Steliyana Doneva – Illustrator Interview

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Steliana Doneva

[JM] Illustrator or author/illustrator?  If the latter, do you begin with words or pictures?    

I am an illustrator, but I have always considered  the images as words.

[JM] Where are you from/have you lived and how has that influenced your work?

My name is Steliyana Doneva and I am from Bulgaria. A small country in Eastern Europe. I spent my childhood in Silistra, an ancient city by the The Danube– a river which crosses entire Europe. I lived right on the riverside. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets have always been my inspiration.     

 [JM] Tell us a little of your beginnings and journey as an artist.

I have been drawing since I was a child. My parents took me to art classes and there I found my world. Later on I was admitted to high-school for applied arts with profile “Children toys” in Sofia. It is a wonderful school which synchronises my affinity for the amazing children’s world. 

[JM] What is your preferred medium to work in?

In the beginning I draw with pencil then I finish them digitally.

[JM] Can you share a piece or two for us, maybe from recently released An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth, and the process of creating them?    


[JM] What is your favorite spread from An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth and why?

First of all I want to thank Sleeping Bear Press for the opportunity to work on this book. The text of Karlin Gray is vivid and dynamic. That inspired me and made my work a pleasure. My favorite spread is the one with the boy who is looking with love and respect of the miracle of the Creation in the face of one ordinary moth.

[JM] Which book do you remember buying with your own money as a kid/teen?

As a student I received a small amount of scholarship money which I immediately used to buy a collection of books by Tove Jansson and Astrid Lindgren.


[JM] I adore all Tove Jansson’s books! Do you have themes or characters that you keep returning to?

I try to portray the world through the little child’s point of view as well as animals which looks fun. Everything that is based in love and friendship.

[JM] What artwork do you have hanging in your home? 

Five Fun Ones to Finish?
[JM] What’s your favorite park (state/urban..) in the world? 

I love the high mountain peaks. One of the places I always love to go back to is the Seven Lakes in Rila Mountain as well as Pirin Mountain, where the earth has eyes and the lakes have the reflection of the sky.

[JM] I was so fortunate to go hiking for two weeks in 2009 in the Rila and Pirin Mountains.
Cats or dogs?

This is a topical issue in our family and we reached a consensus – a British shorthair cat that my children are looking forward to hug in our new home.

[JM] Please recommend a coffee shop or restaurant for me to visit in your city!

Cafe-reading room “Peroto.”  You can have a cup of warm tea while you are reading new books.

[JM] What was your first paid job out of high school?

I used to make fun dolls that I sold in the summertime.

[JM] Go to snack/drink to sustain your creative juices?

A nice italian coffee.

I love a good ristretto too! If I ever make it to Sofia again, I would love to meet for a coffee. Thanks for sharing with us today.

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1 Response to Steliyana Doneva – Illustrator Interview

  1. Growing up along the Danube sounds like a wonderful childhood place to dream. After seeing her beautiful illustrations, she beautifully capture wildlife. I enjoyed her learning about her love of nature and see the love in her illustrations of “An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth.” What a joyful interview!

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