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An interview with Anastasia Shokhina

Interview with Norwich University of the Arts student Anastasia Shokhina, from Moscow currently enrolled on the BA (Hons) Graphic Communication course.

How has the course changed your creative process?

I am a thinker. I can connect anything. That’s why when we are given a brief that is very basic, it does not bother me. Before I studied here I would make a link but it would be tenuous or it would be my first idea and I would run with it. Here, I have been taught not do that, but to work on idea development…your first idea probably isn’t as good as you think. It’s important to draft things out and keep trying from different angles. That was a hard lesson for me to learn. I had to change my whole way of working. But once I had figured it out it was like a switch had been flicked in my head and my work got so much better.

I am encouraged and nurtured. I am also allowed to tackle controversial subjects which would get me in trouble in Russia. Everything is open and free. I wasn’t used to this way of thinking, initially. It took me a while to learn to open up my mind and look at things from different angles.

Why did you choose NUA?

It had been a real struggle for me because my family wanted me to do more traditional subjects. I had studied chemistry, biology and double maths, but my heart was not in it. I then went to study at the British Higher School of Art and Design in Moscow, which is actually linked with another university. I had an interview there and in places like Nottingham, Sheffield and London. But it was NUA which I found amazing. I had a Skype interview and it was so nice because they seemed to genuinely care about talking to me and about my work; they didn’t just want me for the money. They tried so hard to make sure I got the course which was right for me, which Graphic Communication definitely is. I have never been as happy as I am here.

What is your favourite thing about Norwich and NUA?

I love the tempo of Norwich – it’s relaxed but exciting. I absolutely love the architecture. I’ve been everywhere, or at least I will think that but then I will come across something amazing I had never seen before. It makes you want to try new things. I have got to try things here that I never would have got to do in Russia. I can live my life exactly the way I want.

I love my course because I am always listened to and engaged with. We are encouraged to find answers ourselves. Our work is supported but the end product is always our own. This is important because in creative subjects there is no right or wrong, there is only process. It’s about saying, “That’s good, but have you thought about trying this?” The tutors always try hard to understand you; there’s no need to feel scared of criticism or feedback. I always feel free and inspired after a tutorial.

Everyone is so nurturing and encouraging. They help you make sense of things to discover who you are as an artist.

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