Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wellington City Council, what are you doing?

So the anti-graffiti campaign for Wellington has been up and running for a while and to be honest my take on the whole campaign was “it’s butt ugly, but its WCC so at least it is not going to leave Wellington, and hopefully we won’t have to put up with it for too long”. That’s kinda where I left it. A number of people have noted just how darn ugly it is, but that was as far as it went. I thought…

Here is a visual of one of the AdShels:

Last night, talking to my lovely new flatmate who works for the Capital Times, I found out just how bad this campaign is. The ‘graffiti’ that is responsible for this supposed outbreak, is actually some artwork which was COMMISSIONED. The very talented
drypnz who has done a number of pieces around Wellington - including outside Rex Royale, one of my favs:gets paid for this work, because he is talented and people appreciate good street art.

The more I heard about this, and the more I have read about it this morning, the worse it gets. So it would seem that the photographer for this campaign just went out and took a photo of graffiti, they
didn’t realize that it was ‘legal’ street art. When the Capital Times hit the Council up about this, they said that they had spoken with Dryp and apologized. Dryp never had a phone call – and lets be fair, its not hard to find him – and so the council retracted their statement and said that someone (I’m wondering if that might be Wellington Wall Street) have voiced their concerns about using commissioned work to highlight ‘illegal’ graffiti and the Council apologized to them. Awesome guys.

So, let’s check this off:

Develop an ugly idea for a campaign
2. Take a photo of commissioned work to portray to the public as ‘illegal’
3. Force the Wellington public to see this awful creative
4. Claim to have apologized to the artist
5. Retract statement and say that they will stop producing the posters (I don’t believe they have said they will stop the whole campaign though

Good work. And who is responsible for this campaign? Is there an agency behind it? A misguided design studio? Worse still, was it done in-house? Some of the comments from
Wellingtonista’s blog about this campaign have been hilarious. This is my favourite though:

"I found the whole campaign creepy. All the people in the adverts were white, suburban and somehow infected by an 'otherness' from the presence of street art/vandalism."

Would love to know any other information if anyone knows anything.


richard said...

We at the City Council just want to clarify that we didn't mean to use graffiti art on advertising for our anti-graffiti campaign. It was an honest mistake. We did not mean to cause offence and apologise to Drypnz and any other artist who's been offended.
As I told the Capital Times, we were unaware that it was legal graffiti art when we took the photos for the campaign and will not be using it on any future advertising for the campaign.
We at the City Council now feel suitably chastised for our lack of street-cred and general blundering absence of cool.
You're welcome to your views about whether the campaign is 'ugly' or not - but it was produced because a majority of Wellingtonians have a fairly low tolerance for illegal graffiti - especially tagging (and yes we think we now know the difference between tagging and street art). We don't intend to stop advertising our anti-graffiti kits - which have been flying off the shelves. Perhaps that's an indication that people in the real world have a problem with their neighbourhoods being vandalised.
Just to close, perhaps you should consider your favourite comment from Wellingtonista: "I found the whole campaign creepy. All the people in the adverts were white, suburban and somehow infected by an 'otherness' from the presence of street art/vandalism." At the risk of running up against your perceptions, and the perceptions of whoever made the comment, we're aware that at least one of the few people in the images doesn't consider themselves to be 'white' at all. And since when was it a crime to be 'suburban'?
Richard MacLean - Wellington City Council

iChild said...

Thanks for your comment Richard, it is great to see you guys are keeping an eye on what is being said about you on the internet.

I guess I have a couple of comments to make on this.

It is very honest of WCC to acknowledge (although potentially somewhat quietly) that there was a lack of understanding between graffiti art and graffiti, and it is nice that you 'apologise' to Drypnz, although I wonder if you've actually apologised to him, not just publicly?

I completely agree that Wellingtonians have a low tolerance to tagging, I certainly do, and to be fair, I think Drypnz probably does also considering some of his pieces have been tagged. I have not picked up one of these kits, however I hope that in there, somewhere, there is an explanation that some graffiti art is commissioned, and people pay a good amount of money for the pieces. Could there have been more of a focus on 'tagging' perhaps rather than graffiti?

Finally, the "since when was it a crime to be 'suburban'?" comment, I did not read the comment that was left on the Wellingtonista site as meaning this, more that the ad was putting forward an impression that it was the 'suburban' population that were most affected by this. I would have thought that businesses and public property were worst affected by tagging, but that would be my perception of the problem, and as it turns out, we all have a different perception of this issue.

I honestly think the general message that WCC are putting out there is correct, I just think it wasn't executed well.

drypnz said...

glad this has turned into a semi-intellectual discussion... although 99% of my work is done from my own pocket... free art.. freedom of expression.. and taking a space that no one would look twice at and utilizing it to its full potential, the potential of enabling a smile that would other wise not exist..

im glad material possession holds more importance than a warm smile.

(still no apology, although i understand because it would look weak... hold strong to your beliefs, no?)

kind regards,

Rose said...

Well, here's an interesting case in question: "tagging" or "art" or something else - history perhaps? In today's paper we see that the "IAN CURTIS RIP" memorial on Wallace Street in Mount Cook has been painted over by the WCC. Obviously this is part of their campaign to rid the city of tagging. Hmm. This is a well-loved piece of graffiti. Call it what you will, I would not call it tagging. It is even mentioned on the Ian Curtis Wikipedia page. Short-sighted, narrow-minded and just plain killjoy.

Oh, and can I point out that one of the posters in the anti-graffiti campaign (and yes, WCC, this does include graffiti art - and you did NOT differentiate) there is someone drinking wine ON THE STREET. WTF!?

iChild said...

Hi Rose,

Thanks so much for your comment. Yes, the painting over of the Ian Curtis wall on Wallace Street got me too. I actually wrote a post about it on my other blog

There have been a couple of grey walls popping up around Wellington. Quite a shame.

Anonymous said...

What's your name iChild?

iChild said...

What's your name anonymous?

It's not that hard to find out who I am. All you have to do is google iChild. Or check me out on Twitter.

If there is something in particular that I can help you with however, there is a link to email me on the top right hand side of the site. (This will also tell you my name).