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Inspiring Stories from the West Side

The heart of our mission at VoyageChicago is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Chicago’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out the West Side’s rising stars below.

Bryan Danial Joseph

I have always drawn or made things through out my life. In sixth grade I remember drawing a lot of whales,sharks, spaceships, and Michael Jordan pictures. As I got older and in my teens my focus was skateboarding, hip hop, and punk cultures. All three cultures came to a head in the late 80’s and messed and blended. Read more>>

Corinne Halbert

I was born in Anchorage Alaska in 1981 and grew up mostly in suburbs of Boston including Needham and Walpole, MA. It was always my dream as a child to attend art school and I received my BFA in Film/Video at Massachusetts College of Art in 2003. Read more>>

Kim Jones

I grew up in Bellingham Washington which some might call kind of a “hippie” town right near the border of Canada, it seemed like everyone was some kind of artist so that sort of came naturally. I was always making something and loved to spend all my allowance at this little store called The Bead Bazar. Read more>>

Amy Schwartzbach-Kang

We created The Laboratory as a way to experiment with fun and creative ways to use kids’ interests and passions to connect with science. We use science to bring books and imaginary worlds to life! I have always hated science, which is funny, because I grew up in a family of PhD scientists. Read more>>

Shay Dunne

My husband, Jim, and I were both doing really well in our careers in our 20s. We both made great money. He was in real-estate development, and I was in advertising. I thought advertising would be my “forever career” and I loved it. But the hours were LONG, and I was traveling all of the time. Read more>>

Tracy Jones

I had two high school art teachers in Indianapolis, Mr. James Doversberger and Mr. Paul D. Sinclair, who were instrumental in forming me into the artist that I am today. I always loved to draw as a kid, but I didn’t really take art too seriously until I was in high school. Read more>>

Tabitha Dawn Anderson

About 30 years ago I became a licensed cosmetologist doing hair and makeup on clients both in salon and freelance, and have loved the field. After about 5 years into it, I decided that I wanted to build a portfolio to showcase my work and gain more clients. Read more>>

Farhan Khalique

I became the co-founder of One! Athletics through a local fundraising basketball tournament for the community. In the early 2000’s the local tournament started which was just for a small community in order help generate funds for the mosqueand its school and slowly grew over the years when I became the lead for it. Read more>>

Ric Gruber

My family started Bricks 15 years ago in Downtown Lombard, and as you may know, we are now in Wheaton, Naperville, Lombard-Highland Ave, Oak Park, Mount Prospect, West Dundee, and we have Bricks on Wheels. Bill Wilson, my step-father, and I, had our first taste of wood-fired brick oven pizza during a vacation family vacation in San Diego, California. Read more>>

Nina Kallas

The younger me was always popping into my mother’s closet and putting on random outfits with heels and jewelry – I would walk around the house, like a little runway, and just be living playing dress up. Fashion has always been something I’ve had a strong interest in – fast forward to when I got into high school I started getting into street style and following fashion blogs. Read more>>

VaLarie Humphrey

I went to college with a “winning at losing” mindset. After my first semester in college my GPA was 0.923 all because of my mindset. After the second semester it rose a tad bit to 1.44. Needless to say, I flunked out of college. It took me a year to get my life back on track. Read more>>

Macy Marie Hernandez

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved the performing arts. My parents say that even at the age of 2, I’d sing and dance my renditions of various Barney songs and perform them in front of large family get-togethers. But, it wasn’t until I was 10 years old when I had my first theatrical experience. Read more>>

Keelan McMorrow

I was born in Rockford, an old rust belt city just over an hour west of Chicago. I’m an artist, I make paintings predominantly, but I’ve done plenty of design and illustrative work over the years and some sculptural stuff as well. Read more>>

Noah Gabriel

I began playing the guitar at the age of 12 and started writing music shortly after. While working at Starbucks at 18 I met Dennis Kintop, a local business owner and music enthusiast who spent his younger years as a roadie for Chicago area bands in the 70’s. Read more>>

Brian Garbrecht

I got into photography as a child taking interest in watching family members take photos at parties and the excitement of waiting for the rolls of film to get developed and being able to hold those photos in my hand and go through these physical memories. Read more>>

Phillip Hennenfent

It all started in 2012 when I won a smoker on a local radio station. I never really cooked much before this. As it turned out I was really good at it. I learned more and more as time went on and eventually people were asking me to smoke meat for them. Read more>>

Jennifer Keller

Well, it’s a long and winding story with many twists and turns! But to start, growing up I have always been a creative person. I loved visual art, theater, music, dance…I loved it all. When I was younger I immersed myself in all art forms. I don’t think there was a creative outlet I didn’t dive into. Read more>>

Lauren Barron

Lauren, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far. I have been a full-time corporate banker since I graduated from college, and, while I have enjoyed that career, getting my MBA part-time is what opened my eyes to the idea of entrepreneurship. Read more>>

Chris Hunt

I started Seek in 2010. I got laid off from a corporate job in NYC after 10 years and decided to make the move to Chicago which I am thrilled with. It’s nice to change things up and Chicago was a perfect city to start a small business in. I’ve been doing this for going on 9 years and it’s going great. Read more>>

Jolanta Soares

Even though I was involved in the art scene and art making since my teenage years, I never dared to call myself an artist until recently. I was born in Poland and lived there til my early twenties. During that time I worked as a Social Worker. Read more>>

Berny Echeverria

Well, there isn’t really much to my story, people love to sit and read inspirationals with crazy ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and, while I have some my story is simply that of some one who didn’t like what they were doing, and made a change. Read more>>

Victor Scimeca

To be honest, I never intended to become a photographer nor an artist for that matter. I professionally worked within the field of social work continually losing my work/life balance. I just needed a mental break and eventually left my career just under two years ago. Read more>>

John Le

My partner, Nick, and I met each other doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Evanston since 2006. Nick is a phenomenal coach and instructor and he was set to run a branch of our old gym in Old Town. However it fell through and it was sad for me and the other members that followed him to Old Town. Read more>>

Kathleen Frantz

Growing up, I was always taught the importance of family and community. On our block everybody knew everyone, and we made it a point to take care of each other. A big part of coming together was around the table — whether it be family dinners, holidays, or just friends and neighbors visiting. Read more>>

Bob Sassetti

I was a graphic artist. The President of the company wanted to start his own line of exclusive printed fabrics. As Unitex already owned a manufacturing plant, his idea was that if he could also own his own fabric lines, his drapery business would be completely vertical. Read more>>

Vamsi Koduri

I was born and raised in Hyderabad, India. I have been in the U.S for many years. With an MBA, I work in the IT industry. But films and film making has always been my passion. I am an actor/model/ photographer and I have acted, directed, edited and produced number of short films in various genres. Read more>>

Billy Yenz

Born and raised in Normal, IL. Since I was a lil’ Bill, I’ve always been a creative. Whether that was drawing, painting, writing, dabbling in music, different softwares, using various hardware. I like puzzles and processes; it’s the way my brain operates. Read more>>

Jennifer Knowlton

I started doing makeup for special events when I was in high school – I was only 17. It all started when my best friend at the time went with me to CVS to pick out eyeshadow for fun. She convinced me to pick out two Covergirl eyeshadows. Read more>>

Bobbi Meier

I was one of those kids who could always draw well. My mom commissioned me to paint murals in our suburban, split-level home and design program covers for the latest production of her piano student’s work. I would sit for hours with the World Book Encyclopedia in my lap and draw from pages like, Birds of North America. Read more>>

Liz

I started playing drums when I was 17. It made the most sense to me. I didn’t need to learn chords or notes, I could just play. I joined a few bands and enjoyed that a lot but things slowly fell apart and I realized I wanted to do something more, so I decided to start writing songs by myself. Read more>>

Tamara Wallace

I suffered from low self-esteem and weak confidence. I did not realize my worth and I knew it by letting people talk to me any type of way, I did not stand up for myself, and went through years of an abusive relationship. After I had two daughters, I realized that I cannot stop life from happening, that there may be a slight chance they may go through some of the things I’ve gone through. Read more>>

Sarai Bernice

I’m a Chicago born artist from South Shore who has been creating through various forms since I was a child. I come from a large family of creatives and art has always been valued and encouraged in my parents’ household. I create as a release from and an analysis of my life. My struggle with anxiety and ideas of identity fuel my works. Read more>>

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