Artist call-out : First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams 2024

Tue 3 October

The First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams are back in 2024 and we’re looking for five First Peoples artists who can inspire the city with their creative vision.

The history of Melbourne’s art trams dates back to 1978 when artist Mika Mora hand-painted a W-Class tram that captured the imagination of the public and art world. Since then the project has attracted some of Australia’s most renowned artists.

In 2024, RISING's First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams return to the tracks, presented in partnership with Public Transport Victoria, Yarra Trams and Creative Victoria. Jarra Karalinar  Steel (Boon Wurrung/Wemba Wemba)—a previous Melbourne Art Trams artist and curator of Melbourne Art Trams 2022 and 2023—is back to curate the program. Six trams will again celebrate First Peoples' dynamic expressions of culture. Each of the successful artists will receive a $10,000 commission.

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2024 Curatorial Statement


Over the past three years, the art trams have been dedicated to First Peoples artists working and living in Victoria and have become emblematic of Melbourne's unrivalled artistic spirit, enchanting commuters, and passers-by alike. From visionary artists who fearlessly pushed boundaries to creators who celebrated themes of identity, country, community, representation, traditional craft, and visions of a better future, the previous works have invigorated the city's cultural landscape.

Breaking free from a dedicated theme, this year's trams are your time to embrace your artistic freedom, unleashing a kaleidoscope of narratives, styles, and perspectives that reflect the vibrant essence of First Peoples culture, art, and design.

Seize this unique opportunity to showcase your exceptional talent, claim your space, and inspire the city with your creative vision.

Together, let us ignite inspiration, provoke innovation, and enliven Melbourne's streets through these artful trams. It is through art that we forge connections, amplify our voices, and propel Melbourne's creative soul ever forward.

This year we will be working with the Ellen José Memorial Foundation to dedicate one of 2024’s trams to Artist Ellen José (1951-2017). Ellen José was a pioneer in Australia’s urban Indigenous art movement and a radical activist and social justice campaigner. It is an honour to celebrate this important Artist and Torres Strait Islander Aueswau (Elder), who was an artist that helped pave the way for many other First Peoples Artists.

What we are looking for

  • Originality of work
  • Innovative ideas
  • Different mediums
  • Your Voice
  • Culturally responsible works, no appropriated art styles, or stories if they are not connected to your language groups
  • Consideration of place
  • Consideration of how this work will be seen going through the streets of Melbourne
  • Works that will be eye catching and thought provoking
  • Colour and life

Themes that could be explored

For those who might need a little help, if you need some prompts.

  • Traditional stories (from your own language group)
  • Indigenous perspectives, practices and ways of knowing
  • Truth telling
  • Expression of identity and self
  • Climate change/care for country
  • Care for country
  • Traditional crafts
  • Our Heroes
  • Community
  • Protecting our precious wildlife
  • Celebration of culture
  • Our city

The Brief

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.
Five artists will be selected to participate in the 2024 Melbourne Art Trams Project. We encourage artists from both metro Melbourne/Naarm 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.

Submission Criteria

The following 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 (i.e. riding the tramlines each day)

Tram Design Considerations

  • 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

Who can apply?

To be selected as a 2024 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 2024.

Who decides?

The 2024 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 and consultant for self-representation of Kulin and Victorian First Peoples Art and culture and making sure it is kept alive and thriving. Jarra was appointed to the Curator role through RISING’s 2022 First Peoples Melbourne Art Tram Curator call-out and is returning for her third year after the success of this year’s ‘Blak Futurism’ theme. RISING's 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 2024 curator Jarra Karalinar Steel endorsed by the Melbourne Art Tram Partnership Group comprising representatives of Creative Victoria, Department of Transport and Planning, 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.

What you will get

Five (5) successful artists will each receive a commission of $10,000AUD for their artwork. This fee is exclusive of materials required for the commission. All costs associated with the presentation of the trams will be covered by RISING and partners.

Timeline and Key Milestones

Artists must have capacity from mid January—mid March 2024 to provide final artwork for the project.

  • Artist Expressions of Interests open: Tuesday 3rd October—Sunday 19 November, 2023
  • Selected Artists notified: Friday 15 December
  • Artists work with Curator and Graphic Designer to prepare artworks: January—March 2024
  • Final artwork submitted: Monday 11 March 2024
  • Artwork production and installation: April—May 2024
  • Media Launch and Opening of Melbourne Art Trams with the first tram on the network: Late May 2024

How to apply

Submissions close 6PM, Sunday 19 November 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

There are two ways you can submit your artwork:

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

  2. Email 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
    • Pronouns
    • Phone Number
    • Language Group (optional)
    • Artwork name (optional)
    • Artwork File and File Sharing Password (if required)
    • An outline of your artwork idea (300 words)
    • Supporting material to illustrate your idea
    • Artist bio (300 words)
    • Website link or examples of previous work



These low resolution templates are for placing existing image/s of your work (such as a photo of your artwork) into line drawings of each tram 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 recreate 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 tram.

Consider the large scale and ratio of the tram and visualise how your work will be applied across the width of the tram. It is best to avoid hard edges, so your work should be created with the full width of the tram canvas in mind. To give some idea, a D class tram is a similar ratio to five A3 pages laid side by side in landscape. We encourage you to take a look at the past successful applicants final designs and how they utilised the tram canvas.

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.

If you are a digital artist, see the FAQ below about artwork setup.


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 and 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.


Successful artists will be notified in mid-December 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 from mid January to mid March 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 2024. Remaining Art Trams will be released over the following weeks. Trams will be run on the network for 12 months (unless impacted operationally).

Frequently Asked Questions


Expression of Interest submissions open from Monday 25 September 2023 and close 6PM, Friday 19 November 2023. Selected artists will be notified and begin work on the final designs from mid-December. Dates will be confirmed with successful artists if selected. The 2024 Melbourne Art Trams launch will coincide with the RISING festival dates in early June 2024.


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.


Artists are not required to have digital skills, and you do not need to be a digital artist to apply for the Melbourne Art Trams.

You can submit photos of your works, but we’d like you to consider the scale and ratio of the tram, and show how your work will be applied across the width of the tram. To give some idea, a D class tram is a similar ratio to five A3 pages laid side by side in landscape.


At a minimum, you should submit two (2) files in total. You should submit visualisations of how your work would be applied to the B-Class and a D1-Class. 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.


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.


If you are creating your artwork digitally, an example of canvas size for the D class Tram will be approximately 2,600mm x 430mm at a DPI of 400 (approx. 40,000px x 7,000px). Try to keep all your important elements in layers, so that you have flexibility to move elements depending on which tram class you may be selected for.


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.


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.


Yes—your artwork copyright will remain with you (the artist) at all times. RISING, Creative Victoria, Department of Transport and Planning 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.

RISING may bring on philantrophic or commercial partners which support the objectives of the Melbourne Art Trams project.

Image Credits: 2023 Melbourne Art Tram by Amina Biggs (Boonwurrung/Erub). Photo: Carmen Zammit.

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