UX + Street Art
A course project to improve artists’ experience
in Melbourne's most famous laneway.
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.
researching the Problem
The first gap that stood out in existing proposals to improve Hosier Lane is that most of them did not consider artists as stakeholders, and therefore contained no research on their experience.
A survey and in depth-interviews confirmed the problem and the uncovered the following reasons:
Large number of tourists behaving disrespectfully towards artists.
The growing presence of advertising and paid marriage proposals.
Art being painted over by tagging within a few hours
Observing the lane at different times and days of the week confirmed two issues raised:
Crowd of visitors photograph, interrupt and harass people painting.
There are new hand-painted adverts and marriage proposals every week
A lot of art on the walls lasted over 4 weeks without being destroyed, contrary to the artists' perception.
To place the concerns raises by the artists in the context of their life experience, I created a persona based on the survey, interviews and my knowledge of the community.
Our street artist persona is someone with left-leaning political views, that uses social media heavily to share his work and follow other artists but absolutely hates selfies and people that take them.
He is passionate about his art and contributing to street culture, creating even when there are risks to his personal safety and no commercial reward. Understandably, the commercial appropriation of the lane by companies not related to the community makes him uncomfortable.
Privacy is really essential to his work. He often creates art on the streets illegally. It's very important for his safety and his art that he can maintain this anonymity, and not be photographed up close by tourists.
Q: Why aren't artists motivated to create here anymore?
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 negative emotions identified in the research.
Painting in a group should eliminate stress and offset the effects of visitor numbers and behaviour.
Making the artists' discontent public might discourage businesses from placing ads and marriage proposals in it.
The community coming together to “fix the lane” would establish that the situation was 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 did 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.
It successfully discouraged ads and marriage proposals.
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.
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 also 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.
Designer and Artist based in Melbourne, Australia.
I love researching stuff and making beautiful things.
On a journey to improve the world with both.