Artistic and creative careers are among the most rewarding, but they also come with unique challenges. We asked some of the city’s best creatives to tell us why they choose to pursue a creative career.

Scott Uhl | Musician

Ever since I was 16 and I started playing guitar, I knew that I wanted to do music as a career. I had no idea what was going to be involved at that point, because at that point I was just a teenager wanting to play as many Green Day, Linkin Park, and Nirvana songs as I could learn. But as I grew older, I realized how difficult it was to make a full time career out of being a musician. I quickly learned that I would have to be able to do multiple things within the bubble of “musician” in order to pull it off. So I can play in a band, I can compose music/scores, I can run and rent sound and equipment, I can teach (and then realize I did not want to teach anymore), video editing, etc. You have to be adaptable as a musician in order to be able to make a career out of it. Having multiple avenues of income is a huge important part. It allows me to not get stuck just doing one thing over and over again. It gives enough variety which keeps me interested and not bored. Read more>>

Angela Giles Klocke | Writer and Photographer

Pursuing a creative career has been more of what I’ve always done rather than making a conscious decision. I have been drawn to writing and the camera since I was a little girl. I found early on that these two areas — writing and photography — took me away from the hard parts of my young life, and it just grew from there. As an adult, after a successful start online as a writer, I stepped back and quit, wondering if I really liked writing and being creative, or was it just something I did because I had always done so to save myself from the painful life I was living. Turns out, quitting just showed me that I was made to be creative. While I have left and returned over the years, I have found I can’t stay away. The page calls, the camera beckons. When I give in and fully pursue, I am operating as the best version of myself. Read more>>

Chuck Roy | Comedian, Adjunct Faculty at The Community College of Denver.

When your jokes make an audience laugh the result is a crippling addiction to comedy. My previous career was politics, so comedy seemed like a natural alternative. Read more>>

Kaylee Ryan | Artist. Creator Of Magical & Colorful Mixed Media Pieces, Digital Artwork, Jewelry, Clothing & More.

I pursued an artistic career because being creative has always been my favorite outlet for my ever-overthinking brain. Creating is the one thing that makes me feel like me. Sometimes I forget who I am or start to compare myself & get down but when I’m working on a project it all comes back & I am proud to be me. Being able to create a business that people love, know & support and being able to share those feelings through my creations with people who just get it says it all. Being able to make a living & support myself through my creativity is an absolute dream. I’m not completely there yet but every time I make something, every art show I attend, I get one step closer to really establishing an artistic career for myself. So rewarding, so humbling, and such a good reminder that you can achieve anything you out your mind to. Read more>>

Staza Stone | Circus Performer & Co-Owner of Rainbow Militia

The arts are the beating heart of our society. They provide inspiration, solace, and a place to truly be oneself. Growing up I dabbled in several different art forms, each one coming at a time in my life when I really needed guidance. The arts helped to lay the pathway for me to walk. It was through music and drawing that I discovered who I was and the person I wanted to become. I was able to turn to the arts in times of grief and isolation. When I came upon the circus arts I felt as though a piece of myself had been found. To express emotions of all kinds through a different medium is truly a gift of this life. Whether that be through witnessing the creativity of others or exploring my own, the arts have always provided a safe space for me. I wanted to be able to give that feeling to others. One of the reasons we started Rainbow Militia is to give both performers and audiences alike that same experience. We want to bring forth safe places for expression, places to escape to, and places to feel hope. Read more>>

Thomas Carr | Archaeologist and Photographer

I think I chose to pursue an artistic career at a very early age. I’ve always consider art a way of life. I enjoyed drawing when I was young, and while I had some talent, I could tell it wasn’t my passion. I remember first being interested in taking photographs when I was around 12 years old, and it quickly became my passion. By age 15 I had my own darkroom and was showing my photographs in school art exhibitions, and in 1982 I was selected by the National YoungArts foundation as a “Promising Young Artist in Visual Arts”. Everyone thought I was going to be a professional photographer for a living, myself included, and for my first two years in college I was heading in that direction. I studied photography, filmmaking, and art history, but I also took anthropology classes. Then in the winter of 1985 while hiking deep in the woods of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, I came across the stone ruins of an 18th-century plantation house. I was so intrigued that I ended up volunteering on an archaeological research project at the site the following Spring. Read more>>

Barry Osborne | Singer-Songwriter, Marketing at Swallow Hill Music

This is a great but funny question to me because I am still trying to get comfortable with calling myself a creative person. If that sounds odd, I share that because I know I am not the only person who experiences this. For a large part of my adult life I carried with me a creative impulse that I suppressed because I felt that following a career in the arts, one that gave me the time and brain space to develop my creative voice, was impractical. By my late 30s, though, I realized denying who you are is an unhealthy way to live. I made a career change, from daily journalism to working in the Marketing Department at Swallow Hill Music. Working at Swallow Hill allowed me to meet, work with, and collaborate with working musicians and artists of many stripes. Getting to see how they worked inspired me. Working with creative people demystified things a bit, and as I learned from them, I realized I had a lot of life experience to share that they could draw from. I was able to find a supportive community of creative people who bolstered me in my musical pursuits. I was extremely fortunate and privileged to get to make my career change, something I remind myself of daily. Read more>>

Curtis Bergesen | Handmade Collage Artist

I was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Bethesda, MD. My parents raised me on a variety of good music and were always supportive of my creative endeavors. I started playing drums when I was around 11 or 12. I got into skateboarding, graffiti, and punk and hardcore music in middle school. I am an only child, so music and art were outlets I could enjoy and participate in by myself. In high school I excelled at making people laugh, smoking marijuana, playing in a band, and achieving Eagle Scout rank. I majored in Mass Communication at the University of Delaware, and had a weekly radio show for over 2 years called Mixed Vegetables. I played all genres, including unknown and up and coming bands. Promoting music on the airwaves led to booking and promoting concerts at the local dive bar. I would make show flyers using a mixture of collage and printing out text in different sizes and fonts using Word or Word Perfect. In May 2007 I moved to Brooklyn, NY, because I was ready for a change, knew a ton of people in the NYC area, and the live music scene was unparalleled. Read more>>

Emerald Boes | Creator of HORRID Magazine

I decided to create HORRID Magazine and pursue an artistic career because I believe it to be one of the most important aspects to a happy and healthy society. HORRID is a death-positive, dark art brand that focuses on topics that are usually pushed aside or not discussed. By bringing the darkness to light, we can use it to enable normalization and discussion of taboo topics such as death, mental illness, and more. Art has long been considered a therapy, and I believe it has a strong power unlike any other to help humans work through things and heal. I have long since used dark art as my own type of therapy, and so pursuing HORRID and an artistic career is my way of helping my community of artists do the same. Read more>>

Shay Davis | True Artist oil Painting on Canvas

I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. I have done many things in life and have had many different paths throughout life but the only true love is making art, which is an everyday thing now. Read more>>

Chaz Ultra | Artist

I pursued my artistic vocation for a very simple reason. Because I love it. I’m not interested in doing unenjoyable tasks for the purpose of making money. It’s fun for me to make music, to make music at a high level and I can’t help the fact that I will probably be doing it for as long as I am able. Read more>>

Kellie Fox | Multi-Passionate Artist

The simple answer is that an artistic career pursued me. Growing up I was always sensitive and creative. I drew constantly from the time I was a year old, losing myself to delightful flow. I was drawn to the stage: ballet, singing, and acting. Holding a marker or dancing under blinding lights felt so natural, like I’d done this in countless lifetimes before. However, I was also a “high-achieving” student, and absorbed the messages all around me in our culture about the instability and almost-guaranteed “failure” of arts careers. In high school I scored well on the PSAT and then the SAT, became a National Merit Finalist, and earned a scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin. What I wanted was to pursue a career in musical theatre performance (and I auditioned and was accepted to the top program in Texas). What I thought I needed was a practical path. I accepted the advice that I should choose a “real career” and save my passions for the weekend. Read more>>

Kadir Kojo | Fashion Designer & Photographer

I decided to partake on a creative career because life can get so crazy and stressful I need a career that allows me to control and express my emotions not feel like an a Amazon warehouse robot. Read more>>

Lane Elisabeth Oliver | Interior Designer

As a child, beautiful details caught my eye all the time–whether it was a textured fabric, a fallen leaf, a faceted geode or a snowflake. Every time I moved to a new space, whether it was my room at home or my college dorm, I customized the space with a combination of colors, textures, heirlooms and contemporary pieces. I found it both grounding and exhilarating to transform my interior spaces into unique art. Custom designing came naturally to me so I wanted to create a business where I could share my talent and work with people who wanted personalized spaces not just for living, but to make a life. Now I have 40 years of experience working closely with clients to bring their visions to life using assorted design styles and uniquely meaningful elements. The change in lifestyle due to COVID-19 brought me more people requesting online design. So I recently teamed up with talented artist Hannah Kirkwood to collaborate on a new online design service. Read more>>

Jasmine Dillavou | Artist & Creative Director

Art found me at a young age so pursing a creative path for my career was not so much a choice as it was a necessity. Everything that drives me, fullfills me and makes me who I am is my creative practice. When I’m not making art, I am going crazy. Art, whether curating, creating, teaching, art activism, what ever, is the only way I make sense of the world around me. I told myself, “This is not going to be easy at all, but I have to,” and it’s been worthy for my soul’s happiness to put everything I have into choosing this path everyday. Read more>>

DJ Lincks | Writer and Student

There didn’t feel like another option. I’m not unaware of the trials and misgivings that being a writer carries with it, but living my life in any other way just didn’t seem right. It wouldn’t be authentic to who I am as a person. Read more>>

Morgan Brubaker | Boutique Owner

My parents, who I own this business with, are both accountants much like most of my extended family; I don’t really come from a very creative family so to speak. Growing up I was constantly changing my Barbies’ outfits and loved drawing house floor plans when I was bored. As I grew older I always had an interest in business, economics, and entrepreneurship, but that alone wasn’t creative enough for me. In high school I joined the fashion program my local Nordstroms was hosting and realized that the fashion industry was a great place to blend my love for business with my creativite side. I started working at Nordstroms after the program finished and then continued in the industry ever since. Read more>>

Alex Van Keulen | Musician and Student

It came from my first encounter with real struggle a few years ago. Upon graduating college and starting a new job, I was very alone, and did not have the same support system I had previously. My best friend growing up, Austin, and I decided to voice our struggles and take them head on by writing songs, hoping that this process would help us work through the difficulties, as well as help others who eventually come across them. As our skill as musicians developed, our lives have developed accordingly. We are both married and living in a much more content state of being that when we first started creating. But we still have plenty to write about. Life is always a challenge, it just matters how you handle it. Read more>>

Lyudmila Agrich | Artist

Since I was little I always loved to draw. Over time that interest turned into pursuit of architectural profession which I thought would allow me to fully express my creative inspirations but later in life I realized that it was too technical and dry for my personality so I decided to quit architecture and dedicate my life to expressing myself on canvas. Read more>>

Tina Rea | Founder of QRZ Denver

I have had a lot of jobs since entering the workforce. I have worked in fast food, retail, the event industry, logistics, inventory, as well as been on staff at a church. Each one of these experiences helped formed me- they helped me realize things I was naturally good at, things I had to try harder at, things I enjoyed and things I did not like. For nearly any job, there are always pieces that are less “enjoyable” than others. But the older I get, the more I think about the level of fulfillment than the level of “enjoyment” a singular task or even profession brings you. All that to say, none of these jobs brought enough fulfillment to weigh out the time or toil and left important parts of me unused. Pursuing a creative career allows you to choose things that are “worth it” to you- worth the time, effort, tears and sweat. In many ways, it’s more risky and can be more stress inducing, but the payoff is greater when it meets your passions. Read more>>

Corben and Jason Wilkins | Atlas Eleven

We pursued an artistic career for two reasons. The main thing being the opportunity for adventures, seeing new venues and making new friends. We also see music as a very raw and universal language that helps us reach people, and if they want to, help them feel something much bigger. Read more>>

Thomas Mee | Designer and Project Manager

I have always loved the elements of design. When I was growing up I was always around creatives-cousins who were potters, an uncle who had a interior design firm, my father building houses and my mother a natural crafter. I think that all of that gave me a understanding of how design impacted peoples daily life, and ultimately landed me in the design world. When I am creating a design for someone helping them find how to best represent them and their brand I get a chance to see and try to understand what makes them feel happy or will drive their success. Read more>>

Gina E. Cline | Artist-The Maker of Things

Creativity is haunting. It walks slowly methodically behind you just to the left. A quick glance back and it’s gone. Hiding. Breathing. You know it’s there. You can feel it. It’s right there surely! I could’ve sworn. It lurks and waits. Stalks and premeditates. And once confronted in the day light grime, you come to accept this part of yourself that is the most true of who you are-more than spoken word or song can ever relay. You have come to terms with it. It’s an itch you can never fully scratch. A fix that only lasts so long. It’s unrelenting. It pokes and prods until the need is met. It’s glorious and profound and solidified quiet. It’s a way of being in the world. It’s the living proof of process in its very essence. It cannot be tamed. Ever. You can put creativity in a zoo but wild and given the chance, it will run free. And why shouldn’t it? Why shouldn’t it run free? Misunderstanding. We always try to tame that which we don’t understand. But we do understand this. Read more>>