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Rafaela Rafaelova-the Bulgarian artist whose imagination has no boundaries

What is the feeling to paint a picture, if you are part if it? All people would ask themselves this question if they read about Rafaela Rafaelova and her hobby, which became an important part of her life. She is one of the first VR artists in Bulgaria and answers this question quickly. I suppose that all artists dream of finding themselves in their own head or show the audience what happens in their imagination. This is magic. I like using the word magic when I talk about painting in virtual reality.

Before she began painting with virtual palette and a set of brushes, Rafaela is dedicated to traditional painting at the National Academy of Art. Later, she paid attention to fashion as well. She became a fashion design teacher at the National High School of Allied Art Saint Luca in Sofia and a co-owner, together with her friend Katerina Malganska, of a sports fashion collection. However, her sports collection is much different to the rest of the sports collections, because characters of the Bulgarian mythology are depicted on her clothes.

The wood nymph and the mummer are our first characters and soon we will add another one, but you will learn more details later, the talented Bulgarian told Radio Bulgaria. We sink deep in the Bulgarian mythology and look for interesting creatures and characters, which are part of our folklore and fairytales. We have a lot of fun when the Bulgarian characters face the American heroes-for instance the mummer versus Batman, or the wood nymph versus Wonder Woman. Of course, the Bulgarian character always wins. The two ladies write articles about every new character they put on their clothes and later publish it on the web site of the fashion line.

Thanks to the help of the company she works for, Rafaela fulfilled the dream of her pupils from the National High School of Allied Art Saint Luca to create models for own fashion show painted in virtual reality. However, such virtual brand of clothing does not exist yet. That is why Rafaela shares another dream, which is about to come true:

I am writing a scientific work where I talk about the use of AR (combination of elements of the real and the virtual world) and VR (non-physical reality) in clothing. I want the clothes we wear to bring more knowledge and sense than the ones used now. I deal with traditional Bulgarian clothing where, as we know, each detail makes sense. Neither the decoration, nor the colors are chosen accidentally. We are not talking as much of the beauty of the clothes, as of the symbol we put in it. I want to convey these symbols through the new technologies. The traditional Bulgarian embroidery (Shevitsa) should be deciphered from the clothing with special virtual methods.

In Rafaela’s words, the traditional embroidery and the traditional Bulgarian clothing as a whole is a kind of social network, because when we meet people dressed in national folk costume, we can tell whether they are married, where they come from and what type of family they originate. That is why it is extremely valuable source of information and Rafaela wants to keep it for the future generations.

The Bulgarian artist finds time to paint in the virtual space. She does not do that often enough, but she spends 2 or 3 hours in that field when she has the chance. However, one needs to make regular breaks when working with similar software, because the excessive use of this software is very exhausting. Rafaela admits that sometimes when she takes off the special helmet, the real world seems quite unreal and she feels a bit unconfident and dizzy. However, the experience in this virtual world is worth the inconvenience.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: private library

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