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.

Ryder Lawhon | Film Director, Editor & Founder of The ‘Cynical Behavior’ Brand

I was at the lowest point in my life after dealing with a major injury. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or what I wanted to be. It gave me a lot of time alone to think and since I wasn’t able to do much for months I began watching tons of films and music videos. Then it hit me, for once in my life I truly felt like I knew what I wanted to do, and instead of just thinking about doing it I just began researching how and got started. Read more>>

Chelo Ruiz | Artist & Creative Director of Mosaic Multi-Media

For me, it’s the only path that is fulfilling. This is where my passion lies. Read more>>

Cristina Hron | Singer/Songwriter

There were always two types of people that surrounded me growing up- those who supported me as a singer relentlessly, and those who told me I would need to think about a “real job.” If one thing pushed me to pursue music even more than I had already pushed myself, it was the latter. I have dedicated my whole life to singing, regardless of the people around me. I had grown up in an atmosphere that encouraged me to sing and be creative, so it phased no one when we realized this was what I was going to do with my life at a very young age. However, a strong driving force of my ambition came from my realization of the fact that people actually existed who could not fathom the fact that nothing else would satisfy me if I wasn’t making music for a living. I had a natural inclination towards music since the age of two, so I did everything in my power to make sure I’d get there, and now here I am. Read more>>

Yuliya Lanina | Artist and Educator

I have always gravitated towards art. As a child I wanted to be a performer. I liked music and singing. After I had moved to the US at the age of 16, I began drawing a lot. In a way it was my way of communicating at a time when I did not have the ability to communicate through words. Art helped me cope with many things in life, including my mother’s early death. The decision to pursue art as a career came in the wake of 9/11. I was in New York working as a graphic designer inside a Midtown skyscraper. It was chaotic, no one knew what was going on, but it felt that a war had broken out and we were all going to die. At that moment I had a strong feeling of sadness that I did not fulfill what I truly was meant to do in my life, and that was to be an artist. So I decided that were I to live, I would do just that. It took me a year to leave my job with a good salary and benefits, but I never questioned this decision. Read more>>

Ashley Beasley | Surface Pattern Designer

Growing up, I was always artistically inclined. You could find me constantly coloring, crafting, or playing a computer game where I’d rather create the character and decorate the house rather than play with them. Because of this, I was also a visual learner. My mom realized this was my strength early on and guided me in that direction in school. Art was always my elective in school, and I excelled at it. Along with art in general, I loved the computer. I remember our first family computer in the early 90’s had the Paint program. I was always coming up with doodles. There was something about digital creating that was so interesting, and it stuck with me all growing up. As I grew up, so did the programs. We had an early version of Photoshop and I loved playing with all the tools. I used it to manipulate an image I took for my art class project. I brought it into class and my teacher thought I stole the photo off the internet. When I told her, no, I photoshopped it, she said you have to join my digital media class next year! So I did. Read more>>

Kerry Kilpatrick | An Artist With A Crush On Fashion

Art is the way I express myself! Being creative is freedom for me. Sharing my heart though music & fashion creates a space where others feel the need to be true to SELF. Music is healing and I’m glad GOD chose me to travel the road. Read more>>

Marie Bennett | Model

I’ve been into the arts and everything creative since I was a little girl, so modeling isn’t far fetched for me at all. I chose to pursue modeling because I realized I have such a passion for not just the modeling itself, but the creative process behind it. I love working together with the stylist, photographer, and makeup artist to come up with unique concepts that have never been seen before. It’s a very proud moment when I’m able to see these visions come to life and share them with others. Read more>>

Agho Ekhator | Artist, Musician, Song Writer

I’ll say I really didn’t pick this path, I started realizing I had a passion for music from a young age of 11. Although that dream was quickly shut down. After moving to the US, the dream resurfaced, it became more evident that I have to actually make use of my music making ability, and I had more free time to actually get into it. For me 2012 was pivotal in my journey as it was the year I started going into the studio, it confirmed my undying passion that I could actually do it, but I couldn’t go all out with it because my number one reason for leaving Nigeria was for Education, and family would have been very disappointed if that wasn’t fulfilled. I’ve been flirting with music since then and now I feel like I am married to it, it’s the only thing I picture myself doing and it’s my avenue to get my story and message across. Read more>>