‘We should all care about the places we live in. If I keep them [his art] looking nice, this will set the tone of the area and reflect out to everyone who sees them.’ So believes the Blu Art Xinja, a street artist who has called Brisbane home for more than 20 years.
While most of us will never know the person, you probably recognise his art: Playful blue figures such as animals and botanicals — among other shapes — in our laneways, on our buildings, and up in our trees, just to name a few places.
At Walk Brisbane, we love spotting Blu Art Xinja’s whimsical contributions on our tours, so we asked him to sit down and tell us a bit more about his process, places he loves around our city, and more.
About Blu Art Xinja: His process and inspiration
Walk Brisbane: What inspired your persona as Blu Art Xinja?
Blu Art Xinja: I wanted to go to art exhibitions and not be recognised in photos, so the costume was a fun way to do that and not be linked to any potentially illegal art…quite a concern for many street artists. On that issue, I have learnt to balance where to put my art so that it suits the area and is not considered ‘unsightly graffiti’.
WB: What was the first piece of Blu Art you did, and where was it located?
Blu Art Xinja: The first piece I ever put up was at the end of Logan Road, near the Gabba in January 2012. I have since replaced it and updated the design.
WB: We’ve noticed on your social media that you’ve been restoring some of your older pieces. What does that entail for you?
Blu Art Xinja: I keep templates of all my pieces, so I construct a copy of the artwork from that using more durable materials. Then it’s just a matter of removing the old piece and replacing it when there’s no one about, usually at night. That way the new piece ‘appears’ in the morning for anyone to see.
WB: What are some newly replaced pieces that people can go see, and where?
Blu Art Xinja: The Bonsai [Tree] at the South Brisbane end of the Go Between Bridge is brand new. The DragonDog at the QUT end of the Goodwill Bridge was rebuilt last year, but is now relocated on a tree branch around the corner (at the walkway leading to the Botanic Gardens). The tree it used to live in fell down. The Spirit Quoll at Bunyappa Park in West End has been given a facelift, and should last many years now.
WB: What materials do you use to create your art?
Blu Art Xinja: Nowadays each piece is usually cut out from thin marine ply and coated with outdoor paint to withstand the elements. Early on in my endeavours it was with whatever thin wood I could find.
WB: What inspires you to create art?
Blu Art Xinja: Ideas can come from anywhere, but quite often if I see a nice location for some art it will be something that fits or pertains to that particular spot. For instance, the Business/City Cats near the Citycat ferry terminal were made because of the play on words.
What Blu Art Xinja Loves About Brisbane
WB: What’s a local favourite of yours?
Blu Art Xinja: The Botanic Gardens and Roma St Parklands. Also, any of the big trees in and around the city…they’ve seen a lot of history.
WB: What do you love about Brisbane?
Blu Art Xinja: It really IS a very liveable place. I have been here for over twenty years, so I’m very comfortable in adding art to various places I think needs it, because it’s my home. Also, great weather.
Surprising Facts About Blu Art Xinja
WB: What are some more personal things people can know about you?
Blu Art Xinja: I have lost all fear of heights due to climbing extremely tall things. My second favourite colour is lime green.
WB: Where else, outside of Brisbane, does Blu Art exist?
Blu Art Xinja: Whenever I travel, I usually bring a piece or two to put up. There are plenty in Australia: Melbourne, Sydney, Noosa, Maroochydore, Byron Bay. There’s artwork in Auckland & Wellington in NZ, and also some in [North] America: Vancouver, Arizona, San Francisco. The one in Vancouver (an elaborate totem pole) is still there, as I can see it on Google Maps.