Anja is from Kiev, Ukraine. A professional in the animation industry, she creates artwork and animation for animated features, shorts, commercials and games. As a student, she traveled extensively around Europe (been to almost every country). She loves visiting new countries and believes it helps a person to learn more about the world and also about oneself. “When I was still a student, I started working at the animation studio in Kyiv. A couple of years later, our studio met some partners from Armenia and decided to open an office in Yerevan. A group of our co-workers (including myself) was offered to move to Yerevan. I haven’t been to Armenia at that time, but I had a good feeling about it :)) So I agreed,” says Anja.
”Of course, I feel very much welcomed here. It’s very easy to make friends and everyone is very helpful. As we started hiring local artists for our studio, I’ve realized there are a lot of talented people here. I like that there are many people working or interested in the creative field. Even when they have day jobs, everybody is trying to paint, play music, write poems, sculpt, etc.”
At some point Anja decided to stop working at the studio and became a freelancer. “I could go back to Kyiv, but I decided to stay in Yerevan a bit longer. Then I was lucky to get noticed by legendary Robert Sahakyan’s Animation Studio. I’m a big fan of Robert Sahakyan’s cartoons from Soviet times. I remember all of them from my childhood. So now I live in Yerevan, do freelance work and I’m also involved in the production of an animated feature film by Sahakyant’s Studio which will be released very soon. Once every 2-3 months I go to Kyiv to see my friends and family.”
“I love people here, they are very warm and always willing to help. I’m used that to become such close friends with someone it usually takes years. I’ve never been offended by anyone from day 1 in Yerevan. I’m very often invited to my friend’s houses for family dinners, where I meet their parents and other relatives and of course the dishes are fantastic! Armenian families value traditions and have very strong bonds.”
“Another good thing is safety. Even when I come home late at night, I never see drunk or suspicious people in the street, who could make me feel unsafe or make me keep my purse closer. In economics, I’ve noticed some positive changes for the past year or so. More and more of local small businesses are getting opened, which is definitely a good sign.”
To my question what would be on her must-visit list in Yerevan, Anja responds: “I would definitely recommend visiting Matenadaran. I suggest a tour with a guide to see many unique and cool pieces and learn about Armenian history. Another very special place is Tsitsernakaberd. The energy there is overwhelming.”
I would recommend going to the Opera House, of course. The building itself is one of a kind. I like ballet and I went there to see Spartacus ballet by Aram Khachaturian. It was very impressive! I loved everything about it – famous music by Armenian composer, the dancers were amazing and the production design was beautiful and tasteful.
I enjoy spending weekends checking out the Vernissage market. My attention is always drawn to silver jewelry and ceramics. You can find beautiful pieces from local masters. It will be a unique and authentic design.
Things that are unique to Armenia. Fresh water running everywhere from pulpulaks is quite amazing! I have an illustration about it.
My favorite places to chill are Mirzoyan Library and Kond House. Mirzoyan Library is a very beautiful and authentic place. And there are often cool events happening there. Kond House has an amazing warm atmosphere and lovely outdoor terrace, delicious food, professional service, and a good price range.
My favorite dish – dolma! This is why the best holiday here is a New Year! It’s a 2 week holiday when you don’t go to work and everyone has dolma on their table ))) Basically, all food in Yerevan is very high quality. Fruit, vegetables, greens, eggs, and meat that I buy at local grocery have an amazingly rich taste, they’re always fresh.
Of course, I love the warm winters and so many sunny days in the year ))
My illustrations are about everything that I’ve found unique about Armenia and what makes me feel warm in my heart. I tried to cover the creative fields (stone khachkars, ceramics, music, dancing) and also things to see (mountain hiking, pulpulak, food market, etc). There’s so much more left out that I think I’ll do a part 2 of these illustrations someday!
To learn more about Anja or to see her artwork, visit www.anjashu.com