ArtCenter College of Design | Pasadena, California | Learn to Create. Influence Change.

Stella Kalinina


What was your background prior to Art Center?
My first undergraduate degree was in economics and computer science from the University of Pennsylvania. I worked in the mortgage industry for seven years before coming to Art Center.

How/Why did you choose Art Center?
I knew that Art Center had one of the top photography programs in the country and I had read that it was like a boot camp. I was craving that rigor. And I also wanted to move to Los Angeles from the East Coast. Finally, I visited the campus and fell in love! It just felt like the right place for me.

What are some of the most valuable practical tools and skills youíve acquired here?
Iíve learned the technical foundations of photography, most importantly lighting, as well as how to plan and produce a photo shoot. Iíve also learned how to conceptualize and carry out projects that take several months. The business classes that Iíve taken have exposed me to a wealth of business and industry specific information. Perhaps most importantly, Iíve gotten practice with managing my creative, physical, and mental energy to continually make new work.

What advice would you give to prospective Art Center students?
Be very hungry for an art education when you start at Art Center. Be certain of your commitment to your major/field. Prepare to give it your all and more, but also be open to asking for help when you need it. Art Center has lots of resources outside of class, for instance time management help and one-on-one counseling. Find ways to get involved on campus and meet friends outside of your major.

Tell us something about yourself people might find surprising.
I used to play domra, a Russian folk instrument. I thought I would become a musician.

How has your experience at Art Center been from a diversity perspective?
It has been incredible to meet students from other majors and see how they think and create, as well as what they create. Last term, I was taking two electives in the film department and another elective in the fine art department, in addition to photography classes. I felt like I entered a different world culturally and creatively every day of the week. The languages used, the creative and technical challenges, the solutions, the way people interacted were all different and new to me! It was an amazing experience and I learned so much.

Has Art Center's emphasis on commercial endeavors and professional careers changed your way of thinking? How?
I really appreciate all the business classes that we take because they have really helped me gain an understanding of the photography industry and how I can position myself within it. They have also made me understand that by doing both commercial and personal work I can have a sustainable career as an artist.

What do you hope to do when you graduate from Art Center?
I plan to do a combination of commercial, editorial, and personal work in photography and film. One day I hope to teach.

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