When TUMO first opened its doors in 2011, one of the first students to sign up was Karina, still in high school and eager to discover new interests. “Before starting at TUMO, I had no idea I would become an artist. I signed up for filmmaking workshops right away and fell in love with cinema. One day, I had a break between film workshops and decided to give drawing a shot. I had heard that it takes a huge team of people to put together a film, whereas drawing is a solo endeavor. If you want to express yourself, all you need is single comic book page and you can tell a story from the comfort of your home.”
A meeting with TUMO veteran drawing workshop leader Shamiram Khachatryan opened Karina to the vast world of comic book art. “Five years ago, it was hard to find comics in Yerevan. Through Shamiram’s comic books, I learned about international comic book artists. I would love to see comics proliferate in Armenia, and not just superhero comics, either. Graphic novels have an amazing ability to communicate deep, philosophical thoughts and ideas.”
Though she didn’t know it then, when TUMO was putting together its development team for Tales of Neto, a European Union supported mobile game, in 2016, it would be a game changer for Karina. Shamiram encouraged Karina, who was then a third level drawing student, not to miss the opportunity to join the game’s team. When Karina learned that Tales of Neto was about corruption, she dove into research. “When I first heard what the game was about, I read everything I could find about corruption on Wikipedia and realized that it was our reality. I’m also facing it, and maybe we all have to deal with one form of corruption or another in our lives. It’s important to understand what it is.” As it turns out, Karina did join the Tales of Neto creative team. “The opportunities TUMO creates for its students are worldwide. You realize here that genetics or wealth don’t determine success, but rather hard work in a field you love does. TUMO also creates a space to connect and network with like-minded people.”
Karina often changes her hair color from red or violet, to pink or blue. The way she sees it, changing her appearance creates surprising new characters that even she can’t predict, but discovering them is always interesting. Perhaps changing her appearance is a tendency she picked up while studying film make-up. Yes, Karina is full of surprises!