London Graffiti Artists was initiated by the street art movement in New York during the 1980s.
The English hip-hop and electronic music subcultures were in full swing back then. And London’s streets were slowly getting transformed into canvases when London graffiti artists started “tagging” their names all over the city walls.
But it wasn’t until the 1990s when East London and particularly Shoreditch was slowly becoming more and more popular for up-and-coming street art in London.
People can find graffiti artists in London even today and it has secured a place in everyone’s heart due to some of the world’s most amazing graffiti artists like Banksy emerging from this scene.
Shoreditch today is the epicenter of London for anyone who wants to explore the London graffiti scene or Banksy artwork. However, before the 1990s, this area was not a popular place to live, let alone visit. London’s street artists started leaving their “tags” on everything and everywhere around London’s East End as it was derelict. It was a way of marking their territory while expressing their views in creative ways.
Graffiti is mainly prevalent in the inner cities and industrialised nations and is a controversial art form as it is usually done on privately owned properties and is considered vandalism. Removing graffiti is expensive and back alleys, open spaces, footbridges, underground tunnels, council property all are susceptible to graffiti painting. Moreover, the public walls and fences are all vulnerable to graffiti.
Legal issues regarding Graffiti in London
London is full of street art pieces worthy of admiration. From the walls of department stores, underneath London tunnels and bridges & even on shop shutters, some art pieces can only be seen at night. London’s street art scene is as big as there are many types of street art scattered throughout the city. From memorials, portraits, & statues to graffiti tags with a subliminal political message, street art is a part of London’s character.
However, legally, not every graffiti is vandalism; street artists need to get permission to paint on walls or buildings so that they create elaborate and detailed art.
In England and Wales, graffiti painting is an act of criminal damage under the Criminal Damage Act 1971. As a result, graffiti painters there need to pay a fine, if caught. In Scotland, it is treated as vandalism and prosecuted under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995.
The maximum fine is £10,000, but a prison sentence of up to 3 months is also possible. While that is for a first offence, for any further offence, it is 6 months. Since 2004 graffiti has been an offence, and shopkeepers are not allowed to sell spray paints to under-16s. In England & Wales, this offence is under section 54 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, with a maximum fine of £2500.
There is an equivalent Scottish offence under section 122 of the Anti-Social Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004, where the maximum fine is £1000. According to Section 58 of the 2004 Act, local councils (in Scotland only) are allowed to serve a graffiti removal notice on the owner. The owner or occupier, or operator of the graffiti must then clean it up within 28 days.
Different Types of Street Art in London
London’s contemporary graffiti and street art come in various forms like murals that cover entire walls, layered stencils, tags, or sculptures glued onto buildings. At times, they also use wheat paste or stickers to make graffiti! From time to time, London’s graffiti can come in the form of massive installations, such as the famed “Seven Noses of Soho.” You can find this in several different buildings around Soho.
Many street artists started their careers as taggers, and even the most famous of street artists still leave graffiti tags. Moreover, they leave tags around the city until this very day, so even the simple tags attract visitors.
Where to find Graffiti in London?
Areas surrounding Shoreditch, Brick Lane, and Spitalfields are loaded with massive murals, old-school graffiti pieces, and tags. So, if you want to search for graffiti artists in London for mind-blowing street art, this is the best place.
However, London’s graffiti scene isn’t just limited to the East End; there are tons scattered all around the city. There are amazing pieces in the neighborhoods of Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Camden, and Brixton and you can check out Time Out’s street art guide to find more.
Go to Croydon to see some of the capital’s best street artists and public art. It’s amazing to see how RISE Gallery supports London’s street art scene & encourages top artists to fill Croydon with their work. This gallery has hosted works by big names such as Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Banksy. They also run The Arts Quarter project, which works with artists and landowners to locate public areas, thus showcasing graffiti.
Graffiti artist Banksy is one of the most famous and politically controversial street artists to ever leave his mark on London walls and buildings. You can see his works in places like Bruton Lane in Mayfair, the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, & Rivington Street in Shoreditch, and people have even tried to cut them out of buildings to sell them as they are so valuable.
If you want to scour the streets of London for its many graffiti pieces of street art, look up. You must look up & down & all around every nook and cranny to see what you can find.