We had the good fortune of connecting with Aleksei (Alex) Koren and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aleksei (Alex), do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Staying positive, honest, staying true to myself and my beliefs, being curious, not giving up, encourage others, and desire to learn and to improve.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My professional career went through many stages, and I am still figuring out what my next steps will be. I went to an art school (elementary, middle and high school with additional art classes) in Soviet Union. After school I was planning to go to Art academy, but was influenced by my dad, to study architecture. Before even finishing institute, I started working as a graphic designer for a small company in Belarus, to have some personal funds. This helped me a lot, because after I finished my studies, Soviet Union collapsed, and I couldn’t find a job as an architect. I kept working for advertising companies as a graphic designer for another 4 years, and was doing pretty good, when I felt a call to do something more meaningful with my life, and I volunteered my skills as a graphic designer and illustrator, and did some humanitarian work for a religious group over 9 years. After I married my wife (who I met doing volunteer work), few years later we decided to settle in Houston, and I had to restart my career in graphic design to be able to provide for my family. Since then I was working as a freelancer, tried starting my own company (which wasn’t the best idea at the time), and ended up working for Schlumberger as a graphic designer. I had to adapt a lot in my life, and had many very diverse experiences, and I am interested in learning new things, which probably sets me apart from my colleagues, who mostly had a straightforward path in their career. Getting to where I am now was not easy, but having a goal, passion for your work, moral integrity, being honest with yourself, and open to change the way I do things, really helped me to persevere and to get to where I am now. I learned that, there are many talented people, people that are more creative or more successful than me, but if I don’t give up, have friends who support me, keep my beliefs and principles, and keep moving one step at a time, eventually I will get where I need to be in my life, and hopefully will influence other creatives, and help others not to give up when things are difficult, but hold on, and keep faith. And that is beautiful, and worth all the efforts and time.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Man, that’s a tough one. I do like food, 🙂 And being in Houston, is really amazing in this regard, because you can experience so many cultures and food from almost every corner of the earth in one city. You can also experience real people from these cultures, which is quite amazing too. I like Vietnamese food (thanks to my former Vietnamese coworker), TexMex or course, Texas barbecue, Mediterranean food, Japanese food, Italian, French, etc, etc. I also would bring them to Woodlands waterway (near where I live), that reminds me of Europe, where I like to walk and talk with my wife and kids. I also like downtown which is full of people and buildings, then museum area, Houston zoo, and Herman park, Black Lab cafe, Nippon cafe, etc… 🙂 Houston is great, I wish I had more time to explore it.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My most important person, who always supports me in all my creative efforts, is my wife, Renee. She is tough and incredible, and my biggest fan. Then, I would say people of Church Project (my local church), who alway are supportive and welcoming to my creative ideas. Also, my classmates in Belarus (we studied together in art school in Soviet Union) and it’s always amazing for me how creativity takes different forms in their lives, and how supportive they always are.