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10 Best Cities in the World for Graffiti

I remember when I was growing up there was a great deal of fuss about graffiti. Conservative politicians were rushing to brand it as vandalism and sought to ensure the general public supported its illegality. The more liberal among us expounded upon the artistry involved, and praised its cultural value. Of course, graffiti operates in this chasm - the works wouldn't have such an impact if there wasn't this sense of brashness and vandalism inherent in the form. Even if graffiti doesn't get the artist arrested, the piece itself is always meant to be arresting, otherwise its not really worth the wall its decorating/defacing, and the very appearance of graffiti on a building can be shocking. But it turns out that how liberal or conservative a place is with regard to graffiti isn't actually an easy indicator of how popular the artform will be. In the US, for example, the laws are very strict, while many streets of Bogota encourage artists to make their mark. Both cities are fantastic for urban art enthusiasts. So how do you know where to go for your fix of graffiti? Simple. Heed the following advice. Recently we spoke to Christian Petersen from Bogota Graffiti, who offers graffiti tours in the city, about his favorite urban art spots around the world. Here's what he picked.

Bogota, Colombia

Bogota Graffiti 1

Christian giving a tour of Bogota's graffiti scene.

Christian chose Bogota for fairly obvious reasons. This is where he lives and runs his business. But there's no need to convince me of Bogota's charms, either. I lived there for 3 years and was always amazed at the sheer quality and quantity of street art available. No doubt it's something to do with the fact that in many areas of the city it's legal, but Colombia's history and culture also makes for fertile grounds for creativity. Justin Beiber's foray into the world of Bogota street art may have damaged the city's edgier reputation somewhat, but it remains one of the world's less talked about, vibrant hotspots. >> Check out trip.me's Colombia tours.

New York City, USA

New York Graffiti

Rooftops in Queens. Photo by Paul Churcher.

This is where it all began. There are graffiti artists here older than "classic" authors, and it's something of a benchmark among urban artists. Anyone who is anyone has painted in the Big Apple. Places like 5 pointz and Buchwick make this an essential visit for anyone interested in graffiti.

London, UK

London graffiti

A Lisbon-artist's work in Shoreditch, London.

Christian lived in the UK for over 10 years. "This is where my love of urban art first started", he says. No wonder. London brings so many talented and diverse urban artists to its streets. Just like New York it has a huge arts scene in general, and therefore a big urban art movement too. Nearby Bristol (as in, nearby according to most other countries. Brits would consider the 2 1/2 hour journey to be a long one) is also home to probably the most widely known and infamous street artist in the world, Banksy.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne graffiti

Link wanders the streets of Melbourne. Photo by witness 1.

Melbourne is attracting attention worldwide, and little wonder. Australia's graffiti capital has a buzzing scene that takes influence from indigenous cultures and established European/American styles creating a unique blend of styles that has attracted some of urban art's biggest names to its streets.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires Culture

A man walks the streets of Buenos Aires. Photo by zaqi

It's true that much of the street art in Buenos Aires seems to the untrained eye to be about Maradona, but just under the surface there's an incredibly rich scene waiting to be discovered.

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City graffiti

Yup, this is Mexico City. Photo by The Futuristics.

Mexico is a veritable playground for street artists. With experimental styles sat comfortably alongside dedicated realism (just check out this great article by Juxtaposed Magazine), there are few places in the world with such a diverse offering on show.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Innovative street art projects like the one in this video characterize Sao Paolo's burgeoning street art scene. It's a city full of artists that are pushing the boundaries, and seeking to find new, exciting ways to express themselves. The scene in Brazil often receives a decent amount of support and funding from various sources (Google and MTV to name just two), meaning the artists feel somewhat liberated in terms of financial constraints.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin graffiti

The trip.me youngsters playing table tennis.

Since the closure of Kunsthaus Tacheles (among other institutions for liberal arts) Berlin is seen by many to be past its hey day in terms of graffiti, but that doesn't mean there's not still a vibrant, buzzing scene that offers rich rewards to travelers. Berlin's spirit is very much in keeping with the urban art movement, with progression, acceptance and a troubled relationship with authority being key characteristics of both.

Paris, France

Paris graffiti

The streets of Paris. Photo by Jeanne Menj.

Home to a large street art scene, Paris boasts some of the most prestigious graffiti artists in the world. Starting in the slums of Paris and eventually spreading (professionally) all over, graffiti is now a symbol of the Parisian creativity and innovation.

Los Angeles, USA

Los Angeles graffiti

Inspecting. Photo by Lord Jim.

Art is always affected by environment, inescapably so, and L.A. is a perfect example of this, it certainly has its own unique flavor. With an eclectic, multi-cultural population, it is no wonder L.A has such a vibrant and diverse selection of street art. What cities are your favorite for urban art? Let us know in the comments!