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.

Christina Rios | Makeup Artist & Influencer

It’s literally in my blood. I was born from creativity and raised around creative people my whole childhood. My biological father was a DJ & had such an amazing passion for music. My Step Father who raised me is one of the most amazing artists I know. I’d watch him draw here & there and be in such in awe of his raw talent. He instilled in me at a young age to do something in this life that would give me meaning. To do something that I would love to wake up and be happy to do every day. He told me that I would know, when I knew what that was. I was around 15-16 when I did someone else makeup for the first time. It was the first look at them selves in the mirror that did it for me. It was the smile of my client that I knew Makeup Artistry was it for me. My clients faces are my canvas, my creative outlet. Then came social media and I realized I can also use my own face to be my creative outlet to express myself. My freelance Makeup Artistry took off from there. Read more>>

Jamie Nicole Jones | Illustrator

I knew illustration was the right career choice for me when I realized that I could spend hours and hours each day devoted to sketching new ideas and painting, and I wasn’t getting tired of it. It’s always been my hobby, but over the years it has become my passion! Art school also taught me all of the job opportunities that were possible with drawing and painting, and I decided that illustration was the right direction for my personal career, though it’s certainly not an easy one! The field is full of competition, and like many other creative careers, it takes discipline and determination. It takes a strong sense of purpose as well to keep working through rejection and dry spells. I think it’s important to pursue it with an openness to learn and grow throughout the journey. When opportunities do come along (and they will!), it’s the best feeling to not only work doing what you love most, but to see how happy your work can make someone else. As much joy as it gives me to illustrate something new, it’s equally as rewarding to help someone else’s vision come to life. That’s the main reason I chose to pursue illustration as a career. Read more>>

Melanie Garcia | Collage Artist, Art Educator & Costumer for Film

I’ve never considered a life or a career outside of the arts. Since I was young I was encouraged to create, as many children are, through drawing/scribbling or painting/splattering or sculpting/smashing play-doh. As I grew up that creativity was always present and I was fortunate to come from an immigrant family that encouraged pursuing any interest I wanted as long as I was dedicated and worked hard at it. While I didn’t know exactly what path I wanted to pursue in the arts, I knew that it would be in that direction and that I would probably have my fingers in a lot of different pies. Read more>>

Georgios Cherouvim | Computer Animator & Artist

I spend many of my teenage years dreaming of becoming a commercial pilot. At the time I would consume anything related to aviation, from building plastic models to learning the various flight procedures in flight simulators. Before I finished high school though, a friend introduced me to a few computer graphics and animation applications and I instantly got hooked up. I started learning on my own by experimenting and making simple images and animations, while trying to figure out what is possible. I quickly realized that Computer Graphics offer a whole new world for exploration, but also a creative outlet which I was trying to fill by making plastic planes. My fascination for the physics and the technicalities of flying, were replaced by programming and mathematics. and somehow the boundless nature of creativity felt a lot more appealing than flying the same route on a regular basis. I remember being worried that eventually the excitement of flying could be replaced by a monotonous routine. In retrospect I am glad my life took that course. Read more>>

Jesse Sutton | Commercial Photographer

Since early on, I’ve always wanted to pursue something to do with Art. I struggled for a long time to figure out what that focus in art would be. I dabbled in many mediums within art, drawing, painting, even graffiti. I started to focus my attention on graphic design in High School. I would make my friend’s bands flyers and work on their websites. For a while, I thought graphic design was the direction I would pursue. It wasn’t until I got my first DSLR that my path would change. My good friend Gabriel Valentin (currently in the band Digital Lizards of Doom) asked me to shoot his band’s upcoming show. I think this was like 2006 or 2007. At that point, I was highly focused on photography. I went to college for photography at California State University of Sacramento to learn more. At this point, I still didn’t know that this would be my career. I just wanted to nerd out more with photography. I don’t think it became clear to me until my senior year when I took a class with my professor Nigel Poor (who is currently co-host of Ear Hustle), where she really questioned my own abilities and creativity. I pushed myself to create something substantial. Read more>>

Michael Lopez | Photographer & Artist

I pursued an artistic career because art saved my life. When I was eleven years old my mental health began to decline. I was getting bullied a lot and I didn’t have a lot of friends, and for the longest time I was just the weird kid who didn’t talk much. Flash forward a couple of years I had just moved to Hawaii with my dad to get more sunshine and see the best medical doctors the military had to offer. I met my best friend Emma and that’s when my art career really took off. I was gifted my first camera and Emma made me swear that instead of hurting myself when I felt emotions I would take photos instead to express them. All the good emotion pictures I hung up on my walls and all the negative emotion pictures we’d save in a box and burn them at our next bonfire. Ever since I began using photography as a positive coping mechanism I have flourished mentally. I also was diagnosed as high functioning Aspergers when I was in high school (which explained so much to me and my parents about why appropriate social interaction was so difficult for me) and I now have learned to use photography to be more social and make friends and burst out of my comfort zone. Read more>>

Ian Logue | Musician & Songwriter

I’ve worked in lots of different industries over the years and have had multiple careers. My last career was as a structural inspector, great pay, great hours, relatively easy work, but it didn’t fulfill me and I found myself absolutely mentally drained by the end of the work week. I knew that the only thing that would keep me sane over the long haul would be to take the leap and try to make it work with a career as a musician. I’ve yet to achieve the kind of financial stability from my music that I would need to actually call it my career but I’ve certainly made steps in that direction, and the pursuit is most of the fun anyway. Read more>>

Vika S. Hernandez | Dance Artist & Alchemist

I believe every person is a creative being and we all have the ability to create beauty in our lives. After pursuing many different kinds of work, I realized that feeding my creative energy and dancing provided the most happiness and soulful nourishment. As an artist, I am always learning new things, challenging myself to dig deeper and create with purpose. I love that I have the opportunity to tell my own story and connect with other people in meaningful and uplifting ways. My art is my medicine. Read more>>

Stephen Bay | Fine Art Photography

I actually didn’t, at least not at first. I spent many years studying Engineering in college and after I got my degree I doubled down and did graduate work in computer science and machine learning. This is what brought me to Southern California — I spent four years at UC Irvine completing my doctorate degree. However, while I was enrolled I picked up a camera and started photographing. Initially it was just things I saw when I was out hiking or traveling for conferences. It was a great diversion and stress reliever. I continued photographing after I graduated and started working in Silicon Valley. After a while I realized I didn’t enjoy the corporate life and ended up switching my career to photography. It wasn’t an easy change or something I did lightly. I spent years doing photography part time before I had the courage to act. Read more>>