Beerwah Library final outcome

Beerwah Library final outcome

At the start of the year, I shared with you the wonderful news of being shortlisted for the Beerwah Library mural. I was so thrilled to receive a phone call with the exciting news that my designs had received the most amount of votes. This was fantastic news I was invited to come in and I had a lovely meeting with the staff that runs the Sunshine Coast Libraries. We made a few adjustments and some clarifications around the proposed workshop. We were good to go. This was the chosen design.

Double news

To make sure everything was still on track I called the library. Unfortunately, the news I received wasn’t great. The funding had been pulled from the project. I was so crushed and devastated and so were my fellow shortlisted artists, the Arts curator and the wonderful people from the Sunshine Coast Council. They asked to come in for a meeting. I was very curious about what this could be. First off, they let me know they were still trying to find funding elsewhere. They told me they were so taken by the design and the story behind it that they asked me if they could use the design on the inside of the library. After a good conversation with ideas going back and forth, we decided I was going to be painting a spin-off of the original design. How amazing was that?

Indoor mural

I made a proposal for the design for the 25 meters long and 5.7-meter high wall. I made a model and presented this to the panel. They absolutely loved it and it was going to fit in very well with the planned renovations. But something threw a spanner into the works. I had an incident while ice-skating with a friend earlier in the year. I had torn off my ACL in my right knee. My ACL needed a full reconstruction and the earliest time available for the surgery was right during the renovation. This is when the library was going to be empty and scissor lifts were going to be on site. My knee needed healing and the mural got postponed a few weeks. The painters were so kind to paint the wall in my chosen background colour for my mural, which gave me a great head start.

Logistical challenges

When I was well enough to paint again we came across some logistical challenges. There now was a bookcase that was fixed to the wall. This made access to the wall very difficult. The library was also filled with new bookcases and this made access for the scissor lift very hard. With some nifty measuring and some wonderful help from the library staff, we managed to get the scissor lift through the door and through the security gates. It was a bit tricky, but I made it to the other end. I was now ready to start the 25 meters long mural.

It was a fantastic experience and the lovely comments of the staff and visitors were just amazing. Thanks for the great vibes everyone.

 

Thank you to everyone for putting up with the loud beeping of the scissor lift. It was definitely a nuisance but this couldn’t be helped.

Here is the final result for the inside of the Beerwah mural. Watch the video below how it was created.

RADF application

During my recovery from my knee reconstruction, I had some time to think about what had taken place around the outside mural. The library had attempted to find funding elsewhere, but all attempts were unsuccessful. There was too much time invested by so many people. Everyone was so devastated it go ahead in the end. I had to find a way to find funding for the project to still go ahead. I contacted the RADF team to see what type of grant I possibly could apply for. The personal development grant fitted this project perfectly. It was not going to cover all expenses, but with a little financial support from a third party, we would get pretty far.

Support

The Beerwah library was excited to hear I was not giving up and were jumped on board with some financial support. I had asked the IFYS Beerwah and PCYC Nambour if they were interested for their young people to take part in a workshop. The workshop would incorporate background and texture techniques and double at the same time as a graffiti prevention program. This would be a great way for the young people to engage in a community project. They would gain new skills and feel connected to the project and have a sense of ownership. They both didn’t hesitate to jump to the opportunity and were willing to contribute towards materials for the workshop.

I approached, Arts Connect INC., Landsborough Art StudioThe combined PROBUS club of the Glass House Mountains. They were all very supportive of the project and provided me with excellent letters of support for the Black Glossy Cockatoo mural and workshop.

Funding

My first full application for a RADF grant was now submitted and now all I had to do was wait 6 weeks to find out if my application was successful. It felt like an eternity, but the great news was worth the wait. Arts Queensland RADF were delighted to grant me the funding for the Black Glossy Cockatoo mural and workshop. Wow, did this really just happen? A bit of a proud moment here. The very next week I arrived on site to meet Julie Hauritz (Arts Curator, Sunshine Coast Council) for the site inspection. The scissor lift had already arrived just 5 minutes before I arrived as well. It was all happening. Even the sun came out. it was the perfect day to start the mural.

Time

Over the weekend I had checked what the weather would be like for the week. It was going to be fine at the start of the week and showers from Thursday. The scissor lift was hired for one week and there was no room in the budget to rent it for any longer. I needed to squeeze my hours I had planned into three days and hoping I would get it done in time. Long days it was going to be and I was fine with that. As long as the result was going to be amazing.

The mural

The painting of the mural went very smooth. I was so glad I had planned it so well and prepared all my colours ahead of time in my studio. Normally I would do this on site so I could blend the colours in the light in which the mural was going to be exposed to. But it worked out well and saved me tons of time on site. I only needed to make one small adjustment. Having visited the site several times before to get a feeling for the light and space had paid off.

During the days I was working on the mural quite a few members of the public stopped to have a look and a chat. The feedback I was receiving was so positive. They were all so happy to have such a wonderful and meaningful artwork being painted in their town. A lovely lady offered to take some photos of me while working for my records. I am now so happy that I persevered and I was able to paint the mural.

Amazing result

The mural turned out amazing. I now had completed my first public mural. Many murals have gone before this one, but they were all privately commisioned by individuals and businesses. This mural was now for a whole community to enjoy. It has beautified the town and has created community engagement. I was able to further develop my painting techniques and work towards developing my style. Seawalls and First Coast I hope to create murals with one day. I hope this mural is one step closer to further develop myself as a successful street artist.

Workshop

A few weeks after the mural was completed the texture and background workshop took place. Kylie from IFYS arrived just as I was setting up. We patiently waited for her young people to arrive, but they never did. Something had happened the week before and therefore there was more police presence in Beerwah. This had spooked the young people and they were nowhere to be seen. Right on time, the bus with the PCYS S.W.A.G crew showed up and we got started with the workshop.

History

I kicked off the workshop with some graffiti and street art history. So they learned the importance of storytelling through art. Instead of focussing on the negative aspects of tagging and graffiti I focussed on the positives. By showing them some very successful street artists and their work. And most importantly on how these people got to become so good. Recently I met street artist DOES who I have been following for many years and seen him develop into a very meticulous and innovative artist. I showed the young people his visual diary and videos of him at work. They could see the many years of practicing writing letters that have gone into his work. And that keeping a visual diary is a better option than tagging someone’s property.

Experimentation

It was an inspirational moment for the young people and they were keen to get started. They had to find inspiration in shapes, patterns and materials they could find on site. Then they could use these materials and stencils and implements I had brought along, to experiment with. I was there to assist, encourage and keep them focused on the task at hand. They showed amazing engagement and really got stuck in trying all sorts of different ways of creating textures. Just before lunch they prepped their canvasses ready to paint their canvasses based on their best experiments.

Demonstration

During lunch, I gave them an aerosol demo. I showed them some simple ways to creates a few different textures and patterns and gave them some tips on how to make their work pop. By using contrasting colours and a couple of highlights, this can really make a piece come to life.

 

Their masterpiece

Now it was time to create their own masterpieces starting with applying the background made up of patterns or textures. They got to finish off their work by adding the final layer with aerosol. They really pulled out all stops and did a wonderful job. I am very proud of their efforts. Seeing all of them out of their comfort zone and so engaged was really great. One very successful workshop.

 

Success!!

This project was a complete success. Thanks to all the support and participation by everyone involved. I couldn’t have done it without you. A special thank you to:

  • Sunshine Coast Council
  • Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF)
  • Arts Queensland
  • Beerwah Library
  • Arts Connect INC.
  • Landsborough Art Studio
  • The combined PROBUS club of the Glass House Mountains
  • PCYC Nambour (SWAG)
  • IFYS Beerwah
  • Lyndon Davis (Gubbi Gubbi)
The Role of Street Art in City Branding Strategies

The Role of Street Art in City Branding Strategies

Street Art in City Branding – My essay for University

Twenty percent of travellers increase the length Street Art in City Branding of their visit to cities because of an art or cultural event (Bartholomew, 2017). Vivid Sydney (Light, Music & Ideas Festival) had 700.000 more people visit in one year than came to the Sydney Olympics, cost 100 times less than the Olympics and demonstrates that art has a key role in the profitability of a city (Bartholomew, 2017). Many urban cities use street art festivals in their aggressive re-branding strategies to be considered a creative city (Banet-Weiser, 2011) and to raise profitability for the corporate sponsors (Okano, 2010). It can be argued that corporations are co-opting street art in two ways. First, festivals are used as a selling strategy to raise profitability for corporate sponsors. In this case, street art is no longer an initiative of the artist but of the developer (Schacter, 2014). The second influence allows cities to rebrand themselves as creative cities. However, this raises issues between the branding of creativity and the Authentic (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Authentic meaning contrary to generic and is used in relation to actual buildings, people, history, autobiographical stories and the real place of value and meaning (Banet-Weiser, 2011).

First, as a selling strategy corporate sponsors use festivals to raise profitability for corporate sponsors (Okano, 2010). Cities have begun making new policies in the name of urban revitalization. They are discovering which aspects encourage creativity and raise profitability for corporate sponsors (Okano, 2010). Street art festivals have been the main delivery system for these creative practices (Schacter, 2014) and have become the main branding tool for creative cities (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Street art festivals are one of the innovative industries that are marketed to be public art events but are private art festivals in disguise. They use a regulated form of covering up political yet impartial loaded graffiti thus losing authenticity but gaining aesthetically pleasing designs. This act indicates a great deal of power, it makes street art without the street and therefore it is no longer considered public art, but private art. See as an example the mural by Drapl and Treas in Russell Street as part of the First Coat Festival in Toowoomba (Figure 1). These designs are in line with the brief to complement the conceptualization of a creative city and are mostly anodyne and meaningless murals. The benefits of street art festivals fit perfectly within the creative city structure and revitalize public spaces (Schacter, 2014). Due to the continuously changing artworks keep people coming back to get a feel-good hit (Bartholomew, 2017). Street art invites the community to engage with the artwork and has the power to bring back a feeling of community cohesion and purpose (Conklin, 2012). The outcome is an increased quality of life value for the community (Okano, 2010). International street artists are contracted by the street art festivals. They are role models that add strong work and their presence is an educational tool for local street art talent (Daichendt, 2013). However, street art festivals cause inequality and injustice within creative cities by contracting internationally renowned artist over local artists and focus on what is good for the creative city, but not what is important (Schacter, 2014) according to local artists and residents. Street art festivals need careful contemplation as it brings an exuberant art scene. They also help increase tourism to cities at the same time they are significant artistic beacons. With caution, free walls might be the answer as it gives the youth a place to express themselves (Conklin, 2012).

An example of Street Art in City Branding. This is a mural by Drapl.
Figure 1. Drapl and Treas, Russell St. Toowoomba, http://www.southernqueenslandcountry.com.au/destinations/toowoomba/journeys/first-coat-festival-street-art-toowoomba#tabs1 (accessed 14 August 2017)

While the developers use street art festivals to raise profits it also attracts the Creative Class people. To build creative cities, a city needs to attract the “Creative Class” people as termed by Richard Florida (2003, 283). Street art is a place marketing tool used to attract Creative Class (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Street art is considered a high-quality experience that the Creative Class identifies with and uses to authenticate themselves (Florida, 2003). It is the Creative Class and their ability to collaborate between and within fields of advertising and street art that enable the branding of the creative city (Banet-Weiser, 2011). The Creative Class are essentially strangers or newcomers to a city and are necessary for the development of a creative city (Okano, 2010). Their input must be valued as this is the core to become not just a multi-culturalism but an inter-culturalism society. After the creative class migrates to a city, corporations soon follow (Florida, 2003), boosting the media, arts and cultural industries which stimulate tourist trade. Wynwood in Florida is a successful example. See before and after images of a Wynwood street (figure 2+3). After the first street art festivals, housing and consumption venues were established and artists lofts and gallery spaces were converted from old warehouses and multistory factories. The creative class moved in substantial numbers (Feldman, 2011). Soon after, the corporate world took over the city to align with global acceptance of street art. New technologies and social media allowed the street artists to develop their own artistic brand (Banet-Weiser, 2011). They could now reach far more people than ever before. This reach demonstrates the creativity of the city globally and attracts tourists.

Street Art in City Branding Wynwood before murals Street Art in City Branding. Wynwood after murals.
Figure 2+3: Wynwood before and after, http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/in-photos-ten-miami-neighborhoods-that-have-changed-the-most-in-the-past-decade-8480285 (accessed 14 August 2017)

However, street art is no longer the initiative of the artist and have left artists concerned with the development of creative cities. They have started to rebel against the bullying power of commercial interest. Street artists such as Smear took the matter into their own hands and started selling their works to private collectors (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Demand for this style of art increased and in turn boosted the recognition of the aesthetics of street art and the artists. Street artists have made a name for themselves in the branded world. As street artists were already considered to be Authentic, their work has become a brand itself. This has not only authorized but also normalized the practice of self-branding (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Self-branded artists such as Banksy, Obey and Sheppard Fairey showcased their brand not just on the street, but also in galleries around the world. Instead of street artists appropriating the commercial world their work is now being appropriated by the advertising world (Banet-Weiser, 2011). In one example, Levi saw this as an opportunity to use the brand Obey of the artist, Sheppard Fairey, to design a street art inspired line. To celebrate the collaboration Sheppard was invited to paste up his signature posters in front of the Levi store (figure 4). Levi did not just build their own brand but also built on the brand of the artist in a convergence between authenticity and the commercial (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Levi made the connection between place and profit with branding as focus, thus place marketing. In other words, this form of advertising has become a branded commodity or a tool for relating products and place into one aesthetically attractive entity (Schacter, 2014). It raises the question if street artists have traded profits over authenticity and if they have become deceitful of their art.

 Street Art in City Branding. Fairey mural, Obey in Time Square.
Figure 4: Fairey, Sheppard, Levi’s Times Square Mural, 2009, poster paste-up, http://arrestedmotion.com/2009/11/streets-shepard-fairey-x-levis-time-square-mural/img_1673_finished_mural_a/ (accessed 6 August 2017)

Although cities are rebranding themselves to be creative cities, street artists rejected and critiqued the privatization of city resources and diminishing public spaces. They interrogated the role of public space (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Within the branded city street artists used their creative practice to counter-brand. World-renowned street artist Banksy summed up the advertising vs street art dispute. He highlighted that while artists are penalized for using public spaces, why it is justified in the name of profit (Banet-Weiser, 2011). Thus, growing tension between corporate and authentic street art needs to be governed and managed to ensure that street art does not lose its authenticity (Banet-Weiser, 2011). The significance of authentic street art validates real places of cultural importance by adding aesthetic, historical, social and potentially scientific values in the form of abstract history (Merrill, 2014). Street Art and corporations are symbiotic and support an authentic yet commercial divide. Artists and the art market are both involved in the strategic blending of street art to market logics and art aesthetics (Viconti, 2010).

So, street art, including graffiti, is a vital attribute for the creative city. It may be a contentious statement, but graffiti is a necessity. However, the new Authentic Creative City obscures the True Authentic native community that might have lived in these areas for many decades. The privatization and revitalising of building creative cities see developers as the initiator in the acquisition of street artists. This process seems to overlook local needs and conceals the intricacy of the local community. Schacter (2014) describes how long-time residents of the town of Wynwood in Florida started to feel estranged to the edgy look and feel of their own precinct. With the increased arrival of creatives and tourists, the locals could only watch on as local businesses, that provided employment and the very sense of community, were eradicated. They found themselves estranged from their local community and eventually pushed out of their homes (Schacter, 2014).

In conclusion, street art and street art festivals are a necessity for creative cities to keep drawing in the creative class people and tourists with an exuberant art scene. Street art and street art festivals are used as a selling strategy to raise profitability for the corporate sponsors and allow cities to rebrand themselves as part of the globally recognised creative cities. In turn, this has allowed the initiative to become the role of the developer not the inspiration of the artist. This change in relationship demands new policies to create a balance within public spaces. The changes in the role of street art from aesthetic to commercial have seen the convergence of the commercial and the authentic using each other in the branded city for profitability. Street art has an important role in place making and place marketing and profitability.

As I was writing my essay for my current Unit at Uni, I looked over one of my previous essays about street art. I was checking on what I hit and what I missed. As I am reading over it, I thought, hummmm, this is actually a good read….. So, I thought to share it with you. 

References

Banet-Weiser, Sarah. 2011. “Convergence on the Street: Rethinking the Authentic/Commercial Binary.” Cultural Studies 25 (4-5): 641-658. doi: 10.1080/09502386.2011.600553.

Bartholomew, Meg. 2017. “Public Art: The Feel-Good Hit That Makes Us Linger – And Spend Money.” The Guardian, 20 June. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/20/public-art-the-feel-good-hit-that-makes-us-linger-and-spend-money?mc_cid=398432ce9b&mc_eid=c84521bce8.

Conklin, Tiffany Renee. 2012. “Street Art, Ideology, and Public Space.”
Master’s Thesis, Portland State University. https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/1079366849?accountid=10382.

Daichendt, James, G. 2013. “Artist-Driven Initiatives for Art Education: What We Can Learn from Street Art.” Art Education 66 (5): 6-12. https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/1437172106?accountid=10382.

Feldman, Marcos. 2011. “The Role of Neighborhood Organizations in the Production of Gentrifiable Urban Space: The Case of Wynwood, Miami’s Puerto Rican Barrio.” PhD Thesis. Florida International University. https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/952535756?accountid=10382.

Florida, Richard. 2003. The Rise of the Creative Class. North Melbourne: Pluto Press Australia.

Merrill, Samuel. 2015. “Keeping it Real? Subcultural Graffiti, Street Art, Heritage and Authenticity.” International Journal of Heritage Studies: 369-389. doi: 10.1080/13527258.2014.934902.

Okano, Hiroshi, and Danny Samson. 2010. “Cultural Urban Branding and Creative Cities: A Theoretical Framework for Promoting Creativity in the Public Spaces.” Cities 27: 10-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2010.03.005.

Schacter, Rafael. 2014. “The Ugly Truth: Street Art, Graffiti and the Creative City.” Art & the Public Sphere 3 (2): 161-176. doi: 10.1386/aps.3.2.161_1.

Visconti, Luca M., John F Sherry Jr., Stefania Borghini and Laurel Anderson. 2010. “Street Art, Sweet Art? Reclaiming the ‘Public’ in Public Place.” Journal of Consumer Research 37 (3): 511-529. doi: 10.1086/652731.