Elena Beroeva: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist

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Seek out criticism, ask for feedback. It can be difficult to hear the hard truth but for me listening to a different point of you has always been beneficial. You work on a project for so long, staring at your screen day and night and at some point lose the bigger picture. Asking someone for advice, to ask a fresh pair of eyes to look at your work creates space for new ideas to come and develop your work further.

As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist” I had the pleasure of interviewing Elena Beroeva.

Elena Beroeva is a Graphic Design graduate hailing from the esteemed Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Currently, she calls New York her home, where she remotely lends her creative expertise to Studio Claremont in Claremont, CA, a renowned art studio celebrated for its diverse classes and workshops catering to individuals of all ages. Her journey in crafting impactful designs and breathing life into brands has proven to be a deeply fulfilling endeavor. Elena enthusiastically anticipates the thrilling opportunities that await her in this ongoing creative pursuit.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a small city in Russia called Balashikha, spending most of the time outside on the playground with neighborhood kids, running around, playing various sometimes absurd games like running away from dogs we probably teased or pretending like we are the lost children from Peter Pan and building tents out of whatever we can find around. No matter how absurd it was, it was always fun and the creativity knew no bounds from an early age. My grandma’s voice out of the window hollering at me was the only thing that would get me inside. In the summers my fondest memory was eating a big watermelon with my family and then going rollerblading in the evening while my older brother was skateboarding and my parents were slowly trailing me hand in hand. In the winters it was all about building snowmen (I started way before Anna & Elsa did, just saying) and playing snowball fights. Being outdoors was great for my soul. In the times when I wasn’t out there I was doing art, I loved drawing with my parents but also really enjoyed it in solitude. My family was always around, I grew up with my older brother, mom, dad and grandparents in the same house so there was always some commotion going on, a time of peace that I craved from an early age came from drawing. I was very much into coloring books and I remember my parents would bring me cassette tapes with my favorite stories which I would put on and color away. When my little brothers were born we moved but the commotion definitely never stopped. I was a very friendly child, always joking around, an acclaimed clown in my class so I had a lot of fun in school. Teachers loved me but knew where I was there would be some sort of laughter so sometimes I had to be seated strategically. At home I was always helping around with my little brother and I was happy to share my passion for art with him. At around that time I started going to fine arts school when my parents recognized my passion for it and potentially it being my career choice ( they weren’t wrong). I would indulge in the art classes that varied from pencil or charcoal sketches to watercolor and oil paintings, as well as art history classes. At the end of every term we would have an exhibition to show our art work as well as art history tests that would be assessed to see if we make it to the next term. I loved the community there and find importance in it to this day. Around the age of 13 my family moved to Vienna, Austria and it felt like a lot of relearning of some things, adapting to the new culture and of course the language itself, both English and German. My family and newly founded friends helped me with that but it took some time to settle in and again in the times of change and uncertainty art was my trusted companion.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I would have to say it was rather random or even sudden. As I was close to graduation I knew I wanted to do art but didn’t have a specific path panned out. When I realized how much is actually out there it was quite overwhelming. My parents were always supportive and pitching their ideas. I always had a dream, based on some romcoms, to live in America, especially in New York and I loved the idea of being able to speak English in my daily life. In High School, doing the IB program we had to do 10 pieces for our final exhibition and we had 2 years to work on it and I chose to do a lot of mixed media projects which I think was also a deciding factor for me when I was choosing my major. I remember the day it happened, I was sitting at the dining kitchen in Bulgaria where we were on the vacation for the summer doing vigorous research. To make my choice I first started looking at colleges that were more or less affordable. By that time I thought illustration was gonna be my path but it all changed when I saw the university’s page on graphic design. I think I had an explosion in my head when I saw it, my eyes and heart lit up! I remember the carousel of students’ work displayed on the top of the page and got lit up, all the different bright and vibrant designs, intricate packaging, visual systems, seeing that was my deciding factor. I realized this major was something that would help me realize all the ideas I had in mind and help me combine the hands-on approach with the digital design. The latter part was very new to me and took a lot of adjusting but I was ever so excited to start my path in Graphic Design since that day.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I would use the word enlightening to the experience I am going to share. When I started working at Studio Claremont, there was a change in owner and the new owner was a young woman, an artist herself, who reached out to take me on the team as the main graphic designer for the business. While curating the knew brand and the new website (which is still work in progress), I could see the decisions made and steps taken by the previous owner and had to do some deciphering. I think that experience alone showed me the importance of having a person dedicated to this part of any business or a company and how much difference it makes to have someone who has the skills and knowledge in this area of design! Making a visual system, website or social media is no easy task as it has to be user friendly and accommodate the target audience. Hearing feedback from the customers about the improvements made has been very fulfilling!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

A big upcoming project I have is a mural! Studio Claremont is located at a big packing house that caters to a lot of small businesses and we were commissioned to do a mural located at the front. It will serve as an attraction to the visitors, a place where everyone can take their pictures and show what Claremont stands for. We are working together with the packing house owners to make it happen. It’s a very exciting project for me as I haven’t done anything on this scale before but always wanted to so I am looking forward to learning the strategy for how to make my digital idea come to life!

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I found some of the most interesting people I have interacted with were some of my instructors because of the rich life they had outside of school and the captivating teaching way they’ve had. One of them would be Christine …., she taught me a lot of packaging design techniques that I use to this day. What fascinated me beyond her design skill is her dedication to teaching and creating space for students. She would commute from Napa to San Francisco just for our class. Despite her teaching she has such a full life that includes her riding horses! She is a very important person in my life and how much encouragement and inspiration she provided to push forward and perfect our designs. She wanted us and our work to be the best version it could be and took the time outside classes to help.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?

A lot of the time I seek inspiration in the real world. I can be inspired by something that I see on the street, or on my commute on the train. Living in New York has a great advantage of having something special anywhere you look. A lot of time the city can be chaotic but when I take a moment to center myself amongst the chaos I often find incredible gems. One of my favorite things, something I often draw my inspiration from, are subway stations. The amount of incredible tile work, art work, stained glass that are located at stations never cease to amaze me. I take a lot of pictures of the places I like the most and find myself coming back to them. I gain a lot of inspiration from architecture as well, especially the dynamic blend of different kinds of architecture, some preserved from before and some brand new office buildings located on the same block. The difference can be very drastic and chaotic in itself but it reminds me of my love for mixing different media in my art and pushes me to think outside the box.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

A big part of who I am and what makes me happy is creating a community. I tend to gravitate towards people and making a space that is comfortable, welcoming and safe for everyone is very important for me. Working at Studio Claremont does exactly that. Being able to bring people together and show that the studio is for everyone where all their art dreams can come true is very fulfilling. It also proves yet again that the work I do, Graphic Design holds a lot of power. The strategy you chose for your brand is very important in what audience it attracts and what kind of experience they can expect. I also hold art dear to my heart, obviously, so to be a part of a business that allows people of all walks of life to come together and express their creativity in a welcoming, friendly environment is a dream come true. So I humbly believe that my current experience and work as a graphic designer at the art studio brings a little goodness to the world.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.

1 . People skills are very important! While working with different clients it can be challenging to find a middle ground and you have to gain a skill of guiding the clients in the direction you see most successful while catering to their needs.

2 . BACKUP YOUR COMPUTER. It’s a silly one but oh so crucial. This has happened to me at the worst moments, your computer might just crash for no given reason and everything you’ve worked on could very much seize to exist.

3 . Don’t compare yourself to others. It can be a difficult skill or way of thinking to obtain and implement in your life especially when you seek out inspiration. But it’s important to remember that as a creative individual you have a lot to give and be confident in the work you produce.

4 . Seek out criticism, ask for feedback. It can be difficult to hear the hard truth but for me listening to a different point of you has always been beneficial. You work on a project for so long, staring at your screen day and night and at some point lose the bigger picture. Asking someone for advice, to ask a fresh pair of eyes to look at your work creates space for new ideas to come and develop your work further.

5 . Get out of your comfort zone. Not being afraid to experiment with different materials, digitizing art you make with your hands. Getting into digital art was out of my comfort zone in the first place, it took some getting used to and at some point I took a break from sketching but that’s where my heart lies. When I came back to it, it was more fulfilling and new ideas started to flow.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve mentioned this before, community is very important to me and I think the big cities like New York sometimes lack the sense of community. Even though there are so many people, a lot miss out on true and meaningful connections or don’t engage in small talk when the lifestyle is so busy. Before the industrial rise people depended on each other a lot more and supported each other through trading basic goods. I think it would be fun to set a trading chain in motion, starting small, it can be anything and keep going. It could be within the city limits. I think the whole process would initiate a lot of conversations. There are also loads of small businesses, people finding ways to express their creativity and passion. Trading our own goods would be a great and meaningful element to add. You exchange your own goods, your own creation, become more visible and you never know whose hands your item will end up in. So I guess I would try to inspire a movement of trading chains of goods of your own making that would open up all sorts of conversations and connections!

We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.

I would like to have lunch with an artist named Kiersten Dierup. Kiersten Dierup makes art that is surreal and conceptual and derives a lot of her inspiration from experiencing insomnia, focusing on images that come to her mind when being restless. I find it quite mesmerizing the way the ideas come to life and have very vivid dreams, some inspiring me to create. I would like to learn more about her process and how her ideas come to life.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

My Graphic Design Account on Instagram is berodesign and my personal account is lenk06. I am definitely not amazing at being consistent with social media but I am trying and if more people want to see more of my work I will definitely feel more encouraged and motivated to post! I am grateful for anyone who wants to see my work and follow my journey.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Elena Beroeva: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.