On the East side of the big pond, England that is, the Huddersfield BID created a business and consumer questionnaire to understand what residents and visitors wanted to see as they stroll through the large British town in the borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire. The data collected from these surveys showed that people wanted to make Huddersfield more aesthetically pleasing, and the BID determined that street art would do the trick.
Starting in July, The Huddersfield BID’s “Tart up the Town” project hired Robert “Umberto” Walker, a popular, local street artist/sign painter who specializes with lettering, to lend his paint and brush to six locations (the first “Pride” is shown here). “The street art will make the town look more vibrant and attractive and will have positive words to remind passers to keep positive and feel proud of the town,” says the BID’s manager and spokesperson, Matthew Chapman. “Street Art is not vandalism—it is an expression, turning urbanized towns into a vibrant location in which locals feel energized and have a sense of identity.”
Street art, in other words, is “the new culture!” Many street artists have become global inspirations, increasing foot traffic wherever they do their artwork, Chapman asserts.
“My inspiration comes from the high street’s heyday,” says Umberto, “the grand shop fronts that would display the goods for sale; the hand-painted shop sign and windows and the large-scale gable end being utilized to allow type to pop. To have a wall that can be marked with craft to aid positivity is a powerful and wonderful outcome that I’m delighted to be part of.”
Coincidentally, Umberto’s lettering models derived from the book Shadow Type (Thames and Hudson, 2013) by Steven Heller (me) and Louise Fili. Quite an honor for us, Huddersfield!