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.

Ria Mushfiq | Managing Director & Event Planner

During school I loved painting, playing viola in orchestra, organizing fashion/talent/international shows, hosting events and many more outgoing activities. My creative side was always apparent as I matured. However, growing up in a conservative Afghan-American household it was also encouraged to pursue a generic or “safe” career path similar to engineering, business, or medicine which guaranteed a secure lifestyle like my parents. To please my mom I majored in Pharmacy, and throughout the process I realized it wasn’t for me. I felt boxed and unable to express myself. I felt I was letting my mom down if I chose a different path, but she slowly became open to having balance. Read more>>

David Port | Port Design Company

I was always fascinated with sports design and team uniforms from a young age. I played every single sport you can think of growing up but my love for baseball was always #1. I was grateful to continue my baseball career at Appalachian State University. In my senior year, I was given the opportunity to design a new uniform with Wilson. Through that process, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in sports and design. Seeing an idea come to life from start to finish was a very rewarding feeling. Read more>>

Samuel Presley | Photographer & Videographer

I think that sometimes we forget that our passions are what make life worth living. I want my life to be doing what I love to do, and I’ve just decided not to compromise on that. I feel a little bit like it wasn’t a choice for me. I couldn’t imagine living my life any other way than relentlessly pursuing my passions. And for me, that means creating content and using cameras to tell stories and preserve moments. Read more>>

Grey Darrah | Portrait Photographer/Artist & Woodturner

My mother was an artist and from an early age, I had a love of beautiful things. My favorite painter is John Singer Sargent and I find paintings of timeless, classic scenes or people hold the awe and respect of the viewer more than trendy art. I was in the Marine Corps when I began focusing on photography. I sculpted marble for a while, and continue to turn and sell wood vessels from my wood shop, but creating beautiful photographic images for my clients is my passion. I always knew I would be self-employed in some capacity and have been blessed to have a successful portrait studio since 2004. Read more>>

Daniel Grier | Artist DKG

I chose a creative career after many attempts to make the corporate world work for me. My college career and professional background is mostly in the healthcare field. I have worked from hospitals and emergency rooms to non profits. But nothing made me come alive like being creative. During my 9-5 days, after starting my brand almost 7yrs ago, my days became full of anxiety and I was depressed unknowingly for years. My creativity was literally the only thing I had to look forward to. I had to start laying the groundwork for myself to make my dreams a reality. That took a lot of time and work but it was very worth it. It means more to me to be living as my highest and greatest self than to be safe on a job working someone else’s dream knowing I was called to something much greater. Read more>>