I’ve been lucky enough to spend part of this year in cities outside of Melbourne – way outside of Melbourne. By coincidence, they have both been massive metropolis’ packed to the brim with citizens living and falling over each other from sunrise to sunset. With days spent exploring capitals such as Manila and Tokyo, any observer will see the advantages and disadvantages an expanded population can have on it’s people. And in comparison, it’s clear that Melbourne is a substantially small city, due to population alone. It may be the worlds most liveable, but it’s advantages come at a price and a spacial sacrifice, one found, both physically and financially. It’s not all bad, but for a city with less people, art is a lifestyle so few can afford. Since it’s consistent rise in popularity, the local graffiti and street art scene has found many highs and lows for those attempting to earn a living from their craft. We are a creatively spoilt city, possibly too spoilt, allowing our opportunities to run even thinner then before. With less galleries open for displaying such art (despite its overall popularity), the opportunities can and have become a bit more inventive. Bars, pop ups, retailers and even lane-ways have all become a secondary space for artists to display their work to those willing to engage, with Save Yourself being one of those spaces.

Opening on Fitzroy’s popular Brunswick Street just over a year ago, Save Yourself has become a space for local and international designers and artists to sell their wares to Melbourne’s mini-mass. Business is business, but there’s something to be said for one that allows its space to be used the way it was last Thursday. If you’ve been familiar with Arty Graffarti over the past two years you will most likely be familiar with DizzyHizzy’s walls, illustrations and products. And while Picasso could never have imagined his work being printed on anything, but the canvas he was painting on, that is a luxury the artists, like Dizzy Hizzy, can take advantage of. Honing his craft throughout Sydney’s (super) competitive graffiti scene, DizzyHizzy recently made the move to Melbourne to share his work across this cities varied landscapes, among other things. His loose graphic work has been found on products at selectively curated spaces such as Sydney’s Left Out Store, The Melbourne Seasons of Change Shows and now: Save Yourself. Having started with just a small range of socks and zines, DH has recently expanded to a limited selection of shirts, pins, tote bags, hats and sweaters, adorned with his signature gooey style. It’s an unorthodox, but brilliant move from the artist, as his work transitions to these wears seamlessly, especially considering the lack of experience found in this field. Googly eyes, weed puffing aliens and other intergalactic planetary shapes are all moulded to create a range of clothing fit for anyone keen on original designs in their varied daily attire. This entrepreneurial attitude is a rare sight found in Melbourne’s competitive scene (despite it being quite common throughout graffiti and street art), but a smart one, as there aren’t enough institutions willing to invest outside of their own reach.

While we get our fair share of artists making a move to this city, at some point you have to wonder as to why? With opportunities thinning out by the year, it’s hard to see why Melbourne is still considered a place where artists would set up shop to extend their reach into the art world. There are only a few spaces willing to show art from the streets, no publications supporting the culture and hundreds of artists/writers chomping at the bit waiting for a piece of the pie. That’s why Save Yourself should also be commended for this launch and collaborative range, as they’re committing their time and space to an artist, they believe, needs to be seen. It’s launch may only have been for one night, but it’s more then most will give, despite there being an opportunity for business on both ends. Those familiar to the Don’t Come Store by Schwipe will remember a retail space that seconded as a gallery, exhibiting the likes of Meggs, Neck Face and many more over their 7 year existence. Doomsday Store, Hand2Hand Store, Spares Store and Rooftop Bar have also graciously invited artists into their compact spaces for short, but memorable, exhibitions filling out spaces where others won’t. While it may not be as lucrative as an established gallery space, it’s an opportunity for those who have no other places to exhibit and one that invites a variety of potential customers for the exhibitor and gallery owner, which (in the end) is a key factor in any artists portfolio. And while we may be a small city with smaller opportunities, it’s refreshing to see a collaboration like this, where everyone can walk away happy.