“I just wanted to put a little bit of happiness in the community.”
That is how the artist who Barbie-fied an Act Party campaign hoarding has described his latest brushwork.
The artist hoped turning Act Party leader David Seymour into a buff Ken lookalike with a headband and sleeveless denim jacket would make people smile.
The sign on Cambridge Rd in Tauranga - which also featured a pink jeep and palm trees from the blockbuster Barbie movie - was “a no-brainer”.
“All the Act signs are pink so that was an easy one to nut out. I thought it would be fun, especially for the traffic as it’s shocking in Tauranga. It puts a little bit of happiness in the community as morale is quite low at the moment.
“This is such a dismal time so it’s just one little way to spice it up.”
By his own admission, the artist preferred not to “muck about with politics” and held no favouritism.
However, he asked for anonymity because he hoped to transform more candidate signs during the election and has taken time off to do so despite having a heavy backlog of work.
“I’m not going to put anyone down but I’ll make them all a bit fun and try to hammer them all in Tauranga. It’s an ambitious task as I’m literally booked for four years and I’ve just run away because I felt this needed to happen.
“I’ve got a lot of plans for all of them but this was a good start with David.”
He remained tight-lipped about what characters other candidates could look forward to morphing into but said “I’ve got a lot of tricks”.
In 2014, the artist revamped then Prime Minister John Key into caped crusader Batman and local Tauranga MP Simon Bridges into his sidekick Robin and repeated a similar theme in 2020 with the Joker, who was believed to be Todd Muller.
David Seymour told the NZ Herald, “I just love it.”
Usually, he despised vandalism done to the campaign signs, typically consisting of black spray paint and obscene language.
“However, there’s an exception to every rule and this is the greatest piece of billboard vandalism I’ve ever seen,” Seymour said.
He admitted this was the first time he had been compared to this year’s biggest heart-throb, actor Ryan Gosling, but he said it was a very “flattering comparison”.
“But nevertheless, I was pretty happy with the result here and I’d be fascinated to know how they actually did it,” Seymour said.
Seymour intends to leave the sign up for the remainder of the campaign, calling the sign “more than Kenough”.
It comes as the campaign season nears the end of a busy first week. Act has remained steady in the polls, only dropping a few points in the most recent Newshub and 1News polls.
Seymour said the polls had shown a lot of variation, with some saying his part was at 18 per cent and others at 10 per cent.
“It’s very difficult to tell which ones are real, I suspect Act is higher than 10 and lower than 18, somewhere in the middle,” Seymour said.
Carmen Hall is a news director for the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post, covering business and general news. She has been a Voyager Media Awards winner and a journalist for 25 years.