Liz McTan | Blogger, musician

I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades in terms of artistry. I write for Orange County Moms Blog, so I’m a blogger, and I have my own blog called the Redheaded Rambling Mama. I owned a store for three years and we just closed it six months ago and then I do music as well. When I say it all out loud it sounds like a lot but when I feel it in my life it’s like, “Eh, it’s not that much stuff.” 

I went to FIDM from 2013 to 2015. I went back to school as an adult, at 28. I had been working in e-commerce doing copywriting for a long time and I just felt like I wasn’t moving and I wanted to do something a little more challenging. I wanted to get a degree — I’d never had one, I’d always done part-time school. I also have fibromyalgia, which is a big part of my life and why I do a bunch of weird stuff, instead of a full time job where you have to be there 40 hours a week and it’s a set schedul...

Jacki O. | The First Lady of Real Estate

I met Beale — and it has something to do with Beale because that’s how I got here — I was 20 years old. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was going to junior college and the first thing I thought I was interested in was psychology. I started taking all these psychology classes and then I thought that’s not something I think I can do for the rest of my life. Then I took marketing. I thought marketing I could kind of use in anything. And then I don’t know, I guess I get bored too easy or something. I took almost a year of these classes. Junior college is only supposed to take two years… now I’m on my second year, and I switch to interior design. So I’m kind of flailing at this point. From 18 until I met my husband I had switched majors three times. He was a musician and he was passionate about music. We fell in love and I actually kind of thought I was going to dedicate my life to his music business.

He was moving forward wi...

Jen Buehler
Fertility Nurse

I did not originally want to be a nurse. My mom had suggested it to me while I was in high school, getting ready to go to college, like “You would be a great nurse.” And I was thinking, “No, all they do is wipe people’s butts and that’s it. And they clean up poop, and… no.” I had done physical therapy when I was in high school for an injury and I loved the biology and the medicine part of it but I thought, “Nurses don’t do anything that I am interested in.” I went to college and I was a bio major but I didn’t think I wanted to be a doctor, either. I specialized in physiology, which is functions of the body, and I took a reproductive biology class in college and scored the top of my class. It wasn’t just reproductive biology for humans, it was all animals, but there was something about it like, “Yes. I get this, it makes sense.”

What I thought was really interesting about it was I had girlfriends who would come to me asking me questions about their body. We’re...

Kasha Lassien
Professional make-up artist, Los Angeles, CA |

Makeup wasn’t the first thing that I wanted to get into. Art has always been something that has called to me, but it wasn’t something that I thought was realistic for a career. Especially with my family, everyone is an overachiever; they’re getting degrees and doing all this stuff so I felt like I had to go that route to please them or to keep up with what my brothers and sisters were doing. I would do my makeup all the time but I didn’t think that was something you could make a career out of. I would watch YouTube tutorials while I was in college studying psychology, I’d take a break and go out to the store and get all the products and then come back and finish my studies. I really fell in love with the art of transforming myself, so much so that I was like, “I’m going to see how I can make a career out of this.” There’s something called The Makeup Show which is like this big convention or trade show for pr...

Laurie Gray
Owner of The Pie Bar, Long Beach, CA |

I grew up on a ten-acre ranch on Washington State. We raised our own fruits and vegetables and we had animals and we had Arabian horses and it was a great childhood. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and she made everything from scratch; she was always cooking and baking and she taught me how to bake when I was really young. And then fast forward, I become an adult and I marry my high school sweetheart, start a family, and I get into banking as a career. I left the bank world; I was tired, I’d done everything I could do: marketing manager, branch manager, loan officer… I just was bored and I was moving 40 miles north and I was like, “Ok, this is a good time to break.” I was sitting at home one night watching the food network and these two ladies in Georgia had started this pie company out of their garage. I called my friend and I was like, “Do you want to start a pie company with me?” We each put 500 buc...

Rita Leon
Tattoo Artist, Electric Chair Tattoo

Throughout school, throughout my life, I was always all about drawing and painting. There’s that old-school mentality that you’re not going to make money at art. I thought that I would do mortuary science so I ended up at Cypress [College]. Then first semester, I was like, “No, I don’t want to do it,” even though I had been set on that for a really long time, since I was a kid. I was like, “How am I going to make money out of art?” I’ve always liked tattooing and I had a few already; I had an acquaintance from high school and I asked her, “Hey, how do I go about becoming an apprentice?” I asked her if I could be her apprentice, and she hadn’t been tattooing long, she started tattooing out of high school so maybe already four or five years. She let me know, “No, I’m not taking apprentices, but go to Electric Chair.” I went there and I took my portfolio and the guy who used to own it, Rick, he went through it and he was like, “Well, you’re al...

Melissa Cortina
Owner, Bavette Meat & Provisions

I was in graduate school for literature. I had a triple major in college: art history, philosophy, and literature. I planned to go into the intersection of all of them, through aesthetics — the philosophy of what’s beautiful and understanding why we think art is art. I’m still really interested in that but I found graduate school to be super detached from the world. I eventually got my master’s and just left; I was supposed to get my Ph.D. but I decided not to. I started working and eventually worked my way into this really fantastic James Beard award-winning restaurant and when I was there, they did a lot of farm-to-table food, tons of it. The chef, Jody Adams, was a really early advocate for working directly with farmers. I started making charcuterie a little bit and doing a little more stuff with meat, and I loved that, so that’s what got me on that path, interested in the way that food used to be made and prese...

Charlene Derby

Instructional Designer

The technical name for what I do is “instructional design” and that means that I write instructional materials. That could be for anything where somebody needs to be trained to do something, so most of my projects have been in business. Y2K kind of made my career because everybody was putting in new computer systems to handle the four-digit date versus a two-digit date and that affected all employees in the enterprise. That was a lot of software training, it was a lot of step-by-step procedures, it was apps that employees had never seen before; in many cases, it was a transition from a black and green screen to a Windows color screen… that was a pretty exciting period of time. We did some projects for Federal Express, for UtiliCorp United, which is a power company in Kansas City. That was fun; we got to fly to Kansas City and eat some really good steaks.

I worked in the corporate world for about 15 years. I started with a company...

Katherine Lee
Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, UCLA

Ethnomusicology is a field of study that combines the theory and methods of anthropology with the study of music, so it’s kind of like the study of music and culture. It’s an interdisciplinary field, so a lot of people come in to ethnomusicology with differing backgrounds. Some come in through performance, they majored in music performance as I did, but other folks come through anthropology or cultural studies, so it’s actually a discipline that’s pretty inclusive and welcomes a variety of different perspectives and backgrounds.

The kinds of classes that an ethnomusicologist would teach are classes in music cultures of the world, and those can be large survey course for undergraduates. And in addition to that, if the school has a graduate program in ethnomusicology then one would also teach graduate seminars in ethnomusicology. So in the past, I’ve taught musical ethnography as practice and genre; interrogating sound, music, and...

Bonnie Matthews
Illustrator, Cookbook Author, Food Photographer

I went to art school and I was always fascinated by typography and how things were laid out … in art school I studied graphic design, not illustration. And I just decided, you know, I’ve always loved kids’ books, I’m going to teach myself how to paint. I always drew, ever since I was little, but I never really developed a specific style. I kind of built on what I knew, which was a love for animals, and so pretty quickly I developed this style and I started marketing my illustration. When I was an art director I would get post cards in the mail from photographers and illustrators so I kind of knew how they were marketing themselves. And I got some work.

I did that for a long time, and I did some kids’ books and some shows and mostly print stuff. That was great, and then the economy tanked, though. All my bread and butter work… I used to have regular gigs, you know? Like Prudential health had a newsletter for all of their insu...

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