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.

Carolyn Shulman | Folk Singer-Songwriter & Recording Artist

I felt called to share the songs I was writing, and to do that in the way I envisioned, I needed to focus my energy and resources on songwriting, recording, and marketing my album in a way that I could not do as a hobbyist. So, I embarked on this journey of transitioning my music from a lifelong hobby to a full time career. It has been challenging, but also fulfilling, and I’ve felt every step of the way that this was the right move for me. Although life as a professional musician is a far cry from my first career as a lawyer, a lot of what I learned in my prior work as an attorney has come in quite handy and helped guide me along the way. Read more>>

Michael Underwood | Nature Photographer

I pursued a career in photography because I wanted to spend time out in nature. I just wanted to be able to hike or spend the day looking for animals, but still feel like I was doing something and not just escaping from the real world, Photography gave me the excuse to visit these places and spend countless hours outside. After awhile, it become more about sharing the places and experiences I was having in hopes of bringing others closer to the natural world and to protect it. Read more>>

Edgar Rodriguez | Tattoo Artist

Ever since I was 12 years old I really enjoyed playing music and drawing. I went back and forth between playing guitar and skateboarding in my teen years, but drawing was always something I would do without even thinking about it. I started college immediately after high school to earn my associates in arts, but I didn’t have any drive or end-goal so I dropped out because I felt it was a waste of time and money. Through high school and college I was working as a server and bartender for 8 years. One day I was at work talking to the restaurant’s chef, Stefan Secchi, who had worked nearly 30 days straight without a single day off. Read more>>

Karlie Widhalm | Professional Photographer

Believe it or not, I was a Biochemistry major in college. I went to college for five years with the intention of attending pharmacy school. If you would have told me even a few years ago that I would drop out of college to start my own photography business, I would have never believed you. Many things lead me to change professions, but the main reason was my happiness. I was never happy in college, never excited to learn about proteins or the stereochemistry of organic compounds, and I kept telling myself, “next semester will be better,” “the next science class will be better,” and it never got better or became more interesting. When covid hit, and everything went online, it gave me more free time. I started to mess around with my old Canon Rebel t1i, and I LOVED it. Read more>>

Lindsey Hargesheimer | Photographer

I never thought I was creative growing up. All the other kids could draw or paint, and I felt like I just wasn’t a creative person. For the longest time, I thought since I was good at math and science that I would just go into a field related to that. However, once I got older, I discovered I was creative. Except my creativity didn’t have to do with a paintbrush and canvas, but instead my eyes and a camera. At first, I thought my photography would just be a hobby, something I did for fun when I had time. But then I realized what a true passion I had for it and that if I worked hard enough, I could make it my career. And so, I decided that I want to make the jump. I’m still in school right now and graduate in the spring, but I am excited to see where my creativity takes me in this field. When it comes to being a creator, everyday looks different. And that’s how I know I want to live my life. Read more>>

Dakota Schlager | Cinematographer & Photographer

I’ve always been an artistic person, even as a child. I grew up going to art camps, participating in 4-H projects, taking art classes, and always drawing or taking photos in my free time. At the end of my high school career when I was trying to decide what major to pursue I knew art was what I wanted to do the rest of my life. Art has always been an outlet for me and a way to express myself. It’s truly what I’m most passionate about. Read more>>

Dan Hochman | Singer Songwriter

At a certain point in the past few years, I realized that it really wasn’t an option for me not to create art. Anytime I found myself going through a change, challenge, or needing to process emotion, I’d turn to my guitar and start writing. That form of processing has allowed me to get to know deep parts of myself pretty viscerally and that’s helped me create music from an honest place. As any artist will tell you, creating honest art and sharing it with the world takes courage. For me, it challenges me to put my heart on display, and let people wear it for a while. I know that I’m creating meaningful music when I look out into an audience and see someone deeply affected by my songs. That level of connection and impact is part of what keeps me going. It’s also the main reason why I decided to pursue a career as a musician. Read more>>

Patrick Morris | Fine Art Photographer

When I was a child, my uncle worked for Kodak. He’d gone to RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) for photography, and worked with Kodak out of college until the mid-90s. Every so often, he’d send me a Kodak camera to play with, and some film. The first camera he gave me was a 110 format Mickey Mouse camera when I was around 7 or 8 years old. Due to some changes in how my county handled graduation requirements, I ended up with a lot of empty space in my schedule my senior year of high school. So I was able to take Photography 1 through 3 in a single year. I initially took it just to fill the extra space and it sounded fun. Read more>>

María Sánchez | Artist & Entrepreneur

From an early age I was involved with art. Since my childhood I have practiced music, painting and ballet. The last one, I practiced it full time until I was 22 years old. This allowed me to lead to different opportunities, so most part of my life I’ve been in a creative environment. After graduating from university, I questioned myself as to whether to pursue a corporate or creative path. For a few years I did not feel comfortable in a rigid rhythm of life, and that’s when I remembered that since my teenage years I knew that I did not want my life to unfold in the same dynamic that most people or society sees as safe, which translates as having the same corporate job for many years, going to an office and not changing or not taking any professional/personal risks. Read more>>

Sarah Blackwell | Artist

I have this sort-of craving in the back of my mind to create or to draw and I’ve been doing just those things for as long as I can remember. I feel the most at peace with myself and how I fit into this world when I’m drawing and bringing ideas to life. It feels like this path was chosen for me before I was even conceived. There was a time I had tried to convince myself otherwise, I tried to stop, tried to pursue other careers but nothing ever sticks in the way that drawing does. It’s almost instinctual for me. Like there’s some itch in the back of my brain that isn’t satisfied unless I’m creating something. Read more>>

Emily Ramsey | Art Teacher

I decided to open up my own “Paint & Sip” business because I truly believe everyone is an artist. Most people that join my classes have never picked up a paint brush in their life and they’re usually very critical of their ability to do the class before it even starts. I absolutely love seeing their face when they start getting into their painting and saying things like “wow! I can’t believe how great this looks!” Those are the moments that keep me teaching classes. Read more>>

Jesus Ramirez | Photojournalist

Growing up I was always a creative. I always looked at things in an artistic perspective especially with landscapes and nature. I started off with an old film camera when I was a kid and would take photos of anything I could. Back then it would just be more of just something fun to do , not realizing that later on in life photography would be a passion of mine. It was not until I was 18 years old that I would finally decide that I would want to take my photography seriously. Read more>>

Kaia Holbrook | Tattoo Artist

As far back as I can remember art has been the one thing that felt as if it came naturally to me. No matter how many interests came and went as I grew up drawing and later tattooing was the one to stick and stay. Art has always been what I feel most comfortable and confident in and enjoy no matter what state of mind I am in. I think that I pursued an artistic career because there really wasn’t ever another options for me because I don’t think I would be happy if I wasn’t creating daily. Read more>>

Garrett Young | Singer/Songwriter, Guitarist, Producer

I chose to pursue a career in music because I love to share my convictions and life experiences with others through songwriting. In addition to that, one of my greatest passions is playing live! I have always gravitated towards things that are creative, and that has led me to write music and perform in bands since my early teens. I’m 27 now, and my love for music has never wavered! Read more>>

Aves Willman | Freelance Illustration & Design

I’ve gone through so many separate journeys on the way to my creative career, the first path was pure and simple joy. I’m lucky to do what I do, and I love it. On a more complex level, it took me a while to understand what art and beauty mean to humanity and why they are important to us. Art is culture, and community. Art is the belief that your own story has weight and meaning in the world, art is the expression of hidden truth. So, while I’m still very much here for the happiness it brings me personally, I’ve found a much deeper connection to what I do. I pursue my career because It is the best way I know to help people understand themselves, their world, and the fact that everyone deserves beauty. Read more>>