2023 Melbourne Art Trams

First Peoples Artists Call-Out

Fri 9 December

Apply now for the 2023 First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams, responding to the theme ‘Blak Futurism’.

The Melbourne Art Trams Program returns in 2023, featuring all designs by First Peoples artists, and in partnership with Public Transport Victoria, Yarra Trams and Creative Victoria.

Melbourne/Naarm is a city built on the lands of the Kulin Nation peoples; Traditional Owners who continue to maintain deep connections to their country, kin and waterways that have existed for tens of thousands of years. Along with Victorian Traditional Owners, Melbourne/Naarm is home to many First Peoples from across the country.

In 2023 Jarra Karalinar Steel (Boonwurrung/Wemba Wemba), a previous Melbourne Art Trams artist and curator of Melbourne Art Trams 2022 will return as curator to take on this important piece of Melbourne’s artistic landscape.

Please read all the information on this page carefully before applying.

Submissions for 2023 Melbourne Art Trams are now closed.


‘Blak Futurism’ is the theme for the 2023 Melbourne Art Trams, curated by Boon Wurrung/Wemba Wemba artist and curator, Jarra Karalinar Steel.

The future holds a world of possibilities. But our capacity to imagine and create these realities has been impacted by colonisation.

The theme Blak Futurism asks you to envision better futures for Australian First Peoples.

How do we reclaim space? How can we own our future? How do you envision a Blak tomorrow?

To build a Blak future we need to look our past and present in the eye; listen to our leaders, heroes, Elders; explore our culture, arts, knowledge, identity; and connect with place and the care for country.

A Blak future requires breaking free of the status quo and disconnecting from expectations. Can you imagine a future you have only dared to dream?

Interpret the theme in any way you wish.


  • Alternative worlds
  • Future folklore / traditional stories
  • Indigenous perspectives, practices, and ways of knowing
  • Expression of identity
  • Climate change/care for country
  • Joy: what makes you happy and excited for the future?


  • Originality of work
  • Innovative ideas
  • Different mediums
  • Culturally responsible works, no appropriated art styles, or stories if they are not connected to your language groups
  • Consideration of place
  • Colour and life

We acknowledge the term ‘Blak’ was coined by Destiny Deacon for the 1994 collaborative First Nations group exhibition, Blakness: Blak City Culture! featuring the work of Destiny Deacon. Curators of the exhibition Clare Williamson and Hetti Perkins described Destiny Deacon’s development of the term ‘Blak’ as “part of a symbolic, but potent strategy of reclaiming colonialist language to create means of self-definition and expression”.


We are inviting Victorian Traditional Owners and First Peoples artists to respond to Melbourne/Naarm and the multiple layers of history, country, community, and connections across Victoria.

Six artists will be selected to participate in the 2023 Melbourne Art Trams Project. We encourage artists from both the city and regional Victoria to apply.

Submissions should add positively to the public experience of commuting in Melbourne. Please note that the trams are not a flat canvas, so the initial creative concept should consider that trams are different shapes and sizes. It’s important you consider your design to all the types of tram classes—this will facilitate the tram allocation process. Please read the Tram Design Considerations and FAQs below for more detailed information on this.


The following submission criteria applies:

  • Strength of the creative vision
  • Originality of response to the creative brief outlined in the curatorial statement
  • Technical feasibility
  • How the artwork responds to its context (ie. riding the tramlines each day)


To be selected as a 2023 Melbourne Art Trams artist:

  • You must be a Victorian Traditional Owner OR
  • First Peoples artist where Victoria is the primary location in which you live and work OR
  • First Peoples artist whose practice or body of work over the last three years has primarily taken place in Victoria

Artists who submitted an Expression of Interest in previous years but were unsuccessful are encouraged to submit a new idea for 2023.


Six (6) successful artists will each receive a commission of $10,000AUD for their artwork.



These templates are for placing an existing image or images of your work (such as a photo of your artwork) into the tram template for the purpose of visualisation of your concept for the EOI Application only. You will be given time to work with a graphic designer to adjust the artwork for a tram if you are selected.

There are four classes of trams of different shapes and sizes which will be the canvas for your work. To get a sense of how your artwork will work on the range of trams available, we’re asking you to apply your artwork onto a B-Class and a D1-Class.

Download the tram templates and place your artwork onto the line drawings of each tram type. The Photoshop templates are for the purpose of the EOI application and are a visualisation exercise only. A graphic designer will work with you to translate your design into final artwork for the trams.

If you’re not familiar with using Adobe Photoshop, please provide detailed artwork imagery with indicative examples of what your work would look like on the tram—think colour palette, design and layout. You definitely don’t need to be a graphic design whiz to apply.


  • Imagery should not be offensive to the general public
  • Be aware that the artwork needs to be appropriate for display on a moving vehicle, most impressions of trams are 3—5 seconds
  • Note that there are reflective yellow strips at the base of each door for accessibility
  • Artwork graphics are not to be applied on shaded areas on the tram wrap grid, these areas are kept clear for safety. Sections of windows that are covered by the artwork will be printed on a semi-transparent material
  • Perforated vinyl is used on windows, at night this becomes more transparent with the interior lights on
  • During warm weather the windows will be open, shifting the wrapped element with it
  • Artworks which are reflective, are predominantly black or red, or which resemble streetscapes would be a road hazard when applied to a tram and will not be able to be selected for safety reasons
  • Tram ends should remain visible for safety reasons (avoiding black)
  • Designs that include black and dark colours are possible, particularly when featuring high contrast
  • Artwork can be different on each side of the tram
  • No artwork will be placed on the front/back of the tram


Artists must have capacity in February 2023 to provide final artwork for the project.

  • Artist Expressions of Interest open — Fri 9 December 2022—Sun 15 January 2023
  • Selected artists notified — Friday 27 January 2023
  • Final Artwork approvals — March 2023
  • Artistic statements and marketing text completed — February—March 2023
  • Artwork Production and installation — April—May 2023
  • Media Launch and first 2023 tram on the network — early June 2023


Submissions closed 6PM, Sunday 15 January 2023

If you have access requirements that will cause difficulty submitting online, and you need assistance submitting your idea, please call 03 9662 4242, Monday to Friday, between 9AM–5PM. We are only able to respond to accessibility enquiries at this number, for all other queries email arttrams@rising.melbourne.

There are two ways you can submit your artwork of the six (6) tram designs:

  1. Fill in the form below and upload your artwork and supporting material OR

  2. Email arttrams@rising.melbourne with your artwork as an attachment (please be mindful of file sizes and consider using a file sharing link—make sure you include any passwords so we can access them). You’ll also need to include the following information about yourself:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Language group
  • Your artwork file + file sharing password
  • An outline of your artwork idea (300 words)
  • Supporting material to illustrate your idea
  • Artist bio (300 words)
  • Website link


You will need to submit two (2) files in total. There are six(6) art trams of different types: A-Class, B-Class, C1-Class, B-Class and D1-Class. If successful, the curator will advise you on which tram type your work will be featured on to complete the final artwork.


  • Please provide your artwork and supporting material as either .JPG, .PNG, .TIFF, .GIF, or .PDF files
  • Do not create your final art using these templates. The templates are low resolution. If selected, your final artwork will need to be supplied in the Adobe Illustrator template/s. The final artwork needs to be created/ photographed at very high resolution
  • RISING can provide technical assistance for your final art file
  • Artwork generated on an iPad is generally not of high enough resolution for the tram production requirements, and we are unable to assist technically


A. The 2023 Melbourne Art Trams curator is multi-disciplinary artist Jarra Karalinar Steel, known for her art tram, emu engravings, poster art, powerful large scale public installations, digital/augmented reality art and commemorative signage. Jarra is of Boonwurrung, Wemba Wemba and Trawlwoolway. She has her Master of Arts (Art in Public Space) from RMIT and is a passionate advocate/consultant for self-representation of Kulin and Victorian First Peoples Art and culture and making sure it is kept alive and thriving.

Jarra was the successful applicant from RISING’s call out for the 2022 First People’s Melbourne Art Tram Curator. And is returning for her second year after the success of this year's Art trams “Unapologetically Blak”. RISING Artistic Associate and Co-Artistic Directors evaluated applicants on the strength of the creative vision, originality of curatorial statement and experience in curation, project management and working collaboratively with First Peoples community.

Submissions will be selected by the 2023 curator Jarra Karalinar Steel endorsed by the Melbourne Art Tram Partnership Group comprising representatives of Creative Victoria, Department of Transport, Yarra Trams and RISING. This group will be made up of a majority of First Peoples with additional members to support technical and marketing requirements.


Successful artists will be notified in mid-January and publicly announced soon after.

Selected artists will be allocated a tram type in order to finalise their artwork before it is transferred to the vinyl wrap. The curator and graphic designer will be available to assist artists with this and in digitising work where needed. Artists must be available during this period—last two weeks of February—to complete the project.

Yarra Trams and the Melbourne Art Trams Curator have final decision on tram selection for the selected artists for health and safety and design purposes.

Artwork will be printed and applied to the trams and the launch of the first Melbourne Art Tram will mark the opening of RISING 2023. Remaining Art Trams will be released over the following weeks. Trams will be run on the network for 12 months (unless impacted operationally).


Q. What are the timlines for the Melbourne Art Trams?
A. Expression of Interest submissions open from Friday 9 December 2022 and close 6PM, Sunday 15 January 2023. Selected artists will be notified and begin work on the final designs from early-February. Dates will be confirmed with successful artists if selected. The 2023 Melbourne Art Trams launch will coincide with the RISING festival dates in early June 2023.

Q. What kind of visual support material should I include?
A. Any extra imagery, sketches or visual representations of your idea can be included. We recommend providing at least four supporting additional visuals to your main design.

Q. Do I need to be able to use Adobe Photoshop to submit?
A. No, you can also apply your artwork to the PDF versions of the files. Alternatively, you can submit digitised versions of your artwork (eg. A photo) instead, but we’d like you to indicate colour palette and a tram layout. Please submit as .JPG, .PNG, .TIFF, .GIF, or .PDF.

Q. How will the artworks be installed?
A. Artwork will be installed and managed by Yarra Trams in collaboration with the curator and artists. At the end of the project run, artwork vinyl will be removed from the tram and cannot be reinstated.

Q. How will my artwork be acknowledged on the tram?
A. Information panels about the artist and the work will be displayed inside the tram. The artist will be acknowledged on the RISING website and in any other marketing or promotional material specific to this project produced after festival.

Q. If my artwork is selected, do I retain the copyright?
A. Yes—your artwork copyright will remain with you (the artist) at all times. RISING, Creative Victoria, Department of Transport and Yarra Trams retain the right to use images of the wrapped tram in future promotions of the Melbourne Art Trams project. Every effort will be made to acknowledge the artist in any use of images.


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