Using technology to create — and to make people think

Kolev, an artist and computer science major, found his bliss at Yale by following multiple intellectual and creative avenues.
Kaloyan Kolev

Kaloyan Kolev (Photo by Anna Zhang)

It is folly, perhaps, to attempt to categorize or encapsulate the creative force that is Kaloyan Kolev.

Kolev, a graduating senior at Pauli Murray majoring in computer science, is a coder, a composer, a graphic designer, an essayist, and a video editor. He is an afficionado of forgotten disco songs, synthesizers, plunderphonics, Internet culture, and the Eurasian golden oriole. Above all, he is a proud Bulgarian.

Kaloyan Kolev performing a DJ set
Kaloyan Kolev performs a DJ set. (Photo by Mira Genkovska)

I like to use technology to make things, to make art, that makes people think,” Kolev said.

Although he’d never set foot in the United States before coming to Yale for his first semester in August 2019, some online research gave him a sense that Yale was a place where he could follow each of his intellectual passions equally. And that proved to be the case, he said.

Kolev is co-president of the undergraduate design studio Design at Yale. He works on strategy and content design at Mental Canvas, a drawing software platform founded by Yale computer science professor Julie Dorsey. He is a team leader at the Student Technology Collaborative, leading a subgroup (called STC Studios) that creates visual identities for Yale clubs, academic departments, and startups.

I found academic freedom here,” Kolev said. “My friends and I started Design at Yale during my first year. Our idea was to do fun design interventions around campus, and I think we’ve had some real impact. That has been a very meaningful experience for me.”

Another experience that meant a great deal to me was a computer science course I took, called ‘Creative Embedded Systems.’ Every week, you made a machine out of components you were given. I feel like now I can make anything,” he said.

This summer, Kolev will return to Sofia, Bulgaria, to see his family, write songs for a pop singer he knows, and compose music for a play. He also has an art exhibition going up. Then he’ll return to the U.S. to take a fulltime job at Mental Canvas, which is based in New York.

I tell first-year students, there’s a way to do Yale where you can still get eight hours of sleep every night, take classes you enjoy, and make it a blissful four years of your life that’s centered around intellectual curiosity, making things for the sake of making them, and getting to know yourself,” he said.

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