1. Please tell us about who you are and what you do.
My name is Stefana Inczeffi Duma and I was born in Satu-Mare. I moved with my family to Cluj-Napoca at the age of 4. Then I moved to Bucharest, at the age of 18. I have an artistic personality, I’ve always found some peace of mind in the visual arts. The fractal aspect of this Universe is a constant preoccupation for my eyes that are in a never-ending search for balance. I’ve found a special bond with nature. For me, nature means everything that has a heart and a heart can be owned even by a plant or a moment in space, not only by the creatures that inherit this planet. I believe that friendship with nature is one of the most important things in life. I had this one friendship made a mark on me, and that was with Jack – a West Highland White Terrier. My Westie, my partner in crime, my comrade, my true friend. We’ve shared too many moments together throughout these wonderful 13 years, as I’m sure many of you who had or have a domestic pet can understand. He was always present, for better or for worse. His eyes were like ancestral gates that led me to some parts of nature’s ways. It might sound a bit too lyrical, but he helped me open my naïve eyes towards the rules and laws that keep this world going. Or at least I perceived it that way. At some point in my life, I knew my place would be about helping others understand the divinity, loyalty and love of nature on this Earth. So I made a promise to my friend, that I will find a way to spread the word. Now, I am professionaly a visual artist, also an interior architect and I am soon to become a traditional animator.
2. Share your backstory with us. How did your business or organisation come about and what was it that switched you on to this area in the first place?
The founding of “Stefy’s Shelter for painted friends” is a long story, but here’s the short version of it:
When choosing a university, I didn’t really know what I wanted to be, but I knew it had to be about drawing. The most prestigious one for me in Bucharest, that also included drawing, was “Ion Mincu” University of Architecture and Urbanism. To be honest, when I found out about architecture, it impressed me right away. I am immensely grateful to my professors. I loved learning about both diversity and unity throughout all the centuries of our existence. Thanks to “Mincu”, I travelled across almost all of Europe and I had the opportunity to see for myself many historic and contemporary marvels that I would otherwise not had the chance to see. But something about architecture didn’t click: the technical part. A less satisfactory part for me, personally, because it doesn’t have a heart at all. I had to wake up from my architectural culture dream and remember what I wanted to do. After 4 years of Architecture, I transferred myself to another department of the university: Interior Design Architecture. Here, the projects were much closer to my tastes (it’s more about creating moments and atmosphere). I finished the Masters in Interior Architecture. During my last 2 years at uni, I tried remembering about myself. I even tried making an underground punk band with some friends and we played a couple of concerts. Finally, I remembered! Drawing is my passion! I decided I wanted to be a traditional animator – this way, I could make other people understand at least a small part of what I feel about nature. I started studying anatomy, as vigorously as I learned German on my own. Not only anatomy, but film-making and painting as well (Aaron Blaise is my spiritual mentor, I must say!). This winter, I will start the courses for traditional animation, at the Don Bluth University. Until I will get the chance to work on an animated story, I am offering people portraits of their loved-ones or memories dear to them, through Stefy’s Shelter.
3. What do you think or hope the future has in store for you and your business? Where do you see yourself or your organisation five years from now?
I really can’t imagine what will happen in the future, but I know Stefy’s Shelter is one of the many projects I will have from now on. I will take care of each one with great passion!
4. How has lockdown been for you and for your business and what have you done that has helped you personally and professionally?
With Jack’s farewell right at the beginning of the lockdown, I felt everything really heavily, especially through the mourning period. But having to stay at home raised my productivity 100%. It was the only way I could relax. I finally managed to break away from the art lessons and tutorials and I started working on my personal portfolio. This also helped me to create my business. I also have my family and Nina by my side now. She is a wonderful German Shepherd, blessed among others. She will help me spread the love, in my quest for nature.
5. What’s your take on Bucharest and Romania. What are the highs and the lows in your opinion?
Being a true Romanian, I will start with the lows. I think the most negative aspect of this country is the quality of the educational system. From my point of view, a good education is a basic need in order to understand the surrounding world. And there are a few big gaps in ours. As for the better parts, Romania is like an undiscovered treasure! It has so many different layers of culture, architecture, tradition and life! It’s a mix like a wonderful geode rock! The cumulative process of other cultures bumping and crashing on our lands throughout the history, blending all together, makes it impossible for Romania to not have a strong identity wherever you look. Latin blood flows through our veins! Dancing and singing are a big part of our lives. We are romantic and also dramatic. As for Bucharest, I have high hopes it will become a beautiful and mighty European capital, among the others, with all its historical layers that fought for supremacy during the years.
6. What is your must do/must visit/favorite thing to do or show off to visitors here in Bucharest and Romania at large?
Everyone in Bucharest must experience a live underground concert! We have an immense community, from young to old ones, that share some quality time together under the lights of some talented musical bands that share the stage. Fabrica and Quantic in Bucharest are like CBGB’s for me. As for Romania, I love going every winter at Poiana Brasov. I am a passionate skier and I think this is the best skiing resort we have. I also like the city underneath these slopes. Nevertheless, we have so much unique sceneries to explore during the rest of the year in the whole country.
7. What is your number 1 recommendation now for a book/film/series/app/ or gadget?
Alright, my number 1 books: Shogun, by James Clavell; White Fang, by Jack London; Alone in the World, by Hector Malot.
Among the many films I like, some favourites are: Spirited Away, by Hayao Miyazaki; Amelie, by Jean-Pierre Jeunet; Only Lovers Left Alive, by Jim Jarmusch. As for series, I highly recommend Naruto, by Masashi Kishimoto. I also like Find Me in Paris, by Cottonwood Media.
I think Lime is a pretty cool app.
The seriously awesome number 1 gadget is the Wacom Cintiq drawing tablet.
8. If you could eat in any restaurant in all of Romania and have dinner with anyone in the world (not a husband/wife/relative) which restaurant would that be and with which person?
I would have to choose a wonderful dinner party at Palatul Mogosoaia restaurant, with Walt Disney, Steve Irwin, Sir David Attenborough, Claude Monet and Meryl Streep at the same table. And perhaps Jamie Oliver could cook for us?
9. Sum up your business in one sentence, what it is and why should people engage with it.
“Stefy’s Shelter for painted friends” frames a moment of your friend or close memory and keeps it forever on this Earth, as a photo-realistic painting: it can be done digitally or with charcoal on cardboard (also, watercolors on paper in the cartoony style).
10. Describe your Romania in one word.