Jasmine Khan, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Recently, when the BTS wall mural was revealed in the Pacific Mall, Pitampura, New Delhi; fans of the global phenomenon and one of the biggest music scenes in the world; were pleasantly surprised and they rejoiced. Within no time, the words were spread, and more and more love and support started outpouring for this gesture within the Hallyu loving community in India. So we, at Hallyuism, reached out to the creative team behind this project to know more about this refreshing amalgamation of music, Pop-art, and culture. Here’s an excerpt from the interview with the Founder of Delhi Street Art; Mr. Yogesh Saini.
Let’s talk about your team Delhi Street Art first. Please introduce us to your team members and tell us how did this project/venture was conceptualised?
Regarding our team, Delhi Street Art is eight years old as an organisation and we started out with painting garbage cans in Lodhi Garden back in 2013. Many of our team members have joined us over years. Some of them are Art graduates, some are art enthusiasts, some are self-taught artists. The whole idea came about while looking at the public spaces in Delhi to start with and see how we could both bring some art to the open spaces and also give the artists an opportunity to experiment with new endeavours and on very different kinds of canvases.
What all initial preparations do you usually do before working on any street art/wall mural concept? Does it require any special permission from any authorities?
Before getting started with any street art mural, we have to make sure we have the permissions for the location. We obviously have to put the designs together both from concept to final design and if there is a client involved or if there is commission work, we get their approval for the design that we are going to paint. The permissions from authorities are needed usually in the case of public walls which are under the jurisdiction, municipal corporations or some other organisation in any city. We also often need to have permission from the local traffic police in case you are working on streets or especially if working at nights. All of that has to be in place because we also have to figure out the logistics such as what paints we need, what kind of materials we need, who are the artists to best execute the designs that we have to create.
Please let us know the creative process behind your street art and wall murals. How does your team coordinate? Do you also require volunteers for the same? Or hire artists?
We often invite volunteers to join us for our public art events which we do sometimes at school or at open spaces. But, when it comes to a professional finished artwork which is usually a commissioned artwork like the one at the Pacific Mall recently, that typically does not include amateur artists or volunteers. Our core team works together to execute it from start to finish.
Talking about the recent wall mural of the global and phenomenal K-Pop artist BTS, that Delhi Street Art has done, is creating a positive buzz among the Korean culture and K-Pop fans. How did the idea related to doing a large-scale BTS wall mural come up?
The idea for creating the BTS mural artwork at the Pacific Mall came up jointly at the conceptual design discussions between the Pacific Mall and Delhi Street Art team. We were all keen to do something which was closely tied to music, art, culture, and we looked at a lot of Pop and Rock artists as the likely featured artists who we would feature on the wall, and then suddenly the idea came that why not take on the young boy band that speaks of the pop art sensation and who would appeal a lot more to the younger audience and visitors of the mall.
Please give us a walkthrough of the creative process behind this wall mural at the Pacific Mall in Pitampura, New Delhi? Were there any challenges to executing it or any memorable experience?
The wall mural of the BTS was completed within a week. Our team of five to seven different artists from Delhi Street Art worked on it. The design was already approved by the mall, then we went about creating the sketches and details. A bit of the challenge was simply to do with the open nature of the mall where people were constantly going in or out. While it was good for them to interact with the artwork while it was being made, sometimes we would have to keep them off the area where it was scaffolding keeping their safety in mind.
BTS has a diverse fanbase called ARMY all over the world across different ages and it’s been quite a time the group has achieved immense popularity and visibility in India as well through their social message and meaningful music that resonate with a lot of people. How do you describe this amalgamation of music with art under your #walkstreet project and how has the overall feedback been ever since the wall mural was revealed?
So the idea behind #walkstreet at the Pacific Mall was to create a space where obviously as the name suggests people could walk around like a street in Delhi. There are food counters, there are live entertainment during evenings, or on the weekends, and other interactive shows are also happening there. So it’s kind of like a festive spirit and tied to that came the execution of some very visually interesting artworks which would also anchor a lot of people and draw them towards the far corners of the walk street. That’s where the BTS mural plays a big part because it is visible from right across the passage where people walk towards it. So in case, people get an opportunity to see some of the artworks, they can do their own live gigs and lipsyncing and make videos in front of the iconic piece of work which is what they have been doing and posting a lot on social media ever since the artwork got completed.
As a creative and meaningful endeavour such as yours, please share with us the vision of Delhi Street Art?
Delhi Street Art was founded eight years ago with the vision of bringing art to as many people as possible by means of public and street art and to not only add aesthetic beauty to outer spaces but also to bring about a sense of belonging and ownership among people for public spaces so they keep it cleaner and better organised and become in a way more attractive for people to walk around whether its a sidewalk or whether near slums or near schools. So, along with the beautification, there are usually subtle messages which get across regardless of what the artwork is. We don’t usually spell out the social messages or slogans but people can interpret the artwork and see if there are any hidden messages about education, knowledge, science, technology, space, or just any other social issue. And that’s kind of how is our vision to continue doing what we do and we are already been involved in over 20 cities in the country and we hope that we will keep growing.
Being a pioneer in public art display, Delhi Street Art is a start-up and a social enterprise established in 2013, focusing on graffiti and street art for the artists and community. How would you describe your journey till now? Please share with us some of your most impactful projects and the intention behind them.
Some of our most impactful projects have been where we got maximum participation of the audience for whom the artworks were intended. Be it a slum or be it a children school which may or may not even have furniture in it or be it a city. In terms of schools, we have done literally hundreds of schools which are either government or government-aided or sometimes with no aid whatsoever, they just run as a small collection of floormat and a few teachers under a metro pillar. So when the kids get involved there is a sense of ownership of what they are doing along with us so they like to not only preserve it but over time make it better. We had some of the experience working with the inmates of Tihar and Mandoli jails, where the artwork we created with them was later extended by interiors of prison facilities. We do similar stuff in slums like Raghubir Nagar where over a hundred homes were painted by us.
How are the dynamics of street art and contemporary art changing in India? To what extent it has attracted the youth and young minds of today? How do you think Delhi Street Art’s influence plays a role in the same?
Street Art dynamics is definitely changing and evolving and that’s the real constant about street art. So to speak, we have attracted thousands and thousands of young artists and art enthusiasts over the last eight years who joined our events in public spaces. I think eight years ago it was difficult to find a lot of people interested in volunteering for example for beautifying a public space or cleaning up a somewhat dirty area or adding or embellishing areas such as a garbage dump. Today, we have so many young volunteers who sign up with us constantly asking and trying to find where they can join us and participate in the process. I think it has been a massive transformation in less than a decade and I think it is going to continue that way.
Since Delhi Street Art is a social enterprise, could you please brief us on how do you fund the projects that are done in public space?
So we fund our projects in two different ways; our commission works which are with the paying clients. Obviously, that’s how we are able to generate some revenues which sustain our social projects and works which typically we are lucky if we can cover their costs, and if not then Delhi Street Art chips in with whatever is required to make them a reality. So in another word, we generate our own capital, we don’t borrow take any donation per se and we use that capital to also take care of our social engagement and sometimes even the areas that we want to create the artworks in the community entirely on our own with no corporate or NGO involvement whatsoever.
Are there any career possibilities to explore as a street or graffiti artist for the budding artists in India, since it’s still a pretty much niche area of creativity?
Many of our artists have gone on to become entrepreneurs doing wall arts, street arts and creatives in their own right. And we feel we have given a lot of emphasis to this kind of opportunity to many young people. There is a career which people can make out of it and more likely as like entrepreneur and small business folks interested in working with restaurants, gyms, offices, and others and helping them create wall art and public art. So yes, I do feel that although it is a niche, it is a growing niche where people can definitely carve out some space for themselves.
Lastly, we would like to know on behalf of many K-Pop and K-culture fans, will there be any upcoming related murals or artworks to be exhibited given the immense popularity of Korean culture in India? We were aware of Indo-Germany artwork which was unveiled recently. Do we have any possibility for an Indo-Korea-related artwork exhibit as well?
We would love to create more Indo-Korean themed artworks not only in Delhi but in other cities across the country as well. We hope that this initial small step leads to some of those opportunities both for us and for fans of Indo-Korean art styles, forms, culture, and history and of course K-Pop culture as well. So look forward to it.
Once again we would like to thank Mr. Yogesh Saini for his valuable time for this interview on behalf of Hallyuism Team. Have you visited this venue yet? What are your thoughts, let us know in the comments?