Born July 20, 1961 in Plovdiv. He graduated from the Art School in the town of Smolyan and specialty "Painting" at Veliko Tarnovo University "St. St. Cyril and Methodius ". For a short time he worked as a teacher at the School of Applied Arts in Tryavna, then worked as a freelance artist. She lives and works in Plovdiv.
Over the years, Iliya Zhelev has made dozens of solo exhibitions in the country and abroad, being especially popular in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. His paintings are owned by private collections in Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, USA, Canada, New Zealand, UK, Turkey.
Ilia Zhelev works in the field of abstract painting in her own recognizable style. His work is strongly influenced on the one hand by Bulgarian folklore and on the other by the classical modern European art.