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If you have a degree in what field is it? A BFA in computer art.

Which designer (or design studio), other than yours, do you most admire? It’s difficult to answer because I like work from different studios; it really all depends on what they do and what they are the best at. Some places are best with design, others with character animation and some are amazing at visual effects... That said, I do like studios that produce work that is well-researched, thought-out and highly-creative because it usually results in a engaging storytelling, beautiful imagery, unusual color schemes and amazing compositions. I also admire firms that manage to follow a thorough process of achieving visual results without compromises. Work usually speaks for itself and you can feel there was a lot of love put into it; some of the names that come to mind are: Psyop, Dvein, The Mill, 1st Ave Machine. But really, there are a lot more companies that have incredible work to share.

What’s the strangest request you've received from a client? I was asked once to make a product, that we created in 3-D, a bit less “pretty.” It was a beauty product.

If you weren’t working as a designer what would you be doing? I could be doing any of these three things: a children’s book illustrator, a chef or a dance instructor.

What well-known identity is most desperately in need of a redesign? I wouldn’t completely redesign anything because building identity takes a lot of time and effort. But one thing I would wish for is for the use of more color for certain established brands that predominantly have white backgrounds as part of their identity.

From where do your best ideas originate? I think my best ideas originate from life experiences, research and communication with my fellow artists and family. And, of course, from the power of free time.

How do you overcome a creative block? There is no definitive answer to this and it tends to work slightly differently each time one has a creative block... In my case it coincides with what the writers of Mad Men think and goes something like this: If you have a problem, or need to come up with an idea, you should think about it REALLY hard. Then forget about it. Before you know it, the answer will come to you. I find the concept works most of the time.

What’s your dream project (not client, but project)? I would love to come up with a really complex character and make his adventures into a 3-D animated short that would turn out to be funny.

Do you have creative outlets other than graphic design? I love dancing, and I take photographs in my free time.

What’s your approach to balancing work and life? I think the best way to balance your work and life is to shut off your mind when you leave work. If one is able to do so then they can truly balance. I have a few hobbies that help me achieve that: yoga, reading, dancing, cooking, watching movies, spending time with friends, etc. There are certainly plenty of other things to do.

What product/gadget can you not live without? I think my laptop, cell phone and the Internet. It’s great to feel connected to everyone who matters to you.

What’s your favorite quote? I have a few, but the one that seems most interesting to me lately is from one of the vanity cards from the creator of Big Bang Theory, Chuck Lorre. “Don't look until you get what you want.” —Chuck Lorre Productions, #225

No one seems to actually know what it means so I had to come up with my own interpretation, which I tend to use: I think it is about setting an intention. The act of “not looking” in this context is equal to not being distracted by anything else while trying to reach your goal. Only if you are focused and determined you can get what you want and make it a reality.

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? I will have to be just like the famous cricket from Pinocchio and advise the following: Never stop learning, be humble, consistent, have work ethics and communicate with your peers. Somehow, throughout the years, this advice has never failed.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? I wish I believed in myself more and I wish I understood early on that no matter which part of the process one enters into (artist, designer, creative), each is of equal importance and makes a contribution—even if it may seem insignificant and impossible at that time.
Natasha Saenko is the creative director/director at Gravity (formerly known as Rhino); her creative talent is rooted in an intense fascination with art, music, film and animation, and a passionate belief in a multifaceted creative process. Always emphasizing the importance of her team, Natasha works collaboratively with directors and artists to create and deliver innovative visual solutions and successful projects for clients such as Kanye West, Mercedes, Kellogg's, Toppers, Almay, Tag and Icebreakers. A believer that great creative direction is a reflection of personal experience, Natasha's unique background shapes her work. A native of the former Soviet Union, Natasha grew up in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, enriched by the cultures of each locale. Pursuing an endless appreciation of creativity, she came to the U.S. to study computer art at Savannah College of Art and Design, where she graduated with a BFA with honors.

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