Most visitors to Brisbane are impressed by the unique traffic signal boxes (TSBs) painted with bright artwork. Each one is hand-painted by a Brisbane resident and reflects the community and environment in which it is located. The initiative is a fantastic anti-graffiti project funded by Brisbane City Council and managed by Urban Smart Projects. The idea is that boxes painted with real artwork are less likely to be tagged.
Collage of artwork from various TSB boxes in our neighbourhood
My husband made me a a photo collage picture of various boxes in our neighbourhood one Christmas . With the picture was an envelope with instructions on how to apply to paint a box. I never thought I would actually really do it. But, three years on I have finally painted my own.
If you're also interested to brighten up a corner of the City, here's how:
Step 1: Register your interest with Urban Smart Projects. I originally signed up in April but the box quota for the funding year was already full. However I was then on the mailing list to be notified as soon as the new allocation became available in July.
Step 2: Reserve your box. As soon as you get the notification of new boxes being released, jump on your computer and reserve a box. There is a map showing all of the boxes available so you just need to pick one in an area that appeals to you. This year, all 68 boxes were snapped up in less than two days, so you have to reserve one quickly.
My box on the corner of Lisburn Road and Vulture Street
Step 3: Design approval. Once you have reserved you box, you have one month to submit your design for approval. You need to visit your box to check if it's a low box or has an extra top section. You need to get a feel of the area and think about creating a design that will be relevant.
The design needs to reflect one of the following:
The immediate environment
The character or culture of the suburb
The history of the area
My box was on the junction of Woolloongabba and Mowbray Park, where my kids often play in the excellent pirate ship playground. I learned that one meaning of Woolloongabba is "whirling waters". I decided to do a pirate ship design on a whirling sea, with handprint fish by my kids and their group of friends from different parts of the city who regularly meet in the nearby playground.
Once you have your idea, you need to draw a full colour design for each side of the box and submit online. You may need to make design modifications. My initial submission had too many blocks of open colour which would be more likely to be graffitied so I needed to go back to add some extra pattern elements to ensure there were fewer 'tagable' areas.
My first submission had too many blocks of colour which could be tagged with graffiti so I needed to add some more design elements
Step 4: Pick your dates and collect your supplies Urban Smart Projects provides a crate of supplies, including traffic cones, high viz vests, paint, colour mixing chart and protective covers for the box identification plates and key holes. Artists just need to provide their own brushes.
The crate - packed with safety items and painting supplies
Step 5: Painting the box
Now you get to do the fun (but daunting) part - painting the box! I am not an artist so I was very slow and had to learn a lot as I went along. It took me a full two days to paint, from first thing in the morning until dusk. Lots of passers-by stopped to talk along the way and offer very welcome encouragement. One guy was keen to know if I was a "guerilla artist" painting with cones and high viz vest to appear official. He was very disappointed to learn that I was doing an authorised project!