We had the good fortune of connecting with Mikael Sharafyan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mikael, why did you pursue a creative career?
The reason I pursued an artistic career because it gives me a stimulus to enjoy life from another perspective. I was brought up in an artistic family: my father is an actor and my mother is a pianist accompanist of ballet. My creative career path was inevitable. Work should not be a drag but needs to be enjoyable so when you end the day you look forward to another day with a great anticipation.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been working in the film industry as a costume designer since 2009. I am character designer; to me it’s like sculpting in a different media – instead of stone or clay I use fabrics to create characters. My love of classic movies and my upbringing in the arts that drew me into this field. I’m one of the few designers that uses sketches for concepts – I do my own costume illustrations. It helps me to communicate with a director, producers, and actors. Instead of using thousands of words I explain with my drawings. I love that my profession is very collaborative and it’s always a learning process. Every story is different and every time I approach it with a different style. Even my sketches change too to express the right mood and atmosphere of the story. I am very proud that my costumes were part of one of President Barak Obama’s inaugural balls in 2008. Also in 2013 I was honored by The Fine Arts Club of Pasadena with a personal exhibit of my costumes and sketches. I became the only costume designer in the club’s 100 year history to receive such honor. My profession seems easy, but it’s difficult and challenging. Sometimes on a film set not only I’m a costume designer, but also I am a psychiatrist, a parent, a moral support, and of course a team player for actors. I have worked with the most difficult people in the industry and one of the most important lessons I have learned is to never take anything personally and be upset about it. Yes it can be difficult to overcome the anxiety , but you need to stay strong and passionate. Let your creations speak for itself. I want the world to know that I am a driving force and I give 200% in my work. No limits.
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.
This is my favorite topic. Since I am obsessively in love with Los Angeles, I know practically all the essential places to visit. I am not afraid to say that LA is the most eclectic city in the world, and the most diverse. Therefore I would always ask my visiting friend about their preferences, but usually they trust me with my choices, which are usually unusual, not typical what LA tourists would normally visit. Every place I would take my guests, will follow a detailed history and trivia. My tours are intense, but fun. Did you know that the largest painting in the world, on canvas, is not in Europe , but you guessed it – in Los Angeles, in Glendale. That’s one of our first stops: Glendale Forest Lawn Cemetery. The largest painting is by Polish painter Jan Styka and it’s titled “ Crucifixion”, measures 195′ in length and 45′ in hight. Also it’s worth to visit the Great Mausoleum to see the copy of “Last Supper” by Leonardo on stainglass. While in Glendale it’s fun to stop at the Americana at Brand, where there lots of nice restaurants and great shopping. You can spend a whole day there. Right across the Americana you will find a very affordable, but quite delicious Armenian Mediterránea restaurant “Karas”. For vegans, not far from Americana, you can try “ Zhengyalov Hatz”, the namesake flatbread in a Glendale bakery, combines 15 types of minced greens and herbs, including spinach, beetroot leaves, scallions, cilantro, onion, sorrel for a hint of sourness, and of course secrets. Do you want to dine at Walt Disney’s favorite restaurant? It’s “Tam O’Shanter”, if you are lucky you can even sit at his table, there’s a plaque with his name. The most picturesque view of Los Angeles is from Griffith Observatory both day and evening times. Of course the most essential place to visit in LA is Hollywood walk of fame, thematic historic movie theaters form silent movie era: TCL Chinese Theatre with cement blocks on a forecourt with signatures, footprints, and handprints of Hollywood stars, Egyptian Theatre. Here you will find my favorite restaurant, Musso and Frank Grill, which is the oldest in Hollywood. I always ask for table number 1, that’s Charles Chaplin’s favorite table (only one with a window) and I always order his favorite dish – Grilled Lamb Kidneys. The first Academy Awards took place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1927 right on Hollywood Blvd. now right across the street is where current Oscars take place, Dolby Theatre. If you love to meditate it’s fun to stop by “Lake Shrine”, where you can also find an outdoor shrine where an authentic 1,000-year-old Chinese stone sarcophagus holds a portion of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi. We have many wonderful museums. If you are in LA for the first time, then a visit to Getty Villa and Getty Center are a must. Also Norton Simon Museum where houses one of the largest private collections on impressionist painters. You can spend a fun afternoon in Santa Monica, near the iconic pier. Yes it’s very touristy, but it’s very much part of LA. A quick stop at Venice canals and Venice beach yet another fun places to visit. If you are visiting in summer, Hollywood Bowl is the best place for outdoor concert experience ranging from jazz to classical to pop. Don’t forget your bottle of wine and snacks. Since I am a big fan of Marilyn Monroe, my tours always stop at her resting place in Westwood. At the end of the tour we enjoy a beautiful sunset. I could go on and on, but sadly one week is not enough. I still discover new places in Los Angeles after 19 years.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My career would not have been possible without the support of my parents. Also my late career advisor Maril Delly, and my producer Valerie McCaffrey who gave me my first career break in the film industry. Together we worked on numerous shows around the world. They are my mentors, who have been guiding me on a right tracks.