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.

Tiffany Armstrong | Personal Safety & Self-Defense Expert

What an excellent question!  Taking you 22 years back in time, I was at a friend’s house in the farmlands of Wisconsin.  As I walked down the hallway, some hands suddenly reached out and aggressively pulled me into the bathroom.  It was a large man, clearly on drugs, who had broken into the house and had targeted me as his intended victim.  He started slamming me up against the door; his fingers gripping me so tightly that they were literally inside my skin. I had learned 3 self-defense moves 2 weeks prior, and the only thoughts running through my head were that I needed to stay conscious and I had to try these 3 moves.  Well they worked, and my attacker got hauled off to prison with a broken nose. The police told me that he had watched the group of us from outside the house, and he had chosen me out of everyone there. Read more>>

Laura Strickland and Alex Mack | SoSco Flute & Guitar Duo

We decided to pursue a career in music as a quest to make people whole again The Greeks were among the first to try to explain how music works and believed music was the study of relationships between invisible and internal objects. Music continues to allow us to navigate those big, invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange them so that, even when we can’t speak the words, we can still express what we feel. We recognize that people may walk into our concerts with minds that are confused, hearts that are heavy, and souls that are weary. It is our quest to use our artistry to help them leave feeling whole again. Concerts where our duo is able to speak directly with our audience are most illuminating to us. It’s then that we learn how our music has helped listeners connect with memories, come into harmony with themselves, and leave feeling revitalized. Read more>>

Taryl Hansen | Graphic Recorder & Creator

As a former classroom educator, I have always had an interest in the way people learn best. As a young student, I found it challenging to learn in the way others seemed to, especially in traditional classroom setting. I was never a fan of “sit and get” education, and thrived academically only when I could touch, feel and do things for myself rather than watch and demonstration and take notes. As I became a teacher myself, I designed experiences for students that allowed them to be the director of their own learning adventures. I sought ways to solicit creativity and experimentation with my students, and taught them that “mistakes are only opportunities.” Visuals became a large part of how I taught and introduced concepts in the classroom, and later in my work with adults in training teachers. Read more>>

Brett Bartlett | Photographer

It’s a long, but short story. I have always been interested in art design. In my early life I took photography, art, architectural design as classes thinking that would be my career path as an adult. Where it takes a turn is when those classes get stripped from the curriculum and being strong in science and math I find myself pursuing studies and a career in healthcare. Totally different ways of thinking. I have always enjoyed photography and the arts and I literally stumbled back into photography. It started with both photo and videography where I eventually was a contracted help for a rapid growing fitness movement. As things moved forward I was needing more from photography and was led down the path of wanting to shoot people and overtime that has evolved to pursuing both the creative exploration of photography as well as lifestyle. Read more>>

Jared Robison | Visual Artist, Landscaper & Builder

I chose an artistic path because I believe creativity will be humanity’s next collective awakening. Unfortunately, at the moment, not everyone gets the chance to follow their passion in life. Most are constrained to survive under capitalism, where extra time and energy is futile. My argument favors giving people more free time to create and innovate a future that represents a sustainable society. Read more>>

Jeremiah Pantoja | Artist

I pursued art since I was always drawn to it. I had a passion for the artistic side of graffiti and decided to give it a try in the early 90’s. From that time on I grew as an artist. Becoming known for my graffiti, stencil street art and custom hand paintings. Read more>>

Jennifer Krueger | Mixed Media Fine Artist

My health directed me into pursuing an artistic career. I have always been an artist; however, I was not completely sure that it could be something I could build a life from. I pursued clinical forensic psychology and anthrozoology before realizing I should follow my passion in art. I became ill in 2008 with an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis and have since struggled with the disease. Despite my struggle, I stayed in school and was determined to find a career path that I enjoyed but would also provide me with health insurance. I received my master’s degree in Anthrozoology from the University of Exeter in 2016; however, I have always been too ill to be dependable enough for any job possibilities. It was that moment that I realized there was only one thing I consistently turned to in my life even if I was ill, and it was my artwork. Read more>>

Claudia Mead McBride | Author & Founder

Generally speaking, I’ve always pursued artistic or creative careers! Mostly because people need inspiration, and I can help them see there’s a way they can accomplish their dreams. I’ve started several successful businesses including 40 years as a realtor, developer, and owner of a construction company. I set up a profitable program for Habitat for Humanity, a Food Bank at Ft Apache, AZ, and an Etiquette School for pre-teens, using my Art degree, psychology, and interpersonal communication background. I’ve traveled extensively, was a chartered airline stewardess in the late 60’s, and have created a Poetry by Claudia ZCMI, blog. But what I’d like to tell you about is my most recent career called Life Skills for Confidence. These 24 video lessons for preteens, teens, and young adults, have been created from material I wrote for teaching etiquette classes in the community. Read more>>

Ileyna Witenstein | Artist & Future Art Teacher

I feel most like myself when I am creating art and I wanted to keep that feeling in my career, too. In addition to being an artist, I am pursuing a career in art education. My high school art class was always my safe space. The encouragement and support from my high school art teacher gave me the confidence to pursue art in college. I hope to make that same positive impact on my future students! Read more>>

CeLyn Evens | Creative Arts & Digital Designer and Flutist

I’ve been artistically, both visually and musically, inclined since I was around 5 years old. I always loved to draw (even though I usually drew the same thing) and would present my work as if it was some sort of masterpiece. I also started to practice the flute, hoping to become a professional musician some day. By the time I was in middle school I started drawing 2D objects in 3D, which then I got compliments on how good I drew. It was then that I started drawing almost everyday up until now. I also started to play in the school band, which increased my musical skills and techniques. By the time I got into high school, I learned more techniques and how to use them in my art. Taking art classes, it branched me out to different media (such as drawing, culinary, graphic design, etc.) and inspired me more into wanting to become my own contemporary artist. Read more>>

Claudia C. Rodriguez | Sole Proprietor

I’ve been involved in the arts since elementary school. My first artistic pursuit was writing long winded essays. In third grade our assignment would be to write a story based on a prompt. For example, “Trapped.” Instead of scribbling a couple of paragraphs in my lined-paged spiral notebook, I would come up with a five-page story that required my Dad to edit my ‘manuscript’ with a red pen. I would then rewrite every page based on his edits. My stories would drift and meander and most would end with a cliff hanger only because I couldn’t decide how to end the story in less than 12 pages. During my middle and high school years I pursued Journalism and worked as an Editor on our school’s newspaper. Writing non-fiction has always been my passion, but as I got older, I realized I wasn’t disciplined enough to pursue it as a career. Also, being a little too obsessive doesn’t lend itself to finishing stories with stringent deadlines. Writing can be a very solitary pursuit. Read more>>

Isabel Dellinger Candelaria | Principal Interior Designer

I had no choice but to pursue a creative career as design is how I see the world. It was pursuing me as much as I was pursuing it. Read more>>

Vincent “Vinnie” Rodriguez | Tattooer & Entrepreneur

I pursued a career in art cuz I loved it! I didn’t even think I was good at it! But I knew I had passion for it! And my Nana (Grandmother) who was like my mom would love when I drew her things! She was dying of cancer and the last thing she told me was to promise her that I would do something with my art! And I take great pride in saying I kept my promise! Read more>>