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.

Sunday Ordoñez | Founder of Swell Social Creative Agency

I’ve always felt drawn towards my creative instincts. Growing up and always having a camera in hand, I knew that pursuing a creative career was the path for me. When I dived into the marketing world a few years ago, I discovered that my love for visual aesthetics could be paired with my other passion for helping brands tell their story in creative ways. Together these two interests have led me to learn so much about marketing, branding, and connecting your story with your audience digitally. Read more>>

Katherine Cortese | Executive Creative Director, Hospitality Design Guild

I have always been the type of person who has a creative sensibility and a deep appreciation for high-end style and great design. But I also have a head for business. I was raised in a very entrepreneurial family, so those instincts come naturally, and I searched for a way to combine my creativity and business acumen. Interior design – and specifically, hospitality – was the perfect avenue for me to pursue both. I have been able to design and build incredible, luxurious spaces for a variety of clients and brands, while learning and maintaining meticulous budgets and schedules. The ability to combine my love of travel and experiencing places all over the world with running my own business is the most fulfilling and rewarding career I can imagine. And now, after more than 20 years in interior design, I realize it’s the collaboration and combining everyone’s ideas and visions, that allows me to find joy in my work and know that what we’re building has an impact on everyone who experiences our creation. Read more>>

Lucy Drew | Actor, Producer, Director, Writer, Comedian

When I was eye level with the Mc Donald’s counter back in the ninety’s my mother told me she looked down and saw the glimmer of the shiny silver surface catch my wild eyes. She recounts me taking a long look at the surface. As I inched closer to the counter she thought to herself, “Oh surely she’s not going to…” Just like that my tongue latched on to that metal and gave it a big ole’ exploratory lick. From the time I remember I could smell colors, taste sounds, and hear pictures. Tactile is the tip of the iceberg with me. There are billions of creatives out marching around out on this globe and I find that exciting. The stories that break my heart are those artists who, by people in their lives, are discouraged, mocked, and even directly denied. The stories that light me up are the ones who despite all of that nonsense persisted. I’d like to give a large shout out to a couple of my favorite people to ever exist, my parents. Read more>>

Jo Rodriguez | Digital Content Creator + Photographer

I find my creative career with VeganishJ to be really expressive and freeing- mentally, physically, and emotionally. For me, working in a creative atmosphere creates a healthy environment and provides the comfort, safety, freedom and independence I personally need to thrive. I love what I do every day. Read more>>

Luisa Mesa | Fine Artist

The pursuit of my artistic career unfolded in stages. While making a living in the business world I began to study photography and that was the onset of a huge change in my life. From there I began to take private painting classes and after a while made the decision to go back to school and earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I really never looked back after that. My first studio as a professional artist was at The Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood and subsequently at Art Center South Florida, now Oolite Arts. Read more>>

Akilah Watts | Contemporary Artist

Being an artist, for me has never been a choice. Every since I can remember I was heading down the path to become an artist. In college, this was one of the first questions asked to me and my colleagues. I remember thinking, why not art? While a mass majority of the populace is encouraged to take on career paths such as a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, etc, etc My mind just wondered why not go after an artistic career. I thought about all those people with the same credentials competing for the same jobs and to me, it seemed like going after an artistic career would not only be the path that gave me the most joy but the one that had the most entrepreneurial potential. Read more>>

Mico Hughes | Artist

I began to pursue an artistic and creative career because of how it shaped my entire lifestyle. one always asks, what do you want be when you grow up. and today I would respond aren’t we always growing up? Prior to this feeling, that question would replay and replay as I grew up as an inner-city kid in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Through it all I grew up as an outsider. Ironically Tulsa has pretty huge communities but still has that hometown feeling were everyone knows everyone. At least through my lens the majority of my life I felt well-known that I exsisted but internally i fell far from the crowd. Throughout highschool I moved almost every year, I had no idea how much it was preparing me for an even more challenging but beautiful transition. I love to illustrate everything that makes me who I am, Mico Hughes.  Before my artistry I had no sense of identity or major friend groups and that’s where it all began. Read more>>

Esteban Larranaga | Photographer and Automotive Specialist

I decided to pursue an artistic/creative career because of one thing and one thing only; happiness. As cheesy and over played as it sounds, it is one THOUSAND percent true. Yes, money is important and it helps solve a lot of issues in life. Yes, you need money to be able to survive, but there is no point in survival if you’re not happy. I vividly remember getting up to go to work some days and not wanting to roll out of bed. I was sad I had woken up for another day, I was 20 years old and had felt like time was slowing down all around me. College was hard, personal issues that every young adult goes through in life had arisen and I really had no idea what to do with myself. I had friends and had fun around me and an incredibly supportive family, but within myself I was missing something. Since I could remember, I had a passion for all things automotive and cared for nothing else but cars. Read more>>

Loni Duek | Yoga, Meditation & Reiki Teacher, Holistic Life Coach

When I discovered this path of Healing I realized there was nothing else I wanted to do I believe we have the capacity to heal ourselves and it starts with awareness I m passionate about Holistic practices as they support us by mirroring what needs to be seen so we can heal the sides of us that we desire to heal Yoga, Reiki, Sound Therapy, Holistic coaching, Crystal healing, Meditation are amazing modalities to bring Peace Joy & Love into our lives. Read more>>

De’Laija Napier | Marketing & Communications Professional

Growing up, I learned very quickly that I loved to help people connect. I have always been involved in creative activities from singing and dancing to drawing and creating all kinds of things from scratch. Pursuing a career in marketing allows me to use all of my creativity to help bring clients’ ideas and vision to life while pairing them with detailed strategy. Combining these elements inspires me to come up with all kinds of different ideas for curating brand experiences and helping businesses share their voice with audiences they serve. Pursuing a creative career gives me the power and opportunity to see the world from a bunch of different perspectives and find new ways to help people connect physically and emotionally with the brands they love. Read more>>

Tali Nesbitt | Film Student

At a very young age, I fell in love with creating things. I would always play around with my mom’s camera and film random clips of my friends, family, strangers, and basically anything that caught my eye. I was essentially always documenting life around me. After long days of filming anything and everything, I would then edit all of my footage, combining it with different music, overlays, colors, and fonts until I made something that I felt could evoke some type of feeling in a viewer. This whole creative process was so natural to me; I was in a constant state of flow and in a constant of awe at the immense power creativity held. As I got older, I realized that what I did as a kid was not very different from what filmmakers do – they just create on a grander scale. Filmmakers capture elements of the human experience and make things that people are impacted by, can relate to, or can learn things from. From all of this, I reached the understanding that I too want to be a filmmaker and want to make that my life’s work, in whatever capacity I can – big or small. Read more>>

Melissa St-Jean | Visual Artist

I have been drawing since I knew how to form sentences so art is so ingrained into my DNA that I cannot go a day without at least one creative thought. I explored many options when it came to a career but I was always drawn back to art. Society generally makes it a challenge to focus on art. Early on we’re led to believe that art is for those who are wealthy, with formal training, or simply have no better choices in life. It was farfetched to choose a creative career because ‘it doesn’t make money’. To give you a little background, I was on track to complete a STEM education through the BEAT program (Biomedical, Environmental, Agriculture Technology). I am a first-generation Haitian-American and my parents steer me toward being a doctor or a lawyer. I was always gifted enough to pursue logic based studies but my heart was never into it. One activity that did excite me was art. I loved the idea of creating something new from my mind or bringing someone else’s vision to life. Read more>>