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Elena Pokaleva, book illustrator

Elena Pokaleva, book illustrator

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Your current job:

At the moment, my last year at the Ladislav Sutnar´s Faculty of Design and Art (LSFDA) of the University of West Bohemia (UWB) comes to an end. It is not the first educational institution in my life, I do enjoy studying and I like to go forward in various directions of my creative work, to experiment. But after graduation I’d truly like to plunge into my beloved profession. As for now, I’m a freelancer, it’s the only work style that can be combined with studying.

In which city are you located:

I am from Russia, but I’ve been studying in Czech Republic for the last seven years. First, it was Prague, now I live in another city, Pilsen.

A word to define what kind of worker you are:

I hope that I’m responsible if it refers to work projects and cooperation. Deadlines, satisfied customer and joyful work process, these are the principles I always try to hold to.

Plus, there is another one tiny rule – one must not dabble. Even if you draw something that never will be included in your portfolio… it doesn’t matter. You have to understand it clearly that you’ve made a picture (or illustrated a story, or thought up a character) which won’t make you blush in the future.

What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc.)

Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Wacom. BUT, there has lately been an incident when simultaneously

I had my sketch-board Wacom and scanner broken, the external drive got ruined… Then I recalled it once again that one can’t be totally dependent on the equipment. It just helps us. So, my major instruments are my head, two hands, a sheet of paper, paints and infinitely many Koh-i-nor color pencils.

What does your office space look like?

My life is organized in such a way that I move house all the time. The usual order on the table is crucial to me. Even if it turns into a “battle filed” of a “hurricane” in the process of drawing, nonetheless, I clear it up at the day’s end. It cheers me up and is an extra stimulus to carry on my work. If I want to get away from it all, sometimes I rush to a café or my university where it’s also comfortable to work.

What kind of music do you listen when you are working?

Oh, I usually get a bit confused by this question. I can speak on this subject endlessly.

I listen to really different music, it depends on my thoughts and moods – from my beloved Russian retro-groups from the times of my granny’s or my parents’ youth to American jazz or hip-hop. I still remember the artists, who my father listened to while drawing when I was a little girl. Since that very time I like Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Louis Armstrong, Jefferson Airplane… But, all in all, my friends even call me “babushka”, as I do like retro-music. And during my work I usually listen to audio lectures on various subjects.

Do you have a way to organize your day to maximize your work?

I’d be glad to say a strong “Yes”. Yet, the answer is an obvious “No”. I’m not satisfied with my productivity, nearly always. And I certainly do not belong to those daydreamers, who work nights! It’s even hard for me to understand how they do that. I easily wake up at 7 or 8 a.m. I could advise you not to distract on trivialities, but everyone knows that without me saying anything 🙂 and so? Do you think someone gets along with it?

What tips would you give to improve productivity?

To love your job! All of us put off all only those duties that we have no real intention to do. And no one needs to be pushed to do those things he or she likes. It is always important to question yourself, “Why do I do it? For whom?” Well, I also try to make a mini-plan in the evening for each day coming. Afterwards, it’s a pleasure to strike out the things you’ve done with clear conscience 🙂

You’re better than your colleagues to:

Who said that? For me, it seems to be the most spoiling idea in the world. Quite the opposite, we must learn from our colleagues, always look up to those who are better and more experienced than we are.

What is the best advice anyone has given you?

I suppose, my most loyal mentor and adviser is my father. If I start whining that something is going wrong, he usually reminds me that “If you stand against winter, there will be no spring”. I mean that obstacles are a good thing and you can’t escape them.

What is your best tip for saving time?

There should be less social media! Or no social media at all, ideally.

Oh, if I could keep to it.

What is your routine start and end of the day?

I’m thanking God for each passing day and each day to come. And I also belong to those people who believe that any day won’t start without a cup of strong black coffee.

Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without?

It’s my reader (until I lost it) and a player with my favorite music.

And can a bike be called a gadget?