The career of a talented photographer is developing nicely after she was shortlisted for a prestigious media award. Ivana Milchanska was among 16 finalists contesting The Irish Times’ Amateur Photographer of the Year Awards 2015. More than 7,000 images were whittled down to just 16, with Ivana’s picture Artist’s life among the chosen few. Sadly, the 22-year-old did not win the competition but she is confident her decision to take the plunge and become a photographer was the right one after receiving such an accolade. Ivana studied at Glyndŵr University in Wrexham last year and plans to return in 2016 to complete her BA. Having come to north east Wales as part of an Erasmus programme, the Bulgarian says lecturers at the University’s North Wales School of Art and Design (NWSAD) were “inspiring” during her time in the region. Having been accepted to study Graphic Design and Multimedia last summer, Ivana also spent time on the institution’s Illustration degree having earlier been a student back home in Sofia at the National High School of Applied Arts and the National Academy of Arts, where she is currently. She looks forward to returning to North Wales, and said: “The experience of being a student at Glyndŵr University made me more confident both as a young person coping with their first time in a foreign country and as an artist,” said Ivana. “During the years I’ve developed skills in oil painting, drawing, design, photography and I’ve always combined my knowledge no matter what I do, so at Glyndŵr I experienced new ways of doing things which was refreshing and surely helps me as a photographer. “The tutors I met there are inspiring people and I’m looking forward to going back to Wrexham and finishing my degree, and hopefully getting to work as a photographer there too.” So what inspired the imaginative and unique image she created for Artist’s life, which depicts different characters atop paint pots and brushes. “The photo with which I participated in the awards was inspired by the atmosphere in which I’ve lived all my life – art,” said Ivana. “It was a spontaneous moment that happened when me and my colleagues from the National Academy of Arts were having fun and talking about what our day as artists is like. Then I happened to have my camera with me and decided to create this little scene.” She added: “I was shocked to find that I’d been nominated for the prize. I was having a dull evening, scrolling through social media when suddenly I saw my photo on the Irish Times page! “I was very proud to see that I was featured in their article, and very surprised. I felt good seeing that I was the only finalist from Bulgaria and the only one who was not from Ireland.” NWSAD senior lecturer Pauline Amphlett was equally as proud, and said the ability levels of past and present students is as high as those from any university in the UK. “Ivana is one of a long line of NWSAD students who’ve gone on to do incredibly well,” said Pauline. “She is just 22 years old and has a brilliant career ahead of her. This competition showed just how talented she is and we look forward to welcoming her back to Glyndŵr University next year.” To see more of Ivana’s photos take a look at her website: www.relti.allyou.net For information on art and media courses at Glyndŵr University, visit www.glyndwr.ac.uk or attend the next open day on August 15 from 10am until 2pm.