Today we meet Nikolay Krastev – a 26-year-old traditional painter and digital 2D artist from Bulgaria. He uses the aliases DirtyTactic and Svdsdragunov. Prefers the monochrome atmosphere, black surrealism, cyber and steampunk. He studied industrial design and economics. He loves stand-up comedies, music, video games and sci fi. In fact, his love of video games and The Lord of the Rings leads him to drawing.

He believes that because of the existence of the Internet, the possibilities for an artist to reach the audience have grown.

Everything is getting easier, faster, more efficient. The realisation of the potential is less and less dependent on institutions and is more in our hands. Access to the information has never been easier. The same goes for finding projects.

Slowly but surely the previously established way in which an artist can be found through galleries and so on is becoming obsolete. Literally a post on social networks can change lives.

Digital arts

 Ancient oneWhen did you become interested in digital painting and design? Tell us more.

I have been drawing on paper with a pencil or pen for as long as I can remember. And digital drawing was not familiar to me until recently. In fact, last year in high school, I began to discover many different ways to create images. Computer graphics was one of them. At the time, I saw this method as something too easy and therefore could not be called art. In my eyes, digital graphics were at the bottom of traditional methods.

A few years later, I met the people who introduced me to digital painting. Until then I still painted only on paper. Within a few months I was advised how I should try other methods, that I should go up the level and only then will I take the step up. Somehow they managed to convince me of that.

Well, they were right.

Nikolay Krastev painting

In the beginning I painted with a mouse and even then I realised how powerful it is. Soon after that I got a tablet. I was afraid to use it because I realised that all my excuses had to disappear, because there was nothing to stop me but myself. The digital has no boundaries, only we set the only framework. After that, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t paint digitally for at least a few hours.

What have you been doing lately? Tell us more about a interesting project of yours.

I am drawing all of the time, doing live streaming and graphic design. I finished a painting a few days ago, which I worked on for about four months. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s ready, I’m missing some things. I’m “resting” on it right now so I can figure out what I need to change.

I notice that the distance from a work helps to make an objective assessment, then I can return to it with a fresh look and ideas, I can look more closely and notice the details that escape from me when I work all day on the picture.

In general, my daily life is not exciting, I have turned everything I like to do into a routine. Most of my clients have closed their doors because of the pandemic. I focused entirely on painting. Streaming helps me a lot – I constantly meet people who are engaged (or want to get involved) in art. However, I think that painting is a “lonely occupation” and sometimes it is good to stay that way – you solve a problem that you have created yourself. Sometimes, in jokes and banter, you don’t feel like you spend tens of hours at work, which is also nice.


Is there a big goal you are striving for? Something exciting and brave…

There is a purpose behind every action…

I am lucky to have discovered earlier what makes me happy and fills my days with pleasure. I don’t feel painting as a job, there was a quote that when you turn your hobby into a job, you won’t have a single working day. A cliché, but a fact. However, like everything, it has its difficult moments, but 90% of the time it is pure pleasure (for me).

My dream is to realise myself completely as an artist, I don’t think it’s that exciting, because in the end everyone wants to develop professionally. In the short term I want to get a studio – so I can experiment with traditional media such as acrylic, oil, graphite and charcoal.

The courage, I suppose, lies in the fact that I have chosen a relatively uncertain field, that no matter how secluded it may be, in the end what it will bring you depends on the taste of the person on the other side.

I do not want to create what is seemingly sought, but what I can offer myself, and not traditionally, but digitally in a closed market.

I’m a little unsure if I’ll succeed without bowing my head and without compromising with myself. We all make such compromises in the workplace, but how often we make them is the question. We often get lost by compromising, so I want to be as far away from them as possible. I am ready to sacrifice, as I suppose every artist and man is ready to sacrifice himself and his comfort for what he does. Whether the victim will not be in vain depends almost only on him.

What are your observations, are young people interested in design and digital painting?

According to my observations – more than ever.

A few statistics – at the moment more art is created per day than in our entire history so far. Extremely many people enter the field of art in general and I’m not just talking about design and painting. I constantly see boys and girls aged 14 and 15 who, after a while, will perform better than people I admire.

It is so because it is easy to reach the information we need and become better thanks to it.

The access to cultivation is much easier than ever. We stand on the shoulders of giants and this may have always been the case, maybe children have always wanted to become artists, designers, musicians, actors, but nowadays parents avoid modelling teenagers’ dreams because their parents did just that…

To be artists we do not longer need to be rebels, black sheep, because we have nothing to rebel against. artists

Of course, this is not true. The established norms are always an obstacle, they encourage the need for self-expression and separation of oneself from the rest, from the old. There are so many ways to stand out right now, we have lessons and theory that are a few clicks away. This information is free and only takes time.

Yes, children’s interest in the visual arts is extremely high, perhaps because the instruments are at our fingertips.

Sometimes when I wake up, the first thing I like to do is go online and browse works. I used to look for hours. So sometimes I come across the profile of the person who uploaded the image and I am shocked that so many young people have so good works.

This piece I finished in under 10 hours, which is great. It started out as a joke, a friend, we were playing league of legends together and she was joking that I should draw her a unicorn.

This piece I finished in under 10 hours, which is great. It started out as a joke, a friend, we were playing league of legends together and she was joking that I should draw her a unicorn. 

What skills do you need to be successful in this field?

I suppose that the basic skills that a successful artist needs are no different from those needed for development in any other field.

Patience and discipline are the most important factors in how we choose information and how we perceive criticism.

I used to do exercises based on criticism and absorb information that is related to drawing, but it is far from what I really need. Later I realised that what I did, no matter how much it enriched my general culture professionally, had almost no value for my specific job.

I will not go through all 3 bases, I will only touch on things that are not mentioned.

We have all heard that it was not good to compare, but how will we know at what level we stand in the professional ladder? It’s not about ego, it’s about upgrading skills and a reasonable view of the situation.

Communication with clients is what distinguishes the good from the bad designer.

A four-page description of the project is sometimes not enough, and other times 3 sentences and correct questions can make the job much easier.

This is a team game, be good teammates.

Always ask what is the customer audience to which the product you are working on is aimed at, most of the time you are not developing a project for your customer, but for his audience.

slowly we're getting there... Pixel by pixelPure- slowly we’re getting there… Pixel by pixel

Can you imagine how the digital world will develop in the future?

My dream is to be able to control the software I work with directly with my mind, I imagine cables sticking out of my head connected directly to the computer, and why not Bluetooth?

The digital is an extremely big part of our lives. The stigma that it is not real fades with each passing day.

Traditional and digital techniques are mixed for creating works of art that only the people who created them could have imagined before. Creative tools allow us to create without limitation, the only limitation is ourself, and as far as our imagination goes. The technique needed for the creative work process has never been more accessible and it will become easier and cheaper to get what we need so that we can create.

There are a lot of easy-to-use applications, more intuitive and more optimised, requiring less resources to create.

I recently worked on a company logo. The graphic sign was ready, only minor adjustments were needed. I asked the client about the designer who worked on the specific project before me. My client replied that he had used a graphic generator and several mobile graphic applications and it took him about ten minutes to create the logo for his company.

Imagine – all this just with a phone!

I was shocked because the project looked extremely good. After another hour of work on my part, the logo was ready for printing on the products and uploading on the pages.

3D sculptors use Virtual Reality to sketch concepts. I used to watch for hours how amazing things were created with extreme ease, then applied in Zbrush and refined there, a few days later this sketch became a moving game model in Unreal Engine.

Digital artists are replacing large and heavy workstations with tablets.

RAREAF2! With MakersPlace for the crypto week in NY 2019

Passing the point of remission: AREAF2! With MakersPlace for the crypto week in NY 2019

Artists sell limited editions of paintings, such as tokens in crypto galleries, each painting being turned into a unique token based on etherium. A few years ago, a platform based on virtual reality and etherium was created, in which we can create our own gallery and exhibit all kinds of works and sell them. There is a platform for collecting rare memes based on blockchain. Online art auctions have been held for a long time.

An art trade group was recently set up on Facebook – “Buy art, support an artist”, which very quickly became a successful endeavour and without any capital, only with desire and time. I see a lot of works sold every day.

Since the existence of the Internet, the artist’s options for reaching an audience have grown. Everything is getting easier, faster, more efficient.

Slowly but surely the previously established way in which an artist can be found through galleries and so on is becoming obsolete. Literally a post on social networks can change lives. I hope for the better.

The digital becomes more and more intuitive.The unnecessary steps that accompany the creation process are reduced, only freedom and creativity remain. The seemingly complex and confusing appearance of the programs is becoming a thing of the past. Allows an ever freer method of work.


Do you think that young people in Bulgaria can develop their potential? How should they overcome difficulties?

If a person has access to a computer and the Internet, the restrictions that our homeland imposes on us are significantly reduced, it all comes down to desire and perseverance. In my opinion, when someone says that he is from Bulgaria, the reason for not developing is just an excuse. Probably this would have worked better years ago. But now it is not sustainable in terms of the world and technology.

The realisation of potential is less and less dependent on institutions and is even more in our hands. Access to the information we have has never been easier. The same goes for finding projects.

Difficulties happen everyday, there just has to be a goal, a reason to push us forward. Even if the moment is difficult, we should not look for an easier path. I see how temporary decisions become permanent. How the lack of will to deal with difficulties now leads to suffering later. If we have dreams, but choose the “safe” path and do not pursue what we want, in years to come, when we look back, it will be very painful. That is why there are crises of middle age, existential crises and so on.

Not realising what we are burning in, which is passion, only leads to remorse and the question “What if I was?”

What is your message to the young people?

Do not eat the seeds before they have germinated.

Link to Nikolay Krastev’s profiles:



Social Media: 

▶Titter: https://twitter.com/KrastevNick 

▶Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NikolayKrastevArt/ 

▶Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nick_krastev_art/ 

▶Steemit: https://steemit.com/@svdsdragunov 

▶Artstation: https://www.artstation.com/dirtytactic 

▶Behance: https://www.behance.net/nikolay622629d89 

▶DeviantArt: https://www.deviantart.com/dirtytactic 

➤You can buy some of the works of Nikolai Krastev in Ethereum blockchain from here: https://makersplace.com/store/nikolaykrastev/ 

*** The titles below the photos are by the artist

The interview was taken from: Teodora Eneva

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Лого БФЖ

Startup Factory is an NGO (Non Government, Non Profit Organisation) that develops the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the IT community in Eastern Europe and Bulgaria. The mission of the organisation is supporting early stage startups, building key skills in demand by the market and cultivating the favourable infrastructure and environment for turning ideas into real products with potential for commercialisation.