There is a wealth of academic research that suggests that differences in risk appetite are at the heart of differences in career and business trajectories. We wanted to go beyond the theory and ask real people from the community about their perspectives and experiences with risk and risk taking.

Vera Pashkevich | Photographer & Occasional Writer

I was born in a country that sits between Russia and Poland: Belarus. Belarus was under unstable leadership at the time of my birth. People in Belarus didn’t get to take career risks. It felt as if the only job options open for me in Belarus were: doctor, banker, and teacher. Belarus kept lots of artifacts from the USSR, which meant that everyone living there was equally poor. When my family immigrated away from Belarus, the world felt open to me. I remember thinking “what’s the one thing Belarusians don’t get to do?” That question stayed with me until I picked up my own camera for the first time at age 16. It was a cheap digital camera with awful quality — naturally, I loved the darned thing. The rest of my story explains itself, but I can’t speak about risk without mentioning my history. Choosing to be an artist was only viable in America, so I committed to the idea for life. I decided to take the biggest risk of all: gambling my parent’s investment in me succeeding in America on being an artist. Read more>>

Melissa Santell | Food Photographer + Brand Expert

The phrase is a permanent resident in my head and it’s squatted there for as long as I can remember. You probably can’t put your finger on where you heard it first, or who said it to you, but what it actually means is: you have to be ready to fail in order to succeed. At least, that’s what it means to me. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in business and in life, is the moment you acknowledge failure as an opportunity is the moment you become capable of being the best you. When you stop getting hung up on what’s not working and start focusing on creating solutions, you strike mental gold. It’s the kind of self-love magic that drips into every crevice of who you are and beams out of your skin like sunlight. And as it directly applies to this question, it gives you the delicious freedom to take risks. No permission required. It was a steamy July morning when I woke up, stretched my arms to the sky and decided to move to New York City. I packed everything I owned into my tiny blue Scion Tc, convinced a friend to make the 22-hour drive with me and journeyed into the unknown. Read more>>

JC Ortiz | Designer, Founder and Co-Owner

The ultimate freedom is taking risks however you want and never being afraid of imperfection. Our entire foundation of our business is based on risk. It’s about putting on a ring and walking out the door and facing the day with zero fear, unafraid of judgement or anything that the fashion industry imposes and tries to scare you into thinking about yourself. Read more>>

Megan Steward | Artist

The biggest risk I have taken has brought my life onto one of the most adventurous and fulfilling paths. As we are all maturing, life has a way of pushing you into a mindset of walk the line or you might fail. When I quit working for others, I ironically gave myself the ability to truly succeed. I got to know my trade inside and out and after that I knew my new path would be a calculated risk worth taking. Read more>>

Ivan Yanez | Visual Artist

I think risk is part of life. We have risk all the time since we are born. But then you grow up and you start realizing what risk means. I think is a way of living. In my career and in my life risk is part of the routine. Sometimes you have to take risk to get what you want. You have to risk to make your dreams come true and you have to take risk to go and get what you want in this lifetime. Read more>>

JL Schwartz | Artist

As the saying goes without risk there is no reward. I truly believe that if I had not taken risks from the very start my first career would not have been so successful and enjoyable. I was able to use my creativity to provide unique solutions to highly technical problems that enhanced business processes and provided the company with an edge above the others. When I transitioned to a full-time career as an artist I continued to take risks as I explored new mediums, techinques and genres. Some work and some do not; however none are failures as I learn and grow from each attempt in order to create art that is both visually pleasing and provocative. Read more>>

Freddy Espin | Artist Illustrator

Risk its necessary in ours life to move on to the next level, but at the end of the day stay or jump both are a risk. In my case I always take a risk, but I planned and keep all my tools and skills just in case, I like “break the glass in case of emergency”. Read more>>

Manuel Muñoz G.G. | Sculptor

I think risk is a really important thing to consider all the time when you are in a creative field. Moving away from your comfort zone, be that travel, or going to live in a different country completely is always a risk, and part of what I have done a number of times in my career. Moving away from your support system forces you to adapt, once you are too comfortable it is a sign that you should move away from things to try something else. In terms of my work I think it is important for every project to take things forward to places that are unfamiliar for me, to avoid repeating myself. When I was in my early twenties I moved to London from my hometown of Mexico City to study at Chelsea College of Art. I got the place solely based on my portfolio, but at the time I didn’t really speak English. This was a big risk that I was taking, but I was able to teach myself the language just by interacting with people and living my life, and this has been very useful to me over the years. Read more>>

Monica Arellano | Interior Designer

I believe that risk is sometimes necessary in order to achieve certain things in life. I would definitely not be where I am, had it not been for that leap of faith. I was doing something I really liked but after 5 years of being in the music industry, I realized I wanted something different. Mind you… I was working with the GRAMMYs so I had it pretty good! So the biggest risk I have taken in my life as been worth every second- and more of a reason for my risky move something unknown, Design. And it paid off incredibly. Read more>>

Danney Salvatierra | Lawyer | Poet | Human Rights Advocate

Risk is an interesting concept. I think people are afraid to take risks because they are innately fearful of failure. Our society glamorizes success, but often glosses over the inevitable trials, tribulations, and setbacks that so often precede such success. Due to this fear, many do not reach their full potential. People become afraid to start a business, to take that certificate test, to move to another city, and the list goes on. My propensity for risk taking is fueled by my curiosity. I no longer see taking a risk as something I’m afraid of because I have failed many times before. After each failure, I have learned so much about myself and have been able to start again with a stronger mentality. I now know that in order for one to reach their true potential, one must expect to succeed when taking a risk, while at the same time understanding that failure is always a possibility. Read more>>

Mauricio Torrescano | Visual Artist

Art is a high risk path, the prize is wonderful when you reach the top, but just a few get to that spot. Let’s think about other careers, if you think about a lawyer, a doctor, you know that they’re respected careers and the economic revenue is good, if you want to be a doctor it takes many years to be a specialist and the people pay for your knowledge, but thinking about art, a fine artist can take more than 15 years to reach it’s development, you have to learn drawing, color theory, other techniques as watercolor, acrylics, oil, you have to learn about geometry, composition, anatomy, perspective among other subjects, so you become an artist, but it doesn’t come with respect or recognition from society, because now you have to develop your own art style, marketing and public relations strategy that can take many years, most of the times you get this recognition late in life and some artists when they past away. Artwork is valued not for the materials, size and technique(it plays a part of it). Read more>>

Jazmin Kylene | Spiritual Counselor & Conscious Media Journalist

I think risk holds a lot more weight than people think! Deeply embedded in the times in which I overcame fear and took the risks I felt intuitively led to take was me loving myself the deepest and breaking through barriers in my career. Risk is scary but incredibly worthwhile if you want to break the mold and change the world within the work. If we stay tied to playing it safe, we stay stagnant. Read more>>

Amber Tutwiler | Artist

My first risk that defined me as an artist and individual was in 2008. I was a sophomore at Massachusetts College of Art & Design when the financial crisis hit. My parents had taken out a loan to help pay for my rent, but they could no longer help in any capacity. So I moved back to Florida. I remember feeling devastated – not just because I missed everyone in Boston and all the friendships that I had cultivated, but because I felt like a failure as an artist. At that time, however, I had only made work in context of academia and it was an important moment for me to reflect on my values. I ended up getting a job at a brewery that helped me grow as an individual, and with that I could afford an art studio. I made work and asked questions in a way that worked for me. The second risk was when I finally left the brewery to go to graduate school. I had a choice of staying with the company as manager (with stable income), or doing what I always wanted to do (an artist with no guaranteed stable income). Read more>>

Isaac Perlman | Chef & Owner

I think that risk taking is crucial for success. Many people can get comfortable with their job or company but if you don’t risk it to make it bigger then you will never know what the outcome could have been. From my personal experience I had to take a major risk to be able to start my own restaurant. 8 years ago when I began my private chef career I would have never realized that jumping from private chef to restauranteur would have been so risky. I say this because in order to open the place I call home *PERL” restaurant I had to give up a big piece of my private chef/catering business in order to get capital to build and establish the best restaurant in North Miami. Read more>>

Ortie Rainford Jr. | Artist, Husband, and Father

I think that taking a risk can put in the place or position that you want to be in and can put you in a place or position that you don’t want to be if you aren’t prepared for it. The role risk took place in my career is that I was able to be close to many of those that have motivated and inspired me in my art and also showed me a reflective perspective of myself that I thought I was. Not taking a risk will leave you stagnent in many cases. You will implode and self destruct if you don’t take that leap of faith off the edge. There was no fragment of my being “clout chasing” in my career. There are many that would combat that statement, but in the entirety of art in itself is for your art to be seen and to get your name out there in the world or universe. Risk. Art is all about risk whether the outcome is good or bad. I am new to being a parent. The most important thing that I’ve done as a parent that has had an impact to my children is to strive for what it is that you want to accomplish and that for you to finish what you start and to make genuine relationships with no alterior motives. Read more>>