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.

Chieko Murasugi | Painter & Mixed-Media Artist

I always loved to paint and draw but did not become a professional artist until I had earned a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology and worked as a postdoctoral researcher in visual neuroscience. It was only then that I realized that my native talents and passion lie in art, not science. I had studied art, as well as psychology, as a college student but could not imagine a life as an artist at the time. When I finally made the commitment to be an artist, it felt like the right decision and I was ready to give this career my 100%. Read more>>

Kristen Williams | Filmmaker, Animator, Photographer & Artist

Ever since I was young, I’ve loved art in all its forms. Art has always been the most important form of self-expression for me, whether I was creating it or being moved by it. I’ve struggled with my mental health throughout basically the entirety of my life, so having an outlet for all the strange, difficult things I feel has been my most important tool in understanding and surviving my mind and the world around me. I started drawing and doing digital art when I was 8 or 9 and, as I grew older, I found myself drawn towards more collaborative art forms like film and photography. I’ve found that nothing brings me more genuine euphoria than creating with other amazing, talented individuals. My greatest dream is to spend the rest of my life creating beautiful, authentic, weird, and emotional works with people I love, whose work I love. That’s why I decided to pursue a creative career. If we’re gonna spend such a large portion of our lives working, I wanted to spend it creating lovely things with lovely people Read more>>

Olivia Abtahi | Author & Filmmaker

My parents absolutely pushed me to have a creative career. I remember applying to colleges and thinking I would do something in International Relations (lol, I am terrible at this, why did I think this could be a good career?) when my father sat me down and said I should go to film school. “You’re always watching movies and making movies with your friends. You should apply.” It is the opposite of many first-generation kids’ experiences, and for that I am very grateful. After that, I got into NYU and began working on documentaries for causes and companies. Only in the last five years did I pivot to becoming an author, and I still work on documentaries when my schedule lines up. Read more>>

Cara Keyser | Professional Musician

I pursued my artistic career as a professional musician by accident. I grew up writing music and performing, but I never knew it would turn into my career and my life long dream. I played some events a few times, but mostly just open mics when I was young. One night I played an open mic after a long hiatus, and the bartender pulled me aside after my set. He said I was good enough to play a solo show on a weekend night. That started the beginning of my journey as a gigging musician. I started off playing the piano, but I switched over to the guitar and mandolin later in life. I play music because I like to see the way my art impacts people. I play music because it makes people smile and feel joy. I play music because it makes people cry and feel sorrow. I play music because it makes people dance. The emotions are linked to sound and movement very profoundly. My goal is to move people musically and therapeutically whether that be my students, fans or even family members and friends. Music is very spiritual for me. I write from source. I create from the divine, whether that be light work or shadow work. I aspire to help others grow through music. Read more>>

Ashley Lougheed | Cosmetic Tattoo Artist & Physician Assistant

As a child I was always interested in art and creativity. I loved working with my hands to build and create new things, whether it be from clay, woodworking, paint, photography or mixed media. As a teen that creativity bled into forms of self expression with playful hair, makeup and clothes. I was often (politely) labeled as “unique”, or “marching to the beat of her own drum”. But I love the freedom that comes with the lack of defined boundaries and structure. Being a cosmetic tattoo artist allows me to use my love for working with my hands and creativity to help others feel confident and empowered. Read more>>

Kristian DePue | Writer & Journalist

I’ve always had a lively imagination – since a child. When young, I was a fan of Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Darkwing Duck, Tail Spin, and later Star Trek. In elementary school, I remember performing impressions of Ace Ventura and Elvis Presley in front of classmates and teachers. In high school, I was obsessed with films – and even made shoddy shorts with my friends. Anytime assigned a creative project, my friends and I would make a video. A few years later, I acted in student films and community theatre. However, I live from a conflicted character – I can be quite analytical. In high school, I excelled in mathematics more than other courses. Personality tests confirm this as well, especially the Enneagram – which seems to be all the rage these days … to the point of annoyance. My personality type is 6w7, meaning my primary type is a six: characterized by anxiety and a need for security and reassurance – a “play it safe” mentality. However, my “wing personality” (secondary type) is the nearly the opposite: spontaneous and adventurous. Read more>>