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.
Graffiti In Toronto – Kensington Market
We’ve seen graffiti in many places, like Bristol, UK (hometown of best graffiti artist Banksy) and found Toronto really striking. We stumbled upon the city’s street art scene accidentally during an early morning stroll along Spadina Avenue, downtown. The bohemian city area of Kensington Market.
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, stencil graffiti and stickers, 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 Toronto Management
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 amazing graffiti art on the Toronto streets gives them the ‘wow’ factor, making it easily one of our favourite cities to visit.
Graffiti Alley Toronto
We chatted to a friendly local who pointed us in the direct of Graffiti Alley but unfortunately by then, the graffiti writing was on the wall – we were tired out. Big mistake – HUGE! Here’s what we missed out on.
The Definition Of Graffiti
According to our Collins Pocket English dictionary, the definition of graffiti is; words or drawings scribbled or sprayed on walls etc.
Interestingly, the word graffiti is not included in the 1978 edition of the Collins dictionary, a cherished gift of Darrin’s from his Grandma.
A Little Bit Of Graffiti History
So, graffiti in its original form has been around since cave man days. Modern graffiti as we know it today, took root in the cities of Philadelphia and New York in the 1960s/70s mainly as spray painted graffiti tags or signatures. It became associated with hip hop and street gangs but has since become mainstream with some graffiti artists like Banksy earning worldwide fame and prestige for his work.
What are your thoughts about graffiti? Is it art or vandalism?
KensingtonMarketToronto.com has added a new photo gallery for locals to share their photo’s.
Great stuff, thanks Mark.
Looks like plenty of good reasons to try visit again 🙂
Hi, mi name is Julián i am from Colombia. I need a good steet painter in Toronto, who can help me??
Did you check out Graffiti Alley while you were in Toronto? That is our famous graffiti art display, it’s in a network of alleyways behind Queen Street between Spadina & Bathurst.
Man! We missed out on Graffiti Alley but all the more reason for a return trip to the wonderful city of Toronto and next time we’ll know exactly where to find it – thanks Kinga!
Yes, you absolutely must come back! There’s plenty to see & do! They even give tours of Graffiti Alley & go into the history & the artists.
Graffiti is a big city thing, you don’t see much of it in small towns like where I live. If a railroad goes through town you see lots of graffiti, every other railcar has graffiti on it. Some of it is really good, some is just vandalism.
Hi Larry – yeah we didn’t notice much graffiti in any of the small towns but the many cross-country trains were riddled with ‘art’ or plain vandalism!
I think this is amazingly beautiful detail Graffiti displayed with pride on the streets of Toronto. None Vandalism.
We agree – it is amazing art and not vandalism!