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Melburnians offered the chance to 'pimp' their myki cards

Date

Mex Cooper

To most Melburnians myki cards are a necessary evil, a little green annoyance that they are duty-bound to carry everywhere.

But for Adam Grant, the public transport card is a blank canvas offering the chance to bring a smile to the most weary of commuters.

Purely for fun, Grant runs a business called Pimp My Myki that allows card holders to send in their mykis to be "pimped" with colourful backgrounds, animal pictures and, if you're lucky, some trails of glitter. He then posts back the cards, free of charge.

Alternatively, you can pay Grant $12 and he will buy a new myki (value $6), give it a makeover, and send it to you all within a week.

The side of the myki featuring the serial number remains untouched while the flip side often features a collage of pictures cut from old children's books found in op-shops.

Grant doesn't make money from the venture, which he describes as "silly and whimsical", and said it was part of his bid to try and embrace "middle-shelf ideas" - the ones that seem like they'd be fun but are easy to ignore because they are just out of reach and would require some effort or money to bring to fruition.

"Why not live your life plucking those ideas that are achievable but that maybe don't have a direct benefit to yourself and do them anyway," he said.

The 31-year-old from Fitzroy North said he earned a decent salary as a full-time digital content manager and could afford to fund projects designed just to add a little fun to life.

Originally from Newcastle, Grant moved to Melbourne about six years ago when myki was regularly in the headlines and topping many Melburnians' most-hated lists. 

"I though it would be really interesting to see how they dealt with it on a marketing product placement kind of way and expected they would have had some sort of personalised service," he said. 

But alas, not even AFL team colours were offered. Six months later, Grant got talking to friends about the idea and decided he'd do it himself.

"I thought, 'sure, I can make a website'. That's how ideas get actioned these days," he said.

Since starting in February, Grant estimates he's sent out about 200 transformed mykis.

If the idea sounds slightly odd, it's not that left-of-centre for a man whose other side projects include Jafflechutes - Melbourne's first "float-down eatery". It involves throwing toasted sandwiches attached to parachutes from tall buidlings to waiting customers below. Grant and a friend have managed to raise more than $5000 for the idea through crowdsourcing, and are taking it to New York next month.

Technically, according to Public Transport Victoria rules, a myki is invalid if it has been "altered, defaced or mutilated".

A PTV spokeswoman said designs applied to mykis could damage the cards or make them harder to electronially read.

"Cards which cannot be read are not valid for travel, and PTV recommends customers look after their myki and do not tamper with it in this way," she said.

Grant says he at first felt sheepish showing his redesigned myki to inspectors but now presents it almost with a flourish.

"I've never had a negative reaction unless confusion is a negative expression," he said.

On his return from the US, Grant is planning "pimp my myki" 2.0 - with one design split over two cards that are sent to random strangers who are told that somewhere out there is the other half to their picture.

And if all that wasn't quirky enough, Grant offers myki holders the choice to "Bearki" or simply "pimp" their cards.

A bearki option will result in a design featuring a bear, while a standard pimp my myki option could involve any animal or design.

"It was just to reinforce that it was a bit of a joke and why not have something so ridiculous as a bear on your myki?" he said.

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