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An Epic Street Art and Graffiti Tour in Mexico City

Street art and graffiti tour in Mexico City
The child is an example of hyperrealism and was painted by a different artist than the other figures

Wandering the streets of Buenos Aires' trendy Palermo Soho district on a graffiti and street art tour was one of the highlights of my six-week stay.

I also grew to appreciate graffiti and street art during my three years in Medellin, Colombia.

So, it was a pleasant surprise to meet Laura Ainscough, Director of Stylewalk MX, at an entrepreneur conference I attended in Mexico City last month.

Laura founded Stylewalk MX, the first company to offer a guided street art and graffiti tour in Mexico City.

As I was staying the week beyond the conference, I took her up on an offer to experience her most popular tour first hand.

Rhino mural - Mexico City
This rhino mural was one of my favorites of the day

Joining me was a friend from the conference who had grown up painting graffiti in the city where it was born, New York City.

We met our local guide, Jokan Deka, on a weekday afternoon for the 2.5-hour walking tour in downtown Mexico City.

Jokan is an affable tattoo artist, illustrator, and DJ who also has several years of experience working for the well-regarded Fifty-24 MX gallery.

The fact that Stylewalk MX's guides are all involved in the street art scene makes all the difference, as it lends their tours a sense of authenticity and credibility.

Boar mural - Mexico City
Boar mural

I learned a lot during our afternoon together, both from Jokan and my New Yorker friend.

After visiting a few walls, we ducked into a paint shop that was up a flight of heavily-graffitied stairs. Inside, you could find every shade of spray paint imaginable from multiple manufacturers.

In addition to the paint cans, I learned you could also buy plastic caps that help you as the artist control the width of the spray paint coming out of the can.

I had no idea there was such a mature market for artists' supplies!

As in Buenos Aires, and most cities I imagine, painting in Mexico City is illegal unless you have the permission of the property owner.

Graffiti in Mexico City
Graffiti

My biggest takeaway from the tour was the distinction between graffiti and street art.

Graffiti came first, as it was used by gangs in NYC to mark their territory.

It primarily consists of tags, abbreviated names or nicknames of the graffiti artists. 

These can be basic and ugly or incredibly intricate.

Aesthetically, it can be hard for the average person to pick up on subtle differences in the artistry that show one tag is more skillfully painted than another.

However, competition-worthy graffiti artists use multiple colors, intricate designs, and unique styles to set themselves far apart.

People with no formal art training typically paint graffiti.

Snail mural - Mexico City
Snail mural

Meanwhile, the more aesthetically pleasing murals that are a hallmark of street art are often painted by artists with some formal training.

I prefer street art. I find it more pleasing to the eye, and I like how it can represent local culture, history, and politics.

To me, street art adds to the environment while the overwhelming majority of graffiti detracts from it.

I know this may sound a little bourgeois of me. Perhaps it's all the art history classes I took in college.

We saw dozens of murals during the tour. Below are more of my favorites.

More of My Graffiti Tour in Mexico City

Mural - Mexico City
Trippy mural
Psychedelic mural - Mexico City
Psychedelic mural. The mushrooms remind me of Alice in Wonderland.
Big graffiti - Mexico City
Monumental, colorful graffiti
Leopard mural - Mexico City
Leopard mural
Entrance to an urban garden, home to new murals painted every year for a street art contest
Street art
One of the murals painted for the contest
Street art
This wall was one of our guide's favorites
Hip hop street art
Hip hop street art
Graffiti tour
My friend Justin and I had the chance to paint some tags on a wall outside a school
Massive mural
Massive mural. This is one of my favorite walls due to the 3-D effect in the upper left corner.
Street art and graffiti
Street art on top, graffiti on the bottom
Colorful graffiti
Colorful graffiti
Creepy mural
Creepy mural
Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland inspired this one
Black and white
Black and white
Graffiti
This is an excellent example of how graffiti is always evolving as new artists add to walls
Mexico mural
This Mexico mural was painted soon after Trump was elected or inaugurated and is part of the annual street art contest

I highly recommend finding the time to take this tour. It's a fun way to see a part of downtown Mexico City you might not otherwise see. Plus, the artwork is incredible!

Tour Details

Type: Stylewalk MX offers private walking tours with English-speaking guides

Cost: The cost depends on the number of people, and is subject to change.

As of September 2017, the cost is $138 for one person, $155 for two people, $165 for three people, $171 for four people.

See the Stylewalk MX website for further details.

Tip: If you're traveling solo and want to bring the cost down, ask around in your hostel or through social networks such as Couchsurfing to see if you can find more people to join you.

Length: 2.5 hours

Booking:  Visit the Stylewalk MX website to book your tour.

Accommodation:  I highly recommend staying in the park-filled, centrally-located Condesa neighborhood.

Room rentals are budget-friendly on Airbnb.

Otherwise, check out top-ranked hostels on Hostelworld.

_________

I received a discounted rate for my private tour with Stylewalk MX. 

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking uses and recommends:

Peggy

Sunday 24th of September 2017

Wow you've really captured the light and colour of Mexico City's streets. Here's hoping they rebuild after this recent series of earthquakes!

Dave

Sunday 24th of September 2017

Thanks Peggy. Yea, I was thinking about whether any of these walls were cracked in the recent earthquakes. I was staying in Condesa, one of the worst hit parts of the city after the 7.1 earthquake. Thoughts are with them!

Oliver terry

Saturday 16th of September 2017

This street art is stunning. I’ve been to Mexico a couple of times but unfortunately I haven’t got to a see street art yet.

Izy Berry

Saturday 16th of September 2017

Love the comparison you made with the two photos "street art on top and graffiti on the bottom" never realized the actual difference until now! I also really like the leopard mural, the style is very storybook-ish!

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