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.

LeOndra Mailo | Fashion Designer

I decided to pursue a career in fashion design because I have the responsibility to at least try to live my life by following my dreams, no longer allowing fear or risks to set me back but using joy and determination as my drive to live my life freely! I was 17 years old applying for colleges and deep down I knew I wanted to attend FIDM, so I applied and got accepted but I was afraid. I feared failure and the risk of pursuing a fashion design career due to the stereotype that these careers are risky and financially unstable. So instead of following my passion I went to a 4 year state university and received a “safe” accounting degree. Fast forward roughly 10 years I’m working in the financial industry but I still have the urge to pursue fashion. Read more>>

Gabe Lehrer | Guitarist, Singer-Songwriter & Audio Engineer

I chose to pursue a creative career at a very young age! I started playing music as a toddler, and although my specific goals and aspirations have changed since then, I’ve always been sure that I want to spend my life making music. I studied classical guitar up until my 18th birthday, which is something I’ve always been grateful for. I think classical training on any instrument provides an excellent foundation on which to build, regardless of what genre you end up playing. When I was younger there was a time when I wanted to be a famous classical guitarist (and I remember telling people that). But once I got into junior high I started to write pop songs, and definitely had a big mental shift in that direction! Folk/pop genres have been my biggest passion since then. Read more>>

Arizona Bell | Author & Entrepreneur

I realized early on that I was not built for the corporate life of working every day for some nameless faced CEO’s dream. I had cushy corporate offers almost immediately after graduating college, and did consider taking them, but I chose to decline the big salary and cozy benefits package and get a part-time job at Starbucks so that I could develop my freelance writing career instead. I was fortunate to have a mother who worked her entire life in the corporate world and, knowing me better than anyone in the world, encouraged me not to follow in her footsteps. Every parent wants a better life for their child than they had, and she knew my personality would wither in such a restrictive corporate setting. So, I went all in on creativity and long put in my dues as an underpaid (or, early on, never-paid) writer for many years, gradually climbed the slippery ladder of the creative career path, and the tenacity certainly paid off in the end. Now I work fully for myself doing what I love, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way! Read more>>

Shamon Arizona Bamm Ingram | General Manager & Sign Spinner

The reason why I chose an artistic career, is simple, I was born to do this. I have always been a social butterfly and love interacting with people. To be honest this job found me, no one at the Denny’s I was working at wanted to hold the “silly sign”. The Denny’s had just opened up in Scottsdale so business was slow, it was a ghost town. I like to dance so I asked if I can wear my head phone and dance while holding the sign. Management agreed and in a matter of a week we went from a ghost town to a new popular place to eat. Soon after the owner of the AARROW franchise is Arizona offered me a job as a professional sign spinner. Read more>>

Emily Hirtle | Painter and Drawing & Painting Instructor

I chose an artistic career, because drawing and painting I always liked doing on the side in my earlier years and I come from a family of artists. When I was a kid and a teen. My main interest was theatre then I came back to drawing and painting in my early 20’s. Drawing and Painting has always been there and all along that is what I am meant to do is paint and teach drawing and painting to adults. My education I received my BFA and Certificate in Painting from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2017 and in 2019 I received my MFA in Drawing from The New York Academy of Art. My work is apart of notable collections such as Model/Actress Brooke Shields, Actor Aidan Turner President David Kratz of the NYAA and The Linda Lee Alter Collection in Philadelhia, Pennsylvania. Read more>>