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.

Hillary Clinton | Artist Manager & Record Label Executive

I love art. Period. What a better position to be in than to help real artists get their art heard, seen, felt and experienced? This is why my path led to management and record label work. There’s nothing more important to me than being a part of spreading music and putting it out in the universe. I started off at the beginning of my career working for promoters hopping from music festival to music festival and doing a ton of Artist Relations work, then moved into to touring, most notably with WWE and George Strait. This was my path that lead me to managing my first band, who I still manage, Lettuce. Read more>>

Jonathan Kaplan | Ceramic artist/ceramic designer, potter, educator, gallerist, author

I went to a coeducational Quaker boarding school instead of public high school where I was a terrific underachiever. I needed an arts class to graduate and they had a ceramics class. I was immediately hooked, derailing whatever desire I might have had to be a physician. Over my career, I have learned that people and relationships are the most important things. I have been very lucky to follow my muse for a very long time. I was always motivated to learn about everything in ceramics, and chose an academic route for my BFA and MFA. Everything else I learned by doing, making every possible mistake, many times over. I have worn many hats in the ceramics field, including owning a ceramic design and manufacturing company for 16 years. And yes while my life has been ceramic centric, I telemark ski, ride my road bike, and aspire to learn flamenco guitar. Read more>>

Jace Allen | Musician and Criminal Justice Reform Advocate (a.k.a. Jason Mendelson)

My musical career started as a teenager when it was easy, fun, and lucrative. I don’t think I appreciated it enough back then. Then I got injured and that was the end. Over the next 30 years, I was a software engineer, lawyer, startup founder, venture capitalist, and author. Music. continued to be part of my life and I would occasionally play in bands or even cut an album. But on the side, I began to write and produce my own music and found that the storytelling gave me immense satisfaction. I decided to go back to my first love of music as a decidedly middle-aged man. I even created a stage name: Jace Allen! For some reason, I feel like I can be more honest with a thinly-veiled alter ego. I also use my music to highlight charitable organizations and movements that I believe deeply in. I hope that people who connect with me artistically may also join me in those endeavors as well. Read more>>

Vivian Kim | MFA, Choreographer and Dance Educator

Sometimes I wonder myself why I chose this career path, but I know that there really wasn’t ever another option for me. Something in me always knew that dance was going to be my hobby, passion and career. There was never a “plan b” for me. It was all or nothing for me with dance. I solidified this thought after I auditioned for the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s dance program in Spring 2010 (my senior year of high school). UNL’s Dance Program focus is Modern dance, up until that audition I had done nothing but studio dance styles (jazz, tap, lyrical, ballet, pointe), but Modern dance opened a new door of movement for me. During my time at UNL, my passion and interest in dance grew more and more. The guest artists that were brought in to set dance works did Q&A sessions with the students on what it’s like being a dance professional, and I got glimpse of what was potentially in store for me post-graduation. Read more>>

Angel Lopez | Rollerskating Coach & Influencer

I started to fully pursue this because. Read more>>

Kuan-Jung Lu | Nail Artist & Educator

After 15 years since my first time knew about nail art, I realized my passion has never stopped. By the time, I met my husband and decided to stay in the US, i thought it should be the time to make my passion into a career. So, “Passion” and “Timing” are the keys. Read more>>

Dessa Nichols | Artist & DJ

Because I did not want to lose my soul in a corporate world ruled by patriarchal rules and regulations. As an Asian American, I have been discriminated and marginalized in every workplace situation my entire adulthood. Except for one creative agency in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They took me in and taught me what genuine camaraderie is. To this day I am proud to have been part of a family called Creative Bearings. I pursued a career to be creative because I wanted to meet like-minded and soul driven individuals. Sometimes it happens once in a lifetime and when it does, cherish every moment. Read more>>

Jordyn Koroneos | Photographer & World Traveler

I have always been a creative. Growing up, I loved everything to do with art, I was always drawing, taking pictures, or looking for ways to better enhance my artistic abilities. I decided to pursue an artistic career because I am passionate about it and believe in the work I do. As a photographer, I have made it my job to provide beautiful captures for families to enjoy for the rest of their lives. I love being able to play a part in that and use my creative abilities to give these portraits to others. I have also been very lucky to be able to travel the world and capture the beauty all around us. I have been to over 10 countries and had a camera at my side for each of those adventures. Showing off the elegance of our world has become another passion of mine. Read more>>

Zach Rich | Composer, Trombonist, Trumpeter, and Educator

The simple answer is that expressing myself through writing music is incredibly fulfilling, and it gives me a high next to nothing else. Like many in my field, I felt drawn to create music, and it just felt natural to continue down that path. Some things, especially emotions, are too complex to describe with words alone. As I’ve continued in this field, I realize that my favorite part of being a musician is the community. We musicians have a sort of unconditional love and appreciation of each other that can seem quite rare in this day and age. Read more>>

David Eichler | Photographer, Filmmaker and PR Agency Owner

Not a day of my life has been spent inhabiting anything but a creative career. I can’t say I ever made a choice. It just always has been my reality. I’ve had three creative careers. In my 20’s, I climbed the ladder in the film industry, producing films for Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox. I founded a PR/Ad agency 15 years ago representing clients like Tide and Dunkin’ Donuts. And, my greatest passion of all, I have been a photographer since I was a young boy. Much of that time, professionally. In college, I earned a degree in Film Studies. Have there been moments where I looked on enviously as my friends pursued more lucrative and stable paths like law and finance? Sure. But I also know how little they enjoy going to work. I see how much they have (literally) physically aged while bringing home that big paycheck but never being home to see their families. The point is I know the grass is definitely not greener, even if the bank account is. As a Best Picture Oscar-winning Producer told me early in my career if you can picture doing anything else (besides making movies) you might as well quit now because it’s going to be so hard you will want to quit hundreds of times down the road. Read more>>

Jillian Murphy | Colorado Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer

Before establishing J Murphy Photos LLC, I felt I was on a creative journey. As cliche as it sounds, it’s my favorite way of framing things (no pun intended). Actively taking risks, ignoring doubt and breaking out of established patterns to explore new horizons in my personal life have been essential for my growth, creative process and success as a photographer. In 2014, I picked up a camera and never looked back. Photography has inspired so many memories and connections with others. I love being able to imagine something beautiful and then go out and capture it just as much as I love being in the moment, seeing things more vividly though my lens. In many ways photography has enriched my life and continues to inspire and motivate me to get out and see the world more wholly. Starting my business is really just a piece of the picture (again, no pun intended). Read more>>

Joyce Fox | Designer and painter

As a kid I loved two things, animals and drawing. When I was a teenager I had my mind set on being a veterinarian but after studying in that path for a while I realized being in medicine was not really my passion. After that, I focused on my second skillo and that was drawing so I applied for architecture school and that was the best thing for me. Found my creative vain and that opened all sorts of paths into the field of the arts. Now I am an architect, designer and painter. Read more>>

Holly McClelland | Creative Designer/Painter & Storytelling Facilitator

I pursued an artistic and creative career mostly because I couldn’t imagine not doing that.My first job in high school was working for a friend’s dad who owned an advertising agency. I did sketches and learned how to use a stat camera and act like I was cool. Then I had to get another job as a waitress and wear pantyhose, and that lasted one day. Science was super interesting to me, and math was not super interesting to me – not in the math way. I used to check out Calculus books from the library when I was 10 or 11, so I could copy the way the math “looked.” I liked the way my pencil felt on the paper, the weight of a line, the sound of something important. I absorbed way it looked, the way the lines, arrows, letters, and numbers seemed to live together and solve problems. Read more>>

James Frecoe | Marketer & Designer

I pursued a creative career because it just felt right. I was always a creative, kinda out there child when it came to my way of thinking. However, I had a father that always fostered that way of thinking and continually encouraged me to pursue what made me happy. However, the moment I graduated high school, I got a corporate job and spent the next decade focused on analytics, data, and quality assurance. I thought this is what I had to do to make a living for myself and my family. In my final years at that job, I had a moment of realization that I was not a corporate guy. I’ve always been a visual learning and liked the idea of improving communications in a visual sense. Through that way I thinking, I discovered graphic design. Read more>>

Samantha Pascavis | Artist

It may be cliché, but art allows me a form of expression. My intention is to express myself to my own self through the process of creating an image, as art acts as a sort of stream of consciousness exercise that allows me to examine what’s mulling about in my mind and spirit. It’s when I make the most profound realizations about my thoughts and behaviors, when I am truly at my most self-aware and when the way forward is made most obvious. The image may not be a literal representation that communicates to the viewer an identifiable struggle, joy or thought, but people see these things in themselves and recognize the expression through the visual elements. To others, it is just a pretty deer and that’s okay too. Creating is also just plain fun and was an activity I was naturally drawn to, like most, as a young child. I was unable to think and feel about the circumstances of my childhood in a thorough and productive manner, so I look back and see now that drawing was a sort of escape from what I was developmentally unable to understand. It eventually progressed to be my major source of expression and reflection, which was particularly necessary when I became a teenager experiencing all the characteristic angst. Read more>>

Dariya Bryant | Art Dealer & Collector

I’ve always had a hunger to be creative and share it with the world. Growing up in Ukraine and Russia, I remember putting on “concerts” for my family at age 4 and emceeing for myself, “And now…performing for you live…!”) My mother noticed this spark, entering me into various televised talent competitions, the first of which I won at age 5. I had fan mail, trophies, everything—funny thing is as a child, I didn’t even comprehend I had won until years later. She made sure we always had heaps of art supplies around the house, and I would draw, paint, sew and crochet to my heart’s delight. When we immigrated, I remember a whole new world of opportunities before me—I could be anything I wanted to, not just a salesclerk or a bookkeeper (the most common jobs women hold in Russia). So when it came time to elect my major, I chose studio arts. I remember people asking me, “Art Degree? What are you going to do with THAT?!” There were a lot of doubting voices, but luckily. Read more>>

Juvelly Sarr | Singer songwriter

I’ve always wanted to sing professionally but never gathered the courage to do so. I would freeze and feel sick being on stage and the only reason I decided to go for it is when I realized that it was a waste to write such beautiful music and don’t share my gift with the world. Read more>>

Nikki Giron | Musician/Songwriter

I pursued an artistic/creative career because even from a very young age I was always creating and singing. I always knew I wanted to be a singer or some type of creative. I believe I owe it to my younger self to keep pursuing that passion. I believe it was meant for me. And it’s nice because of my day job I’m able to also apply my creative ideas. The real moment I realize that I wanted to be a musician and a songwriter was when I saw and was introduced to Elvis Presley for the first time on TV at that moment I knew. Read more>>

Jolene Gutiérrez | Children’s Author & Teacher Librarian

After I had my children, I kind of lost myself. I was a teacher, a librarian, a wife, and a mother, but who was I, really? What did I like to do? If I was gifted with a free day or even some free hours, what would I do? To answer that, I thought back to my childhood. What did I want to be when I grew up? I wanted to be a librarian, but I also wanted to be a writer. As I was tinkering with that idea and telling myself that I’d write a book someday, a couple of friends who shared a passion for the written word passed away, so my writing mission became even more important. I wanted to write to honor those friends who also wanted to write someday. Now, as a writer, I write to help kids connect with stories and see themselves within books. I write to make the world a better place. And I also write for selfish reasons. Every now and then, words pour out and make me feel connected to something bigger than me. That’s just magical. Read more>>

Denille E. Obermeyer | Abstract Painter + Business Owner

I didn’t realize I was “artistic” until my senior year of high school, when the art teacher introduced us to all the variations throughout the course of history. Seeing all the different ways of expression awakened in me a desire to pursue creative job opportunities. That’s what ultimately lead me to study art, photography, and graphic design, and eventually earned my bachelor in Fine Arts. That one class over 24 years ago, set my love of creating in motion!. Read more>>

Alyssa Dané | Artist

I feel like this career chose me. I was given a gift to hone and share with the world. It took me a long time to be comfortable to share that, but it gives me so much joy. Being able to do relate with other through music is so freeing. Read more>>