Berlin Germany Photography Street Art

Alternative Berlin – Street Art Tour & Graffiti Workshop

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I absolutely love street art. And where better to get my street art fix than in Berlin?

When I first visited Berlin, the street art and graffiti was absolutely everywhere, and I had never seen anything like it. I loved it, and was the start of a new obsession with street art around the world. Riding the S-Bahn and seeing all of that art and colour on the drabbest of surfaces had a lasting effect on me, and made me fall in love with Berlin.

Street Art in Berlin, Germany Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour & Graffiti Workshop thetraveloguer.com

Experiencing Alternative Berlin’s Street Art Tour & Graffiti Workshop

When I discovered the Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour & Graffiti Workshop*, I was excited, although the thought of a tour and street art clashed a little in my mind, the fact that it was with Alternative Berlin made me feel happy. These are the people who offer late night underground (literally) tours of Berlin. I was really upset to learn that they didn’t run the tours in winter, as it’s too dangerous, which made the tour sound even more appealing!

When I read about the fact that at the end of the street art tour you get to make your own art, I was all the more intrigued.

Berlin graffiti - alternative berlin street art tour and graffiti workshop thetraveloguer.com

And so one Saturday morning in Berlin, Sean and I made our way on U and S Bahn’s to Alexanderplatz, where a wild wind whipped raindrops into our faces and the imposing, yet conveniently helpful TV tower guided us to our meeting place.

Our guide was tall, ginger and a Berliner for five years. A street artist with a penchant for making jokes and talking a lot, he made for a perfect guide through the streets of art in Berlin.

We hopped on an S-Bahn and found ourselves in Kreuzberg. Our guide led us beneath the S tracks, providing relief from the little drips of rain being spun around by the wind.

First up, a paste up by El Bocho. The Berlin-based Spaniard’s Little Lucy creations are scattered all around the city. Inspired by a children’s television series, they feature Little Lucy killing her cat in various ways.

El Bocho- Little Lucy - Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour and Graffiti Workshop

These paste ups are my favourite kinds of street art, due to their detail and finished nature. It is the type of street art I imagine myself choosing, if I were so inclined.  😉 Also, due to the fact that they are posters, if caught, you will be fined for littering, rather than vandalising.

Alternative Berlin-Street Art Tour & Graffiti Workshop-femaleartists-thetraveloguer

For anyone who has no knowledge of street art and graffiti, this tour is packed with information. For graffiti and street art enthusiasts, the tour is reminiscent of a street art safari, where well known artists such as Po and ROA will pop from the sea of colourful art and scribbles, much to your excitement.

Bum by PO- Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour - thetraveloguer.com

Even for someone who hates street art (whaaat?) this tour would still be worth your time, if only for the fun exploring of the city, hopping on and off public transport and seeing the different sides of Berlin.

Street Art in Berlin - Alternative Berlin Street Art and Graffiti Workshop Tour thetraveloguer.com

You will receive an education on graffiti artists, and their methods. You will learn of the literally death-defying lengths these people go to to decorate the city, and to leave their mark. The heaven spot, for example, refers to a high up and hard to reach spot where artists leave their mark, a place that is a perfect spot as it’s hard to remove, but so difficult to reach that it could lead to the artist falling and winding up in heaven for real.

Graffiti by Poet, Just - Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour and Graffiti Workshop thetraveloguer.com

I was surprised to learn that it is because the city of Berlin is in such debt that the graffiti is able to flourish. I was under the romantic illusion that all of the of people of Berlin are so cool that they enjoy the art on the walls of their city.

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The tour reveals street art and graffiti large and small. Below is Victor Ash’s The Astronaut. This large scale image was painted using the grid method, where an artist will divide a small scale version of the image into grids, so as to make it more manageable to create on the side of a building.

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Below is Nature Morte by Belgian artist, ROA.

ROA- Berlin Street Art- Alternative Berlin Street Art tour and Graffiti Workshop thetraveloguer.com

Os Gemeos are twins from.Sao Paulo who are famous for their depictions people with yellow skin. The twins realised that in both of their dreams, everyone had yellow skin. They then incorporated the yellow skin into their work.

Os Gemeos- ALternative Berlin Street Art Tour and Graffiti Workshop - thetraveloguer.com

Near Watergate, you will find this striking mural by Italian artist, Blu. The large monster is made up of lots of small people, and the monster is putting the only white (different) person into his mouth. Our guide’s theory was that it represents fascism, with the people coming together to create a monster, and then picking on the one who is different.

Blu's Monster - Street Art in Berlin - thetraveloguer.com

Unfortunately, Blu’s most famous creation (in collaboration with JR), an image of two men unmasking one another, as a symbol of East and West Berlin getting to know each other- was painted over by artists in December. The site where the iconic art stood was to be turned into apartments by a developer. People tried to get the mural recognised as a protected site. Blu was said to be disillusioned with the gentrification of the Kreuzberg area, and the rising rents pushing the local people out. With his consent, fellow artists covered the mural in black paint, much to the dismay of those who were trying to preserve it.

Blu's famous street art masked men mural painted ouver by fellow artists thetraveloguer.com

 

Lutz Henke explained the decision in a Guardian article, take a look as it’s pretty interesting. One part stuck out for me;

“Still, why would an artist agree to destroy his own work instead of endorsing official attempts to preserve it as a public work of art? Out of despair? Clearly not. Rather out of sorrow. From the first moment of their existence, Blu’s murals were doomed to disappear. It is the nature of street art to occupy space in celebration of its uncertainty, being aware of its temporality and fleeting existence.”

 

 

After wandering the streets of Berlin, there was one more S and a bus to catch to take us to the artist’s studio for the second part of the Alternative Berlin Street Art and Graffiti Workshop Tour. The Black Market Collective is located in an old building that’s found through an alleyway. The scent of spray paint hits you as soon as you enter, and the brightly coloured art, spray cans, postcards and prints is music to your eyes.

Black Market Collective - Alternative Berlin Street Art and Graffiti Workshop tour - thetraveloguer.com

There are tables with rubber mats and scalpels spread out that bring me straight back to art class. We are given a large stack of printed silhouettes and chose one to scalpel.

learning to stencil during the alternative berlin street art and graffiti workshop tour- thetraveloguer.com

After painstakingly removing the black from the white (some people regretting their complicated choice), we are then brought to the back, where we are given a tutorial on the methods of creating something beautiful with spray paint. We learned about layering and giving the 3D effect of a multi-layered stencil with just one layer.

Graffiti Workshop- ALternative Berlin Street Art and Graffiti Workshop Tour thetraveloguer.com

Then, we are let loose with squares of canvas and all the spray paint you could want.

The ultimate kid in a candy shop moment!

Attempting Street Art at the Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour and Graffiti Workshop

Spray painting is really, really fun. So much fun, that I was reluctant to stop with my little piece of canvas, I wanted to do more and more.

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In the end though, it was time to stand back and admire our work. The fumes from all of our creations was making me feel a bit hazy, so we retreated to the area selling postcards and prints, where we faced the very difficult choice of deciding what ones to buy.

It was only hunger that tore us away from the very cool studio, and we left feeling inspired. Inspired to take up street art and graffiti, if I’m being honest.

 

So, what’s the Verdict on the Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour & Graffiti Workshop?

 

The tour takes place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday @ 12pm
Cost – €15
Duration- 3.5-4 hours
The tour meets outside Starbucks at the base of the TV Tower in Alexanderplatz. 
or at the meeting point, but you may want to book ahead to avoid disappointment. The tours are in English, but if there are anough German speakers on the day, it may be divided into an English and German language tour. 

The Alternative Berlin Graffiti Workshop and Street Art Tour provides an ideal lesson in street art. Having a guide give you context for the art work is great, and walking around the streets of Berlin is a perfect way to see the city, even if you weren’t into street art.

However, my hunger for street art was only increased by the tour, and I would have loved to have seen work by artists such as Vhils (who chisels his art onto walls) and Alias, but it is impossible to see the full range of street art in Berlin in just a few hours!  

You can use the Alternative Berlin street art tour as a jumping off point, and then continue to explore by yourself the next day.  

The part of the tour in the artist studio was a lot better than I had expected. I thought we would be allowed to have a go at spraying some cans, but I didn’t think we would be doing stenciling, and getting a lesson in different techniques.

I’d easily recommend the Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour & Graffiti Workshop.

 

* I went on the Alternative Berlin Graffiti Workshop and Street Art Tour as a guest of Visit Berlin. All of my excited and enthusiastic thoughts are all my own! You can’t fake this shit! 

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Lenie
    January 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Christine, I have a question. What is the difference between a mural on the side of a wall for which an artist was paid and graffiti. I am not talking about hate messages spray painted on walls, I am talking about graffiti that I found to be either interesting or beautiful. Around here there are a number of stores that have the murals and I love them – but there are many other ugly walls or structures that would benefit from murals, graffiti or other art.
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  • Reply
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie)
    January 21, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I completely love all of the photos and what a magnificent display of talent! And I do love the whole idea of the workshop…but I was very saddened by the fate of Blu’s work:( But what a great article!
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…Opinion… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    January 22, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Good stuff. I love the really massive ones like the side of a building shown above that was done by the Gemeos. The temporary nature of street art is definitely part of its appeal. Even if it is not vandalized, painted over or demolished it still loses its luster over time so it becomes art that exists in moment in time instead of in perpetuity. Could look at stuff like this all day.
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  • Reply
    Catarina
    January 22, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Agree with you completely that street art can be great. In particular love the second picture. Good idea to set up a workshop for graffiti. More cities should follow Berlin’s example. Not least since there are an abundance of unemployed youngsters who thrive on creating but can’t get a job. Such initiatives will stop them from painting graffiti everywhere. As a bonus such workshops will reduce the amount of money spent removing graffiti where it is not wanted.
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  • Reply
    William Rusho
    January 22, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    I have to agree with paste ups also being my favorite type of street art. I am not a fan of graffiti; I think that is what it is graffiti. Someone owns that wall, not the artists, and it takes more money to paint over it than removing a poster.
    I think there is a big difference from a mural being commissioned for a side of a building and some punk spraying his version of crap on the side of the building because he is too lazy to pay for a canvas. One is a talented artist, the other is a vandal.
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  • Reply
    Tim
    January 22, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Some of the murals are incredible but I am inclined to agree with William about the difference between art (commissioned) and grafitti (vandalism). I have seen some amazing works that compliment or contrast their surroundings and find those intriguing. It doesn’t surprise me that the state of a cities economy reflects the amount of street art going up. That said though it must be very cool to attend a class and broaden your scope of the history surrounding this art form.
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  • Reply
    Andrea
    January 22, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Didn’t go on the Alternative Tour in Berlin. But am now wishing I had!
    Andrea recently posted…MeinFernBus: a review on how to travel for lessMy Profile

  • Reply
    Anna
    January 22, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    wohooo, cool! I really hope I can do that tour when I’m in Berlin in March. I mean, I won’t have that much time since I’m there for ITB, but let’s see. Definitely looking forward to taking some really cool pictures. Cheers! Anna
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  • Reply
    Michele Harvey
    January 22, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I love street art and the tour you took in Berlin sounds great. If you are looking for other cities with incredible, and I mean incredible street art, you should plan a visit to Valparaiso, Chile. I lived there for six months and have some amazing photos of this enchanted city on my facebook page.
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  • Reply
    Casey O'Connell
    January 23, 2015 at 11:09 am

    This sounds like such a great tour!! It’s helpful that you get so much information, and it seems like a great price too!! Plus spray painting at the end? That’s so fun! Berlin has long been on my places to visit, and I would definitely want to do this tour when I make it there!

  • Reply
    Megsy
    January 23, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I have heard so many great things about Berlin and the street art scene – seriously have to check it out. The workshop looks like heaps of fun too, and for a really affordable price. Thanks for sharing this, I will certainly check it out if we make it to Berlin soon.

  • Reply
    Roaming Renegades
    January 24, 2015 at 11:15 am

    This is one of the reasons we can’t wait to visit Berlin, we loved the street art in New York!
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  • Reply
    Elena
    January 24, 2015 at 11:25 am

    So many great things about Berlin!!! Germany is one of the few countries in Europe I don’t know much and I’ve never been to…Looking at your photos it makes me wanna go right now!!
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  • Reply
    Tuhin
    January 24, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Art in any form is appreciable. Have heard a lot about the street art but never got a chance to do any. Lovely pictures.
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  • Reply
    Alli
    January 24, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Wow, that little Lucy is pretty creepy . . . haha! I would love to see this artwork for myself in Berlin!
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  • Reply
    Keisha | The Girl Next Door is Black
    January 25, 2015 at 2:18 am

    I saw a few of these works when I was in Berlin recently. I didn’t get to do the graffiti tour, so it’s cool getting all the background. Great post!
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  • Reply
    Stephen & Jess
    January 25, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Ah Berlin – every new thing I read about you makes me want to visit you even more. This graffiti tour sounds like a great day out.
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  • Reply
    Revati
    January 25, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Fell in love with street art in the laneways of Melbourne. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t vandalism but a legit form of art that takes skill! Would do this tour and workshop in the blink of an eye! PS: What’s the story on those shoes hanging from buildings, we’ve seen them often and are quite intrigued!
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  • Reply
    Rose
    January 25, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Wonderful! I fell in love with this city for the same reason you did. Always wondered about this tour but I never managed to do it. Next time I’m there I will definitely take this tour!

  • Reply
    Andreja Jernejčič
    January 25, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Wow, I have never heard or think of grafitti workshop! This is a great idea how to spent time in a city totally differently than usual. Have to keep in mind on my next visit of Berlin.

  • Reply
    MAD Travel Diaries
    January 25, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    I had a wonderful time visiting Berlin, loved the murals I did see but never thought or heard of a tour. This is incredible! Such great insights into street art in Berlin, I would definitely take a workshop like this as it’s a different aspect of local culture. Thanks for highlighting it!
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  • Reply
    Betina
    January 27, 2015 at 3:20 am

    These photos are lovely! I go to Brooklyn just to see street art. I’m planning to go to Berlin this year, I would definitely check the tour out.
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  • Reply
    Lizzie
    January 27, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I’m a BIG fan of street art and love hunting it down wherever I go. This tour looks amazing though, and how cool that you got to make some art at the end of it?!
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  • Reply
    Escape Hunter
    February 6, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Berlin has a long tradition in street art, I guess. Can’t wait to walk around and explore, discover the works. I wish they preserve the best ones.

  • Reply
    Nienke
    March 2, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Looks like an amazing tour! Always great to hear the story behind the works as on your own you would normally not hear these.
    Nienke recently posted…Berlin Tips – Mappin Monday Pinterest Favourites February 2015My Profile

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