Hi, my name is Sassy, and my calling is to do design stripped down to its bare core just before it might have lost its integrity and broken down altogether. A design that does not provoke for the sake of it does not tie down to the trend of the day but instead tells visual stories without overwhelming the senses. I usually find it on the threshold between what is too much and what is too little, while looking for the balance of purpose, feeling, quantity.

Svetoslava Ilieva

I am currently a Creative Director @Gtmhub. My mission is to transform and establish a unique, recognizable digital footprint belonging and easily recognized by the brand Gtmhub, along with uncompromising quality.

Creating coherent customer experiences at scale is what I did during my journey at Telerik (now Progress) before arriving at Gtmhub. Heading the Customer Experience team, I shaped the art direction and design of NativeScript.org, Telerik.com, Progress.com, among others, building a sustainable design system on top of which these websites continue to evolve.

Before joining Telerik, I’ve spent almost a decade of creating web experiences for diverse industries and clients, at Netage, considered the best Bulgarian digital agency of its time. Intertwining all the passion and skills felt right, and it was an added pleasure to get awarded for these efforts at design contests. My dedication to constant learning and experimenting, to not be satisfied with whatever just works, won me over 70 awards, from being featured in the “120 years of Bulgarian Art. Design” almanac to a “Website of the year” Techie Award.

All these years and until today that passion has followed me even after I switched off for the workday. While I am not in front of a giant computer screen, I teach students from the Master of Arts Web Design Program at the National Academy of Arts – the school I also hold my master’s degree from.

The little spare time that is left, I devote for causes that help and promote women entrepreneurs and designers. Since late 2017 and until today, I’m a brand advisor for Femigrants, a non-profit organization located in Silicon Valey that connects female professionals and entrepreneurs and helps them grow and prosper. I also contribute to See It Be It, a Cannes Lions initiative to promote women in design leadership as a mentor and speaker.


Journey to the bare core (Manifesto)

I have always tried to create design that has been stripped down to its bare core just before it might have lost its integrity and broken down altogether. That design does not provoke for the sake of it, it does not tie down to the trend of the day, and does not come from the ego of the designer. Rather, it tells visual stories, incites attention, without overwhelming the senses. In order to do so I never stop looking for the balance of purpose, feeling, quantity. I usually find it on the threshold between what is too much and what is too little. The journey to the edge requires process, rules, and ingredients.

Complete Seclusion

The designer and the canvas carry a very intimate relationship. The love child of that relationship needs time and space to go through all its transformations freely, without interruptions or premature judgement of character. The intimacy must always be preserved and the seclusion kept.

Perpetual Sketching

I sketch everything that comes to mind. Initially that means chaos. But I am not afraid because I know the solution lies within. Only when I have made it to the extremes and I have felt, observed and have been overwhelmed by them do the balance and moderation strike. My secret is that I know how to approach the darkness of mess. I have a concept and I follow it.

Crossing the Line

To reach a design, which is just right I experiment. I experiment with what is on the canvas and where my comfort zone as a designer is. I let go of the brakes, understanding that I might get to a place I initially presume unacceptable. But this is not about me is it? It is about the bare core of design and that it may only exist solely in unforeseen and uncomfortable combinations. Naturally I am afraid of failure, mistakes and rejection on the way. But I rest assured there is a discovery hiding somewhere, an idea waiting to be found, or at least a lesson to be learned.


Design Basics

Fundamental principals of design were created from an understanding what makes sense to the eye and the mind that processes what it sees. They are not a product of a simple whimsy what might look good. The principals have been through the test of time and are still here. I adhere to them because I know they will time proof everything I draw. I never betray them because I trust them to help me create sustainability beyond current trends and modernity. Modernity can be tempting. It carries a certain flair of being here and now. But the design created today must live tomorrow as well. Therefore modernity is more a direction than a destination. So I always return to basics.

Killing Darlings

In the end, there is only one truly just right solution that represents the bare core. Many designs before can fool in their appearance, pretending to be the one. Being faithful to the brand and the audience, the designer must be ready to say no even when everything feels right. The designer must do what is most difficult - kill a darling. That seemingly great darling design must be hurdled no matter how difficult it is. Because too often the genius hides right behind. Thus I leap until I have made it to the core. The bare core of design.