He paints since he was a child and before finishing high school he organized his first exhibition. He took participation in the WWI and then became a teacher. In 1920 he arrived in Sofia and presented an exhibition. A month later he was accepted in the National Arts Academy.
The artist is best known for his paintings. Milev was inspired by the traditional culture but also by the Christian tradition and imagery of decorativeness and color characteristic of the mural decoration and iconography. Though he does not live long, Ivan Milev managed to create a rich and diverse creativity, thus becoming one of the most emblematic Bulgarian artists.