Tag Archives: inspiration

Taking it to the streets

Anyone that follows me via Instagram (tpegler) will know I’ve been posting a lot of photos of street art. Partly this is a reflection of the city I live in. Melbourne is blessed with great artists and a culture that is evolving – becoming better at recognising differences between random acts of public art and mindless vandalism.

There were other factors that drew me to the street artists, too. When I made the difficult decision to walk away from a regular income to concentrate on creativity, family and health, I was drawn to others who have made similar choices. I wanted to surround myself with ideas, courage and creativity.

The main reason I began photographing street art is I became acutely aware of transience. What’s here today isn’t necessarily still with us tomorrow. An artist can spend days on a magnificent piece, only to have idiot taggers deface it the following night or a council whitewash it after a week or two. To my mind, this makes sharing images of guerilla art important. As an author, I write a book but my work doesn’t really exist unless people read it. Art needs to be seen so I wanted the street art to live and be enjoyed beyond the back lanes and alleys around town.

After talking to a couple of street artists, I learned that there are different perspectives on the impermanence of their work. Some see the damage wrought by weather, wildlife and taggers as organic, unpredictable enhancements of their work. The art takes on a life of its own and grows into its setting.

At other public places, such as Hosier Lane in the CBD, artists take turns at showing their wares. A doorway off Flinders Street that featured a powerful portrait of Heath Ledger as the Joker, by OD, was recently repainted with an intricate stencil of an elderly woman’s lined face, by ELK. For all I know the door might have a new identity now. The artists understand their work has a limited time in the sun.

That said, there’s anger, too. When a significant piece of work is attacked by someone who clearly only aims to deface or destroy something they couldn’t do themselves, the art community understandably bristles. Sadly, no matter how savvy the town becomes, there will always be morons and vandals.

Anyway, just as I feel honoured to hang out with other authors and illustrators, I get a great deal of pleasure wandering around the city and recognising the work of local artists. I now have a small piece by Baby Guerilla on the wall in my office (purchased from a gallery) and hope to collect other artists’ works. Why? Because each piece is a reminder of the power of art – to make us think, feel and understand other people’s stories.

I’ll share some favourite images here and in posts to come. Maybe the inspiration will flow through to you, too.

Detail from Once bitten, twice shy by Rone and Everfresh in Hosier Lane
Detail from Once bitten, twice shy by Rone and Everfresh in Hosier Lane
Baby Guerilla wheat paste in Brunswick
Baby Guerilla wheat paste in Brunswick
Beautiful work by Hush in Blender Lane, CBD
Beautiful work by Hush in the CBD

All photos are my own. For further insight into street art, check out Dean Sunshine’s Land of Sunshine or, for a YA spin, Cath Crowley’s fantastic Graffiti Moon.

Quentin Blake on creating characters

Quentin Blake is one of my favourite children’s book illustrators. In this video courtesy of The Guardian online he says he doesn’t know the relationship between his characters when he starts drawing them. Rather, his knowledge of them grows as he spends time creating them.

My experience as a writer is similar. I generally have a rough idea what part a character will play in a story universe. But, as I spend more time with them, they still have the capacity to surprise me. I like NOT knowing everything they could do as a plot develops. Planning everything out in advance could stamp out the goshness of a story as I build it, just as I prefer to read a book in full before I watch its adaptation for television or cinema.

Anyway, I’m glad a man of Mr Blake’s experience is still revelling in the newness of creativity. That’s inspirational.

Published

Last week I found myself presenting 16 grade 5 and 6 students with copies of books they wrote and illustrated last year. Their principal organised for the stories to be published in triplicate, with copies of each title going to the student, their class and the school library.

Each book looked great and there were some ripper titles. The students beamed, receiving their work in front of the school community.

Best of all, the thrill of seeing their writing turned into a real book sparked the creative embers anew. Several of the students told me they couldn’t wait to start a new manuscript.

I’m not writing much at present, due to work commitments, so I felt almost wistful watching young minds with the time and freedom to throw themselves into another project. That’s a great space to be in.

Flemington Primary School and guest author and mentor Kath Lockett are to be congratulated for the countless hours committed to this project. It looks to have inspired far more than 16 budding writers. I reckon every child at assembly was watching on with envy and wondering if they could write a story too.

*Disclosure: The Little Dragon was one of the published authors. He’s now telling me that if he writes a book a year through to the end of 2012 he’ll have more titles published than me…