You Don’t Need to be an Artist to Work in the Arts

Six Arts Professionals Share Their Career Paths with Students

“Try lots of different things, do what you love, and never be bored.”—Hilary Magowan, Exhibitions Manager, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Curiosity. Experimenting. Open-mindedness. It’s no surprise that a group of professionals working in creative fields encouraged young people to seek knowledge and be open to opportunities as they embark on their careers. 

Enterprise for Youth is there for young people to guide them as they begin to consider how to earn an income and what may come next after school. Youth learn what questions to ask, how to get jobs, and are given opportunities to apply what they’ve learned in professional settings. They gain greater self-awareness, confidence, and experience.

This summer, students learned about careers in the arts, among many other fields, as part of Enterprise for Youth’s Career Exploration program. CEO Ninive Calegari gathered a panel of six art professionals over Zoom to expose young people to art careers. Ninive believes the arts are a basic human right, so she made sure to include it in the robust six-week curriculum. (Not to mention, Enterprise produces two art-centric fundraising events, The San Francisco Fall Show and Private Collections.)

“Fine arts is something I have been interested in for quite a while; I wasn’t exposed enough to the career until now. You’ve opened my eyes and gave me more information of what the journey is like. Truly inspiring, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to talk to us!!”—Vanessa, 18

The panel consisted of creative-minded folks working in art curation, graphic design, interior design, architecture, writing, and filmmaking. The panelists work in an array of creative companies and touched on the even larger sampling of types of positions within these companies. They shared their personal journeys and offered advice for professional development. See what they had to say:


Hilary Magowan, Exhibitions Manager, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco*

You may have heard of museum curators, Hilary does this. She selects art for exhibits, but she also plans exhibitions from a more logistical side. This includes drafting contracts and budgets, negotiating loans, and managing design and installation logistics. Hilary works with a team of curators, exhibition managers, production crews, designers, and others to bring together shows. After what can be years of planning, Hilary loves seeing the exhibition she helped create come together. Hilary reminded us: “There are a lot of opportunities out there. People in museums also work in marketing, events, finance, retail, communications, and development.

“Your presentation gave me a new perspective on careers in art and I’ll definitely remember it for the future.”—Patrick, 16

“I think your job is awesome because art needs to be shared!” Max, 15

Graphic Design: 

Bosco Hernandez, Design Director, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Bosco thought he would study business administration and take over the family business, but a printmaking class changed his direction. He loved the class so much that he changed his major to graphic design. Now as a graphic designer for a major museum, he directs branding projects and exhibition designs, such as matching the typography of an exhibition name to the exhibition content and identity.

The opportunity to try new things was instrumental in Bosco’s design career. He acknowledges the difficult task of making decisions that will impact one’s life and reminds youth to seek exposure. “We can’t assume we know enough because we don’t. There are so many ways of approaching things.”

 “I liked how you said to always try new things because we never really know what we like or don’t like until we try it out.”—Cindy, 17

Interior Design:

Jonathan Rachman, Interior Designer, J. Rachman Design*

“This is my dream job,” says Jonathan. But his route to interior design was circuitous, or as Jonathan brands his journey, #myunplannedlife. From the corporate world to owning a flower shop, Jonathan said yes to opportunities and through a series of professional connections, he found his calling as an interior designer. Without a formal education in interior design, Jonathan has made a name for himself and works on design projects across the globe.

Jonathan’s parting advice to the youth audience, which embodies Jonathan quite well, is: “Stay happy, stay positive, and spread the love.”

“Thank you for giving us the motivation to succeed.”—Jonathan, 17


Zoee Astrachan, Landscape Architect and Co-Owner, INTERSTICE Architects*

As a landscape architect, Zoee has designed more than residential gardens. She has worked on numerous award-winning projects, such as Kaiser hospital, UCSF’s garden and rooftop, and parklets. Her efforts also promote sustainability, beauty, ecological health, and cultural vibrancy. In addition to being an architect, she is a business owner and a lecturer.

Zoee urged the youth to get out there and have lots of experiences that are different from what they already know. “One step doesn’t come after the other. You have to squirrel around to find your place.”

“Your advice was so meaningful, and it was a great reminder that there is no ‘traditional’ career path and that everybody’s journey will vary.”—Heather, 16


Molly Parent, Communications Manager, 826 Valencia, and Co-owner, Point Reyes Books

A desire to connect with the arts and writing brought Molly to 826 Valencia as an intern. She rose through the ranks and now handles communication for the nonprofit. Molly is invested in storytelling and amplifying voices. She works to support creativity while also flexing her own creative muscle through crafting communications and finding innovative ways to delight.

With a little bit of luck, the right experience, and gobs of passion, Molly took a leap of faith to make her dream of owning a bookstore come true. She and her husband own and operate a small bookstore where she works to build community. Molly urges, “Find community. Find mentors and advocates and people you love working with that will be a guiding light.” 

“It was powerful to hear about how storytelling can be used as an art form.”Elizabeth, 17


Arne Johnson, President, Producer & Editor, Mission Pictures*^

Arne tells stories through film. He loves the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people and film interesting stuff. “There are a lot of niches inside of filmmaking,” says Arne. “There are hundreds of people on any film set.” Arne also often hires interns including his Enterprise intern, who playfully and proudly lauded as the best intern they’ve ever had.

Arne enthusiastically calls the youth to action: “We need the voices of young people, people of color, and of women. Our mission is to channel people into this industry. Don’t be daunted. It’s not that big of a deal, it’s not that scary. Force your way in if you’re interested.”

“I really enjoyed learning about your career in the filmmaking and video industry. After hearing a lot about what you do, it seems very interesting and experiencing it would be fun.”—Jasmine, 16

Enterprise for Youth asked these six art professionals to share their careers with young people with the intention of exposing them to new opportunities and encouraging them to ask questions and take some ownership in their journeys. Their experiences are only the beginning for what is out there. As the world changes and technology advances, new and different challenges and opportunities arise. The path is not always linear. Exploration is key at a young age.

“Watching the artwork displayed on the slides made me realize that I never really had an appreciation for art, but after the presentation, I have realized that art is a wonderful discipline. I loved looking at the pictures and the description of each exhibit, and the background behind it. Thank you again!”—Joanne Y, 16 

* The de Young Museum, J. Rachman Design, INTERSTICE, and Mission Pictures have hosted Enterprise interns

^ Mission Pictures co-produced Enterprise’s youth films that debuted at our Heroes at Work event on July 15, 2020

By Margan Mulvihill
Associate Director of Development and Communications