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Meet Kristina Zlatanov

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristina Zlatanov.

Kristina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and moved to the US with my family at a young age. Our first apartment was in Van Nuys, so ever since then, I have been a valley girl! I was a pretty shy kid growing up so I spent a lot of my time drawing and doodling. I loved fashion, so I would draw cool outfits I’d make up and girl’s faces with wild makeup. I would do this a lot with my sister, we both would draw together if we weren’t out riding our bikes or going to 7eleven to buy hot Cheetos.

Fast forward to high school and college, I was sure I’d major in fashion design but something held me back: my passion lied in art, not so much in the fashion industry. I was convinced that I couldn’t possibly make a living drawing, right? Wrong! So I chose graphic design and decided to conquer my fear of the machine (computers that is). Ever since then, I have been in love with merging, both the analog and digital worlds.

Today, I create what I feel inspired to create. I recently picked up a Canon DSLR camera to expand on my iPhone photography and haven’t put it down since. One day I am painting a custom skate deck or working on an ink drawing; the next day, I am designing a clean logo for a client. It’s a pretty awesome way to make a living so far and it keeps life exciting for me.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Not exactly. At times, sure! When I’m truly in my creative power and feeling aligned, it can be quite smooth. However, this is something I have to work on constantly. My main focus lately, is solely on feeling good and not believing the negative inner voice so much. I struggle with anxiety, depression, and very heavily with imposter syndrome. My initial assumption of myself and my work is that I am never good enough and that I am unworthy of this life. I know, pretty outrageous, right? In the end, the only thing or person that’ll get in the way of my success is me, myself, and I.

This is why I strive to flip that and to share all the work I create regardless. When I am creating and sharing and working with other people, that is when I am most fulfilled. There’s nothing better than bringing someone’s vision to life and seeing them smile in astonishment when it is exactly as they pictured it. I know that as long as I continue to create and stay true to myself, I am content. And when the negative voice comes up, I welcome her and give her some love instead!

Please tell us about your business.
I always dreamed of starting my own art business, but it wasn’t until last year that I felt the push to make it happen. I legally started the small ego on March 8, 2019, which just so happened to be international women’s day! It didn’t occur to me until that evening, but it couldn’t have been more fitting as I am a one-woman-business after all.

I specialize in illustration and graphic design, as well as photography in some sorts. The small ego is an art collective, brand, and community bringing creatives together. It is a portal for my passion projects, but also a place where creatives of all sorts can openly discuss the ups and downs of pursuing a career that they love.

I am most proud of my vulnerability through a the small ego. I want to maintain an open space, a judgment-free zone per say. There is a big emphasis on mental health with most of my work. Therefore, I am proud to speak from my soul in hopes of helping others in a similar place or situation. If my artwork or photo collages or written content resonates with anyone in any way, I am happy.

I am only getting started, but I have big plans for the small ego. I plan to hold monthly events eventually, where we can meet in person, get away from our computer screens or phones, and talk in real life again. I feel that we are currently in an exciting place as a society; we are beginning to notice our excessive use of screen-time and social media. We crave going off the grid more than we used to in the past. We are taking precautions and limiting our time on Instagram. I want to find ways to go back to the basics and get in touch with our humanity through art and other creative avenues. I believe this is what sets the small ego apart from others.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I don’t have set plans for the future, but some loose ideas of what I want. I look forward to growing the small ego and bringing it to other cities, eventually having small headquarters throughout the states on a local level. This could be a space where creatives all over can meet and also work. The small ego could eventually stand as a design and art studio. Currently, I am working on accepting all my freelance work through the business, as well as offering design services, so that I can grow that aspect of the company.

As for myself, as long as I continue creating, I know I’ll be just fine. I can work from anywhere in the world thanks to technology, so I don’t feel held back by much. Someday, I would like to build a secondary headquarters for the small ego in Bulgaria.

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