If you’ve read along with this blog for awhile, then you’ll know that I’m fairly obsessed with street art. And lucky for me the street art in Bali is amazing. One of the things that makes me so excited about having the chance to spend the summer in Bali is that the Tropica Bali Street Art Festival is heading to Canggu this week (tomorrow actually)! A bunch of talented street artists from Indonesia and beyond are going to be gathering in Bali to participate in the festival.
I wasn’t in town during last year’s festival, but I was lucky enough to see a lot of the amazing murals and pieces that were put up by artists. If you want to see some examples of last year’s work, read my full post about where to find street art in Canggu.
I’m beyond excited to be able to attend the week-long festival, and I’ll be sure to write a full post all about it as well as another guide to all the new street art that goes up. But for now I thought I’d share an article that I wrote about one of my favorite street artists in Bali, Quint. He’ll be attending this year’s Tropica Festival too!
I realize this is not the typical type of post I usually put up, but as a freelance writer this is the type of stuff I love reporting on. And so I thought for once I’d bring my freelance work and love of blogging together. It’s actually something I’m thinking of doing more of.
So without further ado…
Not everyone can say their job is like being a superhero, but for Quint that’s exactly how his work makes him feel. The mysterious Bali-based street artist has been stealthily spreading his message of love and beauty around Indonesia for the better part of 15 years. With roughly 500 pieces under his belt, it’s not uncommon to walk around the streets of Kuta and Canggu and spot Quint’s women crouching in corners, dancing on walls or giving the finger to passersby.
“I always try to make people happy,” Quint says. “I feel like a ninja who goes out at night to try to save the world. But the difference is I don’t want the police to know about it because, to them, it’s illegal.”
Like so many street artists in Indonesia and around the world, Quint hides his identity from the police. He makes a habit of blocking his face in photographs and when asked by strangers he states his name as “Quint Essential.”
Armed with spray paint, a stencil and his lucky bandana, Quint usually puts up his signature stencils under the cover of night. And like any good superhero, Quint has a mission: to fill the world with just a little more love and beauty.
“In my definition of ‘beauty’ and ‘love,’ the two are always connected,” he explains. “People will always love beautiful things. Seeing beauty is something that always makes people happy, and ‘love’ is the most beautiful word in the world to me.”
For Quint it’s people – specifically women – who epitomize this definition of beauty and love. While the artist will occasionally feature animals in his work, he almost always uses women as his subjects. And it is his edgy black-and-white stencils of these ladies that Quint has become known for and that ultimately gained him representation by the Nyaman Gallery in Bali.
The carefree and wild women that Quint chooses to portray might appear to be professional models. At first glance, it’s easy to assume that their outfits have been carefully picked out, their hair perfectly quaffed, their bodies meticulously posed. But, according to Quint, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
As Quint explains, he finds beauty in the most unexpected and natural of places. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that he tends to randomly stumble upon his muses on the streets of Bali.
“I always try to find my subjects on the street,” he says. “You never know when and where you will find inspiration. The streets bring me so much inspiration.”
Quint’s process is as unpretentious as the monochrome stencils he’s become known for. When he spots a subject on the street, he simply walks up to them and asks them if they’d like to be his model. If they agree, he photographs them on the spot. For Quint, the more spontaneous and natural the process is, the more beautiful the outcome.
“I like them to pose however they want, to be whatever they want,” he says. “Sometimes I just play the music they like and let them express themselves. And I don’t like make up or [if they’re too] dressed up. I like [women to be] the way they are. I like to keep them natural.”
It might sound simple, but his process takes time and precision. Photos need to be printed and stencils made. Quint always makes four stencils per piece, cutting each one out by hand. It’s a painstaking process that can often take an entire day to complete. Once he’s completed his stencils, he then hunts for the perfect location.
“I like dirty or raw walls. They make my girls [look] more beautiful,” he says. “That’s the point, I want to make very dirty places look beautiful.”
When the time is right, Quint once again heads out under the cover of night. Armed with his spray paint, stencil and lucky bandana Quint takes on the role of a superhero whose mission it is to spread a little more beauty and love around the streets of Bali.
PIN ME FOR LATER!
* A version of this article first appeared in The Jakarta Post.
Are you street art obsessed like me? What’s your favorite city for street art?