The Malaysian island of Penang is home to the quaint UNESCO city of Georgetown. While the city has a colourful history, and boasts some beautiful architecture, there is a new draw that is attracting millennials on their travels through South East Asia. What could be enticing all those avotoast-loving hipsters? Penang street art of course! We are guilty and unashamed.
During our trip to Penang last month, we spent an afternoon exploring Georgetown’s street art scene, guided by a trusty map from The Next Somewhere. Penang’s street art is unlike regular graffiti you’ll have seen before, as a large proportion of the artwork is interactive, incorporating items like motorbikes, chairs and swings. This makes it all the more engaging and fun for the viewer (and it’s obviously worked to create a buzz about Penang). We couldn’t help but capture these silly photos of our favourite pieces. And of course, anyone who knows us personally will appreciate our love for a good ole fashioned pun so it was only right for us to share these pieces, plus their punny captions, ready for you to recreate on your Instagram!
Queuing for Soya Bean | Created by Chin Choon Yau with help from local students
“I soya’ll queuing so I thought I had to try some.”
I sure hope y’all got that one? Otherwise this post is off to an aaaawkward start. This Soya street seller piece of graffiti was commissioned by Homesoy, one of the first companies to jump on the graffiti bandwagon as a pretty smart advertising route. The company wanted to try and get more young people interested in art, and as part of this plan they had local students help with creating the final piece. You can find this fun little Soya stand for at yourself at 57, Gat Lebuh Chulia, 10200 George Town.
Skippy Comes to Penang | Created by a group of artists called Artists for Stray Animals
This giant cat mural is part of the 101 kittens project, in which 101 images of cats and dogs were painted around Penang. The campaign was to highlight the need to protect stray animals. All the artwork for this project was created in 2013, so the murals are starting to look a little faded. But that just adds to the rustic charm, right? Apparently they were painted using environmentally friendly paint which will eventually completely wash off – so be quick to grab a snap with this one! Find the giant kitty for yourself on Gat Lebuh Armenian, 10300 George Town.
The Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do This | Created by a group of artists called Artists for Stray Animals
“It took a kung few attempts to nail this one.”
This is another piece of street art created as part of the 101 lost kittens project. Bruce Lee kicking a cat. What a classic. You can find the kung fu legend for yourself at 4, Lebuh Ah Quee, 10300 George Town.
Reaching Up | Created by Ernest Zacharevic
“I will chair-ish this moment for ever.”
This fun and super interactive piece was created by Earnest Zacharevic, a Lithuania-born artist, during the 2012 George Town festival. He is definitely one of the most famous graffiti artists in Penang with a huge number of murals to his credit. Over the years he’s come back to top up the original artwork to keep it looking fresh for us! You can help this little cutie for yourself at 14, Lebuh Cannon, 10300 George Town.
Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur | Earnest Zacharevic
“C’monnnn, we’re going for a T-rek”
Another one of Earnest Zacharevic’s pieces from the 2012 Georgetown Festival. The mixture of realism of the little boy and the childish line drawing makes this mural so special – like his pet dinosaur is one of the boys doodles or even a figment of his imagination! Unfortunately it seems that the mural suffered some fading and damage, but was restored in 2014 and looks amazing again! Hunt down this funky piece on Lebuh Ah Quee, 10300 George Town next to the “Boy on Motorbike”.
I want Pau! | WK Setor
“They see me rolling / they hating / they tryna catch me selling Pao”
Okay, okay. No this technically is not a pun, but this song just springs to mind every-time I see this piece of Penang street art. I swear someone else out there will find this amusing too.. Anyways, this funky piece was actually commissioned to be created by the owner of the bakery which is just behind these walls. In-fact, the smiling kids you see trying to catch me are said to be modelled on the owners real kids! Go find these hungry kiddos for yourself at 26, Lebuh Victoria, 10200 George Town.
Minion Shouting | artist unknown
“Keep it down!! The noise you’re making is despicable”
We haven’t found out very much about this piece of Penang street art, but it screams fun! You can find this noisy Minion right opposite the Boy on Motorbike on Lebuh Ah Quee, 10300 George Town.
Boy on Motorbike | Earnest Zacharevic
Poor kid must be wheely wheely tyred of people trying to catch a lift home…
Another one of the infamous Earnest Zacharevic’s innovate artworks! So quirky and fun to get involved in! Ride along to 12, Lebuh Ah Quee, 10300 George Town to find this interactive Penang street art!
Hoola Hoop basketball | Louis Gan
“Let’s play basketwall!”
This fun and interactive mural is the first of two Penang street art piece created by the deaf and mute artist Louis Gan. Find the siblings for a bounce around at 59 Gat Lebuh Chulia, 10200 George Town, its a bit hidden down the side street next to Container Hostel.
Brother and Sister on a Swing | Louis Gan
No I’m the king of the swingers!
I think this is our favourite of all the Penang street art. It is childish and quirky yet incredibly simple. The painting style really brings the children’s adorable smiles to life. Come and be silly with this mural by Penang local Louis Gan at 63, Gat Lebuh Chulia, 10200 George Town.
Kids on Bicycle | Earnest Zacharevic
“WOOAH, SLOW DOWN. You cycle-path!”
We’ll leave you with this final crazy piece from Earnest Zacharevic, and arguably one of the most famous Penang street arts. 2, Lebuh Armenian, 10300 George Town. I challenge you to create such an awkward looking photo for yourself, bonus points if you can make the same face!
Where is the coolest graffiti you’ve seen? The Penang street art is up there as some of the best we’ve ever seen!
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For more Penang street art:
- Some of the more unusual and hidden street art – The Blonde Passport
- A useful DIY graffiti walking tour – The Next Somewhere (this is the map we followed to find all of these gems – go check it out!)
- A comprehensive collection of the street art throughout Penang – Miles and Smiles Away