If you think London’s art scene is confined to the hushed halls of the Tate Modern or the National Gallery, you’re missing out on a vivid, pulsating world that exists right on the streets. Yep, I’m talking about street art and graffiti, an open-air gallery that turns London’s neighborhoods into a canvas of unlimited potential.
Whether you’re an aficionado of the spray can and stencil or just someone who enjoys a break from the conventional, London has a smattering of spots that elevate graffiti to fine art. From the iconic works in Shoreditch to hidden gems in lesser-known corners, each piece tells a story that’s as complex and multifaceted as London itself. So, lace up those walking shoes and get your Instagram ready. We’re about to embark on a technicolor tour of London’s most jaw-dropping murals, tags, and everything in between. It’s time to see London in a whole new light — or rather, a kaleidoscope of them.
London’s Street Art and Graffiti Scene
When you’re roaming the streets of London, you can’t help but notice the vibrant street art and graffiti scene. It’s present in various neighborhoods, making the city more colorful and lively. Here are some of the top spots ant street art enthusiast should definitely check out to get the most out of your visit.
Shoreditch has got to be one of your go-to destinations for street art. The popular spot is teeming with eye-catching graffiti spots, thanks to local and international artists. This neighborhood is well-known for a reason, and you won’t be disappointed as the artwork changes almost daily. You can join a Shoreditch Street Art Tour to explore the masterpieces without missing out on any gems.
Next up is Brick Lane, essentially the epicenter of UK street art. Stretching from Whitechapel to Bethnal Green and Shoreditch, this popular destination is a haven for graffiti enthusiasts. This area also hosts the popular Truman Brewery, which frequently showcases fantastic murals by renowned artists.
Get ready to dive into Camden, another must-visit area for street art lovers. Known for its bustling markets and lively atmosphere, Camden is also home to a variety of fantastic street art pieces. Keep your eyes peeled, or you might miss something amazing as you wander around!
Let’s not forget the South Bank, highlighted by a fantastic mural by the artist Phlegm. It’s a bustling area along the River Thames and often overlooked as a street art destination, despite hosting some excellent artwork. Enjoy the views and explore the ever-changing South London street art scene while you’re at it.
Other neighborhoods worth exploring for London’s street art and graffiti include Dulwich, Hackney Wick, Walthamstow, Bethnal Green, Brixton, and Stockwell. Each area offers something unique and showcases the diverse talent spread across the city.
Pioneers of London’s Street Art
When you wander around London’s vibrant street art scene, there’s no doubt you’ll come across some iconic pieces by the pioneers who helped shape this creative underworld. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these five major graffiti artists: Banksy, ROA, RUN, Stik, and Phlegm.
Banksy is likely the name you already know — the elusive British artist has left a lasting impact on London’s graffiti world with his provocative, politically charged pieces. Although many of his works are now guarded by Perspex or have been removed and auctioned, you can still spot some of his most famous pieces scattered around London, like the graffiti rat in Fitzrovia.
ROA hails from Belgium and is known for his large-scale monochrome murals depicting animals. His unique style has been spotted on several walls in London, especially in Shoreditch and Hackney. ROA’s depictions of creatures like the giant crane on Hanbury Street or the humongous hedgehog in Bratislava Street truly show a mixture of beauty and streetwise grit.
RUN, born in Italy, has provided London with some touching murals showcasing his signature elongated hand imagery. His works often convey powerful messages about unity, love, and community spirit. You can find his masterpieces all around East London, from Hoxton to Dalston.
Stik is a London-based artist who’s become famous for his simple yet striking stick figure characters. His minimalist black-and-white murals often portray the figures in emotive and meaningful poses. Keep an eye out for his iconic “Hug” on Pitfield Street in Hoxton and several other works sprinkled across the city.
Phlegm is a Sheffield-based artist who’s brought his intricate and surreal style to London’s streets. His detailed black-and-white scenes, inspired by comic books and surrealism, can be found in various locations, such as the piece located on the South Bank.
Famous Street Art Locations in London
Brick Lane is the epicentre of street art in the UK, making it a must-visit spot for graffiti enthusiasts. The works you’ll find around here constantly change, so there’s always something fresh to check out. You’ll find street art pieces scaling entire buildings, giving the neighborhood its vibrant and unique atmosphere.
Shoreditch is another popular area for street art lovers, where you’ll see works by some of the world’s best graffiti and stencil artists. The area has a strong connection to creative communities, and you’ll be treated to a mix of stunning murals and eye-catching tags. Tours are available here if you want an expert point of view on the works.
Brixton boasts numerous artistic murals that pay homage to the local culture and vibe. There, you’ll find pieces by both local and international artists, lining streets, alleys, and even shops.
Leake Street Tunnel
Leake Street Tunnel, also known as the Graffiti Tunnel or Banksy Tunnel, is a covered area completely dedicated to graffiti and street art. Head here for some of the city’s most captivating works —all displayed in a truly unique setting.
Camden is known for its alternative scene, and the street art here reflects that vibe. You’ll find plenty of colorful graffiti displays in this bustling area. If you’re lucky, you might even stumble upon a Banksy or two!
Old Street, just north of the City of London, is a hub of creativity with an array of street art popping up throughout the area. This spot is perfect for those explorative walks, checking out street art masterpieces along the way.
Get up close and personal with a Banksy piece over at Rivington Street, nestled behind the Cargo Club. Wander around the street to check out more works from Banksy and other renowned artists.
East London is a hotspot for street art and graffiti, showcasing cultural diversity and unique expressions of creativity. Neighborhoods like Hackney and Bethnal Green have a rich selection of works for you to wander around and explore.
Artists have flocked to Hackney Wick’s industrial setting, turning the scenic landscape into an urban canvas. Here, you’ll find large-scale murals, intricate stencils, and bold tags adorning the walls.
Head to Dulwich for a more curated experience, where street artists have re-imagined classical paintings into contemporary murals. This collaboration with the Dulwich Picture Gallery brings art to the streets, sharing masterpieces with a new audience.
Alongside the River Thames, Southbank has become a hub for creative expression, with street art popping up along the walkways and underpasses. This dynamic area offers a beautiful blend of art, architecture, and nature.
Bethnal Green is popular amongst street artists, where you’ll find captivating murals nestled throughout the neighborhood. Make sure to check out the large-scale pieces that wrap around entire buildings.
Croydon has embraced its up-and-coming street art scene with fantastic murals and live painting sessions. Spot works by local and international artists that perfectly complement the area’s urban landscape.
Stockwell is home to several vibrant street art pieces, transforming the neighborhood’s atmosphere with their bold colors and striking designs. Take a walk through this area to catch some of London’s finest murals.
Significant Street Art Murals
London is a hub for incredible street art, and some of the most iconic murals honor beloved music legends, impactful messages, and stunning public art. Some of the standout pieces include the David Bowie Mural, the Amy Winehouse Memorial, and the Nuclear Dawn Mural.
David Bowie Mural
This eye-catching artwork is a tribute to one of the greatest music icons of all time, David Bowie. Located in Brixton (his birthplace), the colorful mural was painted by Australian artist Jimmy C in 2013. Based on a photograph by Brian Duffy, the piece features Bowie’s striking alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. Since Bowie’s passing in 2016, the spot has become a pilgrimage site for his fans from around the globe. Swing by, snap a pic, and soak in the vibrant street scene.
Amy Winehouse Memorials
In the heart of Camden Town, you’ll find more than one touching tribute to another music legend, Amy Winehouse. Some of the street art was painted shortly after her death, like the piece by talented artist Pegasus in 2013. Others have been added in recent years as a tribute to this Camden resident.
Nuclear Dawn Mural
A bit more on the socio-political side, the Nuclear Dawn Mural in Brixton is a powerful piece of public art. Created in 1981 by artists Brian Barnes and Dale McCrea, and since restored, this mural can be found at the Carlton Mansions on Coldharbour Lane. The striking artwork is a commentary on the dangers of nuclear warfare and features a huge skeletal figure looming over London’s Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and St Paul’s Cathedral. An impactful statement in a beautiful artistic form.