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Downtown LA’s Thought-Provokers

LA has always had an artistic soul.  The culture and heritage of our city, like most great cities, owes a tremendous debt to the arts community.  Supporting local art is something we care deeply about and we’d like to do everything we can to help the local arts community thrive.  Unfortunately, too often media attention is monopolized by corporate interests and tabloid gossip – but culture doesn’t come from a focus on celebrity breakups it comes from a focus on the arts.  Below, you’ll find some incredible artists from in and around DTLA that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Annie Chen

Growing up as an Asian American, there was a lot of focus on math and science in my household. In high school, I was even in a magnet program called math, science, and technology. I knew then that I definitely didn’t want to work in that field. Especially after focusing on it for so long. It wasn’t hard to see I as naturally inclined to art & design. Not sure why I chose interior design exactly for my undergraduate degree, but I supposed I liked the idea of creating spaces and environments. It was, however, hard to convince Asian parents to let you study design! Read more>>

Kaitlyn Pietras Jason H. Thompson

Kaitlyn comes from a background in architecture and scenic design, while Jason comes from a background in lighting and projection design. Jason has an MFA from UCSD and then spent years working with top designers in theatre to add practical experience to his graduate education. Kaitlyn has an MFA from UCLA and made a quick entry into the professional world by designing shows for small theatres in Los Angeles. Read more>>

Maya Wali Richardson

I think my story of becoming an artist mostly centers around internal conflict. I’ve been taking photographs since I was a teenager, but I didn’t take my photography seriously until much later, once I was in college living in New York. I’m half Indian and half white, and I grew up for the first part of my life in the isolated and natural environment of Cape Cod, and then moved to Los Angeles for middle school and high school. I come from a family of artists – my mother is a writer, my father is a cinematographer. Read more>>

Matt Schmidt

I’ve been dancing around different aspects of the arts for as long as I can remember. I went to Penn State University for theatre then moved to New York after graduating. I got lucky and started working on the Broadway 1st National tour of “Grease” performing across the country. I’ve worked on several shows as a member of Actors Equity Association. My Gramps and Mom always had a love for photography and it happened to be in my veins as well. Read more>>

Holly Choon Hyang Bachman

I was born in Gunsan, South Korea as Sung, Choon Hyang and was later adopted at the age of 3-1/2 years old to a White American family in Owatonna, Minnesota – namely Holly Choon Hyang Pettman. I was blessed and I am very grateful that my parents kept a part of my Korean heritage as part of my new American name…my Korean Birth name Choon Hyang as my American Middle name…I grew up with two older brothers who were/are biological to my adoptive parents. Read more>>

Marissa Kay

I never wanted to do anything besides art, never did any extracurricular activities in school. I wasn’t interested in sports or clubs. Basically anything that occurred in a large group I avoided as much as possible. Drawing, painting, and ultimately tattooing all serve(d) as a real escape. In a way, you control all of it and none of it at the same time. For myself, and speculatively for other artists as well, that’s what makes creation such an enjoyable necessity. Read more>>

Emily Tsuda

I started using Instagram in 2013. Not necessarily as a social tool, but as an improved version of a blog. As a dancer for over six years, I decided to create a page; @pointers_for_pointe ( to share my knowledge and passion for pointe. At the time, this type of niche did not exist and as large Instagram pages with over 100K followers (with similar audiences) started to see my username floating around, they were willing to share my page. Read more>>

Elmira Lilic

I am an artist and art dealer who shares the power of art with people across the globe. I believe art allows us to connect and communicate on an immeasurable level.  I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. My family escaped Sarajevo during the Bosnian Genocide in 1992. Our family found refuge in Slovenia and we immigrated to Germany and Minnesota. In my early 20’s I traveled for work and that exposed me to more of the major metropolitan cities in America. Read more>>

Gabriela Forgo

Most of my childhood took place in Caracas, Venezuela, a place where vibrant colors and approaching architecture in a sculptural manner is such a huge part of the city. It is now known as one of the murder capitals of the world, and due to the economic collapse, I am unable to visit the place I grew up in. Although Venezuela is now considered dangerous, my memories of growing up there are warm and dreamy. Read more>>


I started writing songs at the age of 13 with the only three guitar chords I know to this day (I learned piano growing up in my defense…) Jokes aside, I was not much of a writer back then, but I really wanted to learn. I’m from Annandale, VA, which is about 14 miles outside of Washington D.C. where I went to high school. Though the drive into the city every day was comparable to LA rush hour. Read more>>

Alex Pelly

Originally from Montreal and Toronto, I moved to LA when I was 18 to go to film school. My program was Hollywood geared and I felt frustrated by all the conventions I was expected to follow in traditional narrative filmmaking. I declared a second major in creative writing where I focused on poetry and was inspired by the writing professors who encouraged me to break rules, experiment and get weird. Read more>>

Yiqiu Xu

I’m currently an MFA student in the Animation and Digital Arts program at USC. Born and raised in South China, I also spent my undergraduate years there. I never expected myself to be an animator before entering college. The reason for me to chose animation over other kinds of art forms was actually a little bit farfetched. As a teenager, I was a self-proclaimed movie fan. I did imagine myself to be a director for live-action movies. Read more>>

Rong Deng

I am a game designer! Right now, I am a second-year graduate student in the USC interactive media game division. I received my B.E in my undergraduate, but I didn’t want to be an engineer. Fortunately, I got a programmer’s position in a famous mobile game company GAMELOFT. I quickly grew from a newbie to a lead programmer within two years. After another two years, I got promoted as a game producer. Read more>>

Dier Zhang

I wanted to be a full-time artist. While I was encouraged to do all these things, they were always considered “extra curriculum activities” by my parents, as school work remained the focus of life. I was forced to quit all of my artistic explorations when I entered grade 8. It was engrained in my mind that my life goes anywhere being an artist. It was not until my sophomore year in college when I finally realized and accepted the fact that I need to make art to express myself. Read more>>

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