Improving artist experience
in Melbourne's most famous street art laneway.
During my UX Design course at Academy Xi in November 2018, we had to choose a problem and use UX methods to solve it. I selected an issue in the creative community I'm involved in (Melbourne Street Art).
Melbourne is the Street Art capital of Australia, and Hosier Lane is the most visited Street Art location in Melbourne. However, the quality of Art in Hosier seems to be declining. Street artists seem to no longer be interested in it.
I decided to find out why that is and how to make it better. For the purpose of this project, we can imagine that Hosier Lane is our client, local street artists are our users and making Street Art in Hosier Lane is the experience we are redesigning
Q: Why aren't artists motivated to create here anymore?
Analysing existing proposals to improve Hosier Lane, I discovered that most of them did not consider artists as stakeholders and did not consult them.
A survey and in depth-interviews with local artists confirmed the problem and the uncovered key reasons: the large number of tourists behaving disrespectfully towards artists and the growing presence of advertising and paid marriage proposals.
Observing the location at different times and days of the week confirmed the reality of the two issues raised by artists.
A: Because the experience of creating in Hosier is stressful for them.
They also feel disrespected by the commercial use of the lane and helpless to change the situation.
Q: How might we help artists feel less stressed and more respected in Hosier Lane, so that they are motivated to create great art in it?
A: With an event that brings artists together to reclaim Hosier Lane, motivated by the emotions and opinions identified in the research.
Painting in a group should eliminate stress and offset the effects of visitor numbers and behaviour. Making the street artists' views public will discourage businesses from placing ads and marriage proposals in it. The community coming together to “fix the lane” would also establish that the situation is not helpless.
To test this, I created an event on Facebook titled Destroy Ads in Hosier Lane, with a short description that resonated with the research findings:
"Hosier is covered in billboards and horrible marriage proposals. Let’s get together and make art over them. BYO materials. Create whatever you want. Share and invite people.”
I sent it to a few local street artists and the event quickly spread through the community beyond my tiny social circle. Then it was just a matter of seeing if anyone would turn up, and what the experience would be like.
Over 20 artists local and international turned up to paint on the day, as well as many supporters, and we got a front page article on The Age.
The event format offset the stress caused by the crowd.
Although the lane was packed with tourists, the fact that artists were in a large group made the experience fun and relaxed and encouraged visitors to be more respectful. Some people brought speakers and the whole thing felt like a small street party.
And reduced advertising and
I contacted The Age (an Australian newspaper) and they attended the event and interviewed the artists about the issue. The article was published on the first page of their printed edition, making the views of this anonymous community public.
Following the event and the article, the business that painted marriage proposals on Hosier moved its work to another, more obscure lane in the CBD. The amount of advertising placed in the laneway decreased significantly.
It made artists feel empowered.
Artist feedback during the event was very positive: there were a lot of conversations happening around running the event regularly, claiming back Hosier for artists, and starting similar interventions in other locations.
This was in stark contrast to the tone of interviews with the same artists, that had stated that there was no possibility for improvement in Hosier