Lilyana Petrova "Lulu" was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1982. She first entered an art studio when she was four years old, and her artistic life started almost that very day. She followed this calling throughout her education and in 1999 she graduated from the Sofia Art School, where she specialized in painting. Over the following years, she studied Fashion and Industrial Design at the Academy of Art in Sofia, took an Apprenticeship in Ceramics, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design at New Bulgarian University. In 2009, she completed her Master’s Degree in her original vocation of Painting, also at NBU.
Lilyana’s interest in Art in all its various forms has increased exponentially throughout her life, and she has always strived to express herself using as many different techniques and materials as possible. Although mainly a painter, she uses her diversity as an artist for work in graphics, ceramics, graphical and web design, illustrations, posters, interior and exterior design, and theatrical design. Over the last several years, she has also worked as costume designer for various Bulgarian television formats (both reality and drama) and cinema productions. In 2004, she started her participation in various group exhibitions of Sofia students and young authors.
In the spring of 2005 in Sofia’s Irida Gallery, Lilyana Petrova Lulu held her first solo exhibition, entitled While They Were Sleeping– constituting mainly portraits and landscapes presented in her vivid style. That same year she created the company Lala Design Studio, where she is managing shareholder, and the painting school LALA Art Studio, for children between 4 and 8 years of age. The school would periodically organize exhibitions of the work of the children who attended the classes, with halls rented at the Sofia City Gallery and in the lobby of Sofia Puppet Theatre.
Between 2006 and 2010, she participated in many group exhibitions for young authors in Sofia, including several of the New Bulgarian University’s student exhibitions, as well as in competitive exhibitions for young authors, organized by the Union of Bulgarian Painters at their "6 Shipka Street" Gallery.
In the period 2007–08, she developed an overall visual and multimedia concept as the stage accompaniment to the music of the composer Simon Lazar. Lilyana and Simon jointly created the show The Muse, which enjoyed a great number of acclaimed performances in Sofia and in other cities around Bulgaria. The show was eventually performed internationally, and is still running in several countries to the present day. The Muse opened in the Spring of 2007 in the Theatre Hall of the New Bulgarian University. With this multimedia performance, Lilyana Petrova – Lulu won the award for Best Student Work, and several months later she created an encompassing graphic elaboration on the same topic, which developed into her Bachelor’s Degree diploma thesis. Venues of The Muse include SozopolTheatre, Sofia’s Night of the Museums, and in the grand Hall 3 of the National Palace of Culture during Art House Week.
Since 2008, Lilyana has mainly worked on mural paintings, glass staining and mosaics for private homes. These homes have been completely transformed through Ms Petrova’s vivid colours and scintillating compositions, which reach every corner of the painted rooms. Many of these murals include fairytale and cartoon compositions for children’s rooms covering all four walls and ceilings.
In late 2008, she started developing costume designs for several television projects. Her work as assistant costume artist and stylist contributed to the reality shows Dancing Stars and VIP Brother, the TV series Floor Property, and the celebrated 2014 Bulgarian feature film Rat Poison.
In the spring of 2012 Lilyana Petrova participated in a group exhibition at The Brick Lane Gallery in London. This exhibition brought her back into painting and prompted her to create a number of paintings combining different materials and techniques and opening a whole new world of perceptions and expectations. The subject of the paintings is the human and its connection to the macrocosm and the microcosm, nature, the world of the sea and the sky, biomechanics, urbanization, and people’s influence on their environment.
In December 2014, she presented an exhibition at the Music House of Boris Hristov with two artist colleagues – Kalina Hristova and Vittorio Ballato. The idea for the exhibition was inspired after the three artists met in Sicily, where they had all found great inspiration, which culminated in their joint exhibition entitled Beyond the Visible.
Lilyana’s latest work portrays in painting the warmth and charm of this most southern part of Italy – the sunny, enchanted island of Sicily. Although these works, being graphics and illustrations, do not contain the colours typical of the artist, they do show the brightest and warmest nuances of human joy and that often elusive feeling called LOVE.
Throughout 2015–16, Lilyana concentrated mostly on personal projects and commissions. Among these is the creation of the character Lulu – the befreckled, red-headed little girl who has become Lilyana’s personal symbol and which she has used in the creation of an illustrated children’s book entitled The Adventures of Lulu. Other Lulu projects include a series of the little heroine stamped on clothes, shoes and bags, as well as paper dolls of the character.
Other projects which Lilyana has concentrated on during this period are commissions including graphic design, interior solutions and compositions, as well as continuing work on murals and general decoration of children’s rooms.
In July 2017, Lilyana took part in an international group exhibition entitled Le Vie dell’Arte in the Galleria Mentana in Florence, Italy. Lilyana created four paintings for this exhibition, which are the first part of a series exploring the relationship between people and God, between humanity and the soul, reason and the heart, ideas and actions, dreams and reality, happiness and pain, excitement and calm. The series focuses on different states of mind, and is expressed via vivid stories in paint. These stories are especially interesting for the depth and direction of the journey upon which they take the viewer, and the feelings and thoughts which they provoke. A simple experience transformed into a story told in a surrealistic style, able to send the viewer away, alone with their thoughts, deep in the ocean depths or flying freely among the stars.
Lilyana’s participation in this exhibition set the foundations of a new cycle of paintings tracing the development of the human being, our development and spiritual realization.