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Interviews / Designers

Balancing the Grind with Helena Papageorgiou, Animator & Art Director

Helena Papageorgiou is an animator, art director, motion designer, and projection artist who creates music videos, live visuals and uses augmented reality in her works to create a narrative experience.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Originally, I studied Fine Art at University which led me to working as an animator, art director, motion designer, and projection artist today. This has recently moved into the realm of augmented reality (AR) to add an additional creative narrative experience. 

In December, I had the pleasure of being a part of Lens Fest – Snap’s global AR festival that highlights the innovation and creativity from the global AR creator community.

It’s a super exciting event and award, Snap has been doing amazing work in the AR space through their publically available AR application – Lens Studio. Over 250k Lens Creators are using the platform, and as a creator community we’ve produced over 2.5 million Lenses for the Snapchat community.  

The Lens I created is called the Bleached Sea Lens, which won the Best in Environmental and Social Good Lens award at Lens Fest. When users open this Lens, the world around them becomes immersed underwater and they are surrounded by coral.

I wanted the AR Lens to show the impact of rising temperatures on coral reefs here in Australia, using the Lens to help raise awareness among Snapchat’s global audience. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I love a morning walk to get a coffee and clear my head before getting stuck into the work side. 

As a freelancer, you are afforded some time leniency, which works for and against you. Each day can vary but it usually bounces between me trying to separate the various hats that one wears when running their own business.

These go between emails and administrative upkeep, social media engagement, updating of content, planning out projects and getting stuck into the nitty gritty fun part of creating!

I also love a good list. This can be written first thing in the morning or right before I go to bed so it isn’t swimming around in my mind while I’m trying to sleep. 

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Absolutely. One of the things I love about working for myself is the freedom to be able to break out of the office and head to change up environments.

A brief change of location can really inspire and create clarity and space when you are feeling overwhelmed or generally a bit flat. Taking my laptop to a cafe or iPad to the park to sketch out ideas for a Snap Lens or animation helps fuel my drive and gives me a fresh perspective.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

This is an area I can definitely improve on! I think when your office is at home, it is really important to set boundaries. Even when you’re inundated with deadlines and you think “I couldn’t possibly leave the desk,” you need to set realistic activities to break up your day to day. 

The burnout can be very real if you forget why you have chosen this path over another career. Personally, going for a walk or catching up with friends often rejuvenates me.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I joined a gym, which is great! I’m focusing on Pilates for a while to help strengthen certain areas – mainly my back. Sitting at a desk for hours on end can take its toll and these are the kind of activities that are an important way of keeping yourself physically in tune as well.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

 I do love listening to fantasy/sci-fi audiobooks as this type of visual narrative usually ties in nicely with my creative output and aesthetic. I also enjoy a podcast called ‘Myths and Legends,’ which is a great snapshot of old fables and stirs a really visual narrative in my mind while listening to it.

Some others are ‘Boonta Vista,’ which is hilarious and distracting in the best possible way, and ‘Don’t Worry it’s not Just You’ is another one – each episode is an interview with local Aussie talent, unpacking all sorts of areas in relation to their own business or ridiculous anecdotes of their industry. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Too many to name unfortunately! Working in the creative digital world means you are always encountering fresh ways to approach life and work, but Adobe Suite and Snap Lens Studio are two essentials to keep me productive, sane and inspired. 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

This is interesting because I would immediately want to say someone like Hayo Mizaki or Susan Pitt but I know now, after a few documentaries, that their ultimate passion is their work.

There is something in the pure drive to create a phenomenal piece of art that can mean compromise on the balance side – an absorbed mania. Ultimately, I would love to read something from people working in a similar field such as AR and animation. I am open to recommendations!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

It’s so easy to get lost in work sometimes, whether it’s because you’re actually having the best time or because you absolutely refuse to surrender until something is resolved!  The balance to break this up looks different to everyone.

The main thing I try to always keep within my mind’s reach is, don’t lose sight of why you started down the creative path and to embrace those moments. Celebrate your achievements as well. It is really important to reward yourself and take a moment to reflect on your own accomplishments.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.