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HUMANS OF ISP: The People in our Community

Stories have the power to connect us, empower us, and teach us.  Here at ISP, we are a diverse and international community with so many beautiful stories to tell – stories of our families, our passions, our challenges, and our triumphs. Humans of ISP will give a glimpse into the lives of some of the many interesting people of ISP. 

Students, parents, teachers, alumni, share your story with us ( and let’s keep building connections across our ISP community. 

For our first HUMANS of ISP feature, please meet Petr Dimitrov, our middle school art teacher, otherwise known as Mr. D. Walking into Petr’s classroom is like entering another dimension – one where interesting objects plaster every wall, and color and creativity reign. Click here to find out what has kept Petr at ISP for 17 years, why he loves teaching middle school, how he has become obsessed with “Left-overs”, and about his current art show in Sweden!

Interview with Petr Dimitrov, Middle School Visual Arts Teacher

You are a human who has been at ISP for a very long time!  What has kept you here – what do you like about working at ISP?

I’ve been here for 17 years!  ISP has always been the kind of school where there’s a lot of freedom and trust, as well as accountability, in place. I have a lot of autonomy to do what I like and what I find is the best for kids. For me, my classroom, the middle school, and ISP in general, is a place of possibilities. If there’s an idea or a new concept emerging, I can always make it happen in the classroom – alone or with my colleagues.  

I also love my space. It’s not just a classroom, it’s also kind of my art studio. This space feels like home –  sometimes I call it my kingdom. I’m grateful to be coming here every morning.

Tell me more about your teaching philosophy.

Middle school is a fun age where students are bridging childlike expression to a more adult expression. I try to equip students with multiple tools, techniques, and an understanding of visual language.  We do a lot of 2-dimensional art and also 3-dimensional expression like sculpting with non-traditional materials and upcycling.  Working with stencils, and random scraps is interesting to me, and printmaking has always been my happy place. 

Can you tell us more about your artistic process?

I love books, I’ve always loved books, so I often end up using my art for creating books. For me, art is always for the sake of making – for the process and the pleasure of making it.  Even when I am busy, I draw every day from observation – even if it’s just five minutes. 

I think it’s important for students to see their teacher walking the walk, so I also work in my kingdom alongside the kids.  They can see me working on the same assignment as them, and often I will leave out bits and pieces of my own art that are in progress, so they can ask questions about my process. 

We hear you have a special project happening right now! Can you tell us about it?

Yes, I can’t wait for it! It’s been like a long time coming. My friend and teaching colleague Eric – whom I met through teacher training –  and I are putting together a show in Gothenburg, Sweden.  He’s a printmaker, and also has a background in making paper and creating site specific installations. He’s always looking for what’s new, so he’s doing a lot of laser cutting and engraving lately. 

Our creative collaboration started as an impromptu weekend in his basement a few years back where we just printed for two days and two nights. We produced some really cohesive stuff together and decided we needed to do more, so we applied for this exhibition spot in a gallery  in Gothenburg, Sweden (@grafikivast) – where Eric lives. 

The project is happening this week! We set up the theme to be “Leftovers”, as we both have so many leftover materials from other projects.  What we’re doing now is bringing all these materials together – I packed 22 kilos of leftover materials! We have this one week to use these materials to build the show. Eric booked a community art space – KKV GBG (@kkvgbg) for the week, with an incredible array of printmaking tools and equipment and we’re just going to roll with it. We’ll see what’s going to happen.

Can we follow the process?

Yes. I’m posting daily updates on my Instagram so the community can follow the process.  I’m also sending videos to be shown to my students during their art classes. I want them to see what we’ve been up to, and learn from the creative decisions and collaborative processes happening. And of course, whatever I can bring back, I will share. 

Do you have any advice for young artists?

I think that it’s important to make art for the sake of it – that your first and foremost motivation should be simply to create. And then – if you get a chance to share that work, that’s brilliant, but at the same time, if it doesn’t happen, then it just doesn’t happen. So, I would say – despite it sounding very cliche, do what you have to do because you can’t imagine not doing it. And because there are these urges that something – a feeling, a moment, an idea – just needs to be captured one way or another, be it from the tiniest thing to something a little bit more complex.