Downtown Los Angeles Graffiti & Mural Walking Tour

A self described urban girl, art lover, and travel addict one of my favorite pastimes is “collecting” street art. It’s a hobby I picked up a few years ago, while traveling in Portugal. Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to have collected some great “pieces” from cities around the world, Glasgow, London, Paris and Seattle to name just a few*.

#DTLAArtsDistrict
Lucky for me Los Angeles has no shortage of local and international artists who are literally painting the town, enabling me to continue collecting even when I’m not on the road! I like to think of it as sort of a worldwide treasure hunt, and along the way, I’ve come to know and love the styles of many artists, recognizing their unique styles on sight.

#WRDSMTH
WRDSMTH is a favorite! I ❤️ his positive messages!

The scale, accessibility and temporary nature of street art are all part of its draw, and thanks to social media it’s easier than ever to follow and find new works by some of my favorite artists. When I do discover a fun new piece there’s no time to waste, as one never knows how long it will be on “display.” Legal, or not, you never know when it might be tagged, buffed over, or even torn down.

#WRDSMTHBandit
This  Bandit / WRDSMTH collaboration has since been buffed over.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of discovering pieces on my own, but recently I decided to enlist a little help, and signed up for a graffiti/mural walking tour in Downtown Los Angeles.

#dtlaartstour
The Tour Starts Here out side of Dejavita Boutique!

walking tour of DTLA was the perfect way to view the city’s vibrant mural and graffiti scene and get a feel for the neighborhood. Not only did we view amazing works of art, but we learned about the street art culture including, the techniques, territory, hierarchy and lingo of these incredibly talented artists. It was fascinating and I could go on and on, but let’s get to the art!

Colyton Street

#dtlagraffititour

Your tour begins and ends on Colyton Street just outside of Dejavita and Shreebs Coffee in the Arts District. The tours are led by local artists, and I’m sure just like their art, they all have their own style. Our guide started by giving us a quick lesson in street art vocabulary, “rules” and the history of the area.

We were excited to come back and explore this area after the tour, taking tons of photos and poking in and out of the various shops. I love the DTLA Arts Co-op, which sells local art, jewelry and clothing, some of which is based on art you might recognize from the tour.

The Container Yard

#bumblebeelovesyou
Bumblebeelovesyou & Mikael Brandup

Sadly, you won’t be able to see this Bumbleelovesyou and Mikael B. collaboration, as it’s been painted over. However, you can see the fresh new piece by Deferism, which took its place along with many other fantastic murals, which are located at the Container Yard, an undefined collaborative art space, in the heart of the DTLA Arts District and one stop on the tour. Other stops on the tour were located along Traction Avenue, at The Angel City Brewery, and along 3rd Street.  There was so much amazing art it was hard to decide which pieces to share…

#containeryardDTLA

Traction Avenue

#elmac
El Mac

Angel City Brewery

SAMSUNG CSC

3rd Street

#kimwest
Kim West
#jrpasteup
Paste up JR

The Lingo

Angels –  Famous or respected graffiti artists who have died. Sometimes represented by tags or tributes with halos above them.

Crew –  A group of artists who regularly collaborate often in the same part of town. Examples of local crews: UTI and Mad Society Kings

Legal Walls – Walls, buildings or neighborhoods where artists are encouraged to create graffiti. The ability to create without having to look out for the police means larger and more creative pieces.

Colyton Street DTLA Los Angeles California
Legal Wall behind Dejavita

Mural – A huge work, often on a legal wall. It might be done by an individual, an informal group, or a crew.

#roadtla
Roa

Piece or Masterpiece – Short for “masterpiece.” The term is frequently used to describe a more labor-intensive work.

#tristaneaton
Tristan Eaton

Stencil – A design cut into heavy paper or cardboard, then spray-painted onto a wall. A stencil may be a phrase, an image, or a combination thereof.

Tag – A stylized name or signature done with various materials, such as a marker or an aerosol spray can, often freehand.

#dame
Dame

Throw up – A tag or small “piece” thrown up in a hurry, often located down low.

#graffitithrowup
Throw up

Toy(s) – A derogatory term referring to either poor workmanship, or an inexperienced writer. Going over or “toying” someone else’s work is an act of disrespect. An acronym meaning Tag Over Your Shit.

Wheatpaste/ Pasteup – A type of street art which is literally pasted onto the wall using an adhesive made from flour and water.

#serenity77
Paste up

Woodup – Similar to a paste up, however the stencil is imprinted on wood and then pasted up. This little guy, Nicky Nailed It, is literally everywhere in Los Angeles, often in the least expected places!

Tips & Advice:

  • The Downtown LA Graffiti and Mural tour is offered on Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:30 am. The cost is $12.
  • Reserve your tickets in advance online.
  • The tour starts outside of Dejavita Boutique at 533 Colyton Street.
  • You’ll walk around 2 miles over the course of 2.5 hours.
  • You will be continuously walking and standing for the majority of the tour. It might might not appeal to younger children.
  • Proper attire and walking shoes highly recommended.
  • After the tour, consider exploring the area on your own…

You never know what you might find!

#isabellegorilla

*As you can see my street art collection has grown substantially in recent months, and I’m still collecting, so stay tuned for more discoveries from both near and far…


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#pinmehilarystyleme

65 thoughts on “Downtown Los Angeles Graffiti & Mural Walking Tour

  1. What an amazing post. Brilliant art. I have to admit, street art has never really been on my radar but some of those are spectacular. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a wall at home where you picked the best photographs you have taken of street art and hang printed copies up? A walking tour of street art. Now that’s ingenious. Love it…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I’ve noticed a few of your recent photo’s on Instagram, they’re great pictures! I love street art too. Last year me and my daughter spent a weekend in London and out primary focus was on hunting out Banksy and a few others. #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so awesome Hilary! I have seen a lot of these but still have to walk around more. A tour may be ideal (I love the area anyway). By the way, where do you live? I have started to collect pictures of murals around Long Beach (but they are spread around). #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I live over near the beach, but spend a lot of time exploring and often find myself in DTLA. I’ve been down to Long Beach, and it’s a bit more difficult to just run into the art as it seems more spaced out, but I’ve seen a few Bumblebeelovesyou murals. He’s a favorite of mine! Some of these are since painted over, but hopefully something new will pop up in their places…

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  4. Love street art.. I recently found out about WRDSMTH & love his work! I randomly found a piece of his art on my last visit to London. Definitely want to come to LA to check out the scene there. Awesome photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WORDSMITH is quite literally everywhere here in LA, as he made it his mission to put something up each and every day for a year! His messages are so lovely, I get excited each time I run into one, which is often. ha ha! You might enjoy Bumblebeelovesyou’s work too, he’s really talented and super sweet.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fab post! When we went back to NYC not too long ago and did a street art tour in Brooklyn, mainly Bushwick. We even saw a couple of artists at work. You’re so right about appreciating it when you see it because you never know how long it will be around. Loved discovering the work in your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am also a huge street art fan and have also “collected” many pieces around the world. We were in Hollywood last weekend and managed to score a few.
    This week is Las Vegas and we have seen a lot here too.

    My home city of Toronto also has many great pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love all the art but I have to say my favorite part about this post is the breakdown of all the lingo – very cool and helpful! I really didn’t know much about it until reading this awesome post. Pinning..#citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great stuff Hilary. Street art is one of my passions too. I think you’d love my hometown Melbourne – we have a huge scene there. I will definitely do the tour when I am next in LA. We have a few friends visiting there soon and I have passed on to them. Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A walking tour has to be the best way of discovering street art and boy, did you find some great stuff here! I’m just loving getting to know LA through your eyes. Fab post for #FarawayFiles and such a useful guide to the lingo.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This looks really beautiful and it’s so close to me. Thanks for sharing this post. I’m definitely going to check out this area. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I LOVE this post Hilary! Fun to see some of the same artists around the world! There is a Roa piece here in Copenhagen. I haven’t seen the wood paste ups – love that. In Copenhagen there is an artist who works in Hama beads – those little plastic meltable things. Beautiful images – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not that I’m aware of, however it can’t hurt to call and request one… if not then consider exploring the area on your own for a few hours, or check out Abbot Kinney in Venice which has tons of fabulous street art!

      Like

  12. I loved this post! I also love graffiti too, unfortunately I don’t get a chance to see murals like these on a daily basis. Thank god for bloggers like you who find art tours like this that give these artists attention for their awesome work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No! No! I think it’s not blogged enough actually because people think they’re mostly gang art, it’s never about the stories and the talent that majority of the artists have to be able to create these giant (and small) murals on buildings! 🙂

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