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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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…
Ha! That would be cool!! I’m currently in the middle of completing that very project! I’ll post a photo when it’s finished!
Michael Andrew Just
I lived in LA for 20 years and don’t remember all these great works of art. Well captured!
Thank you! I think it’s somewhat recent, within the last five years or so… I am really enjoying exploring!
Love this. I always enjoy the street art photos you post and there’s so much amazing street art where you are xx
OMG You werent kidding when you said ADDICT! Haha! Those are some amazing pieces! Hope to see some of them one day! #CityTripping
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
So fun! I’m definitely doing that next time I’m in London!
I thought the squirrel was a skunk. Yes, I’m that confused. Such great street art though, the type that makes you stop and stare. #CityTripping
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
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…
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!
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.
Thanks for the tip! I really want to come to LA after seeing your photos!
This is so cool. The artwork is so fresh & relevant & beautiful & inspiring & & I think I could gush for hours!
Awe! I know just how you feel! In fact I’ll be displaying some of these fun photos on my bedroom wall, just as soon as I can get a hold of a few more nails!
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.
Thank you! Such a fun topic to write about! Next time I’m in NYC I’m definitely going on a street art hunt!
Ticket to Adventures
Very pretty with so much colour!
Jessica @ Independent Travel Cats
Looks great, LA has loads of street art and looks like you got lots more for your collection!
I love urban art too – the tour sounds incredible. Loving the lingo list too!!
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.
I hear Vegas is amazing for street art! Thinking about a visit to Toronto this summer!! Where should I go?!
fifi + hop
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
Thanks! We were fascinated to learn about all the culture!
That is so cool! I love all the different kinds of street art you find in one city alone 🙂
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
DTLA definitely the happening place to be in LA these days! In fact, I’m planning to spend my day there!
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.
Bumble Bee Mum
I just love coming in to see your mural photo collections! They are such a visual treat! #FarawayFiles
Awe, thank you so much!
Anisa & Katherine (@2travelingtxns)
Love the photos and I love the artwork. I always think about taking a street art tour in various places but I never end up doing it – there is just never enough time. It is a great idea, so hopefully will get to do one soon. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Fun, right!! I completely agree about the time issue… Maybe consider taking one in your hometown? That’s what I did!
Hope I get to see some of these the next time I’m home! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!
If not these than I’m sure there will be others!!
Really interesting to hear about the different street art styles and what the acronym for TOYS is! Thanks for linking #citytripping
That’s so awesome LA has a walking tour of the street are down town. I love street art and will def remember this the next time I’m in LA!
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
Let me know what you think!!
Oh wow!! I never realized how one place could have so much beautiful street art! Where I live in British Columbia, you don’t see much of this. Perhaps it’s because I live in a smaller city?
I know, there is so much to see here! I don’t really know the reason, but some cities are more prone to have street art than others… I guess maybe, you’ll just have to visit!
Wow! What an amazing collection of murals!
I love looking for street art, but I’ve never been on an official tour. Getting to hear stories about pieces or even finding out about techniques and lingo would be fascinating. This one of LA looks like a great one.
It was my first one! I still love to look on my own, but now I’m armed with knowledge! 😊
I just did a walking tour of the Melbourne laneways which also have a lot of street art. Some people are so talented! #theweeklypostcard
It’s amazing isn’t it?!
I absolutely love street art! One of my favourite things about my city, Glasgow, is that in recent years they local council have fully embraced street art and now there are beautiful murals all over the city!
Yes!! I’ve been to Glasgow and even wrote about the art there! It’s spectacular!!
Love this! So much great street art all around LA – this is really helpful for finding some of the gems! So glad you linked up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!
I’m so happy you enjoyed it! I’m always on the hunt for street art, so stay tuned…
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
We LOVE Hama beads! Never thought of them as graffiti though! Ha ha!
Are there any companies that do tours on a Wednesday? That is the only day we’ll be in LA and my daughter would loooooove this!
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!
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! 🙂
Thank you so much! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post! sometimes I think I post too much graffiti… but I can’t help it I love it so much!
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! 🙂
The Wuwu Project
This is such a brilliant post. I have never traveled to the west coast but you have taken me on a virtual tour, thanks for that! I look forward to seeing more stuff!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you!
Hi, Hilary! Trying to comment on your 6 artists in LA and the comment box is not working for me, but I wanted to say how awesome that you met Bumblebeelovesyou! Wow! I would like to look for some of this art next time I’m in LA, so the map is very helpful. What a fun project to find street art AND the artists!
I see your comment! I’m so happy about my bumblebeelovesyou, and continue to seek out new art and artists whenever I can! So much fun to meet people I admire!