We asked some of the city’s leading artists and creatives to tell us about how they decided to pursue an artistic or creative career.  We’ve shared some highlights below.

David Emery | Photographer

Photography always allowed me to express myself in a creative way. Being creative helps me appreciate life and the world around me. In high school I used to set up my phone and a lamp in my room with a blank wall and come up with self portrait shoots and concepts. From there I knew I wanted to dive into photography and learn more. I used Youtube to teach me everything I know. From mobile photography, DSLR, point and shoot, nature, landscape, and street photography. I didn’t even give portrait photography a chance because of my social anxiety and the fear of disappointing somebody. Never would’ve thought I would be owning my dream camera and calling myself a portrait photographer today. People telling me that I inspire them makes me love what I do today. Read more>>

Steve Hightower | Hairdresser & Salon Owner

I wanted to be able to express myself and help other people feel better about themselves. I majored in art with a minor in drama with a focus on sculpture, painting and costume design , including wig work, brought me to hair. Read more>>

Chasity, Kristen, Sam West-ward, Wesolowski, Nash-Riggs | Partners and Designers: Open Air Plant Design Studio

Being creative is so much more rewarding than going through the routine motions for a paycheck. It’s motivating. We are constantly seeking to outdo ourselves with each project. Being able to vibe with other people on a creative level is really, really cool. Sam Jacobsen, our friend who has done carpentry and woodwork on a few of our installations, has been a game changer for where we can take our ideas. He’s incredibly talented and has really elevated what we have been able to accomplish. We love learning from each other and taking that knowledge to the drawing board. As cliche as it sounds: watching a creation of your imagination come to life is a magical experience. Read more>>

James S. Tomlin | Wedding Filmmaker & Portrait Photographer

Ever since I was little, I have always been been fascinated by art. When I was 14 my dad told me that I Needed to get a job, so I did… By the time I was 16 I had worked 5 different jobs including: fast-food employee, cotillion teacher (teaching manners + dance to teenagers), home renovation assistant, farm-hand, and production crew member for my church. I loved working, but something didn’t feel right. Then, freshman year of high school, a friend of mine told me about her job. She was a wedding photographer and had been watching me try to figure out cameras and teach myself. She advised me to look into being a photographer, so I did. About a year later Tomlin Visuals was born. I grew my business through the ridicule that I received from my peers and teachers, the highs and lows of my anxiety and depression, and the battles of being a business owner as well as a student. During quarantine i was really struggling to see what my future was going to be. During the summer i was asked to film a wedding, despite having told people for years that i never wanted to get into weddings for fear of having to deal with the dreaded bridezilla and the horrible stress, i decided to say yes… and my eyes were opened! I loved it! I began to realize that my love of art had nothing to do with the concept of art, but rather the way it makes my clients feel. I love seeing a client watch their wedding film for the first time! They are thrust back into the happiest day of their life, almost immediately a massive smile washes over their face and they become like a kid on Christmas Day seeing their presents. They are so happy. So i decided to stop pursuing the “art of photography” and rather chased after preserving people’s Joy. You become like the people you are around, so why not be around happy people? Now, I film weddings and employ teenagers to second shoot along side me. Many times these people have never touched a camera in their lives, but overtime i train them and grow them into professional grade photographers. I allow them to realize that they are capable and give them the opportunity i wish professionals would have given me. I pursued this career because it gives me the freedom to do what i love most… make people smile, plus I am always surrounded by joy and love… its kinda hard to be sad when everyone around you is smiling. Read more>>

Saicia Turner | Owner of Shopaholik,LLC

It was natural for me to pursue a creative career for I am the third generation of creatives. My father and grandfather are both illustrators/painters. Both of my great grandmothers were professional seamstresses. I began illustrating clothing designs and sewing at an early age. I was self taught until I attended college. I earned two degrees, one in Fashion Design and the other in Graphic Design. Read more>>

Don-Dimitri Joseph | Producer & Actor

The pursuit of an artistic career wasn’t what I ever had in mind. In all honesty, I wanted to pursue sports and to an extent business, but in my life God had different plans. Within those plans, I learned that the arts were a part of it, and it was something I was pretty good at from a young age. If anything it wasn’t necessarily pursuing the arts, but pursuing Jesus and Him showing me His plans for me and in turn He built a passion within me to do this with all my heart. I really do have a love for the creative arts and that’s one way I think that I will be able to help people. Read more>>

Tylur Starks | Rising R&B Vocalist

From a very young age I’ve always known that I wanted to sing. I spent hours listening to the likes of Selena Quintanilla Perez, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald and Janis Joplin. These were the many influences that inspired me to sing and pursue my calling. I have a true passion for writing songs that are heartfelt and that tell a story like, Mary J. Blige (I’m going down and My Life), Etta James (All I could do was cry, At Last) and Aretha Franklin (Ain’t No Way). These songs and these artist laid the blueprint for the type of vocal musician and songwriter that I’ve always wanted to be. In my pursuit of this career I attended Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. Then I made my way to Houston, San Antonio and then Austin, TX singing and recording through out the state. Now back in Columbus, OH I am releasing my fourth single on July 30th titled “Safe Place”. So why did I choose to pursue a career as an artistic creative? Because this is exactly what I am meant to do. Read more>>

Xolah Gebor (Geborah) | Editor in Chief | Creative Director & Spiritual Healing Goddess

I discovered and explored my creativity starting at the age of 4. When I won my first contest at that age a light-bulb went off. At that time my family and I were homeless living at shelter in New York. It was art and creativity that brought light into my spirit and I loved it more and more. I needed to see where I’d be great. Read more>>

Nina Ferentinos | Portrait photographer

Growing up in Germany, nobody would even think of trying to have a career in a creative field. Everyone would call it “Brotlose Kunst” which means you can not even make enough money to buy bread to survive. Still most of my high school courses were Art related and had some sort of creative ankle in them. When I took a photography course and learned how to develop images in the dark room I was hooked. But as an 18year old you mostly listen to the grown ups and so I studied finance and started working in a bank. I know, right? My boss soon realized that I was hard working, but he never saw me enjoying my work. He did me a favor and let me go. I was disappointed at first, but finally my creative roots showed up again and I took the opportunity to go after my second craving: to travel the world. I found a job where I would teach kids different forms of art while the parents enjoy their vacation. I loved it. I continued being very creative with my own kids by crafting, baking, sewing and finally teaching them what I knew about photography. Then I started taking classes about how to make money with your creative outlet and soon after I had my first paying clients who were very grateful for the images I had created for them. Most order large canvasses for their walls so they walk by them every day. Deep inside me I always knew that I would be most successful with doing something that I love and that ignites my creative spark. Read more>>

Shaniqua Johnson | Natural Hairstylist & Spontaneous Artist

I haven’t always known what I was good at so it was kind of hard knowing what my purpose was, or even what I wanted to go to college for. I discovered after 2 years in college that the medical field was not for me. My Pharmacology instructor suggested that I look into programs that I was truly interested in, so I did. I went and introduced myself to the Cosmetology Instructor and it was on from there. The reason I chose this program is because I have been doing hair since middle school. It felt natural to me and I had family members that I grew up watching in the field already. Read more>>

Lauryn Nichole | R&B Pop Artist

Since I was a young girl, I always knew I was destined to follow a creative artistic path. I actually started off as a dancer at age 2. I even thought I was gonna be a professional background dancer or choreographer. I ended up injuring myself and that’s what got me so in tune with music and writing. So to answer the question, I’m pursuing an artistic, creative career because it’s my entire life. Music has gotten me through some of the hardest times of my life and I believe my story will hopefully help masses of people too. Read more>>

Stevie Carter | Master Cosmetologist & Educator

Initially I didn’t. I toured the Aveda Institute Atlanta when I was 18 years old, right out of high school. I knew I wanted to do hair, but at the time I was young and intimidated and decided to take the traditional college route. Fast forward about 15 years, I had finished graduate school with a MBA and was working in corporate Atlanta and just really wasn’t satisfied with my career. I made good money but I just didn’t really care about what I was doing and couldn’t imagine sitting at a desk for the rest of my working life. My fiancé and I were driving to dinner one evening and we stopped at a red light, right next to a salon. I said, “this is going to sound crazy but I want to admit something to you. Every time I pass a salon I look inside and wish I was the person behind the chair. I still want to be a colorist and a creative. That’s what I want.” Instead of thinking I was crazy for wanting a career change, he drove me to the Aveda Institute Atlanta that same week and helped me enroll. So it took me years to pursue my dream career, but when I finally did I went all in and never looked back. I feel fulfilled now, work doesn’t feel like work. I love playing with color and helping clients feel beautiful and badass. Read more>>