Nobody ever said our paths need to be linear.

Just ask Skillshare teachers Charly Clements, Gia Graham, Katty Huertas, Alicia Souza, and Sophia Yeshi. Each one of these women have blazed their own trail, defined what they wanted out for their lives, and built creative careers to realize those dreams.

For every one of these inspiring artists, it started with a pivot.

And whether this pivot came from a welcome change of circumstance, or was forced upon them by a global pandemic, they all used the momentum of that shift to understand their wants more deeply and carve out their own creative stake in the world.

Artwork by Skillshare teacher Charly Clements

This Women’s History Month, we celebrate the curvy, truncated, enduring, quirky, and iconic paths that these Skillshare teachers – and all women and women-identifying people – take to fulfill their creative purpose. We encourage you to find inspiration in their words below, or in their artwork available exclusively through Society6.

Has the pandemic changed your relationship with your craft or prompted a ‘career pivot’? How?

Absolutely! The pandemic put a lot of things into perspective for me. It affected so many of us, not only physically but also mentally so it gave me the motivation to spread more happiness and positivity through my work. My instagram became SO much more than just sharing my art, it became a place for telling stories, making deeper connections and helping others grow into thriving artists.This shift made me realise just how important following my passion is, and how much joy I get from helping others achieve the same. – Charly Clements

The pandemic has actually strengthened my relationship with my craft. Aside from allowing me the flexibility to work from home and adjust to all the life changes that happened so quickly (like virtual school for the kids), it also became a respite for me. When I  immerse myself in an illustration and get swept up in the creative flow, I feel calm, centered and whole. I used to take that for granted but I now realize what a gift it is to have that outlet. – Gia Graham

The pandemic made me realize and change certain work patterns that probably weren’t the healthiest. During the first months I found myself constantly working as a coping mechanism. Since like most people, I barely left the house, I felt the guilt of not being productive. If felt like there were no clear boundaries between work time and personal time. All of this eventually led to burn out, which made me adjust how I approached my work. Lately I’ve been more conscious of how I spend my time, including which projects I dedicate my time to and which ones I say no to. I’m also trying to be better at carving time for personal work since that’s where most of the joy and experimentation come from, a lot of it no one will ever see, which also helps to take off the pressure of making. There are happy accidents that happen with paint that could serve as inspiration for other pieces down the road. – Katty Huertas

I become a mother during the pandemic and in a way, everything changed. I now have an undisputed priority but also still very much have to work for my career and myself. I have always been disciplined with work but now even more so to make sure I get to do the most I can as a working mom. That was my biggest pivot and the pandemic fit into the same time slot. – Alicia Souza

The pandemic has made me realize that the work and success will come, but what I have to find is internal happiness and a strong sense of self. Design and illustration is a career I’ve spent my life manifesting and now I’m realizing it’s still work at the end of the day. What this means is that I never want to stop expressing myself creatively in new ways. – Sophia Yeshi

Artwork by Skillshare teacher Sophia Yeshi

Tell us about a time when you stumbled or your career didn’t go as planned. What happened and how did that impact your creative journey?

When I first moved to New York, I searched high and low for a full-time job in graphic design. I reached out to everyone I knew living in the city, applied to jobs daily, made connections through LinkedIn, but still only had one interview that didn’t end up with an offer. I ended up moving and decided to just try my hand at freelancing, without knowing if it would work out. If I wasn’t rejected, who knows where I would be now, but what I learned is that sometimes being told “no” or being rejected can open up a whole new path you weren’t able to see for yourself. – Sophia Yeshi

I think falling into freelancing was never a part of my plans. I honestly always thought it sounded terrible. I fell into it when plans didn’t work out and it was so sudden that I didn’t have alternate plans (I’m a planner!). I just had to put my head down and work. Do a lot of things I never wanted to do or things I was afraid of and over time it worked out for the best. I can’t be more grateful!  – Alicia Souza

I’ve had a couple major pivots in my creative career over the past 20 years. Two years after launching a successful stationery line, my second son was born prematurely (11 weeks early!). The business needed 100% of my time and so did my son – I chose my son and decided to close the business. While in my new role as a stay-at-home mom, I bought an iPad and decided to learn hand lettering and brush up on my illustration skills. What started out as a creative pastime quickly became a passion then evolved into a new career path. I’m forever grateful for those pivots for leading me to where I am today. – Gia Graham

Artwork by Skillshare teacher Gia Graham

How do you approach or think about pivoting in your creative career? Can you share an example?

I think about it logically. I’ve always been a head thinker but also of course, my heart has to be in it too. For example, starting my online store about a decade ago was an opportunity that I had to take on because of a very successful sale. But though in my heart I felt I wasn’t ready and was scared, I knew I had to take the plunge because there never was going to be a better time. And it worked out! – Alicia Souza

What would you tell a creative person who’s struggling to carve out a career in their medium?

As cliche as it sounds, I would say to never give up. I don’t believe as much in talent as I do in practice. Something people tend to forget is that everyone, even the most successful artists, started not knowing how to work on their medium. No one is born knowing how to paint, write or play the guitar, these are all skills you learn and it’s very likely that when you first start you won’t be very good at them, the difference is made by how passionate you are about them and how willing you are to fail in order to get better. I’d also say putting your work out there also doesn’t hurt, you never know you might see it and resonate with it. – Katty Huertas

Artwork by Skillshare teacher Katty Huertas

​​Tell us about a female-identifying role model who has influenced your creative career. What has this person taught you?

My mum, as cliche as that sounds. She’s a single parent who brought me and my brother up alone, and although she struggled, I never heard her complain. I’m incredibly lucky to have grown up in a creative household and have such fond memories of making, painting and drawing with my mum. She always encouraged me to tap into my creative side, and I know that these moments have played a huge role in my love of art and teaching others. – Charly Clements

Explore classes from these Skillshare teachers and get inspired to make a pivot of your own right here.

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