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.

Asim Nichols

I’ve been fortunate to have had several careers but music is the most fulfilling from a personal standpoint. I’ve always had a need to express myself through physical action and playing an instrument allows me that opportunity. Although I primarily create music that is meaningful to me, should people also find meaning in my work…well that is an added plus. In truth I feel like I had no choice in pursuing a creative career. There’s an energy in my body that demands an outlet. Music has always been a channel for that release. It’s only become a career as a natural progression of the creative process. Read more>>

James Mills | Owner, Paragon Booking

I spent a lot of time working in food service. Waiting tables late into the night to pay my way through college, and continued working “normal” jobs at desks in offices for a few years after graduating and moving to Phoenix. These jobs paid the bills, but they always felt like a waste of time. No matter what, I’ve always been happiest working on something that was entirely my own. I wanted to spend my time using my creativity for something productive. I’ve owned several other business in the past: including a mobile recording studio and a hip-hop jewelry store. Even when my businesses were struggling to get off the ground, it always felt fulfilling to use my creative mind and business sense to build something new. Read more>>

Amanda Malek-Ahmadi | Mother, Author, Professional Contemporary Dance and Dance Teacher

A career in the arts was not something I considered when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. What I did know was that I wanted to work with children and in the back of my mind I wanted to fulfill my childhood dream, since my first author visit experience, of writing a children’s book. But being an author had just seemed like a fantasy not something that would ever be reality. My plan was to be an elementary school teacher. I received my degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona and thanks to Kevin and Meri Bender asking me to be a teacher assistant at the dance studio my junior year of high school I chose to also minor in Dance. I don’t know that I would have ever thought to teach dance had it not been for the Benders and now I can’t imagine doing anything else, besides writing of course!. Read more>>

Hanna Donahue | Salon Owner/JPMS Certified Master Colorist.

I pursued Cosmetology, I LOVE color. I wanted to take my obession and turn it into a career. When I was a kid, I always cut my friends hair, and study hair on my favorite tv shows, but i was under pressure to go to college, so hair went on the back burner. After, a few years in College, I eventually graduated and at the young age of 22 I started my Professional Career as a Paralegal. I was not ready for this type of job. And, after a few years I left that career, and started as of course a server and bartender. And, once again Cosmetology School was put on hold. Years, go by, and now I’m ready to go to Cosmetology School. I fall in love with School and think, this is it, finally my chance. The one dis service they give to you in school is they dont prepeare you and us for “The Big Picture”, life after school. Sure you get your fundamentals in school, but the experience does not come until after wards, mine came about 8 years into my career. I learned how to accept my place and my talents within myself and for my job that I love, I fully fell In Love with Hair and all things Color. Read more>>

Jess Suworoff | Commercial Food Stylist

I ended up in a creative career because it always felt like the right fit and has always been the most fulfilling for me. I grew up in a household where one parent was a professional artist and the other a professional art conservator, so I was exposed early to two very different careers in the art world (an artist vs one that supported creative/artistic work). This difference is something I’ve experimented with in my career since working in Advertising Photography. I identify with the term creative, more so than the term artistic. Ultimately, these experiences led me to food styling. Read more>>

Jay Estrada | Portrait & Wedding photographer

I have always been interested in the creative and artistic realm, but with all the hobbies that I have tested and tried, photography has been something that has have stuck long enough. I never really thought about having an audience over my work, until I had some family and friends, and some social media to give me a push to, “why not give it a try?”. Read more>>