Backbone on Backbone: Mariam Stepanyan, Art Director

This post is also available in: Armenian

With Her Sharp Wit And Limitless Creative Talent, We Sure Love Having Mariam In Our Team. She Has Joined Backbone As An Illustrator In 2016 And Has Recently Become The Art Director Of Our Agency.

It Goes Without Saying That She Had A Lot Of Interesting Things To Say, So We Sat Down With Her For An In Depth Talk, The Result Was As Interesting As Expected. Here’s What We Chatted About On This Rainy December Evening In Yerevan.  




We want to learn more about how it all started…

Art came naturally to me as I was surrounded by it growing up. I am a fourth generation artist and from early I used to use to pay close attention how my father used to create artwork.

When I was 14 years old it was a no brainer that I would enroll at the college of fine arts in the oil painting department and immerse myself in this field professionally. Drawing was a familiar world to me ever since I can remember. I didn’t have friends until I started school, and I used to create my own friends from my imagination and reflect them on the paper.


What’s your philosophy regarding your job?

The Endless Opportunities That Drawing Provides Me. There Is Something Quite Liberating And Powerful In Knowing That You Have An Empty, Blank Piece Of Paper In Front Of You And That You Can Fill It Any Way You Want. You Have Full Freedom, And It’s In Your Hand To Decide How Far You Can Go With That Freedom And How To Use It. But Also I Am Well Aware That With It Comes Challenges Along The Way, And It’s Our Duty To Choose How To Overcome Them. Freedom Makes You Question Things, Is There More To Life Than Just A Hallway Which You Have To Walk Through? Or Aren’t You Supposed To  Open The Doors That Are On Your Journey And Explore What’s Hiding Inside?

I Believe That Life Is About Discoveries, Perseverance And Fighting For What You Want. And What I Find Appealing In Drawing Is That It Allows You To Express What You’re Going Through During Your Good Times But Also The Tough Ones.


What acts as a source of inspiration to you and drives your motivation to go forward?

Seeing That The Sun Has Risen Every Morning. The First Thing That I Do Once I Am Awake, Is It To Look At The Sky,, And It Is What Conducts My Feel For Day.  It Is The Sign Of Renewal And Rebirth Knowing That No Matter What, A New Day Is Starting, With Fresh Possibilities, New Goals To Reach And New Challenges To Create. Seeing The Sun Come Up Is A Very Motivating Factor To Me At The Start Of My Day, As If Nature Is Giving Me The Power To Rise And Go On With My Day Doing Something Kind, To Make A Difference, To Use My Energy And Capacitates In Order To Make A Positive Impact Around Me. Just As It Keeps On Rising Again And Again, Enlightening The World With Its Rays And Providing Warmth To People.


Here in Armenia, the new rebranding of Ani Kat was launched very recently and we can see the new image of the brand all around us, in ads, on billboards and of course in grocery stores everywhere. As the one who made the actual illustrations for this rebranding, tell us about the process and what does it feel to see your work on such a big scale.

The Work Mechanism For This Project Was Similar To All Our Projects, The Final Result Is Chosen From A Number Of Possible Ideas And Visualizations.

Among These Possible Ideas Was The Cow Decorated With Colorful Flowers. I Had Come Up With It But I Didn’t Believe Much That It Can Be Chosen As The Ultimate Final One And Be Launched On The Market. However, The Encouragements And The Positive Reactions That I Got From My Teammates Made Me Truly Imagine The Flowery Cow Coming To Life As An Actual Character. I Imagined It Emerging From My Illustrations On The Paper And Carving Its Path On The Dairy Product Packaging.

The Feeling Of Seeing Your Work On Such A Big Scale And Having It Used By People Around You And Knowing That It Is In Their House And A Part Of Their Daily Ritual Is Such An Exciting And Amazing Feeling. Seeing That The Flowery Cow Puts A Smile On Peoples’ Faces, That Is The Most Satisfying Feeling. This Was The Goal And We Are Happy That This Positive Message And Happy Feelings Are Delivered Through The Work.


You visited London with the team last September for the Pentawards, what did you like most about the trip

It Was My First Trip To London, And I Was Blown Away By The Architecture And Design Of This City. It Is Very Clear That The City Holds A Big Appreciation To Its Past, And You Can See That In Its Architecture, Where Old Buildings Are Perfectly Well Conserved. Also Design Wise Every Single Detail Is Very Well Thought Of, Nothing Is Left To Chance And That Culminates In A City That Is Perfectly Harmonious In Its Aesthetics And Where Everything Falls Into Place.

Also, What Caught My Attention Is That The Whole City Is A Work Of Art. Design Is Not Reserved To Certain Places But It Is Actually Everywhere. And One Of The Things That Impacted Me The Most Was Their Transportation Means. You Don’t Need To Visit A Gallery Or A Museum To Immerse Yourself In Art, You Can Simply Go To The Nearest Metro Station And Your Artistic Thirst Will Be Fulfilled.

Being There Reminded Me That Design Is A Truly Universal Language, And That Even If You Come From A Far Place, You Would Feel Very Familiar With The City And Immediately At Ease There Just Because It Totally Speaks To You On A Visual Level And Makes Sense To Your Eyes.


As mentioned before, you were recently named the Art Director of Backbone, first congratulations and tell us how things have changed with this important leap.

Thank You. As An Art Director, You Definitely Have More Responsibility On Your Shoulders. Now You’re Not Only Responsible Of The Work That You Yourself Are Producing, But Also You Have To Be Following Closely The Work Of The Team In Charge Of The Creation. It Is A Real Challenge. But I Am Lucky To Have Been Working With This Team For Years And That Our Relationships Goes Way Beyond The Work Aspect, We Truly Are Very Close Friends. So That Definitely Makes Things Easier. I Know Them Very Well And Vice Versa. We All Know How We Work, How We Think, Our Strengths…

Also Now, I Know That My Tasks Go Beyond The Creative Aspect. I Am Involved With The Management Process As Well.  From The Moment It Starts Until The Handing Over.


As someone who has been in this field for years despite your young age, what is the advice you’d give to the young people who want to do you do?

To Really Believe In Themselves, We Often Surprise Ourselves And Have Capacities That Go Beyond Our Expectations. Don’t Be Afraid To Challenge Yourself, Take In More Than You Can Chew, This Is The Only Way To Evolve And Progress. And As A Young Designer Getting Just In The Field Now It Is The Time More Than Ever To Test Your Abilities. Creativity Is All About Thinking Outside The Box, Daring To Express Out Loud What You Are Thinking In Your Inner Self.  Don’t Hesitate To Imagine And Bring In Your Young And Fresh Twist To Things. Because After All This Is How The Most Unique Ideas Are Born.


What do you like most in being a part of the Backbone team?

2 Things. First, The Team. It Is Truly A Blessing To Wake Up Every Day Knowing That You’re Going To Work With People That You’re Excited To See, Which You Look Forward To Exchanging Ideas With And Picking Their Creative Brain.

Second Thing Is Being Aware That With The Work That We’re Doing We Are Deeply Contributing In Creating A Revolution In The Armenian Design Scene. We Are Collectively Putting Our Efforts, Resources And Energy To Good Use. By Creating Positive Thoughts, And Embellishing People’s Daily Lives. That’s What Matters After All. Knowing That You Have An Active Hand In Shaping The Future Of Your Country And That Of The Coming Generations.


 —- by Grace Jerejian 





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