Yana Okoliyska on Life at Squared in Bulgaria

AdForum spoke with Yana Okoliyska, Creative Director at SQUARED, about the creative scene in Sofia, Bulgaria, her creative process, and what keeps her up at night…

Multi-disciplinary designer Yana Okoliyska is representing SQUARED in Bulgaria on the AD STARS jury this year. Based in Sofia, she believes a brief is “like a stranger” – it’s only once you get to know him that you can bring an authentic solution to the table.

Yana has worked in advertising for more than a decade. After years of working as lead designer and art director at local agencies she established her own independent creative studio, SQUARED, which is focused on art direction and content creation. It works with businesses anywhere in the world to deliver “unbounded creativity” and bold ideas.

Yana Okoliyska
Founder & Creative Director SQUARED

Can you tell us a little about your agency, SQUARED?

SQUARED is an independent creative studio focused on art direction and advertising. It was born in 2017 with the urge to create an effective and lasting impact over people through the power of visual communication. It counts with a dedicated and restless team of creatives always ready to take the challenge further and surprise with unbounded creativity and bold ideas. For me it is an unstoppable source of inspiration and creative challenges.


Can you describe the creative scene in Sofia, Bulgaria? 

Sofia is a magical place, full of contrasts. You could find unimaginable sceneries, scenes and stories around. I believe this city is a treasure for inspiration seekers.


Have you learned any new skills over the past 12 months given it’s been such a strange and chaotic year?      

Last year brought multitasking to a new level. As well as creativity. The rules of effective communication have changed and require greater flexibility and resourcefulness.


Do you have a creative process: is there a certain way that you approach a brief?                 

A brief is like a stranger – you have to get to know him, understand his needs and aspirations at the point where you could connect emotionally with him. That is where you can bring an authentic creative solution to the table.


What is the biggest challenge or opportunity you face this year?

It will be a year of reinvention and dedication to all the things I care most about.


What keeps you up at night? What gets you out of bed?

I am a very emotional person so it is pretty easy for something to keep me up at night. I am a restless inspiration seeker and very curious as well so that kind of adds to it.


What kind of kid were you: were you always ‘creative’ and breaking rules?         

I was a rather shy kid enjoying myself most when drawing. Since I remember.


You are joining the Preliminary Jury at AD STARS 2021. What are you most looking forward to about joining this year’s jury?

I am very excited about it! I am looking forward to discovering all the amazing creative work that was executed during such a controversial year and get a boost of inspiration.


Yana Okoliyska is one of 240 talented creative executives who have joined the AD STARS 2021 Awards Preliminary Jury. A shortlist of finalists will be revealed in mid-July via adstars.org