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.

Jessica Ortiz Torres | Jewelry Designer

I had been working in higher education for close to 15 years as an administrator and although I loved my job and working with students, I missed having time to be creative. Growing up I was always drawing, dancing, singing, and getting into anything creative; sad to say that I lost that creative side of me as I graduated college, pursued a career, and started a family. Read more>>

Chef Orleans | SouthernKulture Presents, inc

Watching Chefs use all of their senses to create art , put a passion within me . So now I am able to put my creative touches on a plate like a canvas . Being able to pull from different cultures and expose the community to new cuisines and deliciousness. SouthernKulture embodies more than just food. Fashion , media , music are also a huge part of this company. We are not your typical chefs . Lol Read more>>

Brandi & Malia Smart & Rifkin | Artist / Tattooer – Empire Arts Gallery

BRANDI SMART: I’ve been producing art in one form or another as long as I can remember – Malia too. As kids we sort of just fell in love with art being inspired by the natural beauty of our environments – me in Florida, and Malia bouncing between California and Hawaii. Malia was selling designs at 10 to her dad’s surfing friends, I was focusing on art as early as elementary school. Read more>>

Claire Brainard | (G. Claire) Author & Artist

Throughout my somewhat difficult years growing up, there was a place I went when things got to be too much: My Imagination. Throughout my early school time, my mother would often get notes from my teachers like: “Gaylen is in a world of her own. She must focus more on what is being taught . . . Fortunately, I found a way to listen and draw (doodle) at the same time, so my entire school career wasn’t a wasteland. At home I found sanctuary in my bedroom to draw, read and write to my heart’s content. It was my happy place. Maybe the reader has had a similar experience or has a child with a similar bent. If the former, my heart goes out to you; if the latter, I hope you have found ways to encourage and nurture this gift in your child. Read more>>

Conor Sea | Hair colorist.

Ever since I was a young boy I was always drawn to the artistic side of life. My dad is an artist so I was always surrounded by creative people and things. Starting as a kid I was always pushed to express myself through art. I think I carried that mentality into my adult life and coloring hair. I love the freedom I have and the excitement of working in a creative space. Read more>>

Kailah Lawson | Brand Executive & Marketing Lead

Love this question. Ive always been an “artistic person.” When I was younger I was always in the arts, I was a professionally trained dancer, I loved to paint, draw and even sing. My degree is in Public Relations. Through the beginning of my career I was able to transition into more creative marketing rolls which allowed me to use my creative brain. Read more>>

Kristen Hartnagel | Leadership and Personal Coach, Speaker, Trainer & Personal Brand Strategist

When I was a little girl, nothing thrilled me more than creating. I was singing and writing songs as far back as I can remember. I had 8 years of dance training, acted in plays and musicals, loved painting and drawing. So it is only natural that I’m in the zone when I speak and perform. And nothing is more rewarding than helping others live more fully into the next greatest version of themselves when they get out of our own way. Read more>>

simmanesia thomas | Artist

Because being creative is fun… I started making headband wigs just for the fun of it. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed something that sparked joy in my life. Everything I did felt dull, repetitive, or just plain boring. One day I had the urge to create, I was happy that day almost euphoric. Ideas started flowing it was difficult to stay focused, but each day I committed to my wigs; designing each differently. when I was finished, I felt the joy I was looking for. To be honest, making wigs may not be something I do forever, but I do know that art gave me what I needed, so for now why not pursue an artistic career?. And so I created Simplewigs. Read more>>

Meghana Reddy | 2D/3D Concept Artist

Growing up, I was the kid who doodled in my notebooks while class was on. There were not many design/arts related subjects where I studied so I took up art classes after school. It was the only creative outlet I had at that time, and it paved the way for all that I do today. My dad was my inspiration. He had the most insatiable curiosity for art, especially when it came to filmmaking and special effects. He would always watch a film from an artist’s perspective and would get inquisitive about the making. He was all about the ‘detail’. His obsession fueled my pursuit of art and design. We watched every animated film we could, and I slowly started to wonder about every question he had, as I grew older. Read more>>

Andrew Dixon | Still Life Photographer

I didn’t anticipate falling in love and pursuing something creative like photography. If I’m being honest I think it found me at a time something that my life revolved around had been suddenly taken from me. I raced motocross for all of my childhood. I was fortunate to have a consistent career within motocross and I was always improving with little to no setbacks. I was injury-free for twelve years in the sport; until one day I ended up finding myself facedown on the side of the track coughing up blood, thirsting for a clean breath and paralyzed with fear. Read more>>

Calvin Reynolds | Author / Illustrator / Commercial Artist

I pursued a creative career because art has been a part of my life since childhood. I was considered to be a visual learner and was always attracted to fun stories with colorful images. Snoopy from Charlie Brown was the first thing I ever drew. Honestly, cartoons and comics fueled my imagination and would later stoke my passion for storytelling. I became obsessed with creating unique characters and stories. Back then, my mom would bring home stacks of paper from her job just for me to draw. Read more>>

Krystal Henry | Success & Mindset Coach

My parents worked hard to get their education and to prove themselves in both their positions until retirement. Their expectation was for me to go to college no matter what. I didn’t know what to do, but after testing my professor told me I had an analytical mind and should try accounting. In my third year of college, I wanted to pursue something else, however it would take an additional year and money. I choose to finish and get my BS in Accounting. I went to Paul Quinn College, a struggling HBCU, that offered no internship in the early 90’s. I began working in a boring industry that had an enormous amount of oppressive and systematic racist practices. Read more>>