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.

Jordan Diggs | Rapper, Song Writer & Content Creator

I chose to pursue a creative career because growing up I felt like I was overlooked and ignored. Making music was my way of getting my voice and frustrations heard. Music was there for me when I was homeless and alone, and it’s been there for every major event in my life. Certain songs bring back certain memories as certain smells may do the same. I don’t know where I’d be right now without music keeping me from going off the deep end. Read more>>

Wesley Kirk | Photographer & Filmmaker

It’s the only thing I’ve ever known. When I was 13, I started taking pictures. My mom had accidentally bought an extra film camera, and my dad had recently quit his job as an insurance adjuster and had 99 rolls of film left over. They were kind enough to develop all the photos I took. Not long after that I had an idea for a short film, and without knowing anything about filmmaking I got a camera, got some friends together, and we started making movies. When I was 17, people wanted to start paying me for my work. Since then I’ve never had a real job. I’ve always made money through a camera. It the main way I know how to be useful in the world, by capturing and sharing people’s stories. Read more>>

Hilary Tobe Mokolo | Story Teller & Designer

For a long time, I ran away from it while trying to appease everyone. All the while my body, mind, and spirit were at odds trying to get me back on the path. Fortunately, I listened and I feel more and more at peace. When I was younger I wanted to be a footballer (soccer), I drew, wrote stories, and read comics but never thought much of it besides just enjoying it. It wasn’t till I got older I understood the significance of those “hobbies” because they now became what I am most passionate about. So to answer the question, I would say I am choosing this artistic/creative career because I want to be who my younger self needed to see to believe his wild imagination can be turned into his life’s pursuit. Read more>>

Kayleigh Guthrie | Photographer

Art has always had a special place in my heart. I used to draw and paint when I was younger, but when I got my hands on a camera, I knew I heard a calling. I was around fourteen years old when that happened. Of course, I took photos like most teenagers in the 1990s and 2000s would: self-portraits, candids of friends, and landscape or nature. Behind the camera, I felt more attuned to the world around me. Unfortunately, I was told by several sources that art or photography was not a viable career so I followed the teacher route, my second passion. After graduating and teaching for a few years, the calling for photography became louder. I did it on the side that whole time because creativity was a release of serotonin for me. I loved empowering others and creating images that not only my clients enjoyed, but others as well. I pursued photography full time this past July. Read more>>

Lei Lei Lashawn | Alternative Health Educator, Chi Nei Tsang Practitioner & Percussionist

I pursued an artistic, creative career because that is when my heart and mind are in alignment. I choose a creative career because it helps me to feel love and gratitude in my heart. I desire that over money. I have had office jobs, I taught for years, management gigs, even bartended, During those periods, I always did my healing and performing arts on the side. I was able to pay the bills with a smile on my face. In 2020, Covid-19 caused the collapse of many industries, including the arts and hands on therapies like massage. It deconstructed what I thought I wanted in life and shined a light on how tomorrow is not a given. Being an artist made me feel like I had options. I just had to figure it out. This year of uncertainty has inspired me to retool my perspective about my career. Read more>>

Simone Artis | Fashion Designer

I always had a creative mind growing up. I loved to read, write, act, play instruments, basically I loved anything that I was able use my mind creatively. My thoughts always seem to not want to focus on one thing at once; I was always thinking about different ways I can do or create something. I had to put all those thoughts into something to make it come alive, and one way I do that is by designing clothes. Not until I was older that I decided to pursue fashion design and moving toward making my own brand. Read more>>