The founder of Street Art Community from Thessaloniki Greece visits SAMA collection


Could you tell us a few things about yourself?

My name is Dina, I am a passionate Digital Marketer and Event Manager from Greece, and the founder of the Street Art Thessaloniki, Greece community.

I strongly believe that doing what you love in life makes you happy. I love colorful walls and events, and so that's why I've moved to Berlin in order to work as Marketing Manager and as the Head of an art festival here. I love this city, and am inspired by the blossoming arts scenes here; I feel really fortunate to be working in event management as a normal job.

What else should I mention about myself? I have a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and Advertising, and a Master's in E-business and Digital Marketing. While I was working in the Marketing field in Thessaloniki, I was organizing cultural events through the Street Art Thessaloniki Greece community, also as a part of different organizing teams for big festivals there, like Thessaloniki Hip Hop Festival and Thessaloniki Street Art Festival.

What inspired you to start giving street art tours, and to start organizing events through the Street Art Thessaloniki Community?

I love the arts in general even though I am not an artist myself. For me it all started because of the hip hop culture that I've been into since I was a kid. My older brother had been listening to rap since before I can remember, and so as I got older, I became more interested in hip hop culture and began seeking hip hop events in my early teenage years. Obviously, graffiti is one of the elements of hip hop culture, so my transition from rap to street art was pretty natural, and over the years, I began seeking and photographing street art. From there, I have continued going deeper into street art and urban culture.

After 2012 I started organizing different cultural events both on my own and with others, like street art workshops and small gigs in bars with local artists. I wanted to promote talented underground artists while trying to push people outside of the community to see that a whole culture exists in the paint they see on walls around the city -- that painting a wall or writing a message in public is a personal form of expression. People express themselves through colors, and we need to listen to them and preserve space for to do it.

People's attitudes towards graffiti and street art are different in Greece than the Netherlands; anti-graffiti laws are much less strict, and you're less likely to be harassed by police or to be criminally charged for doing graffiti. The exception would be if you painted walls owned by a large company like a bank or the national railway. There also aren't very many legal walls for painting, and because most people don't care that much about graffiti on the streets, illegal art is everywhere, and you can see truly incredible artworks on the street. There is also a lot of vandalism because of this attitude too, though.

Through Street Art Thessaloniki and my street art tours, we have started an ongoing open dialogue about what is happening on the streets, and how artists and residents see things. We believe that we need to be respectful and consider everyone's opinions before picking up a spray paint can or marker, and before we start writing on walls. The good news is that dialogue has resulted in influencing art in our communities and promoting artists from the age of ten to adults.

Regarding the organized street art tours, I started in 2015. I gave my first organized tour because a small school in northern Greece requested a tour and street art workshop from me through facebook. I love spreading the message of street art, and had already given many tours to friends so it was easy for me to begin giving organized, professional tours. So, I planned a colourful tour through the city center of Thessaloniki, followed by a surprise workshop with the kids, the teachers, and two friends of mine who are artists. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I saw the kids realize that they were going to paint the name of their school, screaming and jumping up and down because they were so excited. After that first tour, I began receiving more requests, and since then, I have done many tours and workshops with refugees, tourists, and locals. I'd been hosting parties and other events since before I gave that first tour.

What else can you tell us about Street Art Thessaloniki? Are you working alone?

I manage the digital communities alone, but I am always collaborating with artists to organize events. Although Street Art Thessaloniki started as a personal obsession, it transformed into a movement which people feel they are members of. Our unicorn army fights for universal love and unity through actions and colors. We respect, we evolve and we create through our movement while we stand united.

Everywhere nowadays, you can see corporations and pop culture celebrating money, fame, drugs, and exploiting womens' bodies to sell products. There are tons of young people being influenced in negative ways through these images and ideas. Our unicorn movement is seeking to influence audiences in a positive way and promote positive values. We promote creative street artists, events and people who have skills and deserve promotion.

More and more people are recognizing our unicorn logo, and our unicorn army is getting bigger and bigger as people from all over the world are printing and pasting our stickers in cities everywhere. Since I moved to Berlin, I've learned that lots of people already know the unicorn logo and have seen it around the city. Our unicorn army wears our T-shirts and hoodies, they carry our bags and hats; these people are all part of our movement, they fight for universal love! To be honest I could never imagine that this logo could travel all over the world and be so widely accepted them in such a positive way.

How are things going in your life now? Are you still running the Street Art Community?

Life is good! I live and work in Berlin, as I have already mentioned. This city is really inspiring -- there are so many interesting projects and events happening all the time. Yes, the Street Art Thessaloniki community is still running, and hopefully I will be able to start organizing street art tours and events in Berlin soon, too. It's on my target list. We have some really good artists in Greece that deserve promotion. Berlin also has great street art scene with artists from all over the world. Many interesting things are coming soon so stay tuned!

What was your impression of Street Art Museum Amsterdam's tour? Did you think there was anything special about our museum's collection?

First of all I would like to thank your team for the great hospitality and the tasty lunch. Your office is really cozy. I felt like I was at home. I really liked the street art tour and the artworks that we saw along the way. The thing I liked the most is that you're trying to use the the museums's street art collection to inspire open dialogue with the residents and the municipality. Even though there are people from many different religious and cultural backgrounds, they all accept it. It is really special and inspiring that the locals can all support and enjoy the street art collection.

We need more movements like yours, Anna. People have to understand that street art is a method of expression and a form of art. Keep working on this! I am sure great things will come from this! May the unicorns be with you!

Some friendly advice to creative people everywhere: dream big, have goals, take action and fight for your dreams. No one will believe in you until you do it. We have unlimited power inside us, so let's use it. Be a unicorn - it works!

Thank you Sama, you are awesome!

Dina,

Street Art Thessaloniki, Greece

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