Ladies on Wall: The First SEA Female Graffiti Artist Community

Reclaiming the streets through art.
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Established in 2014, Ladies on Wall started as the first annual event where female graffiti artists gathered and painted together. With only nine female artists in 2014, Ladies on Wall now has grown both in number and influence, serving as the first female graffiti artist community not only within Indonesia, but also in Southeast Asia with over 60 female graffiti artists who strive for women empowerment in the street arts scene.

Spreading across over 10 cities in Indonesia, Ladies on Wall’s members keep their tradition of gathering together to do a street art painting together on the same day on a thematic basis. Besides upholding that tradition, they also participate and hold various events and activities related to street arts and continuously sound their concerns about women empowerment in the creative industry in Indonesia.

How was Ladies on Wall first initiated? What was the story behind it?

Bunga: Back in 2014, when Bunga had enough time to pursue her passion in graffiti after she graduated from university. She was invited to a Southeast Asia female graffiti event in Singapore named The Rebel Daughters. She did graffiti in some places there along with more than 15 female graffiti artists from SEA.

And when she got back to Indonesia, she was invited by one of local female graffiti artists named CIML to paint together, it was rare back then to paint together with female graffiti artist because graffiti scene in Indonesia was still dominated by male artists, even until today. Bunga and CIML then arranged an event in South Jakarta and invited their other female graffiti artist friends to join. Nine girls were rocking the wall on May 2014, and it was the first female graffiti event in Indonesia, Bunga knew it would get big, then she named that event Thinking About Walls and connecting it with girls, she got Ladies on Wall as the event name.

The girls enjoyed the event and they told Bunga they wanted to do it again next month, but Bunga thought it would not be special if they did it too often, and then she suggested to do it annually. She was also inspired to make an Indonesian version of The Rebel Daughters. Bunga loves to support girls who like to do graffiti arts like her by inviting them to the annual event of Ladies on Wall.

From the event, Ladies on Wall has inspired many new graffiti girls to join each year, started with nine girls from 3 cities in 2014 until more than 60 girls from 10 cities in 2017. It turned to be a movement and it is the first female graffiti community in Southeast Asia.

How do you perceive the street arts community in Indonesia, especially from the perspective of a female artist?

Dakjoah: The street art community scene here in Indonesia is not so different from other countries. It’s filled with plenty artists with inspiring ideas and most of them are males. From my perspective as a woman, we can walk hand in hand and grow together. As we grow with Indonesian culture, we tend to help and get each other's back in the community.

Bunga: I can see and feel it from two perspectives, as an artist and a non-artist. As an artist: it makes us special when we do something where things are dominated by males, so some of female artists often get more chances for commissioned works than male artists, and some of male artists who feel their qualification in arts is better than the female artists said it isn't fair. And my perspective as not an artist: a female street artist is more valuable for marketing stuff or commissioned works.

Amanda: I think, the street arts community in Indonesia is similar with other communities. Especially for women to do Graffiti (that is dominated by males), it’s something unique. It shows that it is possible to do things that are usually done by men. And in Indonesia, this is still considered rare, so many people consider this to be something different and cool.

Where do you usually get the inspiration for your arts or paintings? Are there any specific themes behind the arts featured on Ladies on Wall?

Kare: I always practice to upgrade my style by looking at some other artists' artwork as my references. I see it in many perspectives (by rotating my phone, for example) so I can find my own perspectives (for graffiti styles) like font shape, styles, and colour. And then I do the sketch, modification, and developing it to my own style. For the theme, it depends on what’s currently happening in Indonesia.

Amanda: I usually see inspiration from several other artworks, looking at the style and colour references of various sites like Pinterest and Instagram. And for the specific theme, it depends on the other members.

Do you have any favorite artworks from Ladies on Wall? Which one and why?

Dakjoah: We recently did a piece together and for me it was the best so far. We took parts on each specific part of the graffiti that we mastered at and it was done nicely.

Kare: I think we always did our best in every artwork. Because making an art in a huge media is challenging and we finished it properly. So you guys are amazing!

Bunga: The moments when we paint together never made me spend many attention to the artworks or results, hehe. For me, the moments are more precious than the artworks.

Amanda: I love all our artworks. Everything I do together with Ladies on Wall is the best and my most favourite moment in my life. I can meet with my second Family, make some pieces together, talk and laugh together. That’s a really precious moment for us, because our schedules are really hectic. I really appreciate every work and meeting that we make.

What is Ladies on Wall’s future dreams and plans? What can we expect to see from the community in the future?

Dakjoah: We are hoping to reach more women, empower them to jump in the street arts scene because we got each other's back and sharing skills is a thing we always do at the community.

Kare: More empowered women who have strong passion, who are inspiring, and who support each other.

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