I’m having quite the love affair and it’s with Toronto and during my most recent visit to the city I decided to cross something off of my bucket list; a self-navigated street art tour. I walked through what felt like a magical kingdom within a never-ending art gallery full of beautifully scratched, sprayed and painted art. The walls, billboards, doors, surfaces and streets illuminated the city with signs of life, it made me think of the beginning of this adventure when I mentioned that I’m starting with a clean piece of canvas but clearly this time the writing was on the wall.
In many places, including Toronto this kind of art is considered defacement and vandalism, this is a whole other topic that I am not about to get into, as my appreciation for the artists and their creative ability to express themselves and their emotions through their art outweighs any political battle. I enjoyed every second of my street art tour of Toronto with my bestie by my side, although our fingers were frost-bitten by the day’s end we both felt inspired, cultured and a part of something that was and will be slightly beyond our comprehension.
While I was snapping away with my iPhone I realised that I really didn’t know that much about street art or graffiti. I mean, I get the jist but I also know that there is a defined difference between both, but is it a big one? As part of the adventure I decided to do some digging and found out that it’s quite common for people to not know, in fact it’s also common for the two to be grouped but the differences exist and are much clearer to me now…
Street art vs. graffiti: the definitions actually vary from person to person and location to location, the confusion of the meaning of both is made worse by the fact that they are largely media fed and along with that comes a lot of misconception.
Graffiti is essentially a text-based art form, with tagging (the act of writing ones personalized signature) at its core. The movement originated in the late 70’s and is most commonly associated with spray paint and marker pens, although it can include any medium applied to any surface, naturally with graffiti writing came the street art movement. Street art encompasses many other media and techniques, including: LED art, mosaic tiling, murals, stencil art, sticker art, street installations, and so on, both are essentially part of the same game in the long run. Street art seems to be the lighter version but with the awkward illegal bits removed. So when you see graffiti on the side of a train, it has almost certainly been made illegally if the work is on the wall, however, its legality is much harder to determine as its relatively easy to get permission to paint a wall. Let’s face it, all illegal art is a protest of some kind; as such it’s also a political act, in minor instances people are risking fines, in extreme cases imprisonment is enforced because of an artist having a voice, how screwed up is our world?! Again the definitions vary and the above is simply my understanding of it.
I feel obliged to add that I’m a big fan of Banksy, he’s got a very distinctive technique and I appreciate his use of dark humour, his pieces are featured throughout the world and sadly I have yet to see his work with my naked eye but doing a Banksy worldwide art tour is definitely on my bucket list. Interestingly enough we stumbled upon a series of pieces by an artist from Toronto who has a similar style and also likes to maintain his low-key identify and goes by the name of Deadboy, he wears a mask and has been known to make Rob Ford look like quite the fool through his work. I really liked his style and wish we saw more of it, but a lot of his pieces were covered up and sadly the sun came down and our fun for the day was over… all the more reason and motivation for me to do a part two of this tour as there are many more hidden alleys with incredible gems within!
I invite you to check out my gallery featuring Deadboy and various artists who I imagine are local and beyond…I truly hope you enjoy it as much as I did!