As the art world continues to evolve, with new technologies that expand what is possible both in the creative process and in the distribution and sale of art—the street remains a laboratory where the world’s next genius can experiment. Here are some of the most creative cities on the planet when it comes to street art.
“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.”
New York City, USA
Let’s get the most obvious choice out first, New York is the birthplace of the modern street art movement. While the city recently suffered a great loss with the demolition of 5 Pointz, the graffiti mecca of Queens, the city still abounds with creativity in all five boroughs.
Mexico City, Mexico
Poetry, Traditional Imagery and Political Messages are all common sites on Mexico City’s walls. The history of city art stems back even before the street art boom of the modern day, back to the 1920s when Mexico City was famous for its murals—they’ve been a cultural capital for city art ever since.
The walls of Berlin are tagged with paintings from some of Europe’s best street artists—from new and evolving scenes to the historically significant East Side Gallery which memorializes the protest of Communist-era Germany—you’ll find creativity all around.
The launch of the Crono Project in 2010—a group who commissioned street artists to transform Lisbon’s neglected buildings—brought international attention to the city. With a history of colorful streets stemming back to their Azulejos tiles, today the city maintains this tradition and attracts artists internationally.
São Paulo, Brazil
Since the Brazilian government legalized street art in 2009, the largest city in South America has enjoyed a flourish of color throughout its streets. While there are a few iconic spots in Sao Paulo, if nothing else make sure to see Batman Alley (Beco do batman) whose winding streets have become something of a street art Mecca.
Melbourne is one of those special cities where the local government embraces and guides the emerging street art scene, rather than erasing it. The government of graffiti management plans and commissions pieces from local and international artists, and it shows on the intricately designed streets of the city.
George Town, Penang, Malaysia
This UNESCO world heritage city is also home to one of Asia’s most famous collections of street art. The city already has a tremendous amount of character with its colonial-era buildings, but thanks to artist contributors like Ernest Zacharevic, George Town has an added layer of creativity.
Home to the European School of Visual Arts, this small town a few hundred miles away from Paris has been dubbed the “Capital of the Comic Strip” with the help of its creative campus and annual comic festival.
The bohemian hub of Chile, known for its beachside buildings that are bright and colorful, “Valpo” has a special history with its street art scene. Pablo Neruda, at the time a Chilean diplomat to Mexico (and later a Nobel laureate poet), was so impressed by the murals in Mexico City that he invited many of the artists back with him to Valparaíso—sowing the seeds of creativity in this coastal city.