Interview with Valentin Yotkov, Bulgarian Master Silversmith

Conducted by © Rocío Heredia

"A 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.

How 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.

Have 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.

Rumors 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."

Which 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, yet.

What is the most important award you have received? M

y 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!

What 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, as well.

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."

Copyright Note: Interview © January 2002-2006 Rocío Heredia. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is forbidden. Throughout this website all artworks, images, text files, or other material is all copyrighted by Rocio Heredia and/or named authors, and may not be used elsewhere on the net, within other websites, or in print, without the written permission of the site owner and/or author. For express permission to copy articles, please contact us.

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