Out of the Galleries and Into the Streets – a Tour of 5 of the Best Graffiti Art Cities in the World

Posted on August 12, 2014 in - Beyond Design, Art & Graphic Design, Graphic Design

We are in a golden age of street art where Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Kaws, Thierry Guetta, and a host of other artists have been elevated to major artist and even celebrity status. With this new found sense of acceptance, graffiti art is arguably becoming less brash and rebellious and more co-opted by galleries and the media.

Nevertheless, graffiti art is still as controversial as ever and anyone who drives on city freeways everyday is likely to think that graffiti art is just some ungodly spider web of tagged walls and messages without much thought, skill, or artistic vision. This is an unfortunate opinion because I think it’s fair to say that every city has its taggers and defacers, but there is another world that people may not be aware of that is a world away from all of the freeway sprayers. In fact there are some cities around the world that are particularly known for their visionary graffiti art.

Rather than sticking with the obvious (New York, London, Paris, Rome etc.) we’ve chosen the following cities that you might not think of as being hotbeds of graffiti art. We’ve also picked these cities because they represent a particular sense of anarchy, wit, and social commentary that made graffiti art so infamous in the first place.

1. Prague, Czech Republic

As a European tourist destination, Prague is one of the success stories of the past 20 years; transforming itself from a bleak iron curtain city into a hedonistic city of food, art, culture, drinking, partying, and other such debauchery. It’s a brilliant city that has a quirky and dark aesthetic that goes back centuries, from its 17th Century church made out of human bones and skulls (Kutná Hora) to its edgy street art that is often more “high art” than hip-hop.

The most famous piece of street art in the city is the John Lennon Wall (right next to the Charles Bridge) where people go to scrawl and spray messages to the cultural icon. Nearby, you’ll find a monumental piece by legendary artist, Pasta Oner whose graphical, cartoonish images and use of super contrast are eye-shockingly cool and recognizable.

But interesting street art in Prague is in every corner of the city and much of it is radically different from the traditional US graffiti and mirrors a more progressive European style. Visit the city, and art fans can drool over street art by graffiti luminaries such as Jan Kaláb, HoNet, and Sainer. Graffiti art is everywhere in Prague but especially in the Old Town, New Town, Karlín, Libeň and Holešovice districts.

street art prague 1

Original source: http://www.pragueurbanadventures.com/story/street_art_in_prague

The famous Blockbuster piece by Pasta Oner on the corner of Verdunska street

 

street art prague 2

Image courtesy of: http://www.amazon.com/The-World-Atlas-Street-Graffiti/dp/0300199422

The surreal and quirky world of HoNeT

street art prague 3

Original source: http://www.fatcap.com/graffiti/

Expressive Sainer art on an abandoned building in Prague

 

street art prague

Original source: http://www.fatcap.com/graffiti/

Emotionally charged piece by Chemis

 

street art prague 5

 Original source: http://www.fatcap.com/graffiti/

Famous Prague artist, Jan Kaláb shows his action packed and original style

 

2. Melbourne, Australia

Australia itself is not primarily known for its plethora of artists and bohemian individuals but this has never been true of its major cities. Melbourne in particular is quickly becoming known within the street art world for being a focal point for artists and graffiti art. As Australia’s graffiti capital, the city takes influence from indigenous cultures as well as European and American styles, thus creating a unique blend of traditional and modern graffiti art.

The city attracts a host of the world’s great graffiti artists but also has its own crop of world famous local street artists such as Del Kathryn Barton, Rone, Deb, and Kaffeine. The style of graffiti art in the city is unbelievably eclectic with traditional graffiti on one corner and high-art murals on another; the perfect mix for street art fans.

One of the major reasons why Melbourne is such an epicenter for street art is because they allow graffiti in a specific street in the city named Hosier lane. When travelling to the city, head straight for Hosier Lane and you will be treated to some of the most badass graffiti pieces you’ll ever see.

street art melbourne 3

Original source: http://www.fatcap.com/graffiti/

Deb shows off her awesomely cool characters and design style

 

street art melbourne 1

Original source: http://melbournelove.tumblr.com/

Two pieces by the mighty and “everfresh” Rone (the eyes follow you everywhere!)

 

melbourne street art 4

Original source: http://www.fatcap.com/graffiti/

Traditional pieces by Sabeth with a touch of futuristic flair

 

street art melbourne 2

Original source: https://www.flickr.com/groups/paintitblack/

A beautifully poetic piece by artist, Kaffeine

 

street art melbourne 5

Original source: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/del-kathryn-barton

The stunningly beautiful nouveau style of world famous artist, Del Kathryn Barton

3. Santiago, Chile

 If any city could be said to have it’s own unique style of graffiti it’s Santiago.  And although Santiago has a problem with taggers defacing monuments (which genuine street artists hate, and you should too) the street art in Santiago is defined by its radiant colors, exquisite detail, and illustrative style.

This is especially true of hometown legends such as INTI and Charquipunk whose work is an explosion of detail and color that reflects modern illustration style twinned with traditional patterns, religion, and native subject matters. There seems to be an uncommonly high level of technical skill and ambition of these artists who have created multiple  full-wall pieces all over the city that are packed with intricate details and nuances; highly original in style and design, they are a joy to behold.

The three best neighborhoods in Santaigo to experience street art are Barrio Bellavista within the Providencia quarter, the Barrio Lastarria in the Universidad Catolica area, and the Barrio Brasil district in the Los Condes area.

 street art santiago

 Original source: http://www.streetartutopia.com/

Mural at the Museo a Cielo Abierto San Miguel shows the  perplexing characters and weirdly wonderful world of INTI

 

street art santiago 2

Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/charquipunk/

The stunningly beautiful work of Charquipunk – street art doesn’t get more grand and impressive than this!

 

shepard fairey santiago street art

Original source: http://www.jaunted.com/travel-photos/full/342/Street+Art+in+Santiago

Shepard Fairey visited Santiago to create this awesome piece

 

street art santiago

Original source: http://www.jaunted.com/travel-photos/full/342/Street+Art+in+Santiago

A supercool piece by Eliza Ysek

 

santiago  street art 5

Original source: http://www.fatcap.com/graffiti/

A monumentally, spectacularly, badass collab by Maher, Fiam, Aner, Gvz, and Fije

 

4.Bristol, UK

It would be difficult to do a blog about street art and not mention this particular city in the UK. It is, after all, the home of Banksy, the most notorious street artist of them all (love him or hate him, you have to recognize his influence on the movement.) Rivalling London itself, Bristol is a serious hotspot for new and exciting street art.

Among the popular Bristol street artists are Mr. Jago, DanK, Andy Council, 3dom, and Shab.  These artists are suprisingly different from what you’d expect from the city that gave us Banksy. They’re all very different and edgy artists in their own terms but they all retain more of a traditional graffiti vibe when compared to the “visual joke” paper-pasted work that made Banksy so famous (although there are still a hanfull of Banksyesque artists that frequent walls and billboards in Bristol.)

To see some incredible street art in Bristol, head to Nelson Street that was famous for the See No Evil project in 2011 in which many local street artists painted tower blocks and office blocks with super rad pieces.

street art bristol
Original source: http://www.fatcap.com/graffiti/

The pollock style quality of Mr. Jago’s Graffiti

 

street art bristol

Original source: http://www.bristol-street-art.co.uk/

Object gives us all a laugh by amending this McDonalds billboard (Banksy’s legacy is still alive and well in Bristol)

 

bristol street art

Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shabbristol/

The instantly recognizable art of Shab who’s been graffiti hustling since the 80’s

 

street art bristol

Original source: http://www.bristol-street-art.co.uk/

Cool cartoon colab piece by Ponk and 3dom

 

street art bristol 5

Original source: https://www.facebook.com/BristolGSA

Amazingly big and beautiful work-in-progress piece by Dank that has an impressionistic vibe

 

bristol street art

Original source: http://www.bristol-street-art.co.uk/

Andy Council’s spectacular piece for the See No Evil project on Nelson Street

 

5. Taipei

Taipei is quickly becoming the Asian continents mecca for street art thanks to a bit of a legal grey area in which graffiti is (kinda, sorta’) legal! It’s pretty amazing stuff too with some of the best traditional hip-hop style grafitti art as well as some really inventive and progressive street art.

Taipei draws famous graffiti artists to it from China and the rest of the world, with people like Candy Bird contributing some major pieces to the cities lexicon of great works. You will also get to see the work of Singapore artists, Ink & Clog as well as a mass of brilliant local artist work.

When visiting Taipei, head to the Ximending area where you will experience wall after wall of insanely brilliant street art.

 

street art taipei

Original source: http://www.angloitalianfollowus.com/2013/07/ximen-the-street-art-mecca-of-taipei/

Walk down the street in the Ximending district and there’s wall-after-wall of awesome work.

 

street art taipei

Original source:http://taipei543.com/2013/01/03/urban-art-street-graffiti-at-nangang-bottle-cap-factory/

Excellently funny piece decorating the old bottle-capping factory near the Nangang station (artist unknown)

 

street art teipei 3

Original source: http://www.angloitalianfollowus.com/

The colorful and surreal style of Candy Bird in the Taipei Artists Village

 

street art taipei

Original source: http://www.angloitalianfollowus.com/2013/07/ximen-the-street-art-mecca-of-taipei/

Skullriffic design by Ink & Clog in the Ximending district

 

street art taipei

Original source: https://www.facebook.com/cyh.works

Artist, Cyh Jayson poses on the wall of his super rad, naïve style graffiti in the Beitou district

 

street art taipei

Original source: http://www.angloitalianfollowus.com/2013/07/ximen-the-street-art-mecca-of-taipei/

Superb traditional piece by superstar graffiti artist, Egg Fiasco

 

graffiti_taipei_5

Original source: http://www.angloitalianfollowus.com/2013/07/ximen-the-street-art-mecca-of-taipei/

Graphically cool and clever piece by Citymark in the Ximending district

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About Leslie Handmaker

By Leslie Handmaker who is a fan of street art and clever graphic design and is on Google+. In addition to writing for Next Day Flyers, she hides out in movie theaters and bowling alleys when the weather is bad, and is on her way to becoming a Scrabble geek.

View all posts by Leslie Handmaker

2 Responses to “Out of the Galleries and Into the Streets – a Tour of 5 of the Best Graffiti Art Cities in the World”

  1. iris@yo-gallery.com'
    Iris Says:

    Hello!

    My name is Iris, I ran a street art gallery in Taipei.
    My folks and I are honored that you mentioned Taipei in your blog.
    (And actually – Cyh Jayson’s picture in Beitou district, the girl, that is me :) )
    Im wondering if you could nicely allow me translate this article into Chinese so more Taiwanese people can read about this.
    I would post this article in my gallery page (www.yo-gallery.com) and FB page,
    and we hope to help more people here in Taiwan appreciate street art.

    All goes well

    iris

    Reply

    • ben Says:

      Hi Iris,

      My name is Ben, and I’m the Chief Editor of this blogsite. So glad you liked our article and we love Cyh’s work (the picure of you and Cyh is great!) Please feel free to translate and use wherever you want. Please just give us some love and link back to the original article whenever publishing.

      Thanks.

      Reply

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