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.

Kelton Osborn | Artist

Both of my parents are scientists and I was raised to question and explore. I have an innate capacity for spatial problem solving. For me, architecture was a natural fit. My education and training provided the foundations to build my art practice. I love exploration with materials and am constantly experimenting with both two-dimensional and three-dimensional creations. It was a natural transition to move into the public art realm from the architecture world. I have been able to utilize my experiences creating buildings and apply them to my large-scale public art projects. One of the skills that I have found to be very important in my public art practice is my ability to project manage, including creating schedules and budgets. My studio practice has become a great source of happiness for me, it is not a job but a desire that I am able to pursue each day. I feel very fortunate to have opportunities that allow my creations to be placed out in the public. I feel complete when I am able to make things, design is a therapy of sorts. I am lucky to have a career that follows my passions. Read more>>

Sarah Anderson | Musician and Pilates Instructor

I knew from a young age that the “normal” way of doing things was not for me. Music has always been a huge part of my life and 100% got me through high school! Soon after I graduated, my first band Paper Bird was formed and I never looked back. I honestly don’t really feel like I actively pursued an artistic/creative career…it just happened! I know it’s a HUGE privilege to live a “follow your heart and gut” lifestyle, but it has always worked for me. I really trust the deep down YES’S and NO’S and feel guided by them every day. I’m definitely not saying it’s been easy though! So many ups and downs. Read more>>

Brielle Killip | Designer / Maker

I think creativity was bred into me. My mom was a designer at Hallmark in the late 60s/early 70s. My dad was a dentist/dental teacher. One of his major hobbies was wood carving and he has carved/built full-sized carousel animals, including 10 that are on a operating carousel. They always encouraged me in all my activities. I always seemed to be making something. I loved figuring out creative ways to solve problems. Read more>>

Andi Lynne Darko | Filmmaker and Mixed Media Artist

I’ve never really seen any other way of moving forward than to create; I often get the feeling of a wolf trapped in cage, and creation has been a way to escape. There’s something prophetic or spiritual in the act of performing and constructing new landscapes. For me, creating moving image and mixed media works has offered a space where I’ve been able to process and reclaim my experiences of being bipolar, and to understand both trauma and healing. I make work that is very personal, but I hope that there’s something in the energy it manifests that can help to heal others who feel a similar sense of being too wild for the world around them–I hope they can access a bigger space through the worlds I create. I also feel very very blessed to have the privilege of pursuing creation professionally, and have a lot of people to thank for that. Read more>>

Neil Sullivan | Musician / Craftsmen

My choice to pursue a career as a musician stemmed from my desire to live a meaningful life. I was born in Concord, Massachusetts about three miles from the site of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond. As a young musician finding catharsis and purpose within my craft, his words emboldened me. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…” The place I grew up in had an overwhelming culture of pressure to succeed and to achieve status. For me, music became the bridge between my inner and outer worlds. I knew dedicating myself to my art form would lead me on a path pure of heart, aligned with the Thoreau-inspired vision I believed in: to be bold and true. At the same time I believed that it was a calling that could also reconcile the pressure to be successful, as long as I worked hard enough at my goal. Read more>>

Alejandra Fontao | Dance Studio Owner & Latin Dance Instructor

Both Reni and I enjoy creating art through dance, and it would be difficult to imagine working in a career that did not have a creative opportunity. Plus we want to challenge our minds and body. We never wanted repetition in our career even though we have held repetitive part-time jobs that served as a stepping stone. We knew that there was going to be a time in which we could pursue something with more depth. In our weekly schedule, we rehearse routines, drill dance exercises, choreograph, create new ways to teach, teach lessons (group and private), and coach performance teams. This career is not free from repetition, in one performance team practice we can run the same choreography for a show over 30 or 40 times. However, there is always something to learn and there is always something to refine which makes the rehearsal itself exciting and challenging. It is even rewarding to come up with a solution to a problem that was a previous limitation. Read more>>

Eve Devore | Artist

I’ve been creating for as long as I remember myself. Making art has always been an essential part of me and of how I process the world around me. My parents strongly advised me against choosing art as a career so I got a Master’s in Electrical Engineering (both of them are engineers) and kept painting as a hobby. All the time spent in university and then working an engineering job I felt like I was losing myself more and more. Things just didn’t feel right. But I kept on dreaming, painting in my spare time, hoping that one day I’ll be able to do what I truly love full-time. Only after moving to New York (I’m originally from Ukraine), I got a chance to follow my dream. It felt like jumping from a cliff into the deep unknown. For me choosing to pursue an art career was one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself. It allowed me to feel that I’m doing the right thing with my life for the very first time in years. Read more>>

Sara Schalliol-Hodge | Artist & Product Designer

I was definitely born an artist. In my first-day-of-kindergarten photo, I’m proudly standing in front of one of my paintings (which is displayed on an easel that my dad made me, but we’ll get to that later). I had a natural interest in art from a young age and I was lucky to have parents who encouraged almost all of my artistic whims. I never focused on one medium for too long because I wanted to explore them all. In highschool, I threw pottery, melted glass into beads, sewed clothes, made pinhole cameras, learned to weave, and built furniture with my dad. I’m probably missing some things, but you get the idea. I’ve always wanted to make everything. I don’t just want to make a shirt. I want to design the fabric, find a way to manufacture the fabric, draft the pattern, and then sew the shirt. For better or worse, I refused to consider anywhere but art school for college and I only applied to one school- the Savannah College of Art and Design. I was fearful of becoming one of those “starving artists” that everyone seemed to warn me about, so I made sure to select a path that was more applied art than fine art. Read more>>

Regan L. Rouse | Heartfelt Photographer & Writer

I love this question because the answer, while remaining true over the course of my career, has shifted many times as I have evolved. Not just as a photographer, but from the time I discovered photography at a young age, throughout my education and now as a mother. It is a language I am always speaking. I am not sure that I could have escaped it. There is passion in this kind of artistic language and it has connected me to my clients & family and taken on a life of its own. Read more>>

Keenan Goodwine | Animatior/Illustrator

I’ve always been drawn to creation and making my own things. Whether it’s music or art, I’ve wanted to inspire people with my own creations in the same way that my favorite artists have inspired me. Human imagination can evoke our deepest emotions. I’ve been lucky enough to combine music and art in my career, and I feel very lucky to be working alongside other inspiring creatives. Read more>>

Matthew Fredricey | Artist

I’ve always loved creating art, so why not make some of my income from doing something I love. Creating art means so many things to me. In addition to being a source of income, creating art is my meditation; part of my spiritual practice; a way to connect with others; and of course, it is an enjoyable endeavor. Read more>>

Ramona Koon | Portrait and Fine Art Photographer

I have always loved photography. I grew up with a camera in my hands. There wasn’t an event or a trip I went on that I wasn’t filling up my film rolls, or memory cards. As our children got older I decided it was time to fulfill my dream and develop my hobby into a business. Being able to capture special moments and help others see the beauty in themselves is an amazing feeling. Plus I love that I can create my own sets and get super creative in my shoots. I’m all about having fun and doing what it takes to get the perfect shot. Read more>>

Leif Routman | Musician & Cook

I don’t really think it was ever a conscious choice to pursue a creative career; rather my decision making process has been to put one foot in front of the other, keep my eyes open wide to any interesting pathway, and do the work to prepare myself for whatever intriguing opportunities come my way. Plus it’s way more fun than working for someone else. Read more>>

Suzi Q. Smith | Artist, Activist, Educator

I’ve been writing poetry for as long as I could write anything, and sharing my poems out loud with friends and strangers since I was a teenager. Professionally, I started out working for a non-profit civil rights organization. During this time, I was still writing and performing poems in cafes all over Denver. Then, I spent about a decade working in the corporate world. I was still writing and performing poems, hosting open mics, building writing communities, and beginning to tour outside of Denver. As my career as a writer & performing artist grew, my capacity for the corporate career diminished. I was afraid to leave the security of my day job, especially as a single mom, but the two paths were no longer compatible. Eventually, I was left with only one path open to me, and that was the path of the artist. Read more>>