The teenage protagonist in my young adult verse novel is a street artist. For a few months, I’ve been researching street art from my laptop, unable to go out past my 5k zone into the city. And as much as Ms Google and Mr YouTube shared their vast stores of information with me, it wasn’t quite the same as experiencing street art in person. So last weekend, I ventured out – my first post lockdown excursion – to research Melbourne’s street art scene with a tour from Blender Studios.
Our guide, Kaspar, a street artist, was both knowledgeable and entertaining. We started with Hosier Lane, Melbourne’s only legal place for street art. I really loved Kaspar’s bird – the cocked yellow head against the darker feathers.
We walked around the corner, saw Lushsux’s peeling Yoda, the paint peeling thanks to previous artists’ paste-ups put up with wheat paste. We also admired an ostrich Elvis by John Murray, as well as an installation wall.
The tour finished at Blender Studios, with a chance to look at the artists’ works in progress, admire Kaspar’s skateboard art, see a few more winged creatures on the walls.
I kept my phone out for the entire tour, taking notes, taking photos. Kaspar patiently answered my many questions about grids, techniques, stencils caps, cans, community service and so on.
Full of my research and inspiration, I rewrote another draft of my novel in three days, focusing on the street art thread, before sending it on to my agent.
It was so wonderful to be out and about, talking to experts, seeing the art up close but also stepping back to admire it from a distance. My experience totally energised my writing, adding a lot more detail and nuance.
Talking with Kaspar, meeting a couple of other artists at the studio, all led to a greater understanding and appreciation of this art form which gives so much vibrancy to Melbourne.
Blender Studios run street art tours in the city as well as spray can classes where you can take home your own art. I must confess to doing a bit of Christmas shopping in the studio…
While I’m a writer, I love learning from other art forms and other types of artists. The other participant on the tour with me was an engineer who took a week off work to focus on his acting. Creativity in all forms, all mediums – sprayed with the tshhh from a can, lines delivered with presence, sculpture shaped from clay, a quilt designed with an intuitive sense of colour and pattern, a meal presented with care and attention to detail, a violin solo with a grace note – it all inspires me.