18-year-old Elina Yerkanyan has participated in countless workshops at TUMO, moving from drawing and animation to graphic design and photography. But one workshop above at all has had a profound influence on her. “Gary Schwartz’s workshop completely shifted my perception on animation, with the way he described and revealed how diverse and thought-provoking this field really is and how you can change anything in the world that you want. It feels good to have this sort of supernatural power.”
Elina still can’t forget that memorable moment when, at the age of 16, she sat right in the Moscow Cinema’s front row, surrounded by spectators in the audience, and watched the animated film she created in Gary Schwartz’s workshop during the ReAnimania Festival. “It was an incredible experience. That was the moment when I realized that I should start to volunteer to help out at events like that. Since then, I’ve volunteered for every possible festival and award ceremony. I guess you could say I’m a professional volunteer,” she laughs.
When asked about her dreams, Elina doesn’t talk about flying out into the outer reaches of space, winning an Oscar or being presented in the Louvre. Rather, and with complete sincerity, she dreams of seeing her stickers on the pages of Yerevan Magazine. “I draw up stickers so frequently that I already have orders from several different companies. Now I come across all sorts of people out of the blue. All that’s left to do now is find my way into Yerevan Magazine,” she says.
But in reality, Elina also has a long-term goal: study at the renowned California Institute of the Arts. “CalArt’s lecturers Gary Schwartz and Nate Cash often talked about that university during their workshops and it really inspired me. So guess what I did? Since I was admitted to the American University of Armenia’s English and Communications department, I’ll study remotely through the National Emergency Library. And until then I’ll just dream of being able to go to class,” says Elina, full of hope.