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A Leap Forward For Graffiti Art in Malaysia

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Famous local graffiti artist They working on his piece at Sg. Klang

Graffiti art in Malaysia leapt a level up when international graffiti artists from around the world gathered at the Pasar Seni LRT station on the 4th and 5th of December 2010 for the KUL SIGN Festival Graffiti.

The event saw artists coming together for a showcase display of their graffiti designs on the station’s Klang river wall.

AirAsia, one of the main sponsors of the event, provided a platform for graffiti art forms to be elevated to a similar playing field as other more commercial art techniques. AirAsia travellers worldwide will now have the opportunity to purchase cool AirAsia merchandise marked with creative pieces by talented graffiti artists.

At the event, more than 100 artists from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, France and Greece came to beautify the Klang river wall with their work of art, using nothing more than spray cans.

The resulting artworks were of high quality as these artists are top minds in the industry in their respective countries.

Graffiti by Heavy Artillery

Among the artists were Aroe, Jiroe, Gary and Roid from the UK’s Heavy Artillery Crew.

The artworks will be on display for at least three months. This initiative was brought to the public by the City Hall with the event graced by the Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail. For more pictures on the fabulous artwork, look up ‘Meeting of Styles KL‘ in Facebook.

Further to that, corporate sponsors came together in support of the event through various initiatives and activities.

AirAsia kicked off its Youth Design Challenge with a live graffiti demonstration by three selected graffiti artists, namely Nuke from Malaysia, NSane from Indonesia and Zidslay from Thailand. Each artist displayed two designs based on the themes China, India or ASEAN. The live demonstration was accompanied by performances from AirAsia’s Wakaka breakdance crew.

The artworks by these three artists were then put on Facebook where fans could vote for their favourites. Nuke’s winning design was based on India while NSane’s winning piece was based on China. The winning ASEAN theme came from Zidslay’s graffiti artwork. These designs will now appear on AirAsia merchandise. For more information about the program, look up ‘AirAsia Youth Design Challenge : The Winning Artworks’ in Facebook on the official AirAsia page.

Complementary support to graffiti art came in the forms of both photography and fashion by corporate sponsors Nikon and Disney respectively. Nikon through a partnership with emerging local photography editor Kuku Besi engaged avid photography enthusiasts through an online photo contest.

In addition to that, at KUL SIGN Festival, Kuku Besi and Nikon Graffiti studio gave the public the chance to have their photos taken by professional photographers on the spot by the Kuku Besi photography crew, after which the photos were uploaded to the Kukubesi manipulasi Facebook page where people could tag themselves.  The Nikon and Kuku Besi backdrop was creatively designed by reknown local graffiti artist Damis.

Heavy Artillery crews graffitized on Crocs shoes for their fans

Disney through its upcoming new release Tron Legacy displayed its support for the local fashion industry. Shuz M, a local independent fashion designer modelled her Tron inspired fashion pieces at the KUL SIGN Festival backed by a Tron graffiti backdrop.

Other sponsors of the event included Sony Pictures, Crocs, Lee Jeans, 7-Eleven and Doof.

Dato’ Mukhriz at the Nikon Studio

‘We hope more corporations can come forward and be part of this ecosystem where win-win can be achieved for marketers and the artists. We have many collaboration opportunities lined up in 2011 with emerging/independent artist from all art fields, not confined to only graffiti artists and we need advocates from the corporate sector. Early birds will reap the benefit of its newness & cost effectiveness’ says Christine Ngh, project manager of Bumblebee Consultancy, a marketing agency that worked on KUL SIGN Festival.

Interviews with Nuke, Nsane & Zidslay

Nuke: India

How does it feel to be given an opportunity to design for a big brand such as AirAsia?

Nuke: It is such an honour to be selected to be part of the AirAsia Design Youth Challenge. To have my graffiti artwork displayed on AirAsia merchandise worldwide is truly special for me as an artist. It is recognition of my identity as a professional in my field of graffiti art.

Nsane: India

How do you think graffiti art can be taken to the next level through prominent brands such as AirAsia?

Nsane: Traditionally, graffiti art is still untapped in the commercial world.  There are many talented graffiti artists whose work is still largely unrecognised. Through the support of brands like AirAsia, artists like us are able to capture the creativity of graffiti artwork through merchandise that is relevant to the public. Consumers are able to appreciate our art form for instance through specially graffiti designed AirAsia t-shirts.

Zisdlay: ASEAN

How can corporate sponsors support the graffiti art community moving forward?

Zidslay: There is so much potential within the graffiti art community that is still at its infancy.  Within graffiti art itself, there are various forms of graffiti techniques. Graffiti artist can customise their art to project the various brand images of corporate sponsors. This can be through CSR efforts, merchandise or live graffiti demo at events. Through these efforts, corporations can help to elevate the status of graffiti talents around the world.

Nuke: China

What is your ultimate dream for your graffiti art?

Nuke: For my work to be featured on the AirAsia’s planes.

~

Christine Ngh works for the Bumblebee Consultancy was founded by a few seasoned marketing practitioners in 2009. One of its focus is commercialization of high-pontential community activities. Collaborating with DBKL on Kul Sign Festival 2010, Bumblebee Consultancy helped to up the profile of several emerging/ independent artists while engaging with corporates for opportunities to market their products. Amongst the artists picked to work on this collaboration projects are Shuz M Noor (Fashion Designer from Malaysia), Kukubesi (Photographer from Malaysia), Nuke, Zidslay & Nsane (Graffiti artists from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand). Previous high profile community project includes YOUTH ’10, a youth festival that took place in May 2010. Other than community projects, Bumblebee Consultancy also provides consultation, services and insights in relation to Shopper/ Retail Marketing as most of their consultants are formerly from the FMCG industry.

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