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October 12, 2016

Positive Signs to take over Adelaide

Serial public artist Matt Stuckey has teamed up with entrepreneur Reece Formosa to make Adelaide a happier city.

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  • Words: Farrin Foster
  • Pictures: Jonathan van der Knaap

What started as a passing thought on a bad day for Reece Formosa – Co-founder and CEO of DLVRD – has become an expansive campaign for positivity that will soon be seen across Adelaide.


Read more about Positive Signs at the website or hear about it first hand from Matt and Reece at the October 13 event, scheduled to be held from 6pm at The Minor Works Building, 22 Stamford Court, Adelaide.

“I was stopped at the lights at Light Square just looking at the side of this building and I was having a really shit day, and I thought it would be nice if there was a little something – a thumbs up or something there,” says Reece.

“I thought about it all day and that night I sent a message to [Adelaide City Councillor] Houssam Abiad, who is a friend of mine, and he said ‘I think you’re on to something’.”

Before getting much further, Reece realised that his resume as a successful serial entrepreneur wasn’t going to qualify him to fulfil all aspects of the project he envisioned. So he reached out to artist and designer Matt Stuckey.

Together, over the last few months, the pair have devised Positive Signs – an art campaign designed to improve peoples’ days and to create larger changes as well.

“It’s like a snowball,” says Reece. “We want to work out how creating a positive energy in Adelaide can shift people’s mindsets.”

To create that positive energy, Reece and Matt are rolling out a series of art interventions.

The art pieces will all be a uniform yellow and feature relevant quotes – “I hate glib, superficial sayings,” says Matt – taken either from contemporary figures like Elon Musk, or legendary figures like Maya Angelou whose messages echo across decades.

“The design is based on three principles,” says Matt. “One is that yellow is a happy colour and it’s a massive presence and it wasn’t there before – so if nothing else, it breaks up monotony.

“Secondly, there’s the quote – you get it straight away. Even when I was painting it [the first installation], a bunch of people stopped and talked to each other about what it said. So it might just give them a little smile in their day and stick in there.

“The third aspect is they all come with a funny little illustration. They’re just cute to begin with, and then they illustrate the quote as well.”

Starting with a wall in the lobby of the Pirie Street UPark, which has already been painted, Positive Signs is set to appear on billboards, bus shelters, phone apps – anywhere Matt and Reece can find the space.

“It will be more important and effective once you can see it’s part of a bigger thing – you can see that someone really wanted to spread the message,” says Reece.

While Adelaide City Council has provided funding for the first two installations (the second is set to appear on an exterior wall of the Rundle Street UPark), Matt and Reece are planning on making the project self-sufficient through the website, which sells prints of the designs, accepts micro-donations from individuals and encourages organisations to donate either money or in-kind support. 

Reece and Matt will be giving insight into the project at an event tonight (October 13), and the second art intervention is due to be completed in the next fortnight.



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