

DeNeisha Branch,MBA | Brand Consultant and Boutique Owner

I chose an artistic/creative career because I’m a lover of Fashion and Retail. Ever since I was a little girl, I loved playing dress up and doing arts and crafts. I love everything about the industry. I knew very earlier on I wanted to study Fashion! After my first quarter in school, I landed a seasonal job at Nordstrom’s doing visual merchandising. Working a very hands-on job helped me realized that Visual Merchandising was definitely the career I wanted to pursue. From then on, I never looked back, I’ve held several different titles such as Project Manager, CRM Manager, Luxury Visual Merchandising, Luxury Sales Operations, Brand Management and much more. What I love most about having a creative career, is I always get to see a brand come to life from start to finish. It’s a very rewarding feeling working in a creative industry, I get to bring ideas and visions to life for people and their brands. Read more>>