Backbone on Backbone: Elina Barseghyan, illustrator

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With her infectious laugh, bright smile and distinctive humour, Elina is the source of good vibes and positive energy at our Agency. 

We sat down with her on this cozy fall evening to learn more about her, what inspired her, her approach to the work as well as her aspirations as an illustrator.




Tell us a bit about yourself

I have been drawing and painting ever since I can remember, with only the canvas that was changing over the years, first it was the walls of my room as a child, and then the tables of my classroom as a young student, so it was a no brainer to me to pick this path as a professional one since I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I have been studying Painting professionally for 8 years now. I have joined the Backbone team 2 years ago as an illustrator, which is a very specific branch in design, and a world of its own that was opening up to me.



What do you like the most in what you do?

The fact that illustrating gives me the means to express my feelings and emotions.  Some people convey what’s inside them using the right words, some by their bodies, for me, what I am thinking, what I am feeling, what I am observing it all comes out on the canvas or a piece of paper. Especially the uplifting and positive emotions, these are the ones that I want to convey to people.        When you are working in the Packaging design field, realizing that your illustrations are becoming a part of people’s everyday lives is a very empowering thought. The fact of being able to communicate and share what was formed in your imagination with a really wide array of people by what a brush has created in your hand.



What inspires you?

Nature. When you think about it, nowhere else you can find as many colors, forms, patterns and textures. It is truly a well of inspiration and creativity. You only have to really know how to observe its details and feel all it has to offer and capture its beauty which is sometimes in an endless transformation cycle. For a painter nothing beats capturing a moment in time that is in perpetual change and will be forever immortalized in your work.



Beak Pick is one the many projects that you have worked on, and it was awarded with a Pentawards this year, tell us how the idea was born?

Having a sharp eye is an essential part of what we do. I am constantly observing and studying the visual specificities of every day elements that surround us.

I was working on another project, that involved elements of Nature, birds and fruit were two of them and with repetitive sketching and a close observation of the morphological anatomies of these two, the similarity with them became evident, the more I studied them closely the more I found an aesthetical connection that linked them together.



What were the challenges you face during the illustration process?

The work had to be very detail oriented and meticulous in order to obtain illustrations that were smooth to the eye. Because after all, we are not used to seeing birds and fruits combined together in one. So the approach to the illustrations was very careful and well-studied in order to create an aesthetically pleasing result which at the same time made sense to the eye, as opposed to having ended up creating a bizarre creature that’s half fruit and half bird.

This goes for all the projects, before ending up with the final illustration, I need to truly believe in what I am doing and creating as a concept, be passionate about the subject and really satisfied with the end result. And this takes a lot of repetition and dedication and trial and errors before ending up with the final work. If I don’t love it myself, if I am not a hundred per cent convinced with what I’ve done, I can’t let it be seen by a huge number of people.



You were in London with the team last September for the Pentawards, what mostly stood out to you during the trip.

Of course getting on stage with the whole team and receiving recognition for your works! Nothing matches the feeling.

But also during our trip we have visited several museums, the Design Museum particularly stood out to me, especially one wall which had ordinary items that we use every day. This makes you realize that deign is truly everywhere and in everything. Most of the time we forget that the most ordinary and common objects that we use on a daily basis have hard work and very well thought design put to them. 



What’s your advice for younger people who want to enter this field?

Don’t try to control your creativity, be fearless. Dare to dream, you have to use your imagination and let it run free until you obtain an idea that really speaks to you and that is unique to what you are. That’s when you have to catch it and develop it within the guidelines of your craft.



Describe us what it is like to be a part of the Backbone team?

There is truly a sense of collaboration and a healthy dynamic that you can notice right away. Each one of us has our own uniqueness and strengths and we are always ready to put those strengths in use in order to help one another. As a team, we truly complete each other and push each other forward. Each other’s values and efforts are appreciated, which is very fulfilling for an Artist. Also, a thing that I love is the positive energy inside the backbone Agency, we are more than colleagues, we spend a major time of our day together and we know each other so well that we have built a strong bond., and a sense of belonging within the Agency


— by Grace Jerejian 




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