Founded by Yogesh Saini in 2013, Delhi Street Art is an initiative to promote public art of young artists. They have painted walls, garbage bins, Market buildings, flyover, and even many remote villages in and outside Delhi.
After living overseas for more than 20 years and working with Fortune 500 companies as well as launching startups in the US and India, when Yogesh Saini moved back to Delhi in 2012, he had something on his mind that he wanted to pursue. Being a true Delhiite, Saini had a strong urge to do something special for his city, and so, he decided to make it beautiful with colourful artworks, murals, and splashes of colours. In 2013, he founded Delhi Street Art and painted garbage cans of Lodhi Garden. Following the same, he went on to do many such projects in the social spaces as well as for government NGOs and other clients. Today, Delhi Street Art is 8-years-old and has beautified many cities.
“It was a slow start which got a lot of impetus thanks to some of our initiatives in both Lodhi Garden and Shankra Market. Social media was also very kind to us. It got the word out and soon after we were being approached not just by client but also artists and volunteers to take part in activities”, says Yogesh Saini.
A lot of DSA’s work happens with and for the community they work with on projects. It includes schools, street walls, slums, and more in different parts of Delhi and other cities. “In 2019-18, we did our largest engagement with the Kumbh Mela Pradhikaran in Allahabad, which is now Prayagraj. Our efforts have always been to include community members. Be it children, women and even incarcerated people in prisons like Mandoli and Tihad. We include them, so that they become a part of our creative process, and they also end up having real skin in the game, so to speak”, explains Mr.Saini.
Along with Mr. Saini, a core team of 150 people handles everything at DSA. They have painted many remote villages around Delhi and call this initiative Street Art Village. It’s mesmerizing and amazing to see how old walls, broken doors, and an unorganized space can look so brilliant and colourful after the team has imprinted a mark with their work.
“One of the street art villages that we created was at Raghubir Nagar slum in New Delhi. We had involved the community residents, children, women, men, and others around the community. There were also 50 volunteer artists, who over a period of a month, painted between 100 to 150 homes. We also painted temples, schools, aanganvaadis, and almost everything there. We turned a slum community practically into a street art village, and a lot of young people from the community showed their interest and got involved with us”, he further said.
Team DSA has painted around 3,000 walls and even painted an entire flyover in Ahmedabad. “It feels like we are out painting one wall or the other, every single day of the year. The team really works hard, and it’s not just the painting they have to do, but also cleaning and everything else. Every project comes packed with its own set of challenges and tasks, but team DSA never gives upon them.
“One of our initiatives, which was at Indira Bhawan in Prayagraj was very challenging. The entire building was not being cleaned up for almost 7 years. So, we had to clear the truckloads of garbage before painting it. We were there practically every day for almost a few weeks. Finally, when it was good to go, we painted rivers, boat bridges, and the art and culture of Prayagraj onto the walls. It was one of the most iconic works we did recently”, says Mr. Saini.
Other than all this, many other important aspects also need to be taken care of when they work on something. “The prerequisite permissions to create wall arts is also another thing. Sometimes they are easy to get as the agencies themselves request us to work with them. But, then the other times we have to struggle and chase a few people before we get the permissions”, says Mr. Saini. Along with this, many other challenges can come with the site itself.
“As I mentioned, Indra Bhawan was a challenging site. The site has many balconies and windows. So, the design somehow had to be visible from a distance. It should not be interfered with by the windows or any other objects. Also, there are times when we deal with height and weather. Once we had to sit on wooden tables on the sides of Ganga Hardwar, because the current of the water was high. We couldn’t even see what we were painting. So, we had to tie ropes to step back into the water to see the work. So, I’d say, there are different challenge at different places”, he further explained.
From coming up with a design on paper to putting it on walls and giving life to it is something Delhi Street Art is known for. Their work is remarkable and has some story to tell. “Each artwork we create has its unique identity, and we also have a lot of memories associated with all our initiatives. Sometimes it might be the people we meet at a site, sometimes it’s a design, which not only resonates with the artist but with the community around us”, he says.