“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.” Banksy, Wall and Piece.
It is funny how, not so long ago, graffiti used to get a bad reputation and how it has now become a major tourist attraction. The title of my post may seem a bit controversial but don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Street Art! Every time I see a mural painting, a quote on a wall or even a small sticker, it makes me smile. You will very rarely see street art in posh neighborhoods and this is precisely why I enjoy it: I think it is a great way to beautify less attractive areas, discover hidden new talents and give pride to the inhabitants. And getting new visitors also means more money spent on the local shops, bars, and restaurants, right? Some tour companies are now specialized in Urban Art and I had the chance to book these tours in two very different cities: London and Rio of Janeiro (like everything I write and post here, this is NOT a sponsored post). I also added some pictures of the Wynwood murals in Miami, which blew me away last February.
Run the mouse over the pictures for the artists names (whenever I could find them). You can leave a comment if you recognize an artist I have not tagged. Thank you !!
London, March 2017
Everyone seems to agree that the best London Graffiti are located in Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Spitalfields, where world-known artists like Banksy, Roa, Zabou, Mr. Cenz, JimmyC (and many others) show their work. Thanks to my guide, I learned a lot about these artists, their different techniques (pointillism has no secret for me now 🙂 ) and the hidden stories behind their works. Strawberry Tours have a great catalog of walking tours but what is really amazing is that they are free! You can give whatever you want at the end of the visit and 10% of the money will go to a charity.
Rio de Janeiro, September 2017
Street Art has been decriminalized in Brazil in 2009 and every neighborhood in Rio now seems to have dozens of graffiti and mural paintings. The tour we booked through Local55 lasted 4 hours; it was very dense but OMG soooo interesting. We were wowed by the quantity and quality of the paintings and mosaics, especially in Lapa and Santa Teresa. But the most impressive work was located on Boulevard Olimpico. It took 40 days to Artist Eduardo Koba to make the biggest fresco on earth. It represents 5 faces symbolizing the 5 continents and a unique message of peace: “we are all one!” We were speechless. Please have a look at this impressive time-lapse video.
Local 55 tours Website. Ask for Edmundo. No Instagram account.
Wynwood Miami, February 2017
Wynwood used to be an obscure part of Miami where not a single tourist would venture but is now a hip neighborhood. How did this happen? A real estate mogul, Tony Goldman and his daughter Jessica had a vision about this area and bought 30 buildings/warehouses in 2009 (the right quantity to change a neighborhood, according to Jessica). In terms of architecture, there was nothing really exciting but as warehouses had no windows, they were perfect for urban art. Tony and Jessica decided to give a real soul to the area, inviting the best street artists to express themselves on their buildings and in a specific place called “Wynwood Walls”. Now, a trip to Miami would be incomplete without a visit to Wynwood, its art galleries, trendy shops, luscious bakeries, hip bars and restaurants and of course… its 80,000 square feet of covered walls.