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.

Isaiah Wafer | DJ & Music Producer

For me there were a few things that led to this decision. The biggest factor in it was the fact that I was miserable doing anything else. When I first began to DJ it clicked almost immediately. It was something that I was instantly passionate about. As I began to dive deeper, I started to believe that this had the opportunity to be a viable career. I’ll admit it isn’t the easiest to get going, but once I finally hit a stride I felt that the money began to follow. My happiness and passion for it seemed to be contagious it’s like people pick up on that energy. Second reason I really think I pursued this is because I get to put smiles on people’s faces. It’s not like working the DMV or a hospital. When people come out to see me they are looking to have a good time ,and while I’m not the sole reason, I play a big part in helping them have that good time. I help them escape from their week through music; even if it’s only for a few hours. Read more>>

Jessica Payes | Spoken Word Artist and Published Author

I wouldn’t say it’s my career, but it is definitely something I am passionate about. I’ve been writing poetry for a very long time as a way of healing, processing, and coping. It became a way of life for me, only, I never thought I’d share it with the world. My words have helped me through so many difficult moments where I wish I had someone guiding me. So I turned my story into poetry and published a book so I can be that guide for as many people as I can be. Read more>>

Raema Mauriello | Author

I never grew up wanting to be an author. In fact, I wanted to be a Chemical Engineer but quickly discovered I was really bad at both math and science. I joined the Navy out of high school however I hated every single job that was available and the only one I was slightly interested in was Journalism. So, I actually held two positions while serving; Journalist and Search and Rescue Swimmer. I enjoyed writing about the other people with whom I was serving on the ship. I loved telling their story, listening to what brought them to join the Navy, what their lives were like and how they became the people they were. People and life are fascinating to me. I met my husband in the Navy and when our time in the service was over we moved to San Diego for a year and then here to Dallas. At the time I only had one child and our marriage was on the verge of divorce. I found myself at a crossroad. At the place of decision is where I met Jesus and everything in my life changed. Read more>>

Makenzi Smith | Artist/Painter and Advertising Professional

I didn’t realize I would pursue a creative career until halfway through college actually! I started as a nursing major because I enjoyed learning about the body and wanted to help people in that way. I soon realized I was no good at science and had to re-think what I was good at and what I really enjoyed. That led me to pursue a degree in Public Relations and I now have a job in the advertising industry! I have always loved and admired art, but didn’t really think I was capable of creating beautiful artwork myself. I played around very casually with art in college for myself and close friends, but didn’t start actually painting or illustrating until after graduation. When COVID-19 hit, I was furloughed from my job and that ended up giving me a lot of free time to paint. I ended up loving it, and luckily several others did too. That is how I transitioned into being a “real” artist. Read more>>

Krishna and Rishub Madhav | Students and Young Filmmakers

A lot of messages relating to the environment are often cynical or bland and they don’t effectively convey the importance of the issue while also persuading the audience to take action. We decided to take a more creative avenue in publicizing our message about water use and conservation so that we could engage the audience and instill a stronger call to action. Read more>>

Zariyah Perry | Artist

Pursuing a creative career is what makes me a better human overall. Being a creative person teaches me to walk in life having empathy for others. Empathy allows me to tell the stories of others and the stories that I have lived with more authenticity and care. Living in this world I encounter the good and difficult things that it brings me. Processing those events in the moment, allows me to practice through my craft whether it’s acting, visual arts, or filmmaking. I have that blessing to be able to just let it all out. I feel like having artistic expression is a part of my purpose in life. As well as witnessing reactions of people to my work. Those of different ages, personalities, genders and races leaves a good feeling within me when they take notice in what I create. It makes me proud of myself for what I can accomplish. Read more>>

Blake Dagley | Singer/Songwriter

As far back as I can remember I have wanted to be a musician. Now that find myself in a position to purse music as a career, I recognize that my mission in life is spread hope through my gift. To be able to create an experience that allows people to find joy, hope, peace or to escape the moment, that is my ultimate goal in my career. Read more>>

Hi-Keif The Kitchen Ninja | Artist-Producer & Plant-Based Chefprenuer

Simply, it was the only thing that made sense. To go a little more in depth, I had always been a relatively talented child in a raw state, and knew that all of my undeveloped creativity would bubble up and demand to be prioritized. It just clicked one day, that I’d rather bring order to my creativity than to use my creativity in someone else’s predetermined order. That’s really just a “creative” way of saying, standard jobs were not for me. I ended up getting off of work and diving full steam into cooking or creating music to make myself feel better about people misunderstanding me and always feeling different. As a creative, it is already assumed that I am different, and thus became a more natural fit/home. Read more>>

Thomasray Magallanes | El Tank DJ/Producer & Artist

I come from an artistic background, growing up I always had my sights on Music/Art since my early years. My father was a Guitarist & song writer, My brother was a DJ so I think pursuing music or anything that had to do with art was inevitable, simply because it was in my blood, I truly just believed in destiny. Read more>>

Eric Bourassa | Musician/Music School Owner

I couldn’t help but pursue something in the arts. I wanted to be a comic book artist, then a musician. My parents urged me to get a degree in business, and I said, “If I’m paying for college myself, I ‘m getting a degree I actually want,” so music it was. They said, “At least make it music education and be a teacher!” “No way,” I thought, “I’m going to be a performer.”
But here I am all these years later with a music teaching business!
Fortunately, it affords me the time to continue writing/recording music and playing in bands. Read more>>

Taylor Burchette | Photographer

As a child, I was always the kid that wanted to listen to music, dance, color, or even take photos. It resulted in me joining the cosmetology program at my high school and finding a career at the age of 18. However, my passion for photography kept creeping in as I had been dabbling since I was a freshman. After almost a year in the salon with the full support of my family, I left my career as a stylist to become a Photographer at 19. Since that day, I have spent countless hours teaching myself how to edit, pose my clients, and just make them feel comfortable. I have not looked back and I do not plan to. Behind the camera is definitely where I feel I belong. Read more>>

Brittany McMahon | Food & Lifestyle Blogger

I originally started my page in college for fun to give advice and share my favorite things and places. I realized how passionate I was when it came to being creative. I loved designing, writing, creating and exploring. I graduated college and went into Sales at a Consulting firm before leaving that to pursue a full time job in social media and marketing for a local instagram page. This change has made me SO happy and has just shown me how important it is to be passionate about your work. Read more>>

YG Flaco | Rapper, Audio Engineer, & Entrepreneur

I would like to think that my career chose me. Music has always had my full attention regardless of what else was going on around me. I’ve tried other trades, some of which I excelled in, but I wasn’t happy. Nothing satisfies that hunger like finishing a song and having it sound exactly as planned. It’s a risky business but in a sense that’s the thrill of it. I can’t see myself working a 9-5 for the rest of my life, so I’m glad I was given the artistic gift to create music. There has never been a time where I didn’t want to be a rapper, I’m destined to pursue this career. And for that I’m grateful and optimistic. Read more>>

Nicolas Matthews | Music Artist

I believe it came to me innately, and honestly I believe most anyone has some type of interest or hobby that just clicks with them at some basic level. As a kid I loved radios and changing through stations playing whatever was hot in the early 2000s. I wrote my first rap in 3rd grade and showed it to my brother and he said it was cool. I think that turnt something up in me, fast forward I liked writing and reading all throughout elementary, then I got to middle school and got into underground hip hop which really opened my mind to believing I could really make music. A little more time goes by, my dad gets his hands on FL Studio 9 and he asks me to play around with it since he really didn’t know much about the music creating aspect of anything like that, mind you this is back in like 2010-2011, and well that turnt me up too. I start making beats then I grab my bestfriend at the time and another guy I know who rapped at school who’s actually another one of my closest friends now, then it was a wrap. Read more>>

Stephanie Wilson | Senior Luxury Travel Advisor | The Shameless Tourist

In my late 20’s, I really developed my affinity for travel after realizing there is so much out there to see and do. I always had an itch for adventure and to do something more than an office job. When I was traveling in England with one of my best friends, who founded The Shameless Tourist, we had discussed the possibility of me joining her in the travel business. At the time, I was still working a full-time office job…Though I had been with the company for a while, I knew it was time to make a change. With the support of my family and friends, I took the jump and made a career change to one where I am able to combine a desire and passion of mine into a new adventure. I get so much joy from my clients and hearing their feedback from a trip. I love making sure they feel so special, even if it’s a weekend getaway. Read more>>

Nikki Stinson | Artist

I pursued a creative career because art, design and a passion to create run through my blood. Creativity defines me and has always come naturally. I find serious joy in the entire process – from start to finish. When I was a child I would find an object an empty product container and my first thought would always be, “What can I turn this into?” or “In this situation, how can I design it better?” I felt inclined to problem solve and explore unique design avenues. As Charles Eames once said, “Design addresses itself to the need.” He was spot on. At the heart of all art and design is a need for something aesthetically pleasing. I have had this inner desire to create my whole life, whether it is turning something sculptural into something else, or painting on a blank canvas. Read more>>

Christie M. Howard | Managing Director, Jubilee Theatre in Fort Worth, TX

Like many, this is so not what I envisioned for my life. I always thought that would be Christie Howard, MD (Medical Doctor) not Managing Director…LOL. I had my sights on Med school, but I am so ashamed to say that it was the movie, Boomerang which gave me some insight into what a career in the marketing industry would be. I wanted to be Jaqueline! I so this change in major an opportunity to utilize my creative side. So after years in corporate marketing and a major layoff from MCI WorldCom which led to almost two years of full-time unemployment and the opportunity to take what I learned to the non-profit arts community became available with The Black Academy of Arts and Letters.(TBAAL). I started as the Administrative Assistant, promoted to the Marketing and Media Relations Manager. An opportunity to serve as Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s Ticket Sales Director arose. Read more>>

Jxsue504 | Musician

I first started making music with friends in highschool just to pass the time and mess around until like 4 in the morning because we were just kids messing with sounds. After a few years I felt I started to care more about finding my “sound” so I started to try and perfect my craft along with my voice, it got to a point where I’d come home from college and instead of studying I’d open up my recording software and work with different beats and different melodies to see how versatile I could be. I ended up choosing to focus on music and dropped out of college because I felt like there’s nothing else I could put so much effort into and have such a strong relationship with. I never thought this is what I’d want to do although music has always been in my life since I was in middle school, starting out in orchestra and then going to highschool and joining the choir. I’m glad I’m on this path because it also helps me to try to become my best self, because without that awareness I can’t make my best music. Read more>>

Shelly Richardson | Mixed Media Artist

My whole life I was drawn to creativity. As a child I was always doodling, drawing, sewing…anything where I could ‘make’ something. Growing up in a small town in Oklahoma that did not have an art program at school, I never knew that was something you ‘do when you grow up’ so I never really thought about it. So I just played with art on the side trying various mediums and projects along the way. I always had the thought in the back of my head that I might want to do it full time, but the ‘starving artist’ title really didn’t appeal to me! It wasn’t until the past two years when my fiancé said he wanted me to stay home and try to make something of my art that I really started focusing on doing it for a career. I was waking up each morning excited to get in my art studio instead of dreading going to work. I found myself craving to get back to it when I wasn’t working on something. I couldn’t learn enough new techniques and put them into practice. I had tons of ideas floating around in my head that I couldn’t get out fast enough. I realized when I started feeling all this that it was what I was supposed to be doing. My passion. Read more>>

Eva Horner | Confused Artist

I have always been artistic, since I was a little girl. I can draw almost anything I look at. My mother and granny were both artsy as well, so I guess I got it from them. My granny used to tell me all the time that she wished I would do something with my art. My response to her, usually, was that the only rich or famous artists were dead artists. And then I would go back to slaving away at a job that didn’t care about me, creating different things on the side. Finally, a few years ago, I discovered vendor events and I signed up for one, That one didn’t do so well, but I had a lot of I started doing more…and then that turned into doing them regularly. Read more>>

Wendell Malone II | Owner of Malone Haircare & Grooming

I believe I always had a different approach to life than others. Especially around the company I kept prior to making my brand. Before creating my brand I was a regular 9 to 5 worker (nothing against that) but I always knew I could do more than the normal which in a way drove me crazy. Once I was given the opportunity to create my brand I put all my energy, time & passion into it. Read more>>