by Sharon Henry
Graffiti in Toronto Canada is just as much a tourist attraction as the 553m high CN Tower.
Opinion about graffiti or street art is split down the middle; one person’s art is another’s vandalism.
Toronto however, has embraced its graffiti culture and the move has boosted the city’s tourism industry. People visit just to admire the Toronto graffiti wall art.
There are many graffiti walking tours available that explores the work of Toronto graffiti artists. For self-guided tours there’s the super handy StreetARToronto map which pinpoints the locations of all of Toronto’s street art graffiti.
Gallery Walk Through Kensington Market
We’ve seen graffiti in many places, like Bristol, UK and find Toronto’s really striking. We stumbled upon the city’s street art scene accidentally during an early morning stroll along Spadina Avenue, downtown.
We had no idea the treat that was in store. When most were sipping their first mug of coffee we were on the streets discovering these epic Toronto murals, spray-painted onto the city’s buildings. One dazzling painting after another.
Street Graffiti Not Breaking Canadian Law
At first it felt slightly mischievous admiring the ‘work’; wasn’t graffiti supposed to be illegal?
But, because there was so much art concentrated in the area of Kensington Market we soon figured it was a consensual feature of the neighbourhood. Plus, these weren’t of the tacky, property defacing variety; these were beautifully and painstakingly put together, displaying different types of graffiti styles. The skill required to create such detailed works of art was undeniable and we were spellbound.
Street Art Toronto Is Fantastic
The streets were quiet, save a few shopkeepers opening shutters, otherwise the place was ours to roam freely taking graffiti photos to our hearts content with little distractions.
Although graffiti is perceived to be gang-related, what we saw felt intrinsically part of the community and the area felt safe. Lured by elaborate, colourful designs we entered deserted alleyways and back-ways, and spent an easy hour photographing graffiti pictures and appreciating the art.
Graffiti Management in Toronto
Coming from the island of St Helena where graffiti in any form is virtually non-existent, the graffiti in Toronto was an eye-opener.
We later found out Toronto have a Graffiti Management Plan whereby an official panel decides whether or not a design is aesthetically pleasing enough to remain in place. Also they encourage building owners to work with graffiti artists for commissioned work. There is even a graffiti artist directory.
For an insiders guide on 48 hour itinerary in Toronto click here.
Is Graffiti Art Or Vandalism?
Our favourite graffiti piece that morning was a funky afro diva painted onto a garage door; clever highlighting and shading brought her to life. In fact, they were all so amazingly cool it gave the city a modern, trendy vibe and made it a perfect location for graffiti photography and the all-important Instagram shots.
Well done to the city, in our humble opinion Toronto is home to some the best graffiti in the world. The graffiti art on the Toronto streets gave them the ‘wow’ factor, making it easily one of our favourite cities to visit.
What are your thoughts about graffiti? Is it art or vandalism?