Tete-a-Tete : Svetlin Trendafilov
(The Wise Owl has a friendly chat with Svetlin Trendafilov, Bulgarian Artist )
The Wise Owl has an interesting chat with Svetlin Trendafilov, an artist, poet, writer, musician and photographer from the town of Kavarna, Bulgaria. He works with oil and watercolours and also dabbles in cartoon drawing. Svetlin graduated as Designer of Architectural Environment and completed his Masters as teacher-educator of Visual Arts. In the last decade, he has participated in several solo as well as group exhibitions in various countries like Bulgaria, Croatia, Albania, Turkey, Romania, Italy, Pakistan, Slovenia, Poland, Singapore, France, Indonesia, USA, Philippines, India, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, China, etc.
Svetlin’s paintings are in private collections owned by the Deputy Mayor of Balchik – Stelyan Zhelezov, the TV presenter Dragomir Draganov, the pop star Precious Wilson (Eruption), the punk lady of Bulgaria Milena Slavova (Review), the rock star Doogie White (Rainbow), the musical family Frank and Lydia Pané (Bonfire, Sainted Sinners) and others.
Svetlin is the winner of several Art Awards like the International Fine Art Contest hosted by The Academy of Visual Arts (Kolkata, India) in 2021, International Instagram Creativity Art Contest (India, 2021), National Art Contest ‘Bulgarian Rose’, organised by Daily Art Online Shop (Shumen, 2021), XVI National Cartoon Contest, Zahari Stoyanov Youth Centre (Dobrich, 2019) among others. He is the Member of the International Watercolour Society Bulgaria since 2017.
Thank you Svetlin for chatting with The Wise Owl.
Q. Our readers would like to know a little about your artistic journey. When did you start painting? When did you first feel the urge to pick up a brush? Who inspired you to paint?
A. My mother is a primary school teacher, so I had the opportunity to communicate with children. I noticed that there is no kid who dreams of ordinary professions, like becoming a corporate worker for example. Just the opposite – kids fantasize about exciting stuff like being firefighters, astronauts, Batman, rock stars, etc.
The biggest passion of mine was to become a good artist. And still is.
I started drawing at the age of 2, and I’m living the dream ever since! I’m a self-taught artist and I’ve never had an art education, but still, I exhibit at the international stage. And it’s an exciting journey.
Q. Most of your paintings capture the beauty of nature, of flowers and fruits but in some paintings, you depart from the tradition as in your painting ‘Travellers.’ What inspired you to paint the traditional sunflower and roses and then how and why did you transition to something different?
A. I try to notice the beauty around me and to recreate it, no matter if it’s hidden in some modern global trend, or just in an ordinary everyday topic like a still life composition at my home studio for instance. Because with the right approach everything can turn into something eye-catching.
The interesting aspect of a pair old shoes (refers to his painting ‘Travellers’) is actually the story behind them – the scratches of the snеаkers represent scars that can tell us about numerous adventures, taking us to faraway lands. If only they could talk, right?! I myself am a traveler and I have scratched a lot of shoes in my travels all around the world.
I actually have been through many phases of artistic pursuits in the past 13 years, painting landscapes, portraits, and even abstract art as well. The tricky part is not to get bored, to find a fresh start and keep moving on. And to enjoy the little things that everyday life offers.
Q. You have also dabbled in cartoons. Your painting ‘Illustration of Imaginary Perfection’ is a case in point. What made you explore this genre?
A. Well, I started drawing caricatures back in the day, when I was still in high school. It helped me to get focused and prevented boredom. I still enjoy experimenting with humour not only in drawing but in literature, as well. I even won some National humour contests in Bulgaria, including the Special award in the international art contest ‘Veles’ (Macedonia) (2021), that included 176 artists from all over the world.
In the past, art captured glorious and terrifying events from human history. Like many artists before me, I’m influenced by the global matters worldwide. Unfortunately, the Corona virus that invaded our life and minds is a current one. I wanted to represent the idea of the perfect world. The drawing technique is in sharp contrast to the sinister message of an outside threat. The work is created in the technique of the watercolor painting, and it was awarded the First place in the international art contest ‘Indoor’ (India) in 2021.
In such circumstances (Covid times) you can either let the fear take over, or you can do whatever you can to be helpful. So, in 2020, I wrote and published my 5th book called ‘Dialogues till Sunrise’, where I, gathered 23 stars from 7 countries, that represent different spheres of art and science. I interviewed them about their work and I documentеd their experience and wisdom as an inspiration for my readers. That way I managed to turn the bad thing into something positive, and I’m extremely proud of it.
Q. In your unnamed work, you have used thick rectangular brushstrokes, reminiscent of Claude Monet’s impasto technique. Were you inspired by Monet or were you simply experimenting and evolving as an artist?
A. Quite frankly I have never thought about it but thank you for the analogy! I look at myself generally as an impressionist, and I find that the magic happens when no rules direct, but the intuition – that particular moment when you’re expressive and gentle at the same time. Just like Monet, I also admire Mother Nature, and I often paint sunset landscapes, blooming trees and water lilies.
I try as many approaches as possible, because I am curious and I love to experiment, but I also try and ensure that my paintings reflect my own individual and emblematic style. The biggest compliment I cherish is when people say that my new paintings are so different from anything I’ve done before… but still ‘classic Trendafilov.’
Q. Do you have any favourite contemporary artists or old masters?
A. Of course! I am actually a lucky guy, because till 2019 I managed to travel through Europe, and I visited the best galleries there. I saw some of the greatest masterpieces in the world. It’s a very interesting experience; though you see only familiar things, that you know so well from the encyclopedias, but it gives you the opportunity to enjoy them with your own eyes. Some people do shopping, while I find joy in my favorite pieces of art.
There are quite a lot of artists, that deserve mention, but I will limit my choice to the Spanish master of fine art, Salvador Dali, whose works have been an indispensable part of my life since my teenage years. It was a great thrill for me to visit his famous Theatre-Museum in Figueres, and to experience the surrealistic atmosphere that I have read so much about.
Q. You are not only an artist but also a photographer, a poet, a writer and a musician. Which creative expression is closest to your heart? How do you manage to find time for these myriad forms of visual art, literary pursuits as well as music?
A. I had never imagined I will be publishing books or performing as an opening act for world-famous musicians. It happened naturally. The synthesis of arts is deeply rooted in me and my approach to all art forms. Sometimes I come up with a lyric, that I can almost hear as a melody… or I see it visualized as a painting in my imagination… and I believe it is the way it should be!
All these forms of expression complete each other in an interesting final product, which always brings me great satisfaction at the end of the process. Indeed, on the one hand, thinking about so many things at the same time can be really exhausting, but on the other hand, routine change helps me to keep boredom at bay and to come up with fresh and new ideas every day. And I love diving into the process, it fascinates me.
Q. You have exhibited in several countries, including India. Do the different cultures impact your creativity and inspire you to experiment with your artwork and your music?
A. Yes, indeed! Just like the mysticism of the East changed the style and music of ‘The Beatles’, I’m also influenced by the impressions I gather everywhere I go. In the past 2 years I have participated in a lot of exhibitions in India, and I made a lot of friends there, which is absolutely great – one of the best parts of art is that it is a social activity that gathers people from all around the world.
While on a journey I always carry a sketchbook and a notebook with me, where I take notes and I record my impressions and feelings. Views, noises, colors, flavors – all these combine and allow me to immerse in the atmosphere of the place. When I open some of my already published books, I can clearly remember exactly which poem was written in which country. I also love photography, because it helps me to capture beautiful sights for further fine art project series. Each place has left a mark in my heart in a unique way, but my most favorite theme is the Turkish culture, which is also a significant part of my artwork.
Q. You said in your biography that art gives you confidence and makes you an optimist. Please throw some more light on this.
A. My nature is highly optimistic, and that reflects in my artwork. I believe that positive people perceive the world in a way that is different from others around them. Being an optimist is not only a way of thinking, but a lifestyle, because everything seems easier and funnier when you are an optimist. Optimistic people have a gift that allows them to notice and absorb all the tiny details that life contains, which are beautiful, if you can turn your attention to them. And if you can, then you are an aesthetic personality, who can see beauty in every little thing. Such people tend to love art, because they probe deeply into it, catching every detail.
This is what art is all about- it not only inspires and elevates our spirit, but also gives us optimism and faith to fulfill our goals and aspirations through the process of Creation.
Q. Are you working on a book or painting exhibition or music album or all of them at the same time? When do we see your next creative offering?
A. My work process is dynamic. I work every day, 7 days a week. At the moment I am working on a brand-new book and some new paintings as well.
I have been selected for a couple of prestigious upcoming events – the 3rd International ‘Watercolor and Spirit’ Triennial in Varna (Bulgaria), the 2nd International Youth watercolor Festival in Plovdid (Bulgaria), some international watercolor exhibitions in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Albania…
I have a brand-new show with romantic poetry and stand-up comedy and some new acoustic songs. I sincerely hope for the opportunity to present it live this summer and to have a great time with my fans.
Q. Do you have any advice for budding artists, poets or musicians? What tips would you give young artists who wanted to hone their craft?
A. I would advise them to stay true to themselves and to find the tricky balance between learning the specifics of the craft and the freedom to express pure emotions without filter.
Thank you Svetlin, for chatting with The Wise Owl. Here is wishing you the best in all your creative pursuits.
Thank you for having me! Looking forward to presenting you my new book when it’s out. Best regards from the Black Sea coast! Salute!