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.

Ryan Ashburn | Visual Director, Editor.

I’ve always been attracted to / fascinated with what goes on behind the cameras to make a professional film. Ever since a kid I found myself more interested in behind the scenes footage than the actual films. As I got older I started filming skateboarding videos with my buddies in middle school then go home & spend countless amounts of hours editing our skateboarding videos. I was never fully pleased with my projects even though I felt I was giving everything I had. That motivated me to keep at it and stay productive. I’ve still got much to learn but I know where i’m headed. I couldn’t imagine myself choosing any other career. Read more>>

Jody Abssy | I Am An Artist.

My life spirals around my art. No matter where in the world I have lived Art helps me make sense of life. At various points I have tried to put Art aside and act normal. Impossible! Creating art feels me with joy and energy. It is my best means of being fully alive. Art can predict. Art can heal. Art can call us to social justice. Art can inform. Art can delight and lift us. I am an artist. Read more>>

Melinda Braathen | Artist, Painter

When I was a kid, I pursued tennis and fashion design with equal intensity. Tennis felt like a living, physical conversation between two to four people. It mattered how I set up and how I showed up for each point. The more technique and concentration I cultivated the more I could deeply observe and participate in the unfolding dynamics, emerging patterns, space, time, tempo, direction, and outcome of the physical dialogue. I was also fascinated by fashion design and created my own clothes in high school. I was drawn in by the myriad ways that color and form could alter my everyday perception and experience. But I kept realizing that I wanted to be designing for a different layer of the body. I was interested in psychology, the emotional body, energy systems, language, and physiology. I was captivated by internal states that were constantly changing. Read more>>

Nicol Hodges | Runner, Artist, and Global Creative Manager

At the age of 13, I developed Osgood-Schlatter disease. It’s not as bad as it sounds but when you’re 13, it’s everything. Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs in young teenagers who have growth spurts and the bones below the knee caps become lumpy and extremely painful. The doctor told me I couldn’t participate in any physical activity for nearly a year. So, to keep me sane and busy, my mother purchased paints, pencils, markers, plus “how to draw” books and that’s when I became an artist. I painted on everything from t-shirts to massive banners for my high school football team. Painting and drawing soon became a small business during my junior and senior year in high school. In college, I majored in apparel manufacturing and design while running for the University of Columbia-MO. There I learned art history, garment construction, as well as product development. My first job out of college was retail management and it wasn’t enough, so I moved to LA to become a designer. Read more>>

Courtney Avery | Health Educator & Yoga Teacher

I believe health education empowers people to care for their bodies. I also believe yoga empowers people to feel connected to their bodies. They both worked really well for me, and my clients. I realized there was a huge benefit in combining the two, especially when it comes to sexual & reproductive health. So many of us were never encouraged to feel our bodies, use our muscles, or experience pleasure. I wanted to change the narrative, so I pursued a creative career to combine the two. Read more>>

Andi Dukleth | Comic Illustrator and Writer

I distinctly remember the feeling I got when I discovered Inu-Yasha in the 6th grade. I read the first volume and thought to myself, “This is really cool! I want to do something like that one day!” I carried that hope with me into high school, where I started making comics about my friends and I. The look on their faces when they saw our shenanigans in comic strip form was priceless. It cemented my love for drawing comics and illustration. Ultimately in college, I wanted to choose something both creative and pragmatic, so I focused on video production. This was mainly due to the fact that we were still coming out of the 2008 recession and the job market was still volatile. It wasn’t until five years ago that I realized that I wanted to take my illustration ambitions more seriously. So I attended Comic Fest in the hopes of making connections with other local artists. Since then, I became part of a comic collective called the Accidental Aliens. In the 4 years that we’ve been active. Read more>>

Bama Art | Artist

When I started college when I was 18, I had no idea about the career path I wanted to take. I took business administration to start and became bored, but also learned a lot about being in business for myself. I knew I wanted to do something in the arts and my college only had an interior design degree offered in that respect. I was very lucky to have the teachers and art classes that were included with my degree. Graphic rendering helped me learn perspective and rendering and using different mediums including ink, basic art taught me how to draw a body figure from live models, and art history taught me the study of objects of art within a certain time period, (painting, sculpture, and architecture) to learn when and how they were created. I knew that I wanted to create and use my own natural given talents to leave a mark in the world I live in. To be able to create something out of nothing is magical, and I wanted to make it part of my life to give people joy. Read more>>