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.

Lena Huang | Handlettering Artist

The beauty of being a creative is being able to express yourself in unique and sometimes unconventional ways. I picked up handlettering and calligraphy at a time in my life where there were a lot of unknowns, and putting pen to paper and expressing myself through words gave me the outlet I needed. I love that I can let my mind wander and just “be” when I’m creating, and that there’s no right or wrong way to create something. I love challenging myself to learn new techniques and use new mediums and I love being able to produce something I’m proud of and share it with the world. Read more>>

iirie Earnest | Holistic Professional, Cannabis Advocate & Business Owner

I am a person who cannot just take a job to make money. I understand it and have done it many times in my life, because truth is we all have to make money to live. I really just want to do what makes me happy all day like working on holistic health, exploring vegan food and supporting people in changing their diets, Being an advocate for cannabis and showing people who it has helped me I share with my husband which are ReBeLFoodie ByPoe & Earnestly iirie. Did I mention we do music too? We have a music and art collective called GuilttyByStanderZ. You can find some of out music and videos on our Instagram @guilttybystanderz. See all these things are important to me. My businesses and passions keep me excited about making money thru sharing and connecting with people daily. The give and take of that feels good to me. Read more>>

Cathlyn Choi | Entrepreneur, Media Activist, Show Host & TV/Film Producer

My early life living in both Seoul, Korea and Brunei on the Island of Borneo in the Pacific gave me a unique perspective on life, as I assimilated into two very different cultures. Growing up I enjoyed listening to English pop songs and watching American movies and TV shows, which inspired me to dream of coming to the US someday and become part of that far off world. However, one aspect that was consistent was my fascination with creative media arts and music, and how it had the power to transcend cultures and languages in sharing the human experience. When I was 9 years old, I saw a schoolmate of mine performing music on a live television program called Stars of Brunei, I knew then it was exactly what I wanted, to be in front of the camera. So I enrolled myself at a music school and learned how to play the electric organ, practicing 5 hours every day after school, until I memorized and perfected how to play 10 songs flawlessly. Read more>>

Carole Degnan | Artist

I think my pursuit of creativity has been a very quiet and natural progression in my life. Starting with early memories as a child experiencing color, texture, and shapes, I found ways to express myself in a unique ways. For many years I expressed myself through my work in culinary arts, a comfortable job that helped me portray who I was as a person . I learned so much about who I was through this creative passion, and I’m so grateful for the all it taught me. Now in my senior years I’m still driven by a strong emotional pull to be expressive and now find myself continuing my journey through another expression of my identity, painting. Reflecting on my life so far, it has been a quiet creative dance of trying to express myself through my work and my play. I have no doubt that I am doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. Read more>>

Kimber Aubin | Designer & Mom

After spending two decades in jobs that just paid the bills, I decided it was time to try something new. Painting and drawing have been a part of my life since childhood, however becoming a mother gave me that push to pursue something I had always wanted to try. Read more>>

Melissa Perry | Miniaturist & Fabricator

From a very young age I feel like an artistic life was the path for me. I was lucky my parents encouraged my creative spirit, and I was constantly making something. I was able to go to art camps and I studied art throughout school. At one point I had other plans to be a veterinarian or a marine biologist, but those haven’t worked out. In a way, being a miniaturist has been my fall back. When I discovered people made miniature work as a career I was so drawn in. It just made sense that I go in that direction. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I know my 8 year old self thinks I’m the coolest person, and that always makes me smile. Read more>>

JD Dumas | Performer, Voice Teacher, Music Director & Musician

I have always loved the arts and music. I grew up in a musical family where my mom plays piano, my dad plays the radio, and my maternal grandfather has a beautiful voice. I was raised with music all around me. I love to sing and was introduced to musical theatre as a young kid and absolutely loved the storytelling that came with singing. I, like many young musical kids, set my eyes for being on Broadway, and as I got older I realized there were so many more roles to play other than performer. I’ve had my share of non-artistic jobs, but the arts really makes me happy and gives me an opportunity to do so many creative and meaningful things. Read more>>

Astonn Hart | Photographer & Creative Director

For years I worked in offices pushing paperwork and never felt fulfilled and being creative is something that truly brings me peace and happiness. The true goal in life is to do something that you love so that it never feels like work and I can thankfully say I’m doing just that. Read more>>

Cathy Nguyen | Graphic Designer + Educator

I was a hardworking student when I was young–dedicated, studious, and competitive, even. I did very well in school, and it became like a sport for me to train my “muscles” for. I repressed any urge to take art classes even though, deep down, I felt an unexplainable curiosity about them. I dedicated my time and energy to excelling in more “practical” courses like math, sciences, and honors/AP courses so that I could create an impressive profile on my college applications. It seemed, and still seems, like that is what most colleges and universities look for. In high school, however, I began to read a lot of literature, and learned how to express my thoughts, arguments, and analysis through words, realizing that I actually enjoyed reading and writing. I realized how much more nuanced and complex words could be compared to numbers, so English quickly became my favorite class because it allowed me to think more freely and subjectively. Read more>>

Julie Fornazari | Cake and Pastry Artist

It was more of a coincidence. I was always very creative and artistic since I was a child, but I was never stimulated by my parents. The only class I was really great in school was Arts, but I guess that didn’t mean anything to them. I believe that back on that time the values were different and like many other parents, they had a different view on what career I should follow to be successful. I started baking when I worked at a bakery as a cashier and my friend that was the baker at that time got pregnant and asked me if I wanted to take her position. I had no clue what I was doing, but I got really interested and when I saw I was baking for all my friends and family, took over all the kitchen cabinets with pastry tools, when i decided to go to baking school. Read more>>

Joanna Otero | Writer & Board Certified Health & Wellness Nurse Coach

When I was 17 years old, I enrolled in a creative writing course for the elective portion of my high school curriculum. I got to give my highly anxious, scientific, mathematic, & logical mind a much needed vacation by leaning into my right brain and writing short stories, flash fiction, haikus, and other forms of poetry. I found so much peace, clarity and healing simply by putting pen to paper. At that time, I knew I loved writing- but didn’t think I could make a career out of it. I certainly couldn’t tell my immigrant parents who toiled so hard that I wanted a free-spirited, artistic & creative career. So I chose the safe route: I began nursing school that next year at the very ripe age of 18. More time spent thinking scientifically, mathematically, logically and you guessed it: highly anxious Between pharmacology, anatomy & physiology, microbiology, organic chemistry, statistics, pathophysiology and all the core nursing classes- we were told that nursing is an art and science. Read more>>

Andréa Agosto | Actor, Artist, Graphic Designer, & Content Creator

I love art. I have been in love with art for as long as I can remember. My father would tell me stories before bed, and even hand illustrate some of his stories for me. Watching him paint and play instruments, made me want to do the same. I somehow managed to keep this love despite not always doing the conventional things in elementary school. While mostly misunderstood, which made me feel isolated, I kept creating things that I was proud of. In middle school, I dabbled with illustration, began playing clarinet, and started writing my own stories. In high school, I thought I had it figured out: I would just focus on singing. That of course was due to the folly of youth, and I did not have it figured out. I did choir, theatre, dance, jazz band (picked up the tenor sax), and continued with visual art. I went to college for a Bachelor’s of Communication with an Emphasis in Film and Media Studies. I was able to find ways of incorporating my talents into a career as a Graphic Designer for an advertising company. Read more>>

Kiana Valdivieso | Owner of Vieso

I pursued an artistic/creative career because, firstly, I love the arts and all the form it comes in. When I began crafting jewelry, I found that it inspired the wearer to feel beautiful and empowered. Because it was so fulfilling to know that people wear my jewelry as an expression of their love for the arts, I continued to create. Additionally, this career has allowed me to develop a balance in my life as I pursue a college degree and work two other jobs. Read more>>