Street Art Journeys #2 | Gimiks Born

As promised Engage Arts is journeying through the streets in search of Brisbane’s street art hotspots. This week we shine a light on the artist known as Gimiks Born. He creates bold illustrative artworks that can be discovered on walls around Australia: from Brisbane, Toowoomba, Bunbury, to Katoomba and beyond. A multi-skilled artist, Gimiks Born’s creative practice spans graphic design, illustration, street art and large-scale commissioned murals.

Gimiks Born’s deftly painted public works stop you in your tracks; his quirky characters leap, growl and climb up the walls. With an illustrative style that appears to be influenced by a love of comic books, graphic novels and anime, his mysterious characters hint at snippets of a story offering a glimpse into a fantastical world.

Brisbane is home to many of Gimiks Born’s playful murals. Anyone familiar with South Brisbane will have seen the 7 metre-tall painted pillars of the railway underpass on Merivale Street. This large-scale outdoor gallery was painted as part of the Pillars Project (2014) ahead of the G20 Summit, and Gimiks Born was selected for inclusion alongside artists Simon Degroot, Fintan Magee, Guido van Hetten, Gus Eagleton and Mik Shida, Libby Harward and Warrawa Weatherall. Gimiks Born’s work for the Pillars Project depicts a young Indigenous woman garbed in purple presiding over an enchanted forest scene. Born described this character as a mother earth figure symbolic of hope (2014).

Gimiks Born, Pillars Project, 2014

Gimiks Born, Pillars Project, 2014. Photo by Engage Arts.

Gimiks Born, Pillars Project, 2014. Photo by Engage Arts.

Gimiks Born, Pillars Project, 2014. Photo by Engage Arts.

Gimiks Born also was also commissioned to paint a mural for the City Colours Project (2014). You can spot Gimiks Born’s unmissable mural on the underpass on Creek Street in Brisbane City. One side of the underpass depicts a funky woman with bright orange hair whose wild locks flow up the wall to the roof.  On the other side of the street, the wall is covered by a crane-like bird that stretches the length of the tunnel while hovering bees kept the bird company amongst the forestry scene.

Gimiks Born, City Colours Project, 2014.

Gimiks Born, City Colours Project, 2014. Photo by Engage Arts.

Gimiks Born, City Colours Project, 2014.

Gimiks Born, City Colours Project, 2014. Photo by Engage Arts.

Gimiks Born’s visual language includes fantastical creatures of all kinds. At Tarragindi Reserve Gimiks Born was invited by Jugglers Arts Space to cover the walls of the Tarragindi Guide Hut with friendly monsters inspired by the famous children’s book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Gimiks Born’s characters are a wonderful tribute Sendek’s imaginary world.

You can also find his walls in Toowoomba, as Gimiks Born is painted murals for the 2014 and 2015 annual street art festival First Coat. In May 2016 a new work by Gimiks Born will unfold in Chronicle Lane Toowoomba, and visitors to First Coat are invited to watch the artists at work.

So, when you head out in the streets today, be sure to keep an eye out for Gimiks Born’s whimsical walls!

Gimiks Born, First Coat, 2014

Gimiks Born, First Coat, 2014. Photo by Engage Arts.


Feature Image: Gimiks Born, First Coat, 2014. Photo by Engage Arts.


Gimiks Born –

The Pillars Project –

Jessica Hinchliffe, Brisbane’s bland underpasses transformed into colourful art galleries for G20 –

Jugglers Art Space, Where the Wild Things Are, Mural Launch

Gimiks Born Brisbane mural locations referenced in this article –

First Coat – ,

*While every attempt has been made to provide accurate information on the artist and artworks in this article, Engage Arts apologises should any of the information in this post be incorrect.

Street Art Journeys

Melbourne may be known as Australia’s street art capital, but Brisbane is an emerging artistic force with an impressive diversity of street art. With many talented artists choosing to live and work in Queensland; there is a creative buzz on the streets of the sunshine state.

Brisbane City has long held an impressive collection of permanent public art spanning from the banks of the Brisbane River to the Roma Street Parklands. It is exciting to see the emergence of a dynamic street art culture sitting side-by-side with this public art collection. While some resistance to temporary public artworks still exists, you only need to round a street corner or drive through an underpass to see this art form is growing, springing up throughout the city.

The expansion of the street art scene in Queensland is also due to the global recognition of street art as ‘legitimate’ art, it is no longer considered to be just unwanted graffiti but instead the domain of highly skilled artists with the likes of Banksy commanding the world’s attention. Festivals such as First Coat in Toowoomba and the new Brisbane Street Art Festival are making legal walls available for artists to work on large-scale pieces and connect with the public through talks, demonstrations and workshops.

Engage Arts is keen to uncover these artists and artworks in a new blog series, Street Art Journeys. To kick things off we talk to the multi-talented Rick Hayward and Emily Devers working together as Frank & Mimi. Rick and Emily live and work Brisbane and share a commitment to low-impact hand-made work. Rick has a background in sign writing and Emily as a visual artist and together they produce hand painted signs, large-scale artworks and illustrations. Their style is illustrative, consisting of beautifully rendered traditional letterforms and dynamic graphic layouts.

Rick & Em at The Foundry

Rick & Emily at The Foundary, portrait taken at the artists’ studio. Image by the artists.

In an age where signs are mass-produced and printed digitally, signwriting and hand lettering are enjoying something of a revival. Rick and Emily share a glimpse of their arts practice with Engage Arts:

Can you tell us more about the story behind Frank & Mimi? How did Frank & Mimi come about?

Rick: Frank & Mimi came about almost by accident when we collaborated on a wall for fun in Vulture Street, West End. It slowly became something we did more often, and then soon enough we were being chased for the work we were doing. We tried to move down to Tasmania at the end of 2012, but were hearing from Brisbane locals so much we had to move back home!

Emily: When we first started working together I was still studying, and Rick was working part time. After a year of working on and off on Frank & Mimi, it very quickly gained momentum and turned into our full time (plus more!!) passion and livelihood. Brisbane’s at a really exciting point in history, creatively defining its own identity, and we’re excited to be a part of the story with Frank & Mimi!

Rick, you practice traditional hand painted lettering and signwriting, and Emily you’re a visual artist. Can you tell us more about how you combine your creative practices and skills under Frank & Mimi?

Rick: We each bring distinct elements to the partnership that we’ve worked hard on to combine successfully. My background and personality lends itself to building lettering and developing layout, whereas Em comes from a fine art background that has deep roots in the traditional painting methods, combining these with contemporary concepts. We combine our skills on most jobs, and more often than not, cross over into each other’s disciplines.

Emily: Even though we both have our distinct strengths, we are both proficient in the other’s practices now. I paint lettering on my own or with Rick, and Rick works on illustrative elements together with me. Things start to blend into each other a lot when you’ve been working together for a while!

You’re both passionate about the process of hand-made marks and nuances. Why are traditional methods of signwriting and visual identity so important to you?

Emily: There are many reasons why Frank & Mimi boasts a low-impact, human-centric approach. Our business mirrors our lifestyle, and we’re both dedicated to a simple existence with minimal impact on our environment. We invest only in products that have a story behind them and are actively disrupting the mass-consumption market. The mainstream sign industry is an ugly one, and comes with a huge cost to the environment. For every vinyl sign applied, there’s almost three times as much wastage that ends up in landfill – most of which are plastic products that will never break down.

Rick: Design-wise the mainstream digital sign industry is not fantastic either, and as a result it’s hard for businesses to establish themselves with a unique visual presence in a heavily oversaturated visual market. Our response to this is to provide something tactile, unique and visually traceable to a human. In return, it’s not only our clients that respond well to it, but everyone who views the work. This authenticity of our original artwork flows over and works wonders for the client’s brand. In terms of Visual Identity, as far as we know we’re the only studio in Australia that offers everything from the branding through to onsite hand painted signs and large-scale artworks, and all from the same hands!

Your large-scale murals can be seen throughout Australia and New Zealand. Where can we see your murals in Brisbane?

Rick: We’ve been painting in cafes, restaurants, bars, breweries and public spaces in and around Brisbane for the last four years, so it’s becoming easier to stumble across our work! You’ll see a permanent installation of ours at The Brisbane Powerhouse, our contribution to The Pillars Project on Hope Street in South Brisbane, and currently we have a series of three artworks in a group exhibition called The Apprenticeship at Gallery Artisan in Fortitude Valley.

City to Sea

City to Sea. 1 of 3 Frank & Mimi artworks at Doomben Railway Station as part of Qld Rail’s positive pARTnerships. Image by the artists.

You recently painted a mural at Arch Lane in Brisbane city, ‘If Only You Knew’, can you tell us about the inspiration for this work?

Emily: In ‘If Only You Knew’ the landscape is distinctly removed from our own understanding of earth. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space, and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms – devastatingly however, it is under dire threat. Our actions over the next 10 years will change the face of our ocean and the reef, which is why it’s important to draw connections now between our existing cultural heritage and future intentions. Ocean activist Sylvia Earle shared in her 2014 documentary Mission Blue “If only you knew…if only you knew what beauty lies beneath” which became both the title and driving content of this artwork.

Rick: Just as we have the power to deeply harm our ocean, we equally have the power to modify our own behavior in ways that act as an insurance policy for the future of the sea, and therefore the planet. Sylvia Earle has begun implementing “Hope Spots” – marine conservation areas as insurance for our ocean, and we wanted to celebrate these hope spots in paint considering the myriad of threats currently facing our Great Barrier Reef.

Arch Lane, If Only You Knew. Frank & Mimi artwork at Arch Lane as part of the Brisbane Canvas Project. Image by the artists.

We’re very excited to see your heading to Toowoomba for First Cost in May! Can you give us a ‘sneak-peak’ into what you’ve got planned?

Rick: In the lead up to First Coat, we’re heading up a pre-festival activation in Pittsworth curated by Grace Dewar. This will be a good introduction to what we have planned for First Coat, and in terms of content, we’re continuing investigate the modern food industry and it’s impacts on local economies versus the wellbeing of individuals – a starting point we used as reference for our 2015 wall at First Coat.

Thanks so much Rick and Emily for taking time out of your busy painting schedule to share your thoughts with us! – Kerry.

Top Featured Image: Sea Walls (detail). Frank & Mimi artwork at the Pangea SEED Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans festival. Image by the artists.

Details of If Only You Knew, Frank & Mimi artwork at Arch Lane Brisbane.

Google Map – Brisbane artwork locations mentioned in this post.

Friday Night Laneways | World Science Festival Brisbane

Brisbane City Council selected Engage Arts to produce Friday Night Laneways in March 2016. The event was held at Fish Lane, South Brisbane as part of a citywide activation showcasing the links between science and art, through innovative and interactive public programming for the inaugural World Science Festival Brisbane.

In response to the Council’s brief Engage Arts developed the curatorial theme of ‘Organic Data’, exploring interpretations of the wealth of data that surrounds us. For this project, we wanted to transform Fish Lane into an electronic canvas whereby artists could present audio, interactive, projection, and light based works.

We collaborated with four Queensland based creatives deeply influenced by visual art, technology, music, poetry, and science with cross-disciplinary practices. The team consisted of; digital artist Alinta Krauth, hypermedia artist and poet Jason Nelson, musician and composer Craig Parry, and visual technician and VJ Mark Wells. Each of these artists were commissioned to create new site-specific works for the event.

The production challenge was to create a space within the laneway where each of the works could be effectively displayed and how to provide an opportunity for the audience to interact in real-time. We contracted Brisbane Concert Lighting (BCL) for lighting design and technical production. Without the opportunity for a full rehearsal the team met offsite, creating solutions for the vision and interactive elements to work together. The final works used a variety of interactive techniques including, WiiMotes, a control box, and physical immersion in front of the projection mapping.

The event was well attended with audience members stopping to enjoy each of the works, for more visuals and information check out the – Engage Art blog or Engage Arts YouTube Channel.

Engage Arts services for the Brisbane City Council included:

  • CREATIVE – Curatorial Theme, Artistic Direction, Artist Selection, Commissioning and Contracting.
  • MARKETING / COMMUNICATIONS – Communications, Copywriting, Artist interviews, Print and Digital Marketing Campaign, Social Media Marketing – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn.
  • PRODUCTION / POST-PRODUCTION – All aspects of production from planning to delivery and post-event reporting. Post-production collateral including photography and event videos.
  • BUDGET – Budget and financial reporting, delivering the all aspects of the project in-time and on-budget.

Examples, Organic Data marketing campaign.