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.

Kayla Got The 411 | Media Personality & Content Creator

From a early age, art was always my escape. I started off writing in diaries to get my thoughts together because I was young depressed. I also would do sketch drawing as well. As I got into middle school I won many writing contests. Everyone around me saw my potential before I did. Once I got into high school I I learned to do more digital art. I still would hear people say how creative I was but I didn’t believe in myself to see my own gift even by teen years. I went to college and saw how I did do well at the design classes and hated the marketing classes. It took years of growing into a woman to understand my true gift was speaking to people and creating content. I am very witty, funny and charismatic and creating makes me happy. Once I discover that I creates my brand Kayla Got The 411. Read more>>

LOOKiT | Three-Piece Band

A career in music has many unique elements. Firstly, we get to experiment with creativity. Art is the closest thing we human beings can get to making something out of nothing. If we harness it right, it’s like a window into the transcendent – a little gift from God. It’s an exhilarating process, and it provides endless fulfillment. Even so, we admit it: making music the center of your life is a little crazy. And there are a couple reasons one can find himself in such a position – it can be selfish or selfless. Sometimes, it can be all about the self (there’s a certain part of MYSELF which cannot be expressed in any other way than through music). Sometimes, it can be a truly selfless journey into truth (there’s a certain kind of TRUTH which cannot be reached without music). The most powerful art is an exploration of the truth, no matter where it takes you. This is an element of music worth celebrating. Read more>>

Zac Chase | Musician & Sponge

A sponge can only absorb so much until it reaches capacity. Since I aligned myself with the motif of ‘spongeship’ in high school, I’ve taken constant notice of what I absorb. Physically, communicatively, atmospherically, and artistically, we all experience countless details in our daily lives. I feel that an artist’s job, simply put, is to recycle all of these thoughts back into the world in the artist’s style. I’ve committed myself to creating art because it is the best way I know how to release all of these experiences, with a perspective (often mine) pinned to them. If I were to stop creating, I would soon reach a capacity of sorts. You know how you literally can’t concentrate when you’ve been pinching a bladder full of urine for three hours? I have no choice but to write, rhyme, rap, sing, photograph, film, and speak things into existence through the same pores I absorbed them. Why wouldn’t I pursue a career doing exactly that?. Read more>>

Niesha Davis | Jewelry Designer

I’ve always been crafty or doing a diy project for myself or other people. I probably was the only 12 year old that consistently watching hgtv programs about making and creating things. When everyone else was outside playing lol. So it only made sense that I would end up doing something along the lines that kind of work. I enjoy all things that are artistic expressions that people bring to life. It brings me joy that I get to express my self through my work and other people actually enjoy my wearable artwork. Read more>>

Gabriella Delliponti | Artist, Songwriter, Recording Engineer, Music Business Enthusiast

Because it scares me, and that’s the truth. Anything that I have ever done that has meant something to me has been because I put myself in uncomfortable situations and find a way to learn and grow from them. I feel like a pretty lucky girl to even be in the spot I am in pursuing a career in music. When I transferred to UGA, I transferred because of the amazing music business program they have here. I transferred in with a list of over 300 concerts I had attended on my resume thinking that put me at the top of the ranks amongst my peers but I quickly learned I was wrong. Everyday I go to class and am intimidated by the hustlers that are constantly surrounding me. I have never been surrounded by so many like minded individuals doing so many amazing things, and as easy as it is to stop what I’m doing in fear that it won’t be as good as what they might be, I am pulled out of that funk and inspired by them to work a little harder. I think that is the biggest appeal to me in pursuing a creative career. Read more>>

Dana Abercrombie | Actress

Ever since I was a young girl, I have always loved the arts. I have family who are also into the arts. I have family members who are musicians and painters, so I have always been around it. I pursued a career in acting because I wanted to give people what it gives me: Joy. I remember when I was in high school, my English teacher took us on a field trip to see a play at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta called “The Old Settler.” I remember sitting in my seat and just being in awe of the performances and the story itself. It gave temporary escape from my world. I left the theatre saying that’s what I want to do. I want to take the words of a script and bring them to life through my performances and allow people to have a temporary escape from the world. I want to create and tell stories that will inspire people. That is why I pursued a creative career. Read more>>

Sally Murtadhi | Textile Artist & Architectural Designer

Because I am the child of first generation immigrants that come from an unstable country, I was hyper aware of the importance and impact of place making so I decided to enter the field of architecture. Regarding my art, I struggled with identity as a kid because I didn’t grow up around many people from the MENA region so art helped provide that sense of self for me. Read more>>

Skye Smith | Media Personality

I pursued a creative career due to the fact that I know I tend to get bored with mundane tasks. My thought process is creative. I have an incredible imagination and working in the regular business realm would drive me absolutely bananas. I’m a free spirit and routine and basic just isn’t in my vocabulary. Read more>>

Kendra Burnette | Professional Home Organizer & Organizational Coach

I pursued a creative career because transforming home spaces is just pure therapy for me. I am both artistic and very creative with what I do. I take such pleasure in being able to design a beautiful and inviting space. Being in a creative mindset allows me to really attain a limitless direction. Being creative also challenges me to be completely free in my unique and artistic style. Read more>>

Nadya Zeitlin | Dance Designer, Artistic Director of Bautanzt Here, Facilitator of Dance Hub ATL

Long time ago one of my teachers said: “Art is meant to push a ‘pause’ button on people’s routine life”. These words are still my main inspiration and motivation. I love when my ordinary life is paused by beautiful, inspiring, thought-provoking, and healing works of art, and I feel happy giving such precious gifts to other people as well. Read more>>

Michael Skillern | Musician, Educator, Side Hustler

I choose to live this life because it is hard to imagine something different. Now that I have a wife and a daughter, the financial constraints of being a musician became more apparent while not overbearing. But, the life got much easier overseas. Maybe other cultures are better at supporting the artists (teachers, nurses, everyone who actually makes society run…) in their culture. There’s no time to make art, in America. I hate to be dramatic, maybe there is… I chose to pursue an artistic, creative, musical career because it’s the only thing that made sense to me, and for what I needed. And, I was killing it! Here’s how… I chose this life in the 10th grade. I gravitated towards percussion. The performance aspect, and wearing tuxes, and collecting equipment was fascinating to me. People really taught and played music professionally? I never really thought about money, or jobs, and careers. I just wanted to play and teach music professionally. Our percussion instructor quit mid-year. Read more>>

Olivia Ettinger | Student & Photographer

I chose to pursue a more artistic route for my future career because of how unpredictable and liberating photography can be. As someone who strives for structure, photography has allowed me to let go of my worries and work towards my goals spontaneously. Another reason I chose an artistic path is because of how it allows me to use a medium that allows for both documentation and expression. I have been able to grow throughout my journey with photography because of the many ways I am able to capture a scene, and because of that I am so passionate about any opportunity I have to try something new and switch up my style. I am excited to see where photography takes me throughout my artistic career and I cannot wait to see what I learn next as I am still studying art and photography as a student. Beyond my formal education, I know that I will continue to grow throughout my exploration of photography as my artistic interests change with me. Read more>>

Mello Cool AF | Talented & Prolific

I feel like it pursued me!! I have always leaned on the artistic sign of my brain throughout my scholastic years but like most people we are taught that doing things the more traditional way are more secure. So i became a teacher but somehow I had to revert back to my creativity and after while I became bored with teaching and found myself making music again, drawing, entertaining others and being innovative. Read more>>

Maggie Hayes | Creative Human Animal

I’ve spent several years educating myself on the relationship between the body, the psyche and the spiritual, and how our emotional and psychological wounds and traumas present themselves as physical manifestations in our lives, relationships and more broadly in our systems of control. This realm of study became directly related to the explorations present in my art practice and I have been practicing visual art for most all of my life since my mom let me play with paint as a very young child and I just never gave it up. I had also been introduced to yoga at age 12, and began teaching yoga in 2010 as well as leading breathwork workshops. It felt like my different interests were always sort of competing with each other for my time and attention, so I started to try to merge what I was most interested in doing and sharing into a more unified and sustainable vision of what my career could be. Read more>>

Najj Andrea | Singer/Songwriter & Performing Artist

I decided to pursue an artistic career because music has always been the one thing that kept me going. I have been singing since I was 6 but professionally since I was 16. Like a lot of people I started singing in the church. Music has always been an outlet for me and when everything felt like it was going wrong and like it was falling apart music and my voice saved me. It’s always been easier for me to express myself and the way I feel through lyrics and melodies. I feel like my music are the words that people wish they could say and the feelings they wish they could express and I want to be able to bring that out of people with my music. Read more>>

Laura Shull | Freelance Artist

Art always came naturally to me while most other things have not. Some people are really great orators, dancers, or can solve math problems off the top of their head, but I’ve just gravitated toward translating things visually. I’m a quiet person and like to observe my surroundings, so I think making art has been my way of making sense of the world around me, and creating the realities I wish existed. Read more>>

Hoodie J | Music Producer

I wanted to pursue this career because it brings the creative side out of me that a typical activity throughout the day wouldn’t. Making music allows me to express emotion through these beats and just makes me feel extremely relaxed. I think the majority of producers get into that for those specific reasons. I also just love seeing the reactions of other people when they hear my productions. Knowing that other people really like it boosts my confidence and gives me a sense of accomplishment because knowing that I do something that impacts another person’s emotions is extremely rewarding. Read more>>

Ashlee Ruban | Photographer

I was inspired as a child to pursue art – my grandfather helped pioneer independent cinema in the 60’s and 70’s with his cinematography, and that has always been a driving factor in what I would like my legacy to be. I’ve been exploring photography from a young age, and recently have picked it back up with more of a passion. It has always been something special to me. Read more>>

Erica Papillion-Posey | Vocalist | Songwriter | Author

The arts, more specifically. the music arts have always appealed to me at been an innate, cellular level. From the time I was a young girl singing in my bedroom mirror, boa around my neck with a brush that doubled as my microphone, I knew, categorically, that I was a creative and destined for a career in an industry where I could express myself. I always has an affinity for words and music. As a jazz and classically trained vocalist, without question, it’s the reason that I adore languages/linguistics. Read more>>

Jhon Beltran | Photographer

There’s various reasons as to why I decided to pursue photography as my career, but the main reason had to be because it allowed me to express myself and to control my anxiety. It is arguably the most wonderful way to practice mindfulness and to appreciate the world around me. as i love to say: “to appreciate the unappreciated.” whenever i’m out making photos, i want to put all of my emotions out there to either let go of whatever i’m feeling or to enhance that emotion. Though even before my diagnosis with anxiety, my imagination was always incredibly active, day dreaming and thinking of different ideas and worlds from the movies i watched, the books i had read, and so on. i always wanted to create these worlds and show it to people. i always dreamed of making films and working as a cinematographer/ director and i knew photography would be my gateway into the film world. Read more>>

Jasmine Upshaw | Professional Writer

I decided to pursue a creative career because I was looking for an outlet in which I could express my creativity and help people at the same time. I am a firm believer in people taking their creative abilities and developing them in order to reach their fullest potential. It is important to hone in on that creative side of yourself and express that in whatever way you feel would be beneficial to. Read more>>

Robert J. Clark IV | Actor, Musician & Artist

Being an artist was something that was always in me to do. Some of my earliest memories are of me actively involved in some sort of artform. I played the piano for a few years, took up drawing & sketching, sang in the church choir for 7 years, wrote my own songs and performed on a regular basis to now acting. I guess it was something meant for me, it just continued to come back around so I decided to put my all in to see what could come of it. Read more>>

Jarry Lee | Model, Actor, Musician, and Social Media Influencer

I’ve always loved the arts from an early age, and my family invested in private tutors for me for classical piano, violin, and painting/drawing. Writing, specifically poetry, was my childhood passion, and I dreamt of becoming a screenwriter or poet. I feel most fulfilled when I have the freedom to work on projects I’m passionate about and express myself creatively, which is a big part of why I changed careers and now work for myself in the entertainment industry. Acting, modeling, and recording music bring such inner peace and joy for me. Read more>>

Jerry Bennett | Artist and Audio Engineer

I decided on pursuing an artistic career because it felt necessary to me. I could never really see myself working in a field that didn’t involve creativity somehow. I work both as an artist and an engineer recording other artists. Doing both helps me practice the technical side of recording music while constantly being exposed to new ideas and creative thinking. Read more>>

VayaDee | Entrepreneur & Radio Personality

When it comes to choosing career choices, especially those that are nontraditional, it is not for the weak. I would always downplay my skills and abilities because of not knowing my real worth or how DOPE I am. People would always be like “You got skills girl” or “OMG, you were made for this.” Even with hearing that, I still didn’t really take in account the type of levels I was really on and could get to. Everything I have done, move wise, has been both artistic and creative. As soon as I stopped downplaying my skills and talent……life basically BOOMED! It took me getting out of my own way to grow my photography business, VayaDee PRoductions, LLC and leveling up to making my way through the media network where I just recently accepted the role of an On Air Personality for 96.5 The Box. Needless to say, with all these skills, talents, and ideas I have, it was time to stop letting them go to waste. Read more>>

Natalie Lacek | Photographer

Growing up I only had a few friends and was extremely shy and introverted. In my early middle school years, I would go outside and take pictures with the small iPod I had at the time. My parents got me a camera for my birthday when I was about twelve or thirteen. When I would show my family and friends the photos I was taking, they were always blown away. This made me feel so excited and I always wanted to take better pictures each time I went out to shoot. As I started to learn more about photography, I gradually upgraded cameras and kept working toward getting the gear I knew I wanted so I’d be able to make photographs that I loved. Throughout my teen years, I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression. This made it extremely hard for me to make friends, have a social life, or just do things that I love. I noticed that the only thing that made me feel better at the time was taking photos, I felt like I had no worries when shooting and I could just pour my emotions into my photographs. Read more>>

Symone Seven | Photographer

I specialize in the impossible as a Photoshop instructor and self-portrait artist. I set out to pursue an artistic career by following my desire for social change. I realized the power photography had to shape the way we see people, and how we treat them based on our perceptions. We learn about people and places outside of our communities through the images in books, tv, movies, or on the internet. A camera can be used for good by inspiring empathy and respect or it could be used in a harmful way to degrade and dehumanize. Being a woman of color, my social group isn’t always treated fairly due to a long history of negative representation. I wanted to use my camera to show the world how beautiful and capable you can be because of, and not in spite of, being brown or a woman. Read more>>

Xavier Brandon | Creative Curator. Radio Producer. Author. Emcee. DJ. Podcaster. Minister.

I’ve always been someone who enjoyed music and entertainment. Originally I pursued a career in ministry because God called me to preach. While I was doing that I felt God shifting me to do ministry in a different way. I began Djing, hosting, and eventually working at V-103 as a producer for Larry Tinsley. I still do ministry, its just out of the church now. Being a creative gives me the freedom and flexibility to use all of my gifts and talents in whatever position I hold whether that’s creating content for a non-profit, being an author, or curating a mix on the radio. I’m fulfilled more when I’m able to be my authentic, unapologetic and unashamed self and the artistic and creative spaces that God has allowed me to be in has given me that opportunity. Read more>>

Sydni Perry | Actress | Writer | Director | Singer | Creative

This career path allows me to be free. I have many talents under the creative umbrella and i use them all to express myself and to connect with others. I have realized that through my gifts I have the ability to uplift, encourage, and inspire so many people and I know that in order to keep doing that, I must share what is brewing inside me. Read more>>

Jasmine & Richard Ramnarine | Drama Teacher | Registered Nurse & Content Creators

We decided to pursue a creative career because we wanted to creative a platform to showcase our family memories and our lives as parents. Read more>>

Simeon Fabunmi | Portrait Photographer

I chose to pursue artistic/creative career because plain and simply being creative just comes naturally to me so it became logical to capitalize on it and make something worthwhile out of it. Read more>>

Corey Sherman | Aspiring Model

I felt as if it was something different. It allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and express a different side of me that no one has seen. It has always been about sports for me and now that I have had to let that go. It is time to explore new endeavors and see how I can go against different challenges. I can meet new people, see other perspectives and various other things that I may not have thought about. Read more>>

Pack2sour | Creative SongWriter and Vocal Performer

Sometimes we as human beings fall victim to the “picket fence” lifestyle . I never grew up like that. I have only seen this on television where the parents have a nice home, family, and work life. There is nothing wrong with that at all , some people want to work until they’re 60 years old and then retire. I saw the struggles of poverty up front , my only way out of this mindset of being poor was creativity and entertainment. I would dance, sing, draw, read, write … anything to help me stay occupied. I joined sports after school so I didn’t have to be home. During summer luckily due to my situation the government would pay for me and my siblings to go day camp where I participated in activities like arts and crafts, swimming, talent shows, and amusement parks. I took all of my creativity and struggle and put it into one art WRITING! This then lead to me doing poetry and then eventually Hip Hop music. Pursuing my artistic career lead me to some of the biggest opportunities in my life. Read more>>

Robert Short | Filmmaker & Director

There is a feeling of completeness and comfort that I feel whenever I am doing something artistic. I remember being in high school and competing in dance contests. That’s right! A brother got his dance on. Besides the fact that my crew and I were good, that feeling I had every time I was on stage was undeniable. But like most kids, black kids, pursuing a career in the arts was not an option. As a young black man, I was expected to graduate from high school, get a job, not even a career, have a family, provide for that family, and that’s your life. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I knew I didn’t want to settle for that. I knew I couldn’t settle for that. I knew what I wanted to do; the question was, how do I do it? I believe that my choice was supposed to happen because God allowed people to come into my life, at the right time, with the right opportunities. Through dancing, I met people who were pursuing acting on stage. Read more>>

Zachary Smith | Headshot Photographer at BK Headshots

The journey to becoming the type of photographer I am today begun as an independent contractor specializing in electrical and computer engineering. For most of my life, I’ve been a contractor. One day when I was working as an IT project manager, I was sitting at my desk in Basel, Switzerland working at a bank and I watched the sun rise at 9 am, then start setting at 3 pm. The file I was working on all day turned out to not be needed anymore and I thought to myself, I just sat here all day for nothing. I hated watching the day pass by and considered what I actually preferred: working all day to be creative at night (at that time I was also performing with my band in different cities every week, so a lot of train rides) or do I start choosing contracts that allowed me to be creative on my own projects and enjoy working from sun up to sundown. There’s a deeper connection that flows when you create the things that provide your security. Read more>>

Tiara Donald | Artist and Creative Studio Owner

I chose a creative career because art brings me joy and peace of mind. Never being the most boisterous person, I found other ways to express myself through creative writing, painting, decor, and fashion. These things not only spark conversation and gain peoples interest…but gave me a comfortable and confident way to interact with people. Read more>>

Queen Tut | Photographer

To better understand me, I came from a Haitian Artistic Family. I knew at the beginning that an artistic career was inevitable. I chose to become an artist; a photographer to be exact. I absolutely love everything about capturing a story through my lens. To pursue it was too easy. Once I saw how my first model cried because she saw her beauty in the photos I took of her; that commenced my professional photography career. Besides, you want your career to always be fun, right? I knew that establishing a career in Photography would promise the longevity of a Creative mindset. Read more>>

Laura Cole | Actor, Choreographer, Teacher, Coach and Arts Administrator

Artists, especially actors, get asked that a lot. The standard answer, and it is totally true for me, is that there isn’t anything else I can or want to do. Since I graduated college with an classical acting degree I have been lucky to expand what that answer means. I have done extra training in arts and education, actor coaching, voice discipline, and administrative skills. I hope the work I have done at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company over the last 25 years helps other actors/artists to expand their understanding of “the only thing I want/can do.” There is so much performing artists have to offer that isn’t only their onstage work. Read more>>