If you ever visit a big city like Berlin, I recommend a graffiti art tour where you can try graffiti yourself as this artform is very inspiring, motivating and raw in emotion and creative expression.
This story started in a rundown industrial neighborhood as we stood before what clearly was an absolute masterpiece of art comparable to the Sistine Chapel for detail, scale and magnificence. It was a piece of graffiti artwork that demanded appreciation, regardless of the upset and unappreciative building owner and his ranting and raving about vandalism.
I grew up in a conservative household and although I always carried the desire to express myself and inspire others through creative expression, graffiti was a form that I too had thought of as vandalism. That was until I stood before this graffiti masterpiece and felt the creative desires bubbling up within me. This graffiti did everything art should do, it inspired, motivated, beautified and brought an idea to life through creative expression.
My friends and I decided that we were going to learn more about this artform, which was clearly misunderstood. The building owner wanted to repaint his building white and destroy this wonderful masterpiece. I could not understand why. The buildings were all shabby and without character except for this one that now stood out like a lighthouse guiding ships in the dark. It was beautiful, it was inspiring…. I could only express how awesome this graffiti was in art, because words would never be enough.
The next weekend, my friends and I were in Berlin, meeting up with people from the graffiti world and learning about them, their art, their motivation and their rules. It was a fascinating culture to learn about as we realized the key central part that art played in their lives and their very much misunderstood culture. Never had we felt so inspired and so welcomed as artists.
While we were in Berlin, we learnt a lot from a graffiti art tour where we got to try out your graffiti skills. Turns out graffiti is indeed a very difficult medium to master in a short time. It is almost like a dance painting experience that invigorates the inner expression as it comes to life. Emotions and creativity multiply as you exert yourself to cover the canvas with your creative expression. I recommend experiencing this medium of expression at least once in your life, even if you do not consider yourself an artist.
The graffit culture is being threatened as Berlin is changing and becoming more gentrified. These great artists are being pushed further and further to outcast status within Berlin and German society. They are losing their legal canvases to practice and teach their artform more and more, which according to them was affecting the quality of graffiti. As the rich property investors and local councils waged war on graffiti, the opportunities available to such artists were diminishing. I was saddened as I realized how hard these Berliner freedom fighters for graffiti were fighting for the opportunity to express themselves using this incredible medium of expression. But it seemed they were fighting in vain against a system that did not understand or appreciate them.
We were only let into the ranks of the graffiti artists to do the legal stuff on canvases that are specifically there for graffiti such as a piece of the Berlin Wall at the Berlin Mauerpark (Wall Park). It became clear to us that many artists were performing graffiti illegally at night and under extreme circumstances, making the quality of their work even more amazing. This illegal art made sense to us as we understood these artists deep desire to express themselves and fight back against the oppression of their artform. Plus there was not enough opportunity for the sheer number of great graffiti artists that live in Berlin. I could not help but wonder how in a democratic country like Germany such amazing artists could be ostracized and discriminated against so drastically.
I hope that you will explore graffiti a little bit yourself as it will inspire and bring value to your life. If you live far away from Berlin, try another graffiti hotspot or visit a graffiti museum such as the one in Miami, which I think is an awesome forward thinking initiative. Check out our follow up articles as we report on visits in Hamburg and the graffiti scene of Lünen, a very small town near Dortmund.