Image featuring Jumping the Shark by Fieldey. Photo by Duncan Atack, courtesy of Streets of Perth.
Crazy Domains customer Streets of Perth is dedicated to documenting the street art of WA’s capital. We talked to co-creator Nikki Dale about the project, and how Crazy Domains has helped Streets of Perth on their journey so far.
CD: For our readers at home who might not be familiar with the term “street art”, can you explain it very briefly?
Nikki: Street art is one of those fascinating movements that attracts myriad of definitions depending on who you ask. To us, street art represents bursts of colour, texture and creativity in public places that may surprise you. Whether it’s a mural, sculpture, sticker, stencil or outdoor installation, street art is whatever you want it to be.
CD: When and where did your interest in street art begin? How much of an existing passion for photography did you have before you set up Streets of Perth?
Nikki: We both work in digital marketing jobs that involve an element of design, so we’ve always been visually minded people. Duncan [Atack, site co-creator] is also a terrific photographer, and loves to go out and about in his spare time taking photos of things he spots around the city.
That’s really what kickstarted the blog in the first place. Duncan came home one day with shots of some new murals in the Wolf Lane carpark and I said, “I had no idea this sort of street art existed in Perth, we really need to do something with these”.
I suggested we set up a little street art blog on Facebook to share with our family and friends overseas, and the rest is history.
CD: How has Crazy Domains helped you to get the Streets of Perth website online?
Nikki: Crazy Domains have been great in helping us get setup online, as well as the streetsofperthwa.com domain name we have web and email hosting with Crazy Domains. The purchasing process was simple, the prices are reasonable, and the customer service has been exceptional so far.
streetsofperth.com was already taken, unfortunately, so we added the WA on the end – but it probably actually helps to reiterate that we’re in Australia, as there’s a Perth in Scotland too.
CD: What came first: the amazing street art photography, or the website? Tell me about how the project came to be.
Nikki: Duncan had probably shot around 30 murals when we came up with the Streets of Perth idea. I couldn’t believe that our city boasted so much public art, I’d never really acknowledged it until then and that really fuelled my resolve to stop rushing around in future.
I found that I walked more slowly after that, opening my eyes to what was in front of me. I was blown away by what I suddenly started to notice!
CD: Perth isn’t often associated with street art. How much of a part of the street art “community” were you before you started photographing the art in Perth? How involved with the community in Perth — and beyond — are you now?
Nikki: When we started Streets of Perth, we honestly had no clue about street art. But I knew from the start that I didn’t just want to share Duncan’s photos, I wanted to explain the background to each piece, the stories.
As such, I’d spend hours googling the different murals in our photographs and researching the artists online, poring over websites, social media, and image galleries to try and piece the details together.
We quickly learnt a lot about the many artists we feature and it turns out I have a photographic memory when it comes to our photos, too! Show me any mural that we’ve covered so far and I’ll be able to tell you all about the artist (if known), the location of the mural, and when it was painted.
I’m also quite good at recognising the artists of new pieces now, before I’ve even seen their tag. Many artists have very distinct styles and it’s always exciting to discover a new wall and say “Wow, that’s an X“.
In a short time we’ve gone from knowing nothing to being able to converse pretty well about Perth’s street art scene. I wouldn’t say we’re experts by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re certainly well informed.
We also regularly correspond with organisations like FORM and the Laneway Collective, and now get invited to gallery launch events as ‘media’ which is always a real privilege.
There’s many other local blogs who document Perth’s street art scene too, so we’ve gotten to know some of them now and it’s nice to meet like minded people who share our passion. It’s also fun to meet someone new at an event and then realise you follow them on Instagram!
All photos copyright of Streets of Perth. Check out more here.
CD: Aside from documenting the street art, what are the goals of Streets of Perth? How have they evolved over time?
Nikki: When we started Streets of Perth, we never really had a ‘goal’ as such. We just wanted to share Perth street art with friends overseas (and in Australia) and showcase our city beyond its borders.
Over time, though, the popularity of our page has grown at an overwhelming rate. We were happy when 100 people liked the page, and got really excited when 1,000 people followed us because we didn’t know 1,000 people so they couldn’t all just be our friends!
But people kept liking and sharing our posts, and then their friends would like and share, and then their friends liked and shared – and so on.
Fast forward nine months and we’ve got around 50,000 followers – it’s insane!
Now our goal is to keep doing what we’re doing (e.g. sharing at least one new photo per day), but evolve the blog further by creating a dedicated Streets of Perth website which includes bonus features such as artist interviews, fan photos, a contact registry and so on: basically content that would be TL;DR if we posted on Facebook.
Essentially, we’d love to establish Streets of Perth as some kind of tourism platform eventually. The insights from our Facebook page show that approximately 30,000 followers are from Australia, but the other 20,000 are visiting the page from international locations: which illustrates that the interest in Perth from overseas is growing via our colourful streets.
CD: Tell me more about the website you’re working on a new website for Streets of Perth. What are you using it make it? Are you coding it from scratch or going down a different path?
Nikki: Duncan is the first to admit he’s a geek, and he also has a programming background, so he’s driving the development of our new website.
We currently we have a WordPress install as we intended to head down the blog route – but that may change in the future as our plans progress.
CD: Tell me about some memorable experiences you’ve had photographing art?
Nikki: The most memorable moment for me was when we were out one day shooting a new mural in Wolf Lane, and met a homeless man called Stephen in the carpark. He had a broken leg and was down on his luck, but he seemed like a really nice guy. We asked what had led to his situation, and he told us that he couldn’t work due to his injury, so he couldn’t afford to pay the rent, and so he had ended up on the streets.
After chatting for a while, we bought him some food and asked if we could share his story on our Facebook page, in case others might be in the area and would like to help him out. He was happy to pose in front of the mural we’d shot that day, so we shared the photo and story that afternoon.
The blog was still fairly new, we had about 8,000 followers, but the response was overwhelming. It restored my faith in human nature: people were offering to take him more food, as well as clothes and blankets, and a local physio offered some free sessions to help rehab Stephen’s broken leg.
Someone suggested we set up a fundraising page. We put it up around 9pm that evening, and it had raised $1,200 by morning!
In the meantime, the Salvation Army in Northbridge saw our post and contacted us to say that they had visited Stephen, and would help him to find shelter. We worked with the Salvos in the weeks that followed to ensure Stephen got a bed and a roof over his head until he was back on his feet. He was speechless at the money that had been raised. That was a pretty magical moment for me.
In general, though, the greatest moments are when we happen upon a work-in-progress and we get to meet the artist and say hello. There are so many talented people in Perth, and it’s such a privilege to meet them (and even more astounding when they know what Streets of Perth is, too!)
CD: Where are the best places in Perth, to see new and original street art?
Nikki: There’s way too many to mention! But some key areas we visit more frequently include Leederville, Mount Lawley, Highgate, Perth CBD, Northbridge, Victoria Park, and Fremantle.
We’re really lucky that as the Facebook page has grown, we now receive heaps of tips about new locations. We do our best to visit each one and we always credit the tipper when we eventually share the story.
We also plot each mural we photograph on an interactive urban art map that we built, so that helps people to track down street art in their local area. Check it out here: bit.ly/streetsofperthmap
CD: How would you like to see Streets of Perth expand? Would you like to see it imitated worldwide, like Humans of New York has inspired others?
Nikki: We’d love to give up our day jobs and expand Streets of Perth to other Australian cities. Melbourne is obviously famous for street art, but did you know Adelaide boasts some incredible pieces, too? I think we’ll need to win the lottery first.
In the meantime, we’d be proud to see local versions of our blog popping up across the globe. They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Humans of New York has been my favourite photography blog for years, so to even be compared on the same spectrum one day would be a dream come true.
CD: If you could only recommend one artist for readers to check out, who would it be?
Nikki: Haha! Nice try! That’s like asking us which child (or in our case, cat) we love most. We do have a few personal favourites but their styles are all so diverse that we honestly couldn’t pick just one as a “must see”.
All photos copyright of Streets of Perth. Check out more here.
CD: Your interactive urban art map got you a lot of attention and press coverage. Tell me about the map: what inspired it, how surprised were you by its popularity? Where are you going next with it?
Nikki: We were amazed by the reaction to the map! We decided to create it one night, just to see how it would work. We shared the link on the blog, and suddenly it was being featured in the local paper, on a travel blog, and on ABC Digital!
We’ve also received lots of lovely emails from Facebook fans who’ve used our map to plot their own walking tours, cycle routes and school trips. We love getting messages like that.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, the map includes over 400 current and expired murals, plus sculptures around the Perth metro area. We’re planning a separate one for regional areas eventually but we need more hours in the day at the moment!
In the meantime, we’re looking at options to convert the map data into a little mobile app in order to improve the user experience when you’re out and about. (Watch this space!)
CD: Other than a domain name and web hosting, what Crazy Domains services do you use?
Nikki: We have a personalised email set up – and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org. We wanted something friendly and easy to recall so to have our own email over Hotmail or similar seemed like an appropriate option.
CD: Is there anything you’d like to mention? A book coming out, or a project that needs funding, or just want to give some love to a cause you are involved with?
Nikki: At some stage in the future we’d love to take the blog further by perhaps exhibiting some of our photographs in a gallery, but we’d of course need permission from all the featured artists first to ensure they retain full IP and copyright. Everything is possible though, so stay tuned!
Streets of Perth post new photos daily on Facebook and Instagram. Check them out, and cross your fingers for a gallery exhibition!
Are you a Crazy Domains customer? Would you like to be featured in an interview or a case study, like Streets of Perth? Drop us a line on any of our social media channels and we’ll be in touch!