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*.
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.
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.
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.
A 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!
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
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…
Angel City Brewery
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.
Mural – A huge work, often on a legal wall. It might be done by an individual, an informal group, or a crew.
Piece or Masterpiece – Short for “masterpiece.” The term is frequently used to describe a more labor-intensive work.
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.
Throw up – A tag or small “piece” thrown up in a hurry, often located down low.
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.
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!
*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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