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.

Winston Miller | Creative Director & Owner

I pursued a creative career because it’s something that has been deeply embedded in me. I’ve always danced and it’s always been a part of my life. I actually thought I could get away from it but it was then I knew it was supposed to be with me forever. It is something that if I do not do, I do not feel like myself. It is a keen part of who I am as a person. Read more>>

Afi Green | Culinary Coach/Vegan Chef

I would have to say that I was was influenced a lot by my parents ,they both have creative careers. I feel like it comes very natural to me. Having an artistic career as a Culinary Coach/Vegan Chef allows my to share the most comfortable parts of myself. I’ve also have learned over time that doing what makes me happy and pursuing my passions doesn’t make work feel like work. It gives me freedom to see the infinite possibilities, and think outside the box. I get to play with food and enjoy it too. Read more>>

WL Walker | Filmmaker

I decided to pursue a creative career because my grandmother took me to see both new movies and classical Hollywood movies at the cinema. Watching Jurassic Park in theaters as a 4-year-old kid kind of set a sense of wonder inside me. That was the spark that started it. My mother also took me to the video store and let me rent whatever I wanted. This was probably not the best thing, but it did make me who I am today. It helped cultivate my love for campy movies and tv. I love things old school and retro, that’s how I formed my production company Retro Rad Films, LLC. It’s a name that shows my love for nostalgia but also brands who I am. Currently, I work at Graham Field, but also do short films on the side and I am currently making a mockumentary about baby boomers and millennials. I want to direct Sci-Fi movies and Dramas. I also like doing Horror and Comedy but to a lesser extent. If you want to see more of my work go to www.retroradfilms.com. Read more>>

Stacey Holloway | Associate Professor of Sculpture, University of Alabama at Birmingham

I’ve been an artist since I was a child, as I started off drawing and painting at a very young age. This was further encouraged by my mother, who had illustrated the same talent in high school, but never pursued it. As I grew older, my interest in photography and realistic painting landed me in art school where I found a true love of labor through sculpture and installation-based work. I had a required three-dimensional design course and I had made a wooden box for one of the assignments, but my screws were too long and stuck out the other side. My teacher handed me an angle grinder and showed me how to grind them down. From the moment I saw the hot sparks fly, my life changed and I became immersed in sculpture and all its infinite possibilities. Read more>>

Andrew Muñoz | Artist, Designer, & Neon Tube Processor

This might sound familiar, but I’ve always created things. I started drawing from a young age and was a bit of a daydreamer, and I kind of always felt like I was on a track to do something creative. A big moment for me came when I had a near-death experience and was hospitalized when I was 16. The experience was very jarring for me and uprooted a lot of what I previously thought I knew. I became very introspective and like a lot of lost teenagers, I discovered Existentialism. This idea of creating your life’s meaning was very inspiring and sort of seemed like creativity on a larger level. So while I’ve grown older and kind of tempered my initial excitement, creating things has remained as a defining characteristic of my life. Read more>>

Rachel Kepley | Creative Direction & Makeup Artistry

My soul feeds off of color, texture and imagination. When 17 came around and those types of life decisions were in front of me, it came down to, “where and how can I thrive as myself?” I didn’t know exactly what, where or how- but I felt if I pursued any other path in life, I would end up regretting it. I don’t even want to fathom that idea. Read more>>

Bria Goeller | Artist, Designer, and Creator

My compass, for better and worse, consistently orients me towards whatever isn’t happening. Whatever is hard, or different, or isn’t being said or done. Whoever isn’t being paid attention to. If I think I can help tell a story that needs to be told, I’m motivated. I would say that’s why I’m an artist: the need to prove the worth in things that aren’t valued. Somewhere between stubbornness and a deep-seeded need to be myself – and to allow others to be. That’s my “raison d’etre,” so to speak. An eye on the people that are trying so hard to be seen. An ear to the ideas that need mentioning. And a longing for solitude (and sweatpants). Read more>>

Travon Bracey | Creative Director, Curator, Multidisciplinary Artist, Marketing Specialist

I was always in tune with my creativity but never knew I could get into it professionally. When I started my career at 15 in journalism, never in my mind did I think I could go directly into the arts but as time past, eventually I pursued in photography which then lead to me having an interest in pursuing creatively in several positions of the fashion, art and entertainment industries. By 17, I got involved in a fashion journalism project and that’s what made me go into the fashion world. Over the course of time, I wanted to test my talents in other areas such as creative directing, styling, cinematography, creative marketing, curating and entertainment. I think the conclusion of ll of this is if I didn’t pursue in my creative talents I wouldn’t be happy at what I do in life. Being creative and working in the arts really helps me mentally take control because my mind is always on a creative note. Read more>>

Nick Fisch | Digital Media Strategist

Early on in life, I was one of those kids that was inherently creative, and I was encouraged to be so by excellent parents and education systems. However, while other kids excelled at physical arts & crafts I didn’t quite find my stride until a bit later when I was introduced to digital tools where I could express my creativity. I realized the storytelling and problem solving potential behind these tools I had, and as a creative person it felt like my calling to use these new tools to tell those stories and solve those problems. In the early years this looked like “animations” in PowerPoint to replace Birthday cards for friend’s and family, or an in-camera edited VHS tape telling the story of adopting our family dog. I followed this early spark through grade school- keeping up with emerging and evolving technology and adding each development to my tool belt as a creative and finding deeper reason for pursuing a career as a creative. Read more>>

Keeyen Martin | Recording Artist

I chose to pursue an artistic and creative career because my upbringing was surrounded by music. I knew at a very young age that music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My parents and immediate family have deep roots in music and the arts. Read more>>

Laura Shaw | Executive Director of Paint Love

I chose a career in the arts because the arts were, and are, a hugely impactful part of my own childhood and life. I grew up as a ballet dancer and it was my whole world. Ballet was fun and expressive, full of emotion and empathy; it was a healthy outlet and taught me discipline, perseverance, and collaboration. It challenged me physically and mentally, and ultimately it brought me so much joy. In high school, I danced with a studio and company called New Ballet Ensemble (NBE), in Memphis Tennessee. We performed and taught workshops in public schools all over the city, which definitely introduced me to the inequities in access to artistic education and creative opportunities. I think this is the “why” for many folks who work with Paint Love’s programming or donate to our mission: looking back, I can pick out specific experiences or people that exposed me to new creative fields or introduced me to ways of doing things or thinking about things differently than what I knew – art opened up a new realm of possibilities about the world and I can’t imagine my life without it. Read more>>

Allie Fennell | Owner of Gel’d Nails LLC

I’m naturally creative therefore My career path just felt organic at the start. Having a career in the nail Industry is very different from most careers. I personally feel like it works because of how creative I am, as well as the actual nature of the industry I’ve chosen. Read more>>

Ninax9 | Mother & Entrepreneur

I’ve always been a singer. From the church to karaoke nights to even american idol lol. I even love diy projects so I guess it’s safe to say i’m an artistic person. It’s my calling. Read more>>