Deciding to pursue an artistic or creative career path isn’t for the faint of heart. Challenges will abound, but so many of the artists we speak with couldn’t be happier with their choice. So, we asked them about how they made the decision in the first place.

Lily Luchesi | USA Today Bestselling Author & Editor

I believe I was always destined for it. My whole life I was making up stories in my head, began writing them down at age 8 thanks to my second grade teacher, and from that moment on, I wanted to be a novelist. I read obsessively, studied the craft from every which way when I was a child and teenager, and eventually began querying at age 16. I wound up published at 20 with a poem, and a week after my 21st birthday, I received a contract from a highly regarded small traditional press for my Paranormal Detectives Series. Since then, seven years ago, I have gone entirely indie and published over 20 novels and novellas under two pen names. In addition, I co-run Partners in Crime Book Services with my mother, Annie, who has been in the entertainment industry as a promoter since the 1970s. I handle graphic design and am a highly sought after editor (developmental, line, and copy). While editing is my day job and is a lot of work, I knew I needed to do it rather than get a 9-to-5. Read more>>

Dunston Darius | Graphic Designer & Print Maker

I chose to pursue an artistic career because it always challenges me in different aspects of my life. Something that I make can satisfy me, but it may not be the same for someone else. That’s the beauty of art. Everyone has their own perspective. There’s never the same answer. Read more>>

Mama Kei (Key) Paige Drammeh | Vintage Costume Shop

Creativity is in my DNA. My Dad is a textile designer and made a living hand painting on silk. Art is apart of my lifestyle and is in everything I see. My dad was an avid thrifter and collector of all things. We dumpster dived for items since I can remember. My family values sustainability and made sure my Clothing was styled with creativity. Read more>>

Sam Conturo | Producer & Audio Engineer

I chose to purse a career in recording and producing because I believe expression is crucial to life. I originally wanted to just make beats but found it more fulfilling to be able to complete songs so I stuck with both ever since. I am happy I did because it has connected me with so many different people and helped me learn a lot about myself in the process. Read more>>

The Ladies(Jade & Wilnona) | Pop Culture Poets and CEOs of AITL Media

When I was seven a teacher told me I wrote a fantastic page turning free write in class. She wished I would learn about a plot to make the threads come together. I was sold on being a professional writer although my teachers tried to talk me out of the profession. I was published for the first time when I was ten. At that time I dropped my first love of medicine and focused solely on writing. Accepting rejection became a part of my daily life because I started to query publishers and of course they all said no. At 12 I made my first few dollars by writing a story and letting school mates, family friends, read the notebooks where I wrote my stories. The tablets were passed to their friends each person paid five dollars, three dollars was returned when the tablet came back to me. The two dollars were used to buy a new supply of notebooks or just saved if I had enough paper. Read more>>

Keesha Taylor | Candle Maker

I chose to pursue a career in candle making because it was something totally different from my 9-5. Working in the accounting field everything has to be done by the book, so you don’t get to experiment with things and take chances. Chemistry was one of my favorite subjects in high school, so I’ve always enjoyed mixing things to see what I can come up with. One day I decided to go to a scent mixing class, because I wanted to create a candle that nobody else had and ended up falling in love with the process. At the end of a long day,I turn on some music, and break out my fragrance oils and start mixing. It has been my way of destressing in the midst of all this chaos; and I love that I get to share my creations with others!. Read more>>

Adrian Hickman-Keen | Business Owner, Space Stylist and Diversity Inclusion and Equity Consultant


Kayo SinnedOut | Creative Director

I have always had an attraction to art and fashion since I was a little kid. I fell in love with the idea of art itself and being able to express yourself by doing different things in a creative way. I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything different that would equate to the happiness of being a creative. Read more>>

Bethany Henry | Creative Director & Innovator

Art has and always will be my first love ! When words aren’t enough, I allow my hands to speak for me . My spirit is one filled with passion which often times has been confused with being rebellious. Im not myself when I am tied down within a corporate setting . It shallows me whole . Starting a career in art has allowed me to heal and to escape from the world around me . I’ve been blessed to touch others with my gift worldwide . I’d never give that up. Read more>>

Kelly Mitchell | Artist & Graphic Designer

I chose a career in art because it’s always been in my to be an artist. There was a spark in me when I was a little girl. Maybe around 3 or so. I would light up when I would see colorful markers or crayons. So my mom saw that I had a gift and she wanted to nurture that. She began taking me to places like The High Museum, The Apex Museum, and SciTrek often. By the age of 10 I knew I wanted to go to an Art College. It was then I took a tour of The Art Institute of Atlanta and even went as far as speaking to someone in Admissions to know the requirements of entry. I was a serious little girl. LOL! I guess I was so ready to begin my life because my then current situation as filled with Love from my mother, but also I was receiving so much vitriol from my peers and even some family members at the time. It was a very hard time for me Read more>>

Jhai | Singer & Songwriter

I decided to pursue music because I was brought up in it. My entire family did music and it’s always been something that I enjoy doing. Being around so many talented musicians and artists, made me want to explore what I can do with my own creative gifts. So I began to write songs, record them myself and post them online. Creating music is something that is therapeutic for me and helps me to connect with the world surrounding me. I want to continue my family’s legacy and become apart of something that will push the world in a better direction. Read more>>

Jae Artiste | Makeup Artist

I started doing makeup when I was seventeen years old. When I started doing makeup, it served as a scapegoat for me. I’ve always been a bright kid but at the same time an introvert so I’ve always internalized everything. I wasn’t as vocal about how things impacted me which caused me to find an avenue that allowed me to express myself. Even as a child, I carried myself maturely and I had already began expressing myself through fashion- styling myself and even customizing my own shoes and creating my own outfit pieces. After fashion, I ventured into hair as self expression, and even drawing and painting. I even had artwork put up in Madison, WI on a billboard as a representation for children. After drawing and painting and learning colors, blends, structures, etc, I knew I wanted to be my own canvas-I would be a representation of my skill, my art. I WOULD BE MY OWN BILLBOARD and my creative persona was officially born! Not only would I be my own billboard but I would use this Avenue to inspire and motivate ones all around the world!. Read more>>

Brian Easley | Creator, Graphic Designer, Photographer

I’ve always had artistic strengths. As a kid, I would draw endlessly. I enjoyed drawing cars, shoes, even houses. By high school, I was even drawing floor plans. I also loved building things with LEGOs. When I say things, I mean ANYTHING! When the time came, I started in music. From middle school through college, I played the trumpet. What many may find odd, I never took an art class. This was mainly because the school curriculum forced us to choose one artistic form to participate in. Mine was music. I didn’t return to it until after my “music career” was over. One day, during a boring meeting at work, I started sketching things around the room on my note pad. Within that instant, I was drawn (no pun) back in. I started intertwining my interests, business (marketing) and art together. I started imaging myself creating powerful brand for others. I started teaching myself photography and graphic design. That led to connecting with one of my best friends and assisting him in his apparel business. Read more>>

Taylor Waits | PhD student, DJ, blogger, cofounder of #ChangeRapeCulture, and creative

Creating for me; is like breathing. Pursuing a plethora of careers, paths, experiences, and opportunities over my lifetime continues to illuminate how important making music, writing, and creating visuals are to me. Creating improves my wellness while simultaneously archiving my thoughts as a Black Queer woman living in 2021. I am living history and I see my art the same way. I want my art to live past my lifetime. I often imagine where my novels will end up or who in the world is enjoying a mix or playlist I threw together. I also enjoy that my creations allow me to connect to so many different types of people. It comforts me to know I am not alone in the way I view the world; that their is an audience of people who at least frequent my content. I do all that I do for myself first and others second. Remaining true to myself is the best way I can let people know who I am and what I believe. Read more>>

Ashley neville | Brand Strategist & Graphic Designer

Art has always been a passion of mine. It’s in my blood. The first time I picked up a pencil was at five years old. It just felt right. I had dreams of one day working for Walt Disney and becoming an animator. Though, I am not, I thoroughly enjoy what I do. Every day, I am still using my God-given gift to create. I am currently a brand strategist and graphic designer. What I love most about my career is having the ability to bring my client’s vision to fruition. It all starts with a sketch. Whether it’s creating 100 concepts for a logo design, organizing a mood board for inspiration, it’s nothing more thriving to know I was a part of their journey of making their brand’s identity come to life. Read more>>

Corey Flowers | Classical guitarist/teacher & Guitarist/Vocalist in Beast Mode

I’ll begin the answer to this question with a memory from early on in my music studies. I was having a discussion with my guitar professor, John Sutherland, about career options after college. (e.g. How will I make a living?) He told me:[paraphrased–possibly from several conversations over the years] “If there’s something else you’d rather do, go do that. Music is a labor of love, and if you’re in it for the wrong reasons (such as financial security), you’ll never be happy. But if you have something to say, something to communicate, you need to be here. If not, there’s the door.” That was ca. 2006 or 2007. I learned many lessons through that mentorship at UGA, but that is one of the earliest ones that held the most weight, and that I still reflect on. There have been several points over the years where musical projects have had to be put on hold, but what continually pulls me back is a need to create and connect with people through music. Read more>>

Carita Fambro | Food Blogger

Having worked in various industries in Corporate America, I always felt unfulfilled. Being at home full time with my daughter allowed time to invest into my hobby! What started out as just that, a hobby, slowly turned into a full time business. I’d always had a desire to work in a creative space and accepted that if I wanted it to flourish, I needed to do the work! Connecting with successful creatives helped to see the vision more clear and now I’m on the path to continue to grow my business!. Read more>>

Gloria Dotie | Mixed Media Artist

I love seeing my creative visions come to fruition. I am a huge crafter and it wasn’t intentional to go into the arts. I developed a love for creating things after my daughter was born. I began making hair accessories for hair and one craft led to another. It was after my company decided to do a reduction in workforce that I decided to see where my talents would take me and it has been a great journey!! I can’t see myself doing anything else outside of arts. I began teaching early 2020 and it has become another passion of mine. This is the path that I’ve been blessed with and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!. Read more>>

Alexis Riva | Photographer | Copywriter

I started my journey as a creative photographer, copywriter and life coach because I wanted to help people. So many times I’ve realized as a creative, we get overwhelmed, overloaded with ideas and really don’t know what to do with those ideas which sometimes leads to isolation, depression or anxiety. At the beginning, I had so many fears and lack of confidence in my voice that I allowed that to control me and my life. It was until I prayed more, affirmed what God says about me that pushed me where I am today as a Mental Health Creative. I found myself helping others overcome to become the best version of themselves visually, creatively and through written mediums. Read more>>

Eva Madison | Photographer

Creating beautiful artwork has always been a passion of mine. I love watching art come alive and people connecting with it, whether it is photography, paintings, books, or even presentations.
Although I didn’t formally focus on my photography business until about two years ago, I’ve really been incorporating my creative side for my entire career without even realizing it! My background is in audit, finance, system architecture, and compliance. I’ve been able to use my creative side to explain things differently by displaying complex issues graphically and using my art background to communicate solutions. I have found this to be very effective and concise – and visually pleasing. I’ve been taking, displaying, and selling photographs for about 20 years and have always found it tremendously fulfilling. It is my way of meditating and balancing the craziness of the day. Read more>>

Jessica Ray | Artist ( Singer/ Songwriter) | Entertainer

As a young girl, I grew up around music. Everyday there was music from every genre blasting through the house and although both of my parents loved music my Dad is where my musical creativeness came from. He was a bass player who played on many hit records and he would teach me about the art of entertaining. Pursing being an artist started off being an interest sheerly through the love of music and the special bond it gave my Father and I. Once I become a little older I realized how creative I could be in this world. I’ll never forget watching Michael Jackson’s tour in Bucharest on VHS. It changed my life. He’s ability to create a visual, musical and emotional connected experience blew my mind. From then on I always challenged myself on how far I could push things in a creative space. However, just being creative and loving the music alone wasn’t all to me choosing an artistic path, it also became an outlet. Read more>>

Tammy Reese | Journalist|Writer|Publicist

I love everything film, theater, media, and entertainment. I always would act out tv and movie scenes as a kid at home. I was a school news anchor in 5th grade and hosted our 6th-grade graduation. I was one of the leads in the 6th-grade school play. By the time I got to 8th grade, I was completely bit by the entertainment and media bug. I wanted to be an actress, writer, journalist or director, or all the above. My mom took me to audition for a theater and tv production company called the Media Unit and the rest is history. I wear many hats very well. I have to because I love it all. I have over 20 years of experience as an actress, writer, director, and journalist. I fell into Public Relations later on and now have 4 years of experience as a publicist. Read more>>

Marcus Manganni | Author/Sculptor/ prison reform advocate/Mental health advocate

I’ve been drawing and painting ever sense I was able to hold a brush. The decision to pursue my career happened during my incarceration due to symptoms of a mental health condition. A small window distant from my cell would cast passing light directly in. I created multiple structures with tooth paste, toilet paper and the reflective inside of potato chip bags to reflect and refract the light exploring my physical confinement. It allowed me to hold onto the outside world for a longer stint of time. Now free I use that same light within all of my works. Read more>>

India Mills | Resin Artist

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been creative. As a child, I would always draw or doodle things around me. You know – the typical fruit, flowers, etc. But one day, I had an assignment in an elementary class and I can’t remember exactly what the assignment was – but I had to draw a house. I was so excited that I drew the most intricate house ever! It was so much fun to just have this idea in my head and put it down on paper. I was a super shy child, so looking back at it, I think being able to express myself through art was the perfect outlet. Read more>>

Laura Dunn | Artist & Owner | Mac + Lucille

My choice to pursue a career as an artist is largely because I find so much joy just in the act of painting itself as well as the personal satisfaction that comes with constantly growing and improving as an artist. I love that as a creative even the mundane can become elevated and even inspire something greater. It’s a way of always looking for the beauty around you and within you. Read more>>

Finesse The Producer | Producer, Engineer & Artist

When I was younger, I used to always be on the computer just doing whatever, but in 2012, I came across FL Studio. I didn’t know much about it but around that same time, I had just found out about Speaker Knockerz too. Listening to him instantly gave me inspiration. The fact that he had his own unique sound w/ the beats he made and was recording catchy songs to them truly attracted me to build a career with music. Read more>>

Crystal Jasmin | Actress/model/Dancer

I chose an artistic/creative career because I have so much personality, I’ve always been called a drama queen and goofy growing up. It wasn’t until college that I actually started to pursue my career. When I started working 9-5 jobs, even my customers would tell me that I have too much personality to be boxed into a building. So I took a risk and went after what I loved; performing. Read more>>

Brenda R. Coone | Greeting Card Designer

I have always been a creative. Whether it’s crocheting, doing needlepoint, painting, etc. In the early 1990s I started making scrapbooks. They are a wonderful way to chronicle important events in one’s life. My husband and I love to take photographs during our travels, and upon our return home, I would make scrapbooks to capture our memories. What we saw, what we ate, how we felt, all of these details are captured in our scrapbooks. I attended a cardmaking class with a friend and I was hooked. I have always loved giving cards to friends and loved ones, so to have the ability to make them interested me. After retiring from a fulfilling career, I was blessed to turn a beloved hobby into a business, and MsCraftprincess Designs was created in September 2019. We create and design handcrafted greeting cards for all occasions. Our tag line is, “Giving a handcrafted greeting card is like giving a hug!” We like to say that we create paper hugs. Read more>>

Toni Taylor | Fine Artist

‘Art Chose Me’ ~ From the time I was a child, I had a fascination with art and different forms of creativity. I was very sickly in my youth and had to be isolated a lot so I became best friends with crayons, coloring books and any painting materials I could get my hands on. As I got older, art became my ‘go to’ when I wasn’t engaged with school work or other activities. It was second nature to me. Although drawing was encouraged by my friends and family, I was never lead to believe that art was something I could make a living at.. my family wanted me to get a Real job after college for security. Instead of going to college to major in art, I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology as I also had an interest in fashion. Over time, I didn’t find the world of fashion design to be a good fit but throughout my schooling I continued to draw and paint on my own. It was my ‘happy place’. Through serendipitous events while unemployed, I became an artists model at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Read more>>

Tanginikia Vieira | Jewelry Designer

I can honestly say that it just came naturally at a young age. I always knew I wanted to do or be someone who created or designed things. At 1st my passion was sewing/fashion design. I loved the feeling creating something from pure thought. After a while though I realized I didn’t want to sew for others lol as I didn’t enjoy it as much as sewing for myself or friends. I then came to my next love of jewelry making and found quickly that I love the way my creative energy overflows. I feel that I am using that energy properly. Just the thought of being able to create things that people love, things that makes them happy is what I love about a having creative career. Read more>>