The original shop pLOVEdiv Gallery in Plovdiv is popular both with locals and tourists. It has very high Facebook and Tripadvisor rankings and defined as one of the interesting must-visit places in Plovdiv and free things to do in Plovdiv. People come there to buy t-shirts by local designers and attend workshops of creative practitioners and simply learn about local crafts.
Sharing love through creative ideas
Five years ago, Gallery was part of an ambitious project launched to promote the quarter Kapana as an area with various museums and galleries that among others offer many free things to do in Plovdiv. But the location, in general, has failed to live up to this status and has become just an art quarter famous for its commissioned mural paintings. But not for a wide variety of creative places to visit, as planned initially.
I came across Gallery and learned its history during the recent Free Plovdiv Graffiti Tour, my guide suggested the pLOVEdiv Gallery as one of the most original but somewhat underestimated must-visit places in Plovdiv. More details are in my previous post.
‘Gallery’s made it because all its projects have focused on the needs of the local community’, – points out Simeon Todorov, the owner of Gallery, a professional artist, and photographer. The idea of the unique for Bulgaria business is based on Todorov’s experience gained abroad and his creative collaborations with local art and social organizations.
By putting pLOVEdiv Gallery on the map of Bulgaria, its owner Simeon Todorov emphasizes that his native town is also willing to compete for the attention of tourists with the two most famous Bulgarian cities, Sofia and Varna known for a large number of creative products.
The unusual name of the projects pLOVEdiv highlights its creative nature. The word Love emphasizes the inhabitants’ admiration and respect for the arts. The main reason for such an original wordplay is to demonstrate that Plovdiv can offer more than traditionally featured in travel brochures the 7 hills, the Ancient Theatre and the Old Town.
Flexibility is at the core of the business
On the first floor, Simeon sells funny t-shirts decorated by local designers. Each collection is a limited edition of colourful garments with original designs. For instance, the slogan ‘Make Plovediv NOT Warna’ reflects the long-lasting competition between the two major Bulgarian cities, Plovdiv and Varna. The amusing pun urges people to favour Plovdiv, the historical-cultural centre, but not Varna, the major summer resort.
The second floor consists of spacious rooms used for workshops and seminars. Except for the regular weekly meetings for art lovers, there have been a lot of occasional lectures on men’s health, women’s rights, comic books, etc.
Simeon applies a flexible approach to each project. New artists who organize their first exhibitions can rent the area for free. As a professional artist himself, Todorov has decided to single out this category of collaborators because he realizes the importance of the initial support for creative projects. He welcomes different art styles, ideas and ages of the artists.
Interestingly, Simeon doesn’t regard the creative people he backs as competitors but rather as fellow artists that contribute to the development of Plovdiv as a creative city.
Todorov considers creative collaborations as the key aspect of his business success and the prosperity of his hometown. He believes that various partnerships in the best way possible help to find mutually beneficial, viable and innovative ways of doing business with like-minded people.
This, in turn, provides a solid basis for sustaining the image of Plovdiv as a European Capital of Culture not only during the Year it held the status but in the years to come as well.