Monday, July 15, 2024

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Kajal Singh, aka Dizy, is making her mark with her bold strokes on the wall. From being a shy girl to becoming the first female graffiti artist, Dizy takes us through her journey of how it all began and also talks about the street art scene in India.

Teal Sinha

Graffiti or street art may be termed a nuisance for many, but for the rest, it’s their way of expressing themselves. In fact, art as a whole is all about putting your heart and soul into something.

Today, we have with us Kajal Singh, aka Dizy, India’s first female graffiti artist, who is making quite an impact with her striking work. Coming from a family where creativity is valued and nurtured, she believes art is in her blood because her mother, who encouraged her talents, is also a painter, and her brother is a budding graffiti artist. Introduced to hip-hop as a young teen, Kajal fell in love with the culture and music of rap while she was still a student in Delhi.

She’d always wanted to do something different, despite being a shy girl. She begins by saying, “I didn’t want to be mixed in with the crowd and wanted to do something out of the box. But I didn’t know how. I was searching for something until I found graffiti. I would rather say graffiti found me, and the moment I got to know about graffiti, for me, it was like love at first sight because I was so fascinated by it. This was something new for India. And I’ve never seen anyone paint with spray paint before. It’s graffiti that gives me confidence that I could go from being a shy girl to being confident in life.”

We were curious as to what prompted her to call herself Dizy. To this, she said, “Back in the time when graffiti was started, it was illegal. And people used to write different names because they wanted to hide their identities. When I was looking for my own name, I came up with the name Dizy, completely randomly, and I read that Dizy in urban slang means crazy madness. I thought that was the perfect name. Because I’m also doing something crazy and mad for the Indian scene and being an Indian girl.”

Her love for hip-hop and art eventually led her to graffiti, as she was attracted to the “no-rules” factor and common elements in this music genre and graffiti.

She says, “I got to know about graffiti through hip-hop. I started with hip hop, doing breakdance in my school time, and that’s how I got introduced to it through one of my friends and then through hip hop. There’s an element called graffiti in hip-hop because we were spotted on the street by some international graffiti artists who had visited India for a music video. I was more fascinated by graffiti than dancing because I was a shy girl and could not express myself well through dancing. And when I found graffiti, I knew this was going to be the tool to express myself, and it will be my graffiti that will speak for me.”

Doing something against societal norms and breaking stereotypes brings its own challenges. Highlighting those challenges, she said, “When I started back then, there was no graffiti scene. There were no graffiti tools available in India. There was no other girl to look up to. And so I had to use the internet to do research. Initially, I used some industrial spray paints that are used for cars and other vehicles, followed by graffiti scraping.

nother challenge was that I had to go and look for walls at night and do it in an abandoned place, which was so unsafe. I had no one by my side since other people who were into graffiti were not taking me seriously, so I used to go with my parents.”

“It was very cool in India to ask anyone if they were open to allowing me to paint their wall. Most of the time, I used to get a yes as an answer from them. I used to look for cool, raw walls that have a raw structure and an aesthetic surrounding atmosphere. On the other side of the world, in Europe, you cannot just go and paint anywhere. It’s illegal. You have only limited legal places, and hence your painting doesn’t stay for long because someone could come the next day and paint over it, but in India, my painting stays kind of forever,” added the young artist.

Dizy has been associated not only with major sports brands from the United States in Berlin, but also with gaming. She’s also collaborated with several famous gaming platforms around the world for their campaigns and many more. In fact, the recent Blenders Pride Glassware Fashion Tour marked the very first collaboration between artists and fashion designers.

The collaboration highlighted the rising wave of Indian street art culture. Taking us through the process of what and how it was represented in the fashion tour, she said, “Thinking about the collaboration with Blenders Pride Glassware Fashion Tour and Falguni and Shane, to break the norms of conventional fashion, I feel very excited that even I am breaking the norms in general by doing graffiti, considering I’m one of the only ones doing and being active. This was the first time that live graffiti had happened for a collaboration, which I feel is pretty cool. The collaboration gave graffiti artists like me an opportunity to showcase their work and be recognised by other people in India who don’t really know about graffiti in India. People who don’t know about it can witness it and know that there’s a little graffiti culture going on.”

Ending the conversation by sharing the street art and graffiti scene in India, she said, “The street art and graffiti scene is pretty small in India. Graffiti is a very luxurious art form. It’s not like any other art, as it is very expensive to buy spray paint. It costs a lot of money, and you need a lot of them. Since many young people don’t earn much at an early age, they just can’t afford it with whatever little money they have. This was also the case for me. When I started, I only had two spray paints, which I bought with my pocket money. I am happy that it’s growing more now, but as compared to other countries, it is still very small.”

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