Hamilton City Council hopeful masters the art of politics

Nick Johnston's billboard, arted up by Paul Bradley (supplied)
Nick Johnston's billboard, arted up by Paul Bradley (supplied)

Imagine you're the kind of person willing to tag an election billboard. Would you still do it if the sign was also a work of art?

Hamilton City Council hopeful Nick Johnston's betting you wouldn't.

The rookie politician's enlisted the services of some of the city's best artists to have a go at his signage before the vandals can.

"Vandalism or tagging or things like that is part of politics in general," he says.

"In a way I decided to embrace that and see if I could intervene beforehand - but in an artistic way."

Hamilton City Council hopeful masters the art of politics

(Supplied - art by Paul Bradley)

Mr Johnston is a trustee of Creative Waikato and currently works for the council as a strategic advisor, coordinating art projects for the city - and he's confident the plan will work.

"What we've found, especially in areas that have [had graffiti problems] in the past, once an artwork of some sort has gone up on a wall for example, the level of tagging has gone down to a very high degree," he says.

"There is a certain amount of respect, especially when it's not something that's printed or mass produced - it is something that is hand-drawn and individual for each sign."

Hamilton City Council hopeful masters the art of politics

(Supplied - art by Denise Fort)

Artists Denise Fort, Paul Bradley and Dawn Tuffery, all well-known in the Waikato art scene, have already put pen-to-poster for Mr Johnston - and more are lining up.

"It's not so much graffiti art - there's a lot of use of ink pens and paint and things like that," he says.

"A lot of the artists are known for their intricate detail, and I think it's a quality you don't often see in election signage."

Hamilton City Council hopeful masters the art of politics

(Supplied - art by Dawn Tuffery)

Tuffery describes her effort as "a stream-of-consciousness sketch that took on a life of its own".

"I like how the idea aligns nicely with Nick's policies of supporting art and culture in the city."

But will it win Mr Johnston votes?

With the campaign coming to a close and fatigue probably settling in amongst voters, he hopes the revamp will catch a few undecided eyes.

"There isn't a lot of artistry when it comes to looking at how to promote yourself in an election campaign."

As for whether he's in with a chance of winning a seat in the city's East Ward, Mr Johnston's keeping a cool head.

"I think I have a reasonable chance of getting on, but it is always a bit of a challenge when you're a newcomer and you're up against incumbents with high name recognition."

Voting started on Friday, and ends on October 8.

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