Bistra Hristova is an Asheville-based photographer and artist who is passionate about nature. She creates mixed-media photographic ink transfers on reclaimed wood, stone, tiles, and cabinet doors. Due to the natural materials used and the variables in the ink transfer process, each piece is unique. Bistra’s work creates interesting art focal points, whether displayed on a wall or shelf.
Before she became a professional photographer and artist, Bistra was an English teacher and translator in her home country of Bulgaria. She has lived in the United States for over 20 years and currently calls Asheville home. Bistra graduated from The Art Institute of Portland, where she studied interior design and painting. She also earned a Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education degree from Brevard College. After graduating, she worked as an outdoor trip leader in the Western North Carolina mountains.
Bistra’s mixed-media art pieces are created using an ink transfer process. She starts by taking a print of one of her original photographs and brushes a gel medium directly onto the surface of the image. The gelled image is laid on her base material face down, and then starting from the middle and working her way out, she burnishes the back of the image using a small tool. After the paper adheres to the surface, it is left to dry completely. She then sprays water on the back of the image and meticulously rubs away the wet paper with her fingers and a clean towel. Once the backing paper is completely rubbed off, the ink and base material fusion is revealed. The final image is sealed with a water and UV-resistant varnish to withstand fading and staining.
Bistra says that 90% of the materials used for her photo transfers are salvaged, reclaimed, or saved from the trash. She acquires cabinet door samples from kitchen and bath design showrooms, rejects from tile showrooms, leftover lumber from construction sites, and picks up free materials advertised on Craigslist.