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.

Alex Manalo | Actor and Teaching Artist

I pursued an artistic/creative career because I couldn’t picture myself doing anything. I was painfully shy as a kid and my mom had taken me to see a show at the Benedum Theater. The show was Annie and I had the realization that the kid actors on stage were the same age as myself. I was immediately enrolled in a theater summer camp doing the same show and I fell in love with performing.  Read more>>

Jordan McEwen | Singer-songwriter & Educator

Growing up I had the typical 90’s childhood of playing outside until the street lights came on, and being in a small neighborhood with several other neighborhood kids, we had to be creative to pass those long summer days without getting bored. Read more>>

Lara Williams | Actor & Podcaster

Acting is the only thing I’ve ever felt passionate about doing. From the time I was a little girl in the children’s choir at church, I loved acting. We did little Christmas and Easter musicals with corny characters, catchy songs, and pretty basic choreography. A lot of these scripts had some sort of narrator who had the lion’s share of the script to memorize, and that was a part that I had a lot once I got into about third grade. I know that what I was doing then was just reciting the lines on stage, but I was someone who could remember all of the lines without much prompting from the directors and I didn’t get too nervous about standing up in front of the congregation. Read more>>

Carter Perky | Photographer

Well it’s actually a ironic story I took a photography class back in high school and I hated every second of it because it took an art form and turn it into homework. I actually ended up failing that class. But what attracted me to it the older I got was the fact that I can capture my clients best moments in their entire lives with her that’s their wedding their engagement the graduation there maternity photos or even just her every day run-of-the-mill family photos every single mom and I capture for my clients a special in someway and that means the world to me. Read more>>

Ariana Zahedi | Photographer & Engineer

Coming from a family that appreciates artwork and creativity, we find comfort and excitement to make it a part of our lives. If I had not pursued photography, I wouldn’t feel as fulfilled living life. It brings me pure happiness and pushes me to pursue my vision because the work I put in contributes to what I love. To show the world all the beauty I see in every little detail of a celebration, love, nature, gives one an idea that you can look through someone else’s lens and see the colors of their universe. Read more>>

Emily Kaczynski | Director of Marketing

I pursued an artistic and creative career because I am an artistic and creative person. Ever since I was a child, I have loved drawing and designing things related to fashion and interior design. as I got older, I took an interest in makeup and social media. I flourished, created a personal brand for myself, and created an identity for who I wanted to be, and I think that transpired into the career I have today. Read more>>

Sean Danconia | Artist & Creative Entrepreneur

Well, there were two adjoining and corollary motivations. One—I wanted to develop and sell a very particular sort of “fuel”. That is—ART—which can take many forms (cinema, music, literature, visuals, etc.). This type of “fuel”—concretized by an artist—can (and should) inspire us to live great, meaningful lives. Of course, not all Art does this. Some has the opposite effect but that wasn’t what I was interested in. I was after portraying a certain style of existence and a specific type of heroic idealism. And then living in that world at the very same time. Read more>>

La’Brianna Rusk Issa Briii Beat | Makeup Artist

Growing up, I have always had a creative mindset. Whether it was cheerleading, dancing, or simple crafts! I always loved to create! I love to see things progressively turn into something spectacular! Its wildly satisfying to see something you envisioned become a work of art; a masterpiece! It’s the mind behind the brush for me! The Method to the madnesses! The abstract chaos in an artist mind, is what makes their art that much more unique! Read more>>