Elena Beroeva, originally from Russia, developed a deep love for art and design early in life. Her artistic journey began at a fine arts school, and she continued to explore various mediums and crafts.
After moving to Austria and later to the United States, Elena’s passion for art led her to pursue a career in Graphic Design. She mastered digital art and specialized in packaging design, branding, and more.
Elena’s professional journey included internships and work at BLKDOG Designs and Common Sense Media, where she contributed to impactful visual projects.
Her dream of living in New York came true, and she now works at Studio Claremont in California, creating meaningful art. Elena’s diverse experiences have enriched her creative perspective in the world of graphic design. Today we interviewed her:
Growing up, how did your family and the activities you engaged in with your brothers influence your passion for art and design?
My journey as an artist and designer finds its roots in the vibrant chaos of my upbringing. Raised in a household bustling with activity, boredom was a foreign concept. With three brothers, every day was an adventure waiting to unfold. This upbringing played a pivotal role in shaping my passion for art and design. Our days were filled with imaginative play, where the boundaries of reality blurred, and creativity thrived. It felt like the sky was the limit, and we reveled in inventing games, embodying various characters, constructing forts, and conjuring our own fantastical realms. It was a constant creative challenge, finding novel ways to keep the young ones engaged and entertained. Amid the whirlwind of our shared adventures, we discovered the joy of winding down through art. Collaborating with my brothers was an exhilarating experience, but I also cherished the solitary moments when I could immerse myself in art, finding solace and grounding in the process. In this bustling environment, I not only nurtured a deep-seated passion for art but also honed my ability to infuse fun and novelty into every endeavor. Art became more than just a creative outlet; it became my personal escape and sanctuary. These formative years with my family sowed the seeds of my artistic journey, a path I continue to tread with enthusiasm and creativity.
Could you share a memorable art or craft project from your childhood that sparked your interest in creativity and design?
One particularly memorable art project from my childhood was the creation of a handmade pop-up book about teen witches. I vividly recall spending countless hours meticulously crafting each page, cutting and pasting various materials to bring my imaginative story to life. The process of constructing the book allowed me to experiment with different textures, colors, and visual elements, igniting my passion for storytelling through visual mediums. The project not only demonstrated the power of storytelling but also introduced me to the fundamentals of spatial design and three-dimensional representation. This childhood endeavor left a lasting impression on me, as it was the first instance where I realized the transformative potential of combining artistic expression with practical design. The experience of bringing a narrative to life through a tangible, interactive medium sparked my lifelong fascination with the intersection of creativity and functionality, ultimately shaping my journey into the world of graphic design and visual storytelling.
How did the move to Vienna, Austria at the age of 13 impact your artistic journey, especially in terms of cultural exposure and education at Danube International School of Vienna?
My journey to a foreign land opened the door to a tapestry of new experiences – from people and their stories to the flavors of food, rhythms of music, and the rich art from diverse cultures. This immersion was more than a physical relocation; it was a transformation of my very mindset. It became a masterclass in kindness, empathy, and self-compassion, values that have left an indelible mark on my approach to art. This shift in perspective redefined my creative path. I began to embrace experimentation and discarded the fear of what some might label ‘mistakes.’ I realized that these ‘mistakes’ often served as unexpected stepping stones to uncharted creative territories. In the whirlwind of change, art became my sanctuary, an unwavering constant that transcended location and language. Regardless of where I find myself, art remains a universal language, a means of communication that needs no translation. It’s my refuge and my form of expression, a place where I can both speak and listen, finding solace and connection in its timeless embrace.
My high school journey at DISV marked a significant shift from my earlier experiences in Russia, challenging me to adapt and grow. This pivotal phase not only nurtured my resilience but also fostered a genuine spirit of curiosity that continues to shape me both as an individual and as a designer. The multicultural environment at DISV exposed me to classmates from diverse backgrounds, enhancing my interpersonal skills, and preparing me for the collaborative dynamics of international teams and client interactions.
When did you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in graphic design? What was the defining moment that led you to choose this path?
Embarking on my journey into design felt like a revelation, a path I was always meant to traverse. While my primary passion resided in traditional art, I found a unique fascination in the aesthetics and functionality of everyday objects. The ordinary would captivate me, igniting ideas of innovative redesign. My career aspirations were clear; I aimed to craft solutions for everyday challenges, no matter how minor they might seem. I yearned to create designs that not only engaged people but also encouraged them to contemplate and think deeply. This dual pursuit of artistry and practicality has defined my path, guiding me towards the creation of designs that resonate with both form and function, capturing attention and sparking contemplation.
5. Moving from traditional art forms to digital art can be challenging. Can you describe the transition and how it shaped your design style and approach to projects?
My foray into the realm of digital design initially felt like stepping into uncharted waters. The tried-and-true methods of my traditional art seemed inadequate in this new digital landscape, leaving me with the sensation of starting from scratch. However, armed with unwavering determination and the expert guidance of exceptional instructors and a wide array of classes, I swiftly adapted, arming myself with the skills necessary for success. One of the most significant challenges lay in the process of translating ideas from my mind or paper into digital forms. Some concepts resisted a seamless transition, requiring me to explore fresh interpretations. Yet, I held firm in my belief in the foundational importance of paper-based exploration in the world of design. To crystallize a singular concept, I discovered that I had to sketch countless logos before unveiling the one perfect for digitalization. As I delved deeper into this process, my confidence swelled, and these once-daunting hurdles transformed into conquerable feats. Through ceaseless practice, I honed my digital design skills, reaffirming the truth that improvement naturally follows dedicated effort.
You mentioned in another interview a love for packaging design and its combination of creativity and logic. Could you elaborate on how this specific aspect of design appeals to you and influences your work?
My affinity for packaging design has deep roots in my childhood love for crafting and creating tangible, purposeful items. It all began with crafting paper animals and fantastical creatures, adorning the walls of my room with these whimsical creations. However, it was during my frequent visits to art supply and stationary stores that I truly discovered my fascination with packaging. In those stores, I found a treasure trove of intriguing knick-knacks, each meticulously presented and packaged. It struck me that packaging wasn’t merely a means to protect an item; it was an integral part of the experience. Opening something was akin to unwrapping a gift. The contents were undoubtedly precious, but the process of reaching them was equally significant. This notion of presenting things in an aesthetically pleasing way became a personal goal, evident in how I packaged gifts for family and even in the shape of Christmas tree cookies during the holiday season. I wanted to make every experience immersive.
When I ventured into Packaging Design classes at the university, my passion for this art form gained clarity and depth. What I had been doing intuitively now made sense and took on new dimensions. Each project we tackled emphasized that the packaging was as essential, if not more so, than the item it housed. The challenges that surfaced were thrilling – sustainability, appropriateness for a specific audience, and how it would stand out on store shelves, to name a few.
These challenges perfectly combined my love for creativity and logic, aligning with the way my brain operates. Ultimately, my goal has always been to create an unforgettable user experience – from the moment they pluck a product from the shelf to the instant they uncover the treasure within. For me, packaging design is about crafting an immersive journey, where every detail matters and every element contributes to a delightful and memorable experience for the user.
As a graphic designer at Studio Claremont, can you provide insights into how you contribute to the studio’s creative atmosphere and enhance its brand identity and visual communication?
In the initial weeks of immersing myself in the world of Studio Claremont, I delved deep into its history, ethos, and purpose. This newfound understanding became the fertile ground for crafting a fresh brand identity that encapsulated the studio’s artistic soul. I meticulously curated colors, fonts, and visual elements that resonated with the studio’s personality and mission. A pivotal part of this transformation was the reinvention of the studio’s logo and other crucial branding elements, forming the backbone of all the designs that would follow. Working remotely from New York, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the studio in Claremont. There, I could put my artistic skills to work, painting new signs that now grace the exterior and interior of the studio. This hands-on effort was integral in realigning the physical space with the new design changes and ensuring it harmoniously embodied the fresh visual identity we were striving for. With a solid brand identity in place, my focus shifted to translating it into promotional materials like flyers, schedules, and brochures that would be accessible to visitors at the studio’s location in the packing house. This endeavor was driven by the aspiration to expand the studio’s reach and draw greater attention. In this journey, my commitment to design principles has been unwavering. Every design strives not only to captivate visually but also to serve a practical purpose, to be inclusive, and to convey deep meaning. Ultimately, the designs mirror the artistic essence of the studio and its resolute dedication to creating a welcoming and engaging environment for both children and adults.
Tell us about your approach to creating designs that are accessible and user-friendly. How do you ensure your work is engaging and appealing to a broad audience?
Creating designs that are both accessible and user-friendly is at the core of my design philosophy. My approach revolves around several key principles. I begin by thoroughly understanding the target audience for a project. Whether it’s for children, adults, or a specific demographic, knowing their preferences, needs, and expectations is essential. This helps me tailor the design to resonate with the intended users. I prioritize clear and effective communication in my designs. This involves using easily comprehensible language, intuitive navigation, and well-organized layouts. Simplicity is key, ensuring that the message or content is readily absorbed. I strive to create designs that are inclusive and accessible to individuals with varying abilities. This means considering factors like color contrast for readability, using web accessibility standards, and providing alternative formats for content when necessary. While focusing on accessibility, I don’t compromise on visual appeal. Design aesthetics play a significant role in engaging the audience. Combining visually pleasing elements with functional design ensures that the work is not only accessible but also attractive. Open channels for feedback are crucial in ensuring accessibility and user-friendliness. Users, stakeholders, and team members are encouraged to provide input and suggestions, which can lead to design improvements. In summary, my approach to creating accessible and user-friendly designs involves a deep understanding of the audience, clear communication, inclusivity, a focus on visual appeal, user testing, flexibility, consistency, and feedback loops. By adhering to these principles, I aim to produce designs that not only meet the needs of a broad audience but also engage and resonate with them.
Could you discuss some of the challenges you faced during your design career and how you overcame them, particularly during your time at BLKDOG designs and Common Sense Media?
Throughout my design career, I’ve encountered various challenges that have tested my creativity and problem-solving skills. Transitioning from a student to a professional designer was a significant challenge. The practical application of design principles in real-world projects required a different level of skill and precision. I embraced the learning process with humility and a growth mindset. I sought guidance and feedback from experienced colleagues and mentors, which helped me bridge the gap between theory and practice. Continuous learning and hands-on experience were key to overcoming this challenge. BLKDOG Designs served a range of clients with different visions and expectations for their projects. Understanding and meeting these diverse requirements was sometimes challenging. Effective communication was paramount. I learned to ask the right questions, actively listen, and ensure that clients’ needs and preferences were understood. This not only led to better project outcomes but also built strong client relationships.
Common Sense Media’s focus on providing information for children, parents and educators presented a unique challenge. Designing for an audience with varying needs and abilities required a thoughtful and informed approach. Research and collaboration were key. I worked closely with my team to understand the specific requirements of the audience. This informed the design choices, ensuring that the content was engaging and accessible to children. Common Sense Media’s mission to provide educational resources while maintaining an engaging and visually appealing design posed a challenge. Balancing the two aspects without compromising one for the other required a delicate touch. By understanding the educational goals and priorities, I was able to create designs that seamlessly integrated content and aesthetics. Regular feedback loops ensured that both aspects were aligned. The challenges I faced in my design career, both at BLKDOG Designs and Common Sense Media, were met with a combination of learning, effective communication, collaboration, and adaptability. Overcoming these challenges not only honed my design skills but also reinforced the importance of being agile and responsive in the dynamic field of graphic design.
In your opinion, how does your multi-faceted background and exposure to different countries influence your design perspective and the projects you undertake?
My exposure to different cultures fosters an understanding of cultural nuances and preferences. This helps me to work out a design style that is culturally sensitive, ensuring that visual elements, colors, and symbols resonate with a broad range of people. Living in different countries also broadened my perspective. I am able to approach my designs with a global mindset, considering how they can transcend borders and speak to a universal audience. Experiencing different environments and communities has helped me put an emphasis on inclusivity in design. I prioritize creating designs that are accessible to individuals with diverse abilities, ensuring that everyone can engage with the content. My experience has also helped me engage in a versatile design style that adapts to different contexts. As I’ve always loved connections and people living in different countries fostered empathy and a deeper understanding of people’s needs and perspectives. This translate into designs that are more attuned to the emotions, concerns, and desires of a wide audience which has been very beneficial for my current position at an art studio for children and adults at Studio Claremont.
You mentioned specific design projects like “Nourish” (concept food packaging) and “Fools’ Journey” (concept board game design). What inspired these projects, and how did you approach their design to align with your design ethos?
The inspiration for a concept food brand Nourish stood in aiming to make good food accessible, forging connections and feeding more than just the body – but nourishing communities, one bite at a time. Nourish has a heartfelt mission to make high-quality, nutritious food accessible to all communities. The core values are rooted in honesty, straightforwardness, and a genuine friendliness that permeates everything the brand would do. From the inception, that the brand had to be a visual embodiment of these values. The design philosophy is simple, yet profound – believing that good food should be just as inviting and straightforward as our intentions. At the heart of Nourish’s visual identity are delicate illustrations that harmoniously coexist with a sophisticated typographical approach. The brand design is characterized by its clarity and simplicity.
At the heart of ‘Fools’ Journey’ is a mission to ignite the adventurer’s spirit in all of us. It challenges the boundaries of what a board game can be, fusing elements of strategy, storytelling, psychology, and mysticism into a unique and enchanting experience. Each move is a step towards ‘unity,’ a destination that transcends the board, becoming a metaphor for the unity we all seek in our lives. The inspiration here yet again was drawn from my love for connection and community. This visionary concept was inspired by two seemingly diverse yet uniquely captivating sources: the intrigue of the ‘Mafia’ game and the mystique of tarot cards. Drawing from the immersive experience of the ‘Mafia’ game, ‘Fools’ Journey’ incorporates elements of strategy, suspense, and psychology. It’s an opportunity for players to test their wits, form alliances, and uncover secrets as they progress through a world of uncertainty. The influence of tarot cards in ‘Fools Journey’ adds an aura of mysticism and intrigue. Each card drawn holds a deeper meaning, guiding players through the twists and turns of their path, much like a tarot reading unfolds a story. It adds a layer of symbolism and interpretation to the game, inviting players to explore not just the physical challenges but the depths of their own intuition. It would be a dream come true to make this board game into an actual playable product enjoyed by people.
I hold this project close to my heart because of my heritage and my own story of upbringing and I wanted to share and honor that important part of myself. “Maslenitsa” is more than just a cookbook; it’s a vibrant celebration of Russian traditions, presented in an unconventional and deeply engaging way. I wanted the readers to dive into a culinary journey that transports you to the heart of Russia, where pancakes take center stage as a means to satiate cravings before the impending period of fasting. Within ‘Maslenitsa,’ the cookbook is divided into three richly detailed chapters, each mirroring the changing seasons. These chapters are not merely collections of recipes but odes to the ebb and flow of life in Russia. With every season, the cookbook unfolds the stories, traditions, and the comforting aroma of pancakes prepared in the Russian way. It’s an immersive experience that encapsulates the spirit of a culture and the essence of a people. It’s an unconventional celebration of Russian traditions, where every recipe is a story, every dish is an experience, and every season is a journey.
How do you balance your personal passions and interests, like watching horror movies, hiking, or crafting, with the demands and creativity required in your role as a graphic designer?
Balancing personal passions and professional demands as a graphic designer is vital for maintaining creativity and well-being. I try my best to establish a structured schedule that allocates dedicated time for work and personal interests. This helps ensure that I have sufficient time for both professional responsibilities and personal pursuits. My personal interests often find their way into my design work. For example, my love for horror movies can inspire design concepts for projects that require a unique and edgy approach. This cross-pollination enhances my creative thinking. Short breaks during the workday are essential. They offer moments of relaxation and rejuvenation. I might take a brief walk or engage in a quick craft activity to refresh my mind before diving back into design work. Hiking and outdoor adventures are excellent ways to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature. I often plan weekend getaways to explore new hiking trails, providing a balance to my predominantly screen-based design work. When I’m engaged in crafting or watching a horror movie, I strive to be fully present in the moment. This mindfulness allows me to make the most of my leisure time and enjoy it to the fullest. My personal interests also serve as stress relief. Engaging in crafting, hiking, or watching a thrilling movie provides a mental break. Self-care practices are essential in my life starting with lighting a favorite candle and unwinding after work. I prioritize activities that contribute to my mental and physical health, as they ultimately benefit my performance as a designer.
Connection and relationships are important to many people. How does this value reflect in your approach to collaboration and teamwork in your design projects?
The value of connection and relationships is paramount in my approach to collaboration and teamwork in design projects. I believe that strong, positive relationships are the cornerstone of successful design work. I prioritize clear and open communication with team members and clients. Honest, transparent discussions foster trust and understanding, which are essential for productive collaboration. Actively listening to the input and ideas of colleagues and clients is a fundamental aspect of my approach. This not only ensures that all voices are heard but also leads to richer, more well-informed design decisions. I believe in approaching each team member with empathy and understanding. Recognizing the challenges and goals of others helps in finding common ground and working collaboratively toward shared objectives. I am a bog fan of constructive feedback, both given and received, is a catalyst for improvement. It helps refine ideas and concepts, ultimately leading to a more robust final product. Beyond individual projects, I aim to build lasting professional relationships. These relationships are built on trust, reliability, and a shared commitment to producing exceptional work. Such connections often lead to continued collaboration on future endeavors. In essence, the value I place on connection and relationships profoundly influences my collaborative and teamwork approach. By prioritizing effective communication, respect for diverse perspectives, empathy, and a commitment to building lasting relationships, I aim to help create a supportive, harmonious work environment where team members can thrive and produce outstanding design outcomes.
Can you discuss your aspirations and goals as a graphic designer in New York, and how you plan to further integrate your love for design and your passion for creating a positive impact?
New York is a beacon for creatives, drawing dreamers from every corner of the globe. The path to success in the creative industry is a challenging one, but it’s precisely the trials and tribulations that fuel my determination. My dream is to become an independent graphic designer, to offer my services to the heartbeat of this vibrant city: the small businesses that are striving to carve their own path in the bustling streets of New York. I believe that every business, no matter how small, deserves to stand out with compelling and unique visuals. Through design, I aim to help these entrepreneurs tell their stories, connect with their audience, and achieve their dreams. With each project, I aspire to contribute not only to the visual landscape of this city but also to the growth and success of the local businesses that form its beating heart. As I work towards this goal, I’m inspired by the stories of fellow creatives who’ve made their mark in this remarkable metropolis. In the city that never sleeps, my dream is to help others wake up to the potential of their own brand’s visual identity. The journey is challenging, but my passion is unwavering, and I’m determined to see my dream and the dreams of those I work with become a reality!
How do you envision using your art and design to connect with and contribute to the community around you, both professionally and personally?
My vision is to use my art and design to actively engage with and contribute to the community in New York and wherever I find myself to be. Professionally, this involves assisting local businesses and community organizations, while on a personal level, I aspire to enrich the cultural and artistic fabric of the city and bring the benefits of art to individuals and groups who may benefit from it most. I am particularly excited about an upcoming project of creating a mural for the packing house where Studio Claremont is located! The creation of temporary or permanent art installations in public spaces can serve as a means to connect with the community on a deep, emotional level. My aim is to build meaningful connections and make a positive impact through creativity and design.