Meet India’s First Female Graffiti Artist — She’s All Of 23!
Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t follow your passion because you were worried about what people may think? Or because it is not the “right thing to do” for your future? Or because it’s just too “out there” to be a reality? I’m pretty sure the answer is a loud and resounding “YES!” While it’s easy to take the safe route and work a job that will secure you financially and allow you a certain lifestyle, it’s that much harder to go against the tide, break stereotypes and do something you not only love and feel strongly about. Which is why we’ve been bringing you several stories of kickass women on Hauterfly, who inspire thousands of girls just like you and me. So when we heard the story of 23-year-old Kajal Singh aka Dizy — India’s first and possibly only female graffiti artist — we were all ears and heart.
“I was introduced to graffiti through hip-hop when I was 17 years old. My friend, who was a part of the hip-hop scene in Delhi, used to take me to all these jams and events, and both my brother (who is two years younger) and I started dancing in 2008. It was in 2011 that we discovered that graffiti is an important part of hip-hop culture and this really fascinated us. (My mother is an artist, so we were introduced to the fine arts at a very young age — watercolours, oil paintings, the works.) The art form was so cool that we were instantly attracted to it. And at the time, we knew there weren’t any other graffiti artists in India — we were the pioneers. In fact, spray paint cans weren’t even available in India back then, so we would use the paint used to spray cars! Slowly, as awareness about graffiti started increasing, certain companies started importing spray paint but it was still quite expensive. Each can cost about 500 bucks and we needed at least 10 cans for every piece of artwork. So we would save all our pocket money to buy them.”
“My brother and I have been doing this together since the beginning. We work together and support each other. Since it may not always be wise for girls to go out and do this alone, especially if the work stretches into late hours at night, so he always comes with me. We started our own group called the New Delhi Styles. Soon, we started travelling for graffiti too and that really opened up our minds. Our first stint abroad was when we participated in the Indo-German Hip Hop & Art Project of 2011-12. We got to work with so many talented artists from around the world and learn so much. Then, a couple of years ago, I moved to Berlin with the excuse to study but basically, I wanted to do graffiti — in India, we are about 30 years behind the rest of the world. After I moved to Berlin, I started travelling across Europe and Russia creating graffiti works and it’s been fantastic!”
Just Do It!
“Graffiti, dance and the gym are my three passions. I was 15 when I started attending hip hop events and, in a matter of weeks, it became an important part of my life. Through hip hop, I discovered my love and ability for graffiti, and I won’t ever forget that.
Fitness is essential to my art and therefore to my happiness. Creating works of graffiti for hours on end takes a hell of a lot of upper body strength. You’re basically using one hand to paint with a spray can and to create an entire mural or painting. It can be exhausting — think of it as an endurance workout for your hands! I quickly realised this when I started working in this field. That’s when I also realised that I have to become stronger to be able to do this, and to do this well. Working out helped me a great deal in building this strength. In just a few months of regularly working out at the gym, my stamina improved drastically. Now I can go hours with my spray can of paint without even feeling the pinch.
But it’s not about physical strength alone— it really makes you the person you are; strong from within. Like I said, it’s not easy or particularly safe for girls to be creating graffiti art alone on the streets. While my brother does accompany me, now that we live apart, he can’t always do that. But it doesn’t faze me. I know I can take on anyone. I’m often at the gym with only guys around, and they look quite surprised at my strength and stamina — and I love that feeling. I may look small but I truly believe that I’m strong and can beat up any thug who bothers me! It gives me confidence and makes me feel invincible. Right now, I’m mastering the single hand push-up, and boy, do I feel tough when I’m doing it!
When I saw the Da Da Ding song,
I fell in love. It shows exactly what I believe and try to portray through my work. It’s so great to see such inspiration through sports and fitness. The women in that video — wow! I really wanted to be a part of something like this too — and express it through street art. The more people see it, the more it will inspire them!
So when Nike invited me to express what ‘Da Da Ding’ and ‘Just Do It’ mean to me, through my art, I was so stoked! I strongly believe that women can be unstoppable through sports, at whatever they do in life. There’s nothing a woman can’t do once she puts her mind, heart and body to it. I know it because that’s exactly what happened with me.
Today, I’m better known as Dizy rather than Kajal, and I love that. My brother and I want to start a hip-hop shop in India, which will include everything related to the dance form, including graffiti. I want to put India on the global map of graffiti and I’m sure we’ll be able to do it someday!”
Follow Dizy and her amazing work on Instagram.
* This is a dedicated post in collaboration with Nike.