We asked some of the city’s rising stars about why they think they have been so successful and we’ve shared their responses below.

Claire Konkos | Realtor

I’ve always been inclined to the Creative, with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing and years spent in my youth performing through live Theatre and Improv. Regrettably, I became anxious about a career post graduation. I went for a safe and clear path, completing a Masters of Education and ultimately teaching for a decade in early childhood at the Kindergarten level. In this role, I nurtured my passion for creativity, relishing a curriculum built on storytelling, high quality children’s literature, dramatic play and expression through the arts. I believe this is fundamental to creative individuals. We will find a way to bring artistic energy into any work role. In my second career as a Realtor, I find immense satisfaction in narrating my experiences through Social Media. It has markedly helped grow my business. I radiate in the center stage of my Instagram platform. I’ve always worked very hard, but in Education one’s efforts aren’t easily shared beyond the classroom as the privacy of the children is paramount. Read more>>

Andrea Pro | Painter & Illustrator

I was drawn to art at a very young age, as early as 6 years old. I remember making drawings of things that I would see around my house or at school and feeling this need to document my daily life by drawing the world around me. As I grew older and my technical skills and art style improved, I was encouraged by my mentors to pursue a career in the arts, and I am glad I did. It feels so rewarding to see the growth that I have achieved in my work these past few years that I’ve been in college, and this continues to motivate me every day. Read more>>

Steveo Spirals | Creative Portrait Photographer

It’s inside of me and It needs to come out in some capacity whether I like it or not. To create is to be fully alive. More than just the final product the whole process from concepting to the experience in creating, visualizing, and crafting the narrative are the fruits of life for me. It’s brought me an immense amount of joy and healing to my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Read more>>

Ruby Velez | Photographer and Editor At Carnegiea Magazine

I think what’s helped me the most is, for lack of a better word, networking. Through keeping up with creative friends and seeking opportunities to collaborate when I can, I’ve cemented my role more in the Tucson arts community. Portraiture photography is a collaborative medium, and I always take the opportunity to work with new models and other photographers (when we’re not in a pandemic). The way I connected with Carnegiea Magazine was by keeping up with Sharmila Dey, one of the founders, about the goings-on at the magazine until I eventually joined. Additionally, I have a habit of sorting through my photo archives and trying out new editing styles with old photos, a process which has helped my style grow as a photographer. Read more>>

Anthony Molina | UI/UX Developer, Photographer, Freelance Sr. Art Director & Award Winning Indie Filmmaker

I’ve always been a firm believer that you have to keep on learning. You have to keep constantly evolving yourself, or you will be left behind. To be competitive in the creative realm as a whole, it should be expected. Plus, you should want to better yourself. It will only make you a better individual in the end. Read more>>

Christine Johnson | Photographer

I am obsessed with the “pomodoro technique”. Years ago, I met and stayed with a woman named Maryam Montegue in Marrakech Morocco. She is (among things), a writer, a designer, a human rights specialist, a speaker, the founder of Project Soar (a girls empowerment organization), a guide through the secret spaces in Morocco, a mother, a wife… and weirdly, it looked like she did everything so well. I asked her for her secret. Without hesitation, she probably said… “I am obsessed with the pomodoro technique”. I listened to her and bought the book. I set my phone timer to 25 minutes and I did my best to learn. And I did, maybe after six months of trying to understand and learn my habits. I have stuck with it for many years since. It has changed the way I think, price myself, tackle things I procrastinate on and it just simplified life in general. I have learned so much about myself and wished I had known about it before. I love it. Now, there is a book and it actually does require commitment for success, but in a nutshell, it is a reminder to focus on the big picture in everything you do. Do not get bogged down by the tiny details. Read more>>

Jay-Lee Smith | Hairstylist – Makeup Artist – Owner of Superstition Makeup Co.

I’ve always been an artist. It’s something I really can’t explain, I have always had it in me and it has just always been a part of my life. Once I got into high school I really fell in love with makeup and creating art on faces! I would stay up late at night creating makeup looks on myself, and friends. I was always busy helping my girlfriend’s get ready for dances and proms. It really all just hit me one day that this was my calling. I am so incredibly blessed to be able to express myself creatively on a daily basis, and get paid to do so! This is what I like to do for fun, and now I’ve made a thriving career and business out of it. It’s the only job I’ve ever had. I went to beauty school right after graduating high school, and I really could never imagine doing anything else. I am filled with gratitude on a daily basis that I get to help women look and feel amazing, create meaningful connections, and celebrate in life greatest moments with my amazing clients that trust my vision. I get to do all of this while simultaneously getting to express myself artistically and supporting my family in a career I am truly passionate about. Read more>>

Erica Lynne | E Alo – Melody Maker

I once heard, as an artist it’s our job to create art that inspires and lifts the weight of the world off of the shoulders of those who enjoy it… and by doing that we can change the world, and help make it a better place. That idea really rocked me. Music has touched my heart and captivated my mind like nothing else on this planet for as long as I can remember. I want to spend the rest of my life exploring my sonic creativity while sharing it with others, hoping to lift the weight off of their shoulders while warming their hearts & touching their souls. Read more>>

Cherrie Rodrigues | Artist and Hairstylist

‘Life imitates art’. A mantra I draw inspiration from often. Art was something I always loved and appreciated. My favorite artist of all time is Van Gogh. I love the impressionism style and really how forward thinking he was for his time. He inspires me to think outside of the box and constantly push the boundaries of art. His story is sad, but rings so true. Most artists never see their art in action and have no idea just how talented they really are. I pursued an artistic career to express my true self, my unfiltered, raw, individuality. That means hardships along the way, constant underappreciation, and plenty of rejection, but you are truly free in that art, truly uninhibited. Read more>>

Lauren Gehringer | Children’s Author

Fueled by necessity more than artistry, I entered the children’s author arena to fill an overlooked void. For young children trying to make sense of what happens when they use the bathroom, there’s a lot of room for misconceptions or fears to arise. On the heels of potty-training, one of my children got into a (all too common) cycle of anxiety, leading to withholding, leading to constipation. Trying to help reduce the anxiety, I explained, in very simple terms, what exactly happens inside and comes out of our bodies. It wasn’t an immediate fix, but there was an undeniable improvement. Initially, I had searched for a book to help explain and illustrate this process. As most parents know, there are lots of children’s books about poop. However, I couldn’t find any that simply, yet thoroughly, explained digestion. I decided to write and self-publish “From Chewing to Pooing: Food’s Journey Through Your Body to the Potty” because I believe it’s empowering for all young children, bathroom anxiety or not, to understand how their bodies work. Read more>>

Brixton Ruport | AllWhiteBrix | Record Artist / Engineer

When I was younger I once heard a quote by Mark Twain that said something like “Find a job you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” I’ve had many jobs throughout my life and not one of those jobs felt worth waking up for in the mornings. I realized I was working for the money rather than for myself and my happiness. I felt as if I knew there was something else I should be doing but I was not yet doing it. I’ve been passionate about music since I was a kid. So when I grew up and realized I’d be working for the rest of my life I knew I had to turn my love for music into a career so I would never have to work a day in my life. I chose to pursue an artistic/creative career because I would rather work for myself then someone else. Read more>>

Lizzy Dalton | Artist

I can’t imagine living my life without art. I’ve always been an artist, and I’m always going to make art whether I’m getting paid for it or not. I spent a lot of time in my twenties working paycheck to paycheck in jobs that I hated and jobs that led nowhere, and it really made me question where I was going in life and how I wanted to support myself. I knew I had value as an artist, and fine art was one of the few realms in which I felt had enough unique skill and talent to have a shot at being successful. I couldn’t really see a path to becoming happy and successful in a traditional work environment, so I figured I might as well try building my own career doing what I loved. I started marketing and selling my work myself, and I have been a fully self-employed artist since 2018. Read more>>