with Valentin Yotkov, Bulgarian Master Silversmith
by © Rocío Heredia
soul embedded with the cultural wealth of his native Bulgaria, Valentin
Yotkov has been discovering the ancient techniques used by the Thracian
Masters, affirming his predilection for art metals. We find in his
pieces all these memories and traditions in a metalwork full of
imaginativeness, originality, style and technique. Valentin's wisdom
and generosity intrigues and inspires his students. He helps them
revealing the best of them and can be considered the ultimate guiding
master to the practice of chasing and repoussé". Rocio Heredia.
did you discover your love for the Arts?
My passion for art has been greatly influenced by the rich culture
and tradition of my homeland Bulgaria. These have instilled in me
a valuable appreciation for the process of creating. For as long
as I can remember myself, I have been an artist. Even in kindergarten,
my teachers doubted that the apple I had drawn as a homework assignment
was my own work and not my mother's.
you worked with any other visual art techniques?
I have done drawing and painting, glass blowing, ceramics, but metal
seemed to lure my attention more than anything else. I was fascinated
by its unique ability to move and flow as if it were alive.
You are not only an artist, but a teacher as well. Why is
teaching so important to you?
In the modernization of the Western World, Chasing and Repoussé
became practically a lost art form. That is very unfortunate, since
these are two of the most magnificent, most fulfilling techniques
in metalsmithing. My ambition is to revive them and to pass on as
much of my knowledge and experience as possible to the younger generation
of metal artists.
have it that you are writing a book on the subject.
Yes, in fact, it is a work in progress. My objective is to create
the most comprehensive and detailed manual on Chasing and Repoussé.
This book will focus not on how to do things "the easy way"
but on how to do them "the old way."
is your favorite piece and why?
That piece is yet to be created. With each new work I complete,
it becomes my favorite - or at least until the next one is finished.
However that One piece which I was born to create has not been made,
What is the most important award you have received?
works have received a number of awards throughout the years. The
most important was the first one-(Gold Medal, National Art Competition,
Sofia, Bulgaria, 1979) it stimulated my creativity and gave me the
confidence to continue. I was 24 years old and couldn't be more
proud or happier. However, my biggest reward is the appreciation
of the ordinary people. They are the best and most sincere critics!
are your plans for the near future?
Teaching has been an important part of my life. But now, it is time
for me to go back to doing my own work again. I am an artist and
I feel the urge to create. Creating is like breathing and feeling
alive. I would like to finish my book and make it available to the
people who need it. I would like to spend more time with my family,
In conclusion, what would you like to say to our visitors?
Always put your heart into your work. Never compromise. As St. Francis
of Assisi had said almost 800 years ago: "He, who works with
his hands is a laborer. He, who works with his hands and his brain
is a craftsman. He, who works with his hands and his brain and his
heart is and Artist."
Interview © January 2002-2006 Rocío Heredia.
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