Just remember ALLCAPS when you spell the man name
23 July 2018 by Sancho Murphy
An Indonesian Island known for it's forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice fields, beaches, coral reefs and thousands of Artists, Ateliers & Craftspeople around - there is a strong cultural element to Bali's appeal. On the South Coast of the Island you'll find the up-and-coming hideaway hotel/villa village of Canggu. Stretching between Kerobokan and Echo Beach, Canggu is fast becoming the hub for alternative culture, it is the main meeting point for the Hip Hop, Skate, Surf, Graffiti & Tattoo communities. It is also the site for a fair share of yoga and surf retreats (which is how I discovered the place last year). This fresh 'urban culture' is taking over the island with a lot of energy and creativity from both locals and travellers abroad.
Nestled in amongst the narrow scooter laden streets of Canggu is ALLCAPS Graffiti Supply Store! Being the only official graff store on the Island, it is Bali's No.1 stop for all Urban Art lovers and Artists since 2015. Offering a range of paints, caps, accessories and clothing, they also organise workshops, Street Art tours and the staff are always there to help you find the best spots on the Island!
I recently travelled back to Bali for a family occasion about a month ago and on my last day squeezed in a moment to visit the guys at ALLCAPS for the second time to speak with owner TraX for the shop blog. We talked about how the store came to be, the current state of affairs in the budding Urban Arts scene on the Island, the work the guys from ALLCAPS put in to get things done and exciting future plans on the horizon for ALLCAPS to level up!
The Graffiti & Street Art scene in Bali is like no other in the world. It offers artists a unique platform to express their creativity. Despite having major urban hubs, the Island offers a fresh and green scene in comparison to many saturated “hot spots” like Berlin, London, Paris, Melbourne or New York. It also seems that with collective enthusiasm, support and minimal red tape, any creative idea can, just happen. Have a read below....
ALLCAPS was established in 2015 and is the only graff supply store that I know of in Bali. Are there more? How did you guys meet? What’s the story and who’s the team behind ALLCAPS?
ALLCAPS was founded in July 2015 by MAX (owner) & DOBY (Manager) and was the first graffiti store on the island offering quality supplies. Unfortunately after 3 months, for some reasons that would be too long to explain here, they decided to close the store down. This is when I jumped in and took over ALLCAPS after signing an agreement with the previous owners. We wanted to keep ALLCAPS alive and make it grow. We continued to work for a while with DOBY and then he decided to pursue other opportunities. Today the ALLCAPS core team is made of 4 people: TIGER, PICKO, GESYA and myself. Plus a lot of other people working with us on specific projects and events = The ALLCAPS Family. There is another little store in Ubud, run by a friend from his home.
TUYULOVEME - "Same Shit Different Place", Exhibition at ALLCAPS Gallery, 2017
TraX - originally from Europe, when and why did you decide to move overseas? How do you compare the scene in Asia with that to Europe?
I decided to move to Bali a bit more than 3 years ago, after getting a “bore-out” with my previous job. The scene in Asia is pretty young compared to Europe, and very fresh. It’s also a “vandal oriented” scene, lots of bombers in big cities. But there are a lot of young talented artists who have been painting for only a few years now and learning very fast. They are starting to use their skills to also paint murals, not only Graffiti. There is a lot of enthusiasm here. Stay tuned, because you will start to hear from Asian artists on the global Urban Art scene very soon!
In your time running the store, what has the team observed in the evolution of the Bali Urban Art scene?
It's grown VERY fast! There was two turning points regarding the recent development of Bali's Urban Art scene..... The first one was the opening of ALLCAPS, this gave access to better paint and caps for the local artists (before the only available cans were the infamous Pylox ;), so this helped a lot of the local talents to improve their skills.
The second important moment was the hosting of the first edition of TROPICA Festival in July 2016. With the visit of so many great artists (SOFLES, ASKEW, ROA, FINTAN MAGEE, FELIPE PANTONE, SETH GLOBEPAINTER just to name a few), it put Bali on the global Graffiti and Street Art map. This had a strong impact on the local scene, with a lot of the locals stepping up their game pretty strongly. And a lot more foreigners started to come to Bali to paint. The festival also helped a lot to break some barriers between local Graffiti Artists and Street Artists, by getting everybody painting together for one week in a single location.
TROPICA Festival Recap Video - 2016
As you've mentioned, you guys are one of the main forces behind the TROPICA Festival which debuted in July 2016. I actually tried to catch the festival last year (2017) but my timing was off by one day and I missed the closing party (kicking myself!). But I got to take a walk and see all the works in the open-air gallery at the back of ALLCAPS – it looked wild! What was the motivation behind starting that up? What is the festival about? How do you select your artist lineup (it’s always so stacked and such a mixed blend)? How does the wider community react to the Festival?
The main idea behind TROPICA Festival is to get a big Urban Art extravaganza in Bali with a mix of Graffiti Artists and Mural Artists. Bringing together different styles and different communities (Graffiti, Stencil Artists, Installations etc) with a good mix of local and international artists to create connections.
We are getting an average of 20 applications every month for the festival, so choosing the artists is a complicated process. But usually we give priority to the artists who have already been connected in the past with ALLCAPS or with Bali. Artists who have been painting for environmental causes also gets our attention more than the others, as TROPICA always likes to raise awareness about the trash issue affecting the Island.
And we choose some international artists that we think will make some good connections here with the local scene. Even if you are a superstar, if your first request is to get a private accommodation to stay away from the crowd, then the talks will stop.
The Festival has been very well welcomed by the community in Canggu. Most of the people really appreciate to see the ugly grey walls being turned into works of art.
SETH GLOBEPAINTER (France)
Pimped up FIAT 600
Images (left to right / top to bottom): AEON (Australia), BRUTAL MARK (Indonesia), MEDIA LEGAL (Indonesia),
QUINT (Indonesia), JEK (Indonesia), RAMPTWO (Indonesia)
735ART (Indonesia), XEME (Hong Kong)
Serikatmuralsurabaya - BNDR (Indonesia) x NNEGOO (Indonesia)
GUS (Australia) x Kenji Chai (Malaysia)
What recently happened to all the Art in the laneway???? It’s all been defaced - what a bummer!
Long story short: The grandmother who owns the entire area got tired of watching people coming everyday to take pictures of the murals, and she decided to ruin all of them with some primitive buffing so people would stop coming, and this was all despite us having an agreement with the rest of the family to use the space. She has been drying rice for the last 60 years, has no idea about Art, and she seemed not happy about seeing so many tourists and foreigners coming to her beautiful walls. Which obviously I can understand. But I find it also quiet ironic, knowing her family is making millions of dollars of profits every year by selling their rice-field lands to foreign property developers......
So with the current state of affairs regarding the conflict of artwork in the open-air gallery, what does that mean for TROPICA Festival 2018? Will it be happening this year? Can you give us any teasers?
Yes, TROPICA will happen this year in September, and we will join forces with a group of very talented 'artivists' who have been holding events all around the world in recent years. The event format will be quiet different this year, with most of it happening on Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan islands, with all murals focusing on plastic pollution and ocean protection.
Defaced works in the laneway - ALLCAPS open air gallery 2018
What are the illegal/legal laws/penalties for Graff/Urban Art like in Bali? Canggu seems to be the spot where it’s all at, are there legal walls in greater Bali? OR is there some kind of etiquette of asking business owners/rice field owners if it’s ok to paint? OR just go for it?!
In Bali there is no laws about Graffiti, and no police on duty after dark. In Bali it’s all about Karma. Lots of free and legal walls to paint during the day, and if you see a nice wall on the side of a shop or a house, just go and ask, there is a 50% chance that they will let you paint it!
I spoke to you briefly on my last day in Bali about the paint brands currently available in the area – very different to what we can access here in Australia. What are the main brands being provided at ALLCAPS, can you give a breakdown on price and quality? Do these brands do much in supporting community events?
In Bali we sell usually 4 types of spray paint: Pylox, the historic local brand. More suitable to paint your scooter than a realistic portrait ;) but most locals start painting with this one, so it's still popular and very cheap, about $2AUD a can.
Then comes Zebra, a new 300ml range of cans, with 30 colours and medium pressure, made locally in Indonesia for Graffiti writers. It has nice coverage and its popularity has been exploding this year. Good deal for $2.50AUD a can.
Higher in quality we sell RHEMA, this is best paint locally made in Indonesia, 400ml, 53 colours, low pressure and matt finish, very close to European or Australian favourite brands. At $5AUD a can, you can’t go wrong. Most foreign artists are using this brand, and they have never been disappointed.
Last but not least, we also do stock up on MONTANA or MTN cans, but in limited quantities, so they tend out to sell quickly, even if they are much more expensive than the other brands at $8AUD.
How many active Urban Artists/Graffers are there in Bali? Can you drop a few who are pushing the limits? Who are some of the style innovators? Who are some of the originals? Are there many females getting up?
I believe there is a bit more than 100 Artists and Writers active on the island at the moment, with probably half of them who started painting in the last two years. Among the most respected ones you will find SLINAT, a legendary Balinese Street Artist who has been adorning Denpasar and Bali walls with his art for about a decade. CUBE and PICKO are two of the most respected figures of the Balinese Graffiti scene and inspiration for a lot of the younger artists. Among the new kids on the block, keep an eye for KIDNEY and MIDAS, these two have super good skills, and progressing fast...
Click to play
Click to play
Through the shop you push to get Artists’ opportunities to do commission work. What are some projects you’ve recently wrapped up? And are there any exciting ones in the pipeline?
Yes, more and more requests to put art on some walls are incoming. We’ve just completed a massive 45m long mural for a creative agency a few weeks ago, this took us 10 days to paint, working daily in 30cm of mud in the middle of the rice-fields and under heavy sun, pretty challenging job!
At the moment we have about 1 project per week, might it be for a school, for a villa owner or for some street 'artvertisement' campaign. A big one is coming up in July for a music festival, these ones are usually pretty exciting.
Sounds like from humble beginnings in 2015, ALLCAPS has grown from being a single retail/gallery space and evolved into such a driving force. What’s the future for ALLCAPS? Is there anything on the ALLCAPS bucket list you’d like to tick off?
Yes, ALLCAPS has been growing quiet quickly in just 3 years. I think this year we are going to take a deep breath and define our priorities for the next 3 years, and fully focus on these. TROPICA is one of them, but not the only one. Also by the end of 2018 we are going to open a very special place called 'Rumah ALLCAPS'. It will be a large villa with a guesthouse, pool, bar, graffiti shop, gallery, studio and… walls! Stay tuned ;)
TROPICA Festival Website: https://tropicafestival.com/
TROPICA Festival Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tropicafestival/